Spoilers are ahead. Generally speaking, crying in The Bachelor franchise is usually bad news. They mean an unprecedented amount of stress; a difficult breakup; or in some more nefarious cases, bullying between contestants. We're halfway through Katie Thurston's season of The Bachelorette, and already we've seen our fair share of wet cheeks. In this case, however, they feel less upsetting and more — dare I say, refreshing?
During the July 12 episode, Katie sent home Connor "The Cat" Brennan. It turned out to be a difficult elimination for not only fans, but the other members of the house as well. That's saying a lot — usually contestants are happy seeing one less person to compete with. The emotional moment when Connor B. said his goodbyes to the rest of the house was a testament to how beloved he was to the other men on the show. It also very notably was indicative of how much empathy this group has, as many of the men were reduced to tears.
"It was heartbreaking to watch Connor walk in," Tre said during his talking head as his eyes began to well up. "I'm shook right now. I know the guy's heart and he's such a good guy."
Mike P., whose main personality trait so far in the competition has been his virginity, sat in shock as his eyes began to turn glassy. Noted shit-stirrer and aggro-man Hunter hung his head and sniffled. Canadian firefighter Brendan cried. Michael gave Connor B. a kiss on the cheek and and held his teary face in disbelief, and Greg, whose well-documented bromance with the math teacher has enchanted the internet, couldn't stop himself from breaking down.
This isn't the first time this kind of teary, emotional moment has gripped the house — the other notable exchange was during the July 5 episode, when Michael shared with the group that he's not only a father, but also a widower. He explained that he's learned to value the time he has as finite, and everyone was moved: Andrew M. put his arm around Michael, and Greg in particular began crying as he shared his admiration for Michael for being so strong. During Greg's confessional, he continued crying, admonishing himself for getting upset earlier in the week over more trivial things.
Of course, seeing men show their raw emotion isn't some sort of revelation or celebration of the bare minimum here. And sure, it wouldn't be The Bachelorette without at least one sports-game-that-goes-too-far, which we got during episode 5, but it was stopped immediately and not too much fallout ensued. But in a franchise where the majority of the focus is machismo-driven drama between men — usually in a Bachelorette promo we'll see at least one man threatening the others or nearly getting into a fight — it's nice to see empathy and more emotion-driven drama modeled for the millions of viewers who tune into the show.
As anyone who's been following The Bachelor franchise knows by now, the reality TV series still has a ton of work to do when it comes to addressing its systemic issues. But at least in this case, it seems like this season is making a few small strides when it comes to washing away (with tears) some of its toxic masculinity.