I knew there was a reason I kept the following screenshot. Deep down, some part of me must have sensed that it would come in handy.
Devoting time and energy to this particular television franchise requires one to, shall we say, quieten one’s better angels. There’s some moral squishiness baked into the whole affair. It’s easier to ignore with The Bachelorette, and even with my beloved Bachelor In Paradise (except when it really isn’t), but it’s still a factor. It’s all very, “Are you not entertained?” And you know what, I am entertained. I am especially entertained when they don’t eat things. In Week Four Of Matt James’s Journey To Find Love, they don’t eat things. But also... yeesh.
It’s like I got BINGO on a card where all the squares are things about this show that I find seriously objectionable but am usually able to mostly ignore because someone just booped someone else on the shoulder with a vibrator. Slut-shaming. That’s a B. “Fighting for love” by way of dangerously amateurish physical altercations, casual cruelty on the part of production, dresses with boob windows. That’s I-N-G. And O, that one I got right away, because Matt James did yet more open-eye kissing this week. All that, plus some confusing editing, lazy sexual innuendos, and abundant screen time for Queen Human Bar Cart—and yet they couldn’t make time for a sandwich? Let’s get to it.
Nope. But hey, thanks to those who pointed out that Matt did, in fact, eat a small cube of cheese last week. I missed it. Glad to know he’s not famished.
His feelings, some delicious chaos, coffee, 1000-lb. transportation pumpkins and fake acorns (fakecorns?), an artfully arranged drumstick and a piece of ciabatta with a flower on top, and a cake with a picture of Katie’s face on it. That last one does not actually exist, but it should.
If the beginning of this episode confused you, you’re not alone. Unless I somehow blocked it out—maybe there was a pun so bad I refused to admit it into my brain?—the date card for this group date was never read; we also never saw a day portion. Instead, we just got the after-party, in which all the women were very concerned for Matt’s preshy feelings following the departure of a woman who he spent a couple hours with and whom they all pretty clearly wanted to push down some stairs. There’s one high point, however: Chelsea and Matt have a conversation about Chelsea’s relationship to her hair and Black women and hair more broadly, and she’s great, please put her on Paradise. She also gets the rose. She’s too stable and chill to possibly win, so seriously, Paradise. Thank you.
Yes, Matt James is kissing with his eyes open there, but that’s not the point.* The point is that he’s kissing someone we’ve never seen before, and not because she hasn’t gotten enough screentime. (Sorry, Kaili and Khaylah!) That’s Brittany, one of five new women brought into the cast mid-journey. Presumably the producers liked the madness that ensued after they brought on some new dudes for Tayshia following Clare’s departure, but this time, they threw them into a rose ceremony and actually went through with the elimination portion, which didn’t happen the first time. That means that a handful of women were eliminated in favor of four people whose names he hasn’t even had time to not learn, and one woman was eliminated without actually getting to do anything. She just quarantined at the Nemacolin Groupon Zip Line And Hot Air Balloon Romantic Experience for weeks, let out a whole two sentences, had a bunch of girls shoot her some seriously dirty looks, and then got sent home while the four women with whom she arrived all got to stay.
It, understandably, throws the first group of bachelorettes into a tizzy, and they were already in a tizzy. It particularly pisses off Victoria, who is just the absolute worst, and Anna, who spends most of this episode with an expression on her face that can best be characterized as, “fuck this shit, and fuck that girl I don’t know especially, and yes I can tell that this is going to make me look like an asshole and yes I know it is morally bankrupt but I cannot stop myself, let’s go down in flames.” See?
In short, Anna up there told just about anyone who would listen that Brittany, who she admitted she does not know personally, is an escort. The layers of shittiness here are bottomless! First of all, don’t shame sex workers! What is wrong with you? Second, you’re on a television show in which you date a dude you barely know in hopes of getting “engaged” to
a big fat diamond ring said dude, and you’re getting thousands of Instagram followers out of it. Is that not also transactional? Third, you are on NATIONAL TELEVISION. If Brittany were an escort, this would be outing her, and it is both dangerous and cruel. If she is not—she says she is not, and is (to this writer’s eye) obviously baffled by the whole situation—then it is dangerous, cruel, and a fucking lie. You absolute butthole.
We’ll get to Katie, the only person who stands up for Brittany, in a bit. But in case you doubt that validity of Katie’s actions or her claim that this is a potentially life-altering situation, look what’s in the Chicago Tribune this morning:
Once again, insert Serena P. trying to hide her groan behind a very awkward smile. Anna is also a Loyola University Chicago alumna, which makes it not unlikely that she was at one point one of the shittiest patrons at my favorite Chicago dive bar, and I would like to humbly request that she never go there again because I miss it so much and would hate to mar my eventual return to its cozy confines by shouting at a stranger.
Oh, and after she “apologizes” to Brittany for starting this rumor, she keeps on talking about it. On camera. Suck eggs, Anna.
The next group date, which of course Anna and Brittany are both on, is supposedly the brainchild of former Bachelor Ben Higgins, with whom Matt does not drink coffee. It’s an obstacle course situation somewhere on the expansive grounds of the Nemacolin Rich Person Wonderland And Pumpkin Boat Manufacturer, and it tasks the ladies with paddling across a pond inside a giant pumpkin, donning a squirrel costume and rooting for fake acorns in a pile of leaves, carrying said acorns in their mouths across a balance beam, and sprinting for the finish line. Mari and her shiny hair win. Anna hides Brittany’s acorn. Victoria sucks. Magi gets stuck in the pond.
There’s a group portion of the date clearly designed to make Anna even grumpier, and that succeeds. Here’s where I’ll point out that, while the show also gives Katie what’s pretty clearly a hero edit, the editors could also simply have chosen not to air the bits where Anna declares to the world that a thing she heard from someone on the internet about someone she doesn’t know is not true, and that it’s likely that a producer encouraged her to talk about it to everyone, and Victoria in particular. Anna, you still suck! But The Bachelor, you suck, too! Serena P. groan face!
Matt’s one-on-one date is with Michelle, one of the new women. A teacher from Minnesota whose obvious passion for her work seems to genuinely impress Matt, Michelle also has the most measured, rational response to the tension in the group of anyone other than Katie. She’s funny and sweet and charming and will probably be in the final, so get ready to meet her parents. She does not eat whatever that thing is, and neither does Matt. (This episode also marks the second time in the last several months in which someone said George Floyd’s name out loud, and while this conversation isn’t as weighty as Ivan and Tayshia’s, it’s still progress. Almost enough to make one forget about the butthole who called a woman she doesn’t know a “slore” for no reason.)
Behold, a decent human being! Katie is not going to win Matt’s Journey To Find Love. She kicks ass, though. She’s getting a great edit and, as far as this writer can tell, deserves every second of it. She not only tells Victoria to shove it up her ass (again without spilling Sarah’s business to everyone in sight) and refuses to get riled by the hypocrisy of Queen Bar Cart, she also tells the women with whom she’s friendly—some of whom clearly know better and are rightly chagrined—that they need to knock it the fuck off as well. And when they don’t, she grabs Matt, tells him that the bullying is a real problem and specifically mentions that there are damaging rumors flying around, and says they might stop if they hear it from him. She does not name names. She does not detail the nature of the rumors. She does not make it about herself, even a little—and she could have! She could have said Victoria in particular was being a real dick to her, because she was! And yet she didn’t.
Please, please don’t let Katie get milkshake ducked. She’s marvelous.
That’s it for food, but briefly:
Yes. Yes, he does. If I included every screenshot I got of Matt James Kissing With His Eyes Open, we’d have to change the name of this column. But I am not alone in my distress.
Seriously, what gives?
Brittany does, and so does Mari, who is maybe still in that pond in a pumpkin. But pour one out for Kim the I.C.U. nurse, who quarantined for weeks only to turn right around and go home. Kim, your bob is perfect, that pattern is super cute, and I’m sure 2020 was deeply shitty for you. You deserve better. Maybe we’ll see you in Paradise.