The food that didn’t get eaten on The Bachelor, finale edition: Get this man a drink

Illustration for article titled The food that didn’t get eaten on The Bachelor, finale edition: Get this man a drink
Screenshot: ABC

Welp, that sucked. I’d never say that my hopes for this week’s column were high; even in less terrible seasons of The Bachelor, finales never include much in the way of food, uneaten or otherwise. But it’s pretty damn difficult to write one’s stupid little food jokes in one’s fun, dumb column about the absurdity of this franchise through the lens of its catering when the context is so poisonous. Usually at this point I’m just worried about throwing my back out trying to stretch the list of uneaten foods to include things like “horse shit” and “delicious, delicious pettiness,” and maybe grabbing enough screencaps of Peter’s Mom’s face. But try as I might to make something out of “pear-cut diamonds” and things “going pear-shaped” and pears, which are a food, it’s just not happening.

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All I’ve really got is “don’t believe what they’re feeding you,” and that’s not a fun food joke, that’s just my honest response to the three hours of reality television programming I just endured. They’re feeding you a bunch of horse shit. Spit it out. After you do, consider sending up a few good thoughts for Matt James, who kisses with his eyes open but certainly deserves better than this. Hope that after he’s done talking to George Stephanopoulos or whoever on Good Morning America he’ll get some peace and quiet, free to rue the day he ever Journeyed To Find Love at his leisure. Let’s get this over with, friends.

Did The Bachelor actually eat food this week?

Nope. There were beverages, among them wine, cocktails, and the traditional Bachelor Nation Coffee Of Contemplation, but he ate no food, nor did anyone else. Well, presumably when Emmanuel Acho was a lad he ate four dozen eggs every morning to help him get large, but now that he’s grown he eats five dozen eggs, so he’s roughly the size of a baaaaaaaaaaarge! Or his (very nice) suit is just slightly too small. Could be either.

What didn’t The Bachelor eat this week?

Another weird collection of dips, a piece of love cake, and probably some beard hair. As with last week, let’s break this down by storyline.

Michelle

Michelle has a rough go of things in this episode. She meets and cries with Matt’s mom and has a solid conversation with Matt’s brother John, who is GREAT and would be a much better Chris Harrison than Chris Harrison. Big Oprah-interviewing-Meghan energy. A star is born. Truly, this is a man who has been to therapy or at minimum is supremely well-adjusted.

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Matt James's brother John talks with Michelle
He rules.
Screenshot: ABC

He asked good questions with good follow-ups! He gave both those women plenty of opportunities to make clear not just that they love Matt, but the reasons for that love, and to be honest, neither of them answered that question very well. (Probably because they’re on a TV show where the goal is to fall in love, which is not a situation conducive to actual emotional intimacy.) Michelle fared best, after John, who won the whole episode, honestly. Also, this. John James!

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After that, Michelle had to rappel down a building to get to a stupid couch in the center of a big stupid heart. I am rightly pissed on her behalf. Neither she nor Matt ate whatever these are:

Mystery dips
Screenshot: ABC
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For the evening portion of her date, Michelle gave the guy she was ready to marry two jerseys with Mr. and Mrs. James on the back, then got dumped by a dude who fled like he had the runs and didn’t want to wreck her bathroom. They did not eat this cake, so we can’t blame the Nemacolin Resort Chalet Climbing Gym And Heartache Emporium.

Uneaten cake
Screenshot: ABC
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Then Matt low-key melted down, mostly because his mom and his brother both had the audacity to suggest that he does not absolutely have to get engaged to somebody he just met and knows very little about. He cried a lot, and it would have been sincerely hard to watch even without knowing a shitstorm was headed his way.

We later learn that Michelle asked to have a conversation with him afterward, in service of the Bachelorverse’s mythical “closure.” The way she tells it, he refused (and it seems that’s what she was told). When Matt apologizes to her about it, he does so in such a way that it seems like he’s saying he was prevented from having that meeting with her and had he known the level of her pain, he would have fought harder to have that conversation. Matt subtly flipping this whole franchise the bird is the most compelling aspect of the finale; hot on its heels are the awesomeness of his brother, the tightness of Emmanuel Acho’s suit, and Michelle telling him she hopes he finds happiness, learns to kiss with his eyes closed, and comes up with something to say besides “thank you for sharing that with me.” It is a read. The library is open. Get some aloe vera, because it is a burn. Good job, Michelle.

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Also, she and Dildo Katie are both going to be the Bachelorette. Just when I think I can quit this franchise, they go and give full seasons to a seemingly lovely human being who is startlingly Disney Princess-esque and a bullshit-free, sex-positive quick wit. Dammit. Katie’s season begins filming shortly; Michelle’s will air in the fall. Good for both of them.

Rachael

Rachael’s last date gets canceled so Matt can work some things out for himself. At no point does anyone mention to Rachael that Michelle went home, but don’t feel too bad for her; the rest of this episode is pretty much devoted to making her as sympathetic as possible, at the expense of the man she says she loves. It SUCKS. A LOT.

Acho did a nice job in a difficult situation, give or take a few moments that also sucked (namely a question for Matt that seemed way more accusatory than necessary and was significantly tougher than any question Rachael got, and use of the phrase “cancel culture,” which, sorry, I’m bleeding out of one ear from the rage-stroke I just had, be right back. Hold please.

On the surface, Rachael seems to be giving a sincere and thoughtful apology while firmly positioning herself outside the role of victim. But when asked what work she’s doing, she basically just spews some word salad (hey! food! that one wasn’t even on purpose!) and Acho doesn’t push for specifics. That’s really, really not great. But her insistence on creating moments of physical intimacy between herself and Matt when he very clearly does not want to be touched sours that almost entirely.

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But worse is the fact that she show itself is positioning Rachael as a second victim; in The Bachelor’s eyes, this controversy is something that happened to her and Matt, rather than a situation she created by cosplaying fucking plantation life. And when the questioning turned a corner and began to focus on Matt’s response to the photos—a sequence with a decided “oh poor Rachael” vibe—she didn’t exactly go out of her way to say, “actually, hold up, this is entirely my fault, please leave this obviously miserable man in peace.”

It could not have been more obvious that Matt James wants to be as done with this mess as possible, and that includes any relationship with Rachael. Their side-by-side interview was, no exaggeration, maybe half silence? Like Acho would ask Matt a question, and Matt would say nothing, and Acho would say, “wow.” And when Acho asked if they wanted to embrace one more time... more silence. Y I K E S.

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Who knows how much control Acho had over the questions that were asked and the suggestions that were made—he presented them all with equal fervor—but it sucked regardless. And Matt just kept repeating that Rachael needed to do the work and he couldn’t do it for her. What work? Don’t know, because she wasn’t pressed on it at all.

I’ve got no jokes here. It was all incredibly uncomfortable and often infuriating. I gave him a lot of shit about being a doofus, and I stand by that shit, but Matt James deserved so much better than this. Not as the Bachelor. As a human fucking being. I hope he went home, had a strong whiskey, slept for 12 hours, then played video games for like six days straight, eating Funyuns and cupcakes and Bagel Bites and whatever else he wants. And I hope he blocked her number. She had a chance to do better while the episode was happening and she did jack shit.

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Who most deserves a plate full of macaroni and cheese or a huge piece of cake or something?

Remember Barb Weber? That was only a year ago. Feels like much, much longer. So we deserve the cake, dear reader. We do. See you when Katie (hopefully) gives this nonsense a much-needed jolt of common sense.

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Gif: ABC

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!

DISCUSSION

Dear Emmanuel Acho,

FIRE YOUR STYLIST. That suit is a bad joke. Way to make a magnificent man look redonk.

And Matt, please get even a small amount of self-awareness, dude. A teaspoon. Jeez. Worst season ever. No more assholes of either sex just to create fake drama, please. It just makes the real drama seem less important or fake (like the fake stuff). And have a sandwich. ;) For Allison.