This year’s The Bachelor: Women Tell All marks the second time Victoria Larson has "apologized" for her behavior on Matt James' season. But despite Larson being the sole focus of the first 15 minutes of this week's episode, her latest pseudo-apology wasn't any better than the first. She invalidated her acknowledgement of wrongdoing mere moments after voicing it by attempting to brush off the feelings of Ryan Claytor (whom Victoria called a "ho" during The Bachelor) and trying to centralize herself as the victim. It's hardly a surprise at this point, but Victoria should know she won't be getting any bonus points for a second half-hearted apology.
Her first attempt came during a Good Morning America interview in late January, where she claimed that her behavior on the show was "all in good fun." She then turned the conversation towards herself and her own post-show experience. "I anticipated being well-received, so to get, like, the bullying messages and the hate mail and the death threats" shocked her. She did include an apology of sorts, though it seemed just as aimed at the people calling her names as it was an admonishment of her own behavior. "Lastly, of course name calling is never okay, but I hold myself accountable and can just do better next time. I cannot change the past. It truly was not malicious and I am so sorry. I love each girl I met on my journey."
In the weeks after her GMA interview, Victoria continued to express on Instagram about how hurtful people were being towards her while largely ignoring her own toxic actions. And while she's right that name calling is not acceptable, she also continued to miss the point: fans, and the women hurt by her actions, want accountability from Victoria. Calling her a bully isn’t name-calling, it’s a description of her actions. They want her to own those actions and actually learn from them. It doesn’t appear that she’s learned anything. In an Instagram post promoting her Women Tell All interview, she captioned a photo of her wearing her signature crown, "You can always learn & grow, but some things never change." By perpetuating her "queen" persona and being flippant about learning and growing, it sure seems like she hasn't done either of those things.
That was abundantly clear during her actual Women Tell All “apology." While donning her crown for the special, Victoria called the show "a learning experience to see how harsh my words were" and apologized to Ryan specifically for calling her a "ho." But then she undercut everything. Victoria told Ryan that she had “an attitude” and accused her of being overly sensitive. "Do you think you're a super sensitive person, though? I have been called way more horrible things on the internet and I brush it off," Victoria said, once again centering herself as a victim. Ryan tried to point out that being called those a "ho" by Victoria on national television was even more hurtful. "I was called a bully on TV," Victoria replied. "Okay, but maybe you were," Ryan said. The fact is, Ryan is has a point.
In another segment, Victoria did apologize to Katie Thurston, who she clashed with during filming, but with Katie, Victoria’s tone was measured and she was far less defensive than she was with Ryan. Victoria also outright acknowledged her wrongdoing with regard to Katie — something she couldn’t give Ryan without pointing out her own discomfort. This mirrors Victoria's attitude on the show, where her vitriol was targeted almost exclusively towards women of color.
Victoria's "apology" on the Women Tell All was just an extension of what we saw from her this season. But it was even harder to stomach in the wake of the reckoning the franchise is currently going through. To put Victoria's apology at the top of the show and then to quickly move past it to make room for the regularly scheduled bloopers, potential Bachelorette hot seat interviews, and a preview of the rest of the season minimizes her behavior. Add to that, the fact that in the special's final moments, a tearful Victoria asked for an apology from Matt himself, for being frustrated with her behavior on the series and it certainly feels like Victoria is slipping into the typical "villains gotta vill" narrative. If we accept that, we risk potentially seeing Victoria getting the tried and true redemption arc on Bachelor in Paradise, and her behavior this season continuing to be normalized in future seasons.
Katie may have accepted Victoria's half-apology out of a desire to "move on" from the season, but in order to move forward, we must acknowledge what Victoria's explanation was missing.