Clear your schedules and empty your bladders: We’re in for three straight hours of The Bachelor (if it lasts for more than four hours, you should call your doctor), including this season’s inevitably delicious “Women Tell All” special.
Nick and Raven wake up after their night together in the Fantasy Suite, and everyone in America — everyone in Finland, too, probably, including the reindeer — wants to know: Did she have her first orgasm or what?
“I will say this: Nick is really good at what he does,” Raven says, in a talking-head interview that I hope someone bribed her in cash to shoot. “So I’m pretty satisfied today.” The little afterglow montage the producers offer up isn’t exactly subtle either: She skips, greets a dog, makes snow angels, and sleds. Oxytocin is a hell of a drug.
Rachel comes next in the Official Bachelor Sex Queue. She and Nick are going cross-country skiing, an activity that has never sounded fun to me. Having seen it in action for the first time, I feel more confident than ever that it is not fun. They feed some cute reindeer and head inside a wooden structure with a roaring fire, a setup that seems both cozy and hazardous. Rachel and Nick are then whisked away on a reindeer-drawn sled, because this season of The Bachelor is sponsored by reindeer.
She’s scared to tell him how she feels, but that night, Nick finally manages to lure the L-word out of her. “If you were to check your ego at the door, what would your heart say?” he asks. Nick is clearly delighted to hear her response, and tells Rachel that he’s “100%” falling for her, too. They excitedly smooch, and then enjoy some American Broadcasting Comedy-sanctioned intercourse (which is, via the transitive property, also Disney-sanctioned intercourse).
I am more confused than ever: Their chemistry is unmatched and she is a uniquely delightful person. Unless Rachel — who’s already been confirmed as the next Bachelorette — takes off her skin-suit and reveals herself to be an Xenomorph between now and the end of the episode, how is Nick going to justify not picking her?
Vanessa is up for sloppy thirds. For their date, they’re supposed to plunge into an outdoor ice bath, a prospect that does not sound very exciting to her: “I want to murder Nick, chop him up, and feed him to the reindeer.” (The eight thousand reindeer within earshot are no doubt thrilled that the day has finally come for them to feast on human flesh.) But they do it. And they do it again. And again.
Then they adjourn to a hot tub, where Nick decides to act weird as hell. “Your family is very traditional. I’m not traditional at all,” he says. “What do you mean?” asks Vanessa. “I’m just not,” he elaborates. Okay. He expresses anxiety about this culture clash in vague terms, then suggests that the two of them might be too similar for their own good. Oookay. The vibe is extremely weird.
That night, Vanessa asks if he’d move to her native Canada. “That’s not easy for me to picture,” Proud American Boy Nick says. It doesn’t sound like she’ll move either, so…? Are we done here?
But that’s thing: Surely Vanessa is going to win, right? But how? Why? At this point, it doesn’t seem like they like each other all that much. The Bachelor is gaslighting us. Anyway, she says she loves him, and they do sex to each other.
Nick, bafflingly if not unexpectedly, eliminates Rachel at the rose ceremony. In my opinion, there is no logical explanation for this sequence of events other than that a) the producers made him dump her because she’d already been tapped for The Bachelorette or b) Russian interference.
“You’re one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met in my life,” he tells Rachel, tears streaming down his face. “Selfishly I hope someday…this won’t be a goodbye forever, ‘cause it is so hard to say goodbye to you right now.” Well, you know, if that’s really the case, you could have — ugh, whatever, Nick. You’re not worth it.
That, thank god, is over, and now we’re onto “The Women Tell All,” two hours of shouting in cocktail dresses! Before we jump into this exhibitionist bouncy house full of drama, Chris Harrison and Nick crash some local watch parties — all of which, oddly, are joyful, raucous gatherings, and none of which consist of a woman watching alone on her couch and accidentally dripping chocolate marshmallow ice cream on her laptop keyboard. Seems weird?
Chris Harrison reintroduces the women who appeared on this season of The Bachelor, virtually all of whom I had forgotten about except dolphin enthusiast Alexis, who is perfect, and nap enthusiast Corinne, who is also perfect. Someone named Elizabeth (I’m sorry, who? Who is this? Did a strange woman just crash the stage?) calls Corinne a “slob kabob,” and — in her expert capacity as a psychology major — criticizes Taylor’s behavior as a mental health counselor.
Chris Harrison welcomes Liz to the hot seat. To review, she’d spent the night with Nick before the show began (out there in the great big Fantasy Suite that is the real world), but declined to exchange numbers with him — and then stepped out of a Bachelor limo and back into his life nine months later. Liz tells Chris that the timing was wrong. When she met Nick, her heart was elsewhere, with someone else. But things changed!
Look, I like Liz, and I feel for her. But the monologue she proceeds to deliver — which I gather was received by some as a girl-power triumph — struck me as more of a well-intentioned word salad:
“People who matter to me the most just love and accept me for who I am, despite my past, that does not define who you are, despite your future, who you choose to be, every single day when you wake up. You deserve to be fought for, you are worthy of love, it doesn’t matter your shape, it doesn’t matter your sexual past, it doesn’t matter what you have done. You deserve a man who loves you for who you are. And who’s going to fight for you, for who you are.”
(I went back and re-watched this speech twice to make sure she really said “despite your future.” It would not be a terrible idea to define someone based on their future, no? That sounds pretty optimistic, actually.)
Taylor, who battled with Corinne over her lack of “emotional intelligence,” is summoned to the hot seat next. If we all donated $1 to charity for every time the phrase “emotional intelligence” has been uttered this season, we could cure all of society’s ills. The discussion that follows is unpleasant and unproductive; at one point, Corinne storms off set and returns with a glass of champagne. I have no intention of founding a chapter of the Taylor Fan Club, but it seems odd that she doesn’t get to access any of the forgiveness and goodwill extended to Liz just a few minutes earlier.
“Taylor, I’ve been watching you: You seem emotional about this,” observes Chris Harrison, an android. No shit she’s emotional, my dude — a bunch of people are yelling at this woman on live TV. Taylor feels “shamed” and believes that her appearance on The Bachelor has had a markedly negative impact on both her career and her personal life. She asks Corinne for an apology and does not receive one. Then, when Corinne takes her place in the hot seat, it is somehow Taylor who ends up doing the apologizing.
Corinne is here to share some alternative facts: “I never spoke a bad word about anyone in the house ever.” She explains that everything she did, she did in the spirit of competition — to get Nick’s attention. “Nothing was meant in any vicious way,” she says.
She also gives some unexpected context for her most notorious nap, the time she skipped out on a rose ceremony to snooze. Actually, she says, she had an “anxiety attack” at the cocktail party. Of all Corinne’s misbehavior, it’s somehow this that has the other women at her throat, insisting that they, too, were nervous, but they still showed up. (If only we had a mental health counselor on hand to explain that we shouldn’t diminish other people’s anxiety!)
An audience member waves a sign — for the record, I would bet my net worth and yours that literally none of these people holding signs or wearing novelty T-shirts actually had any hand in making or even selecting them — that reads “I Want a Raquel,” a sentiment that is fine and acceptable and not remotely creepy, given that Corinne’s nanny is a human being. Which reminds me, Corinne has come bearing gifts: tiny bowls of cheese pasta, Raquel’s signature dish.
Last but not least — in fact, the very opposite of least — sweet, poised Kristina, who grew up in an orphanage in Russia, sits down for a chat. “You are the American dream,” Chris Harrison tells her, and everyone cries. Not just everyone in the studio, and not just everyone watching at home, but everyone in the world. Look it up, it’s true.
After what feels like hours — actually, I guess it was literally hours — Nick himself emerges for a speed round of ritualistic humiliation. Lacey (footage not found) says Nick friend-zoned her; he basically acknowledges that this is so. Both Kristina and Danielle L. tearily express their confusion about why their connections fizzled. Nick says the only thing he possibly could: Other relationships were stronger?
When Chris Harrison finally (finally) welcomes Rachel to the stage, she receives a standing ovation from the other women. It’s abundantly clear how thrilled everyone is for her.
Rachel says she’s “happy,” “honored,” and “humbled” to be the first-ever black Bachelor or Bachelorette, although she doesn’t want race to be “the focus of [her] journey.” And in case you weren’t already convinced Rachel is a PR virtuoso, consider the convincingly warm and friendly hug she gives Nick.
Honestly, ABC? If you wanna skip next week’s Bachelor finale and dive right into Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette, I won’t tell anyone.
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