Few episodes of the 2021 Bachelor have felt more action packed than Monday night’s “Week 7.” As the prelude to lockdown-era Hometown dates, Bachelor Matt James is forced to cut his number of contestants in half by the end of the episode. This challenge leads to one self-elimination, an abrupt exit by a fan favorite, a one-on-one date rejection, and an intense rose ceremony — all while the appearance of Heather Martin takes up a quarter of “Week 7.”
With so much to accomplish in just two hours (including commercials), certain moments are bound to fall through the cracks. In “Week 7,” the story of Bri Springs suffers the most painful bit of collateral damage under the crush of the Bachelor machine. Bri shares a genuinely life-changing story with Matt during the episode — and the moment is quickly lost amid the tornado of drama that is this Bachelor chapter. After a season more enamored with gimmicky twists than true romance, this latest slight is particularly difficult to accept.
The midway point of “Week 7” is a cocktail party for the final group date of the season. Bri takes the opportunity to get cryptically candid during a confessional. “With great love can also come great sacrifices and for an opportunity to find love with Matt. I did give up a lot,” Bri begins. During Bri’s subsequent solo time with Matt, she clarifies exactly what she “gave up” to pursue him.
“A few days ago, I did something really big. I had to resign from my position to be here,” Bri tells Matt. “I knew that was a decision I was going to have to make. But after weighing what this journey could mean for me, to give me that opportunity to find love with someone — with you specifically, I thought it was worth it.”
At a base level, Bri's decision to give up her job is huge, particularly in a pandemic and especially in a society where healthcare is traditionally tied to your place of employment. But, it is even bigger when you take into account Bri’s actual career trajectory. While Bri’s official ABC bio is purposefully light on details about her job — she is listed as a “communications manager” for “a high-profile social media company” — fans theorize the 24-year-old works at Facebook (Bri has kept that detail private). At the beginning of the season, now-disgraced Bachelor host Chris Harrison revealed in a cast preview video, “[Bri] almost wasn’t on the show because she obviously didn’t want to give up this amazing job.”
Bri then adds on a gutting emotional and familial layer to her decision. As viewers learned during “Week 2,” Bri’s mother got pregnant at 13 and strove to give her daughter a chance at success (Bri’s Bachelor bio credits her grandmother with raising her as well). “When I think about my mom being a single mom, she had to make a lot of sacrifices for me to have a better life than what she had,” Bri tells Matt in “Week 7,” contextualizing her resignation. “So my work wasn’t just a job to me. It felt like a dream. But being here with you, makes it feel extremely worth it.”
Three women — Bri included — gave their blood, sweat, and tears for Bri’s professional success, and she willingly put all of that on pause for Matt, who was still dating seven other women, at minimum, when she made that choice. That is the kind of twist that should be dug into. The audience should have heard about this imminent struggle earlier in the season — Bri says she knew it was coming — and once again at the point where she finally had to make a call. We should have been on the edge of our seats to find out if one of Matt’s most eligible women was going to pick him or everything she has built for herself. But we don't even hear about it again in “Week 7.” Only finding out about this gigantic conflict after its been resolved entirely off-screen (and for days) shortchanges fans, their ability to invest in Bri’s love story, and Bri herself as a Bachelor character.
It’s also simply jarring to realize such a massive concern has been hiding in plain sight for weeks, and fans had no idea. It makes you wonder, what other stories are right in front of us, but not being shared?
This question feels distinctly pressing during the 2021 Bachelor. This season has given a shocking amount of airtime to romantically inconsequential drama rather than the depth of the Bachelor’s love stories. Sarah Trott’s selfish behavior in “Week 3” eclipsed Matt’s one-on-one with Serena Pitt. “Week 4” was swallowed by fake, legitimately harmful rumors about new cast member Brittany Galvin. “Week 5” is bookended by the downfall of three “mean girls.” It is difficult to remember which dates happened during these episodes, but you probably remember who was fighting with whom.
“Week 7,” the most impactful episode so far this season, does not let go of this myopic attitude. Heather’s unrequested cameo sucks up a half-hour of screen time. Press photos reveal what could have filled that space instead: a confusingly sexy group date in a hot tub. These images suggest Bri and Matt’s relationship may have been the backbone of the outing. We see the pair holding hands in winter outfits, holding hands in a robe and tiny swim trunks respectively, and straddling each other in a hot tub. While they’re only snapshots of the date, the photos look romantic and sensual — like the kinds of scenes that make you actively root for a Bachelor couple. They could have easily informed viewers on Bri’s decision to give up her job and pick Matt (which currently lacks any real resonance since The Bachelor forgot about Bri after her season-starting one-on-one). But, we didn’t get them. We get Heather crying in Nemacolin Resort and promptly leaving.
While previous seasons of The Bachelor weren’t perfect, we could at least recognize the stark differences between the four relationships that made it to Hometowns. Just last year, Madison Prewett and Victoria Fuller’s connections with Peter Weber couldn’t have seemed more different. But, it’s impossible to really clarify the contrasts between the way Matt feels about, say, Bri versus Serena Pitt. That’s a catastrophic and foundational storytelling problem. The lack of care for Bri’s career bombshell is simply a symptom.