This week’s episode of The Bachelorette has it all: Dogs, fireworks, artificial poop, a 19-time NBA All-Star, and most importantly, an instructive morality play about why you shouldn’t cheat on your romantic partner — or, at the very least, why you shouldn’t cheat on your romantic partner if you intend to appear on a popular reality television program that specifically requires you to be single.
Back at the mansion (Man-sion? Is there a joke there? No? I apologize), Dean, Jack, Jonathan, Blake, Iggy, Kenny, Fred, and Lucas — excuse me, Whaboom — are tapped for the season’s first group date. They come upon Rachel grilling in a cut-out dress, which, while very cute, seems like a choice of cooking attire that would make multiple spots on one’s abdomen vulnerable to the splashing of hot burger grease. (No one eats the meat she’s grilling, of course. It is a ritual offering to be left at the altar of Chris Harrison.)
For reasons that I am no better equipped to explain than you are, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are on hand. These Bachelor franchise fans say they love Rachel so much that when she was chosen as the next Bachelorette, they called up the producers and asked to make an appearance. (Swinging by your favorite reality shows on a whim is the only genuinely appealing thing about being a celebrity.) But once they witness Whaboom whaboom, it seems like they might regret this choice.
The eight dudes must face off on an obstacle course designed to test whether they’re “husband material.” The challenges include changing a (plastic) baby, wrestling said child into a Baby Bjorn, vacuuming, cleaning hair out of a drain, and setting a table. I will say this: Whichever production assistant fabricated those diapers did not skimp on the fecal matter. “I poop every day, so I feel like I can handle it all right,” brags Iggy, a man after my own heart.
The race comes down to Kenny, who has a child, and Whaboom, who has the emotional intelligence of one. But Whaboom fights dirty, stiff-arming Kenny and claiming a tainted victory. During his alone time with Rachel, Lucas reads her a poem he scrawled on a crumpled piece of loose-leaf paper torn from a notebook, though not along the perforations. If Corinne was living 13 Going on 30, could Lucas be living Big?
Mark off the “not here for the right reasons” spot on your bingo card. Blake E. (I will never forget you, Blake K.) continues to be performatively disgusted by Whaboom, revealing that Lucas’ ex-girlfriend is his roommate. Actually, their connection goes even deeper than that — the two men costarred on another reality dating show before The Bachelorette.
“The only leg I have to stand on are my two legs,” Whaboom offers cryptically. “These white dudes are kinda bugging right now,” says Kenny, who is certainly not wrong.
This may not come as much of a surprise, given how much of the day has centered around infant diarrhea, but Rachel’s one-on-one conversations on this group date are less than sexy. Jonathan has brought his plastic baby along to discuss proper butt-wiping technique. Iggy is sweating profusely. The evening’s romance quotient increases considerably during her time with Dean, a 25-year-old man who has never held a baby, which, okay. He wins the rose.
Peter gets the season’s first one-on-one date, which is great news for me, because Peter is very handsome and I enjoy looking at him. But then Rachel reveals that their one-one-one date is really a two-on-one date. She’s invited along her best friend, who recently survived an accident: It’s Copper, her sweet and fluffy “dog child,” tottering around with one leg in a bejeweled cast! (But... what happened to Copper? Why are we not talking about this? I am vastly more invested in Copper than any of these male humans.)
The trio takes a private plane to Palm Springs, where they attend BarkFest by BarkBox (#sponcon), an interspecies pool party slash IRL hotel for dogs. It is as if The Bachelorette has finally realized that it’s high time they start pandering to me, personally. Chris Harrison, if you are reading this: Thank you. I will grill you a meat sacrifice.
Peter, happily, hits it off beautifully with both Copper and his dog-mom. He expresses his willingness to move to Dallas to be with Rachel, which already puts them a step ahead of Vanessa and Nick, who I can only imagine are living in a wormhole between Los Angeles and Montreal right now.
Over dinner, they talk about their positive experiences with therapy and their matching diastemas — the gaps between their teeth, the single most adorable trait a person can have. He gets the rose, obviously, and they kiss under some fireworks. I’m not saying Rachel and Peter should get married and have a minimum of three children, but actually, yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.
Will, Jamie, Diggy, Alex, Adam, Lee, Matt, Eric, Josiah, and DeMario are whisked away to play basketball in front of a high school gym-full of strangers and also Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which sounds more like a very specific stress dream than any kind of real-world date. (My original draft of the previous sentence referred to the spectators as the “audience” and the men’s basketball uniforms as their “costumes,” so I will spare you my attempts at a more detailed play-by-play of the game.) Overall, more baskets are missed than they are made, but DeMario can dunk. He compares himself to Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Derek Jeter in the same breath. Later, in the course of another single breath, he compares himself to LeBron, Kobe, and Mike again.
After the game, a woman named Lexi approaches Rachel — DeMario was (is?) her boyfriend of seven months, she says, but he didn’t even have the decency to break up with her before he was introduced to Rachel on After the Final Rose. Rachel fetches DeMario — radiating the smugness of a man who’s sure he’s about to get a rose — from the locker room and brings him back to Lexi in the gym. “Karma’s a bitch,” she declares, having clearly logged hours rehearsing that line while stuck in traffic or beating the foam out of a punching bag with DeMario’s face crudely sketched on it. He lets out an “ohhh” of recognition and then a half-hearted “Who’s this?” In spirit, his reaction reminds me of this truly amazing video of a little girl who blames her fart on a ghost. DeMario calls Lexi a “psycho” (classic) and tries to play off his misbehavior, but she has the text-message receipts to prove they were together.
I would like to note that, for the record, I believe Lexi is honest and that DeMario is indeed a Bad Man. That said, it could be simultaneously true that she may be a little unhinged. She takes it upon herself to address the camera directly (outside of talking-head interviews, this is simply ~not done~), swearing on both her father’s grave and her kittens that DeMario is lying. Can we get Lexi on Paradise or what?
Anyway, Rachel unleashes a glorious and extremely satisfying rage upon DeMario: “I’m not here to be played, I’m not here to be made a joke of, so I’m really going to need you to get the fuck out.” Watching Bad Men get righteously shouted at may be just the emotional salve I need to endure Trump’s America. The group-date rose ultimately goes to Josiah, because Rachel appreciated how “protective” he was after the whole DeMario mess went down.
But that’s not quite right — the whole DeMario mess hasn’t finished going down. During the cocktail party, DeMario resurfaces, begging to be let onto the property. Chris Harrison relays this information to Rachel, who is curious enough to hear him out. The dudes catch wind of DeMario’s return, too, and head outside to cut him off at the pass.
We’ll have to wait till next week to see just how bitchy karma can be.
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