It’s pretty weird to be writing a column this patently absurd on this day, in this week, in this month, in this extremely long year. (“Lemon, it’s January 12.”) We’re in a particularly troubled stretch of These Troubled Times, and yet The Bachelor continues to bach. But there’s a lens through which this episode becomes oddly relevant, and it concerns ol’ Victoria, she of the immediately tiresome queen gimmick and the tenuous grip on reality. So grab your crowns and your snacks and let’s talk about how
many times the producers found an excuse for Matt James to take his shirt off much food they ate this week.
Nope. He drank wine, but for this week’s arbitrary ruling on whether or not wine counts as a food group, I’m coming down on the side of “no.” Just not feeling all that interested in the debate, I guess. You could try to convince me otherwise but I’m just going to say whatever makes it so that I “win,” because I am a Q U E E N and what I say goes. My emotional experience is definitely factual and whatnot. BRB, gotta go eat some more wine.
Either a dessert plate or a cheese plate or a dessert and cheese plate, a seared meat substance and a large decorative hunk of deconstructed green bean casserole, wedding cake, boob frosting, woods snacks, another mystery meal, and the bullshit Victoria’s serving.
Matt’s first one-on-one date is with Bri, a communications manager from San Francisco who spends the first half of her date getting covered in mud while Matt drives a four-wheeler very badly through some picturesque woods on the grounds of the Nemacolin Four-Star Resort And Condom Tree Farm. They tip over. Matt says, “whoops, my bad, sorry Bri’s mom” to the camera and then they head over to a wood-fired hot tub. Matt takes off his shirt in order to split a single tiny log with a hatchet. It’s very dumb! Once they’re in the hot tub, they talk about being raised by single moms and some other stuff. It’s a date. They don’t eat the cheese or the tiny cups of mustard or whatever the hell that is.
Bri seems like a relatively stable human, at least amongst humans who would willingly go on The Bachelor. She’s a regular Doctor Joe. They don’t eat that seared pink area, nor the single coconut cookie with a mint leaf garnish she has on her plate. Or maybe it’s an overcooked piece of microwavable vegetable lasagna? Whatever it is, it’s headed for a dumpster. Bri gets the rose.
The group date included 18 women (yet somehow that’s not all of them! There were women who went on no date at all this week!) and began with that tried-and-true guarantor of drama, the wedding photo shoot. But then Chris Harrison wandered in off the golf course and switched things up and it became a weird sort of capture the flag/paintball hybrid. It was a creepy corporate team-building exercise, basically, but in wedding dresses.
Every so often as I’m watching this show, my brain says, “Hey, Allison, isn’t this garbage? Like, real garbage? Are you actually watching 18 adult women throw wedding cake at each other and slap their rivals with paint-covered handbags in pursuit of a tall, admittedly ripped dude who has a) not a ton of personality, maybe? and b) thinks he came up with the idea of the ‘emergency contact’ as a signifier of having a long-term partner and c) is maybe a Republican?”
But then I remember the food, and all is well with the world. Speaking of food, Dildo Katie says she got frosting on her boob. Her team loses, but I’m assuming that’s not the reason. The losing team heads back to the hotel to wash the frosting off their boobs, the winning team sprays each other with champagne and goes to a cocktail party during which Victoria The Human Bar Cart is a mess. More on her in a minute. Lauren gets the group date rose. Who’s Lauren? She’s pretty and a lawyer and that’s basically all I got. Next.
Matt’s second one-on-one of the week is with Sarah, who gets the “I have obviously been prepared to grill you about your personal trauma and if you don’t cough up the sad you’re not being vulnerable and real and will be headed home shortly” treatment. Sarah’s dad has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and she left her job in local news to be one of his full-time caregivers. It’s a real, heavy, sincerely moving thing, so of course Matt just pushes that button until she coughs up and then forks over that rose like he can’t wait to get back and order room service. She seems very nice and is definitely doomed. What did they eat? Well, on the first part of their date, it was—
What in god’s name are those things. Are they deviled sea turtle eggs? That shit is enormous. And what’s with the giant thermos? What’s in that bowl? Is there a little dish of sliced up cucumber and nothing else? What the fuck?
As for dinner:
Yeah, no idea. A glass of tomato juice and, uh, maybe a tiny morsel of out-of-the-bag frozen hashbrowns?
At this point in human history, we’ve seen many a reality TV villain rise and fall. Hell, we got a couple of good ones last season (looking at you, angry yelling guy and also Chasen who wouldn’t stop saying “smokeshow”) and a god-tier one in Peter’s season. She is, coincidentally, also named Victoria. Our current Victoria is not a god-tier reality villain, but she is a classic archetype, in that she’s playing the villain but also seems to lack the self-awareness to know that she was already the villain. If her schtick seems familiar, it’s because you’ve seen a thousand Victorias, even if you don’t typically watch reality TV. There is no point in arguing with or reasoning with such a person; she is crafting her own narrative and is also simultaneously divorced from reality. You can’t play the game with her because she’s a one-woman show and it’s tough to tell when she’s leaning into the artifice and when she’s just being herself. Just wait, she’ll be rolling out the old “it’s all editing” and “it’s television, I was just playing to the cameras” lines any minute now. Pity poor Marylynn, who had the misfortune of being assigned to room with that hot mess and thus became her target.
There’s a reason casting departments relish the opportunity to bring in someone like Victoria. Throwing her in the room is like inviting everyone to partake of bottomless mimosas. She’s a human bar cart. She’s not just there to behave badly, but to draw bad or at least ill-judged behavior out of others. Like a bar cart, she’s there to get people emotional and messy, so they cry a lot or throw a fit. She’s impaired judgment walking. Expect her to get a rose next week.
There’s perhaps another reason that a person who constantly shifts her arguments and perspectives to whatever will cause the most upset and/or best serve her purposes in the moment without concern for reality or the fact that there are cameras right there might seem familiar. It’s a favorite technique of the soon-to-be-former President of the United States. And what do you know:
Yeah, that tracks. That cute lil’ dog deserves better.
Anyone who’s spent a lot of time singing in choirs knows a good riser-faint when they see one. Someone get that woman a glass of water and a Slim Jim. See you next week.