The Bachelor's Hannah B. Played Herself — Not Caelynn

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
“I don’t deserve all of this stuff being said about me. I just never thought this would ever happen to me.” Those are the teary end-of-episode words from The Bachelor contestant Hannah Brown in Monday night’s “Week 3.” Yes, the pageant contestant did get a rose from goofy lead Colton Underwood — but not in the fairytale way she expected. Instead, Hannah receives the last rose of the night after two tough conversations with the Bachelor. It’s the kind of confessional interview sound bite that’s meant to garner sympathy from viewers as a feud bubbles over.
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Unfortunately for Hannah, she’s forgetting the two hours of television that came before her emotional post-rose ceremony moment. Despite the waterworks, Hannah is actually the one who started her current calamity. This is how Hannah fell into the one trap DJ Khaled is constantly warning us about: she played herself. And the entire mess comes down to Hannah’s broken friendship with fellow pageant contestant Caelynn Miller-Keyes.
The history of Hannah and Caelynn’s feud is murky at best. We know the beauty queens were once roommates during Miss USA competitions. They were close friends until a “fall out” occurred, as Hannah tells Colton at their group date cocktail party (the women’s last joint Instagram photo was taken in mid February 2018). Hannah is now convinced Caelynn is a master manipulator and liar, who's putting on a fake personality for Colton. So, she decides to break the Bachelor(ette) cardinal rule and spends her scant few minutes of alone time with the lead talking about another contestant. That is the worst possible course of action on The Bachelor. Hannah describes her falling-out with Caelynn as “the most hostile environment” she has ever experienced, and shares all her fears about her ex-friend's possibly shady machinations.
Because Hannah calls Caelynn’s character into question, Caelynn is then forced to defend herself — and does so with a wildly empathetic reaction. At the same cocktail party, Caelynn suggests, in a confusing, opaque way, that her “real life shit” played a factor in the friendship schism, and tears up thinking about it; the Miss USA contestant is a sexual assault survivor, and used her pageant platform to advocate for fellow survivors on college campuses. While Caelynn doesn’t reveal those difficult parts of her history to Colton just yet – and it's not immediately obvious how that trauma affected her friendship with Hannah – her pain is palpable for Colton. He immediately gives Caelynn the rose, while Hannah is left sulking.
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This pageant drama colors the rest of “Week 3,” with both women spending the episode trying to convince Colton the other is a manipulative liar. Ultimately, Caelynn manages to construct a more coherent and lasting argument against Hannah. During the pre-rose ceremony pool party, Caelynn says she and Hannah were very close until her Miss USA profile began to eclipse Hannah’s. That was “when [Hannah] started to get in her head,” according to Caelynn, and supposedly began a pattern of “deceitfulness” and backstabbing. Considering Hannah’s self-admitted tendency to fall apart whenever she doesn’t feel perfect, this narrative seems compelling for Colton, despite the lack of much evidence.
When Caelynn adds, “I’ve noticed it in the house too, where she kind of spirals whenever I have the slightest bit of success,” Colton seem to believe her.
All of a sudden, Colton is seeing Hannah though a damning new lens, precisely because she set this entire kerfuffle in motion. If she hadn’t brought up Caelynn during the initial cocktail party chat, Colton wouldn’t have been forced to spend the subsequent pool party asking Hannah if she’s a toxic person. Yet that’s exactly what happens in the wake of Colton and Caelynn’s conversation. When Hannah denies the accusations being lobbied at her, the Bachelor seems less confident in her denials than he ever did with Caelynn. He walks away from this difficult chat cursing over his own confusion.
Hannah has gone from The Woman Who Brought Down Her “Perfect” Walls For Colton to an alleged petty pageant contestant who begrudges other women even the smallest success. No wonder she only barely snagged a rose.
We can expect this situation will only get more intense with next week’s Singapore-set “Week 4.” The trailer suggests Hannah will be relegated to another group date (this time with leeches?) while Caelynn will get a one-on-one outing. That solo date will seemingly involve a luxury shopping trip à la Becca Kufrin’s fantasy styling trip or the time Rachel Lindsay bought Bryan Abasolo a comically pricey watch. You’ll noticed both of those people technically went on to win their seasons. Would Caelynn have scored such a glamorous date if Hannah hadn't come for her in the first place?
If you thought Hananh’s so-called “beautiful monster” loomed large this week, just wait until this storm of emotions and resentment ventures abroad.
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