Wait, was the Bachelor franchise in the news this week or something? Considering the amount of attention that “Bachelor in Paradise” has received since the last episode of “The Bachelorette” aired, one might expect the show to somehow address the situation. Maybe some sort of statement? An acknowledgement that there are still unanswered questions? Instead, the chosen option: silence. If you didn’t know about the lawyering up going on behind the scenes of the Bachelor world, you would not have learned anything about it from tonight’s business-as-usual episode of “The Bachelorette.” At least for this viewer, the franchise is admittedly a different one to watch — and a tougher one to poke at with ironic distance — given what we do and don’t know about why “Bachelor in Paradise” shut down production.
That said, Rachel is a gift, and it’s a shame that events outside of her season would cloud or detract from her experience. Also, watching a grown man start to spell the word “facade” with the letters “p-h-y …” nearly had me on the ground laughing.
Yes, there was a spelling bee date! More on that later. But with that preamble in mind, let’s start, like the episode does, with Lee.
Lee and Kenny are fighting. Lee, by the way, has had his own negative press for a number of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets, allegedly sent by the contestant. But even if you just watch the show, and know nothing else, it seems impossible to be Team Lee. It’s just an unacceptable position to take. Dean spells it out: “Lee’s kind of a … b—?”
Rachel overhears Kenny shouting at Lee, and gets upset. For the first time so far this season she struggles to find words.
“The pressures that I feel being a black woman, and what that is …” she trails off. “I already know what people are going to say about me, and judge me for the decisions that I’m making.”
For perhaps the first time we see Rachel entirely overwhelmed, and it’s tough to watch. It seems pretty clear from a viewer’s perspective that there are maybe three men in the house who could ever possibly come close to being good enough for Rachel. But in the moment she seems unable to see past the losers, and becomes sad and disappointed.
“I can facilitate anything,” Chris Harrison interjects, serving a purpose for the first time in approximately four seasons. Straight to the rose ceremony we go where we say goodbye to Bryce, Diggy and Brady (whose name I had to google). It seems worth pointing out that all of these men went home before a man whose alleged profession is “tickle monster.”
The rest of the episode is set in South Carolina. First, Dean gets a one-on-one date with Rachel and the two settle down in a franchise favorite locale — an empty field in the middle of nowhere!
“We’re going to have a picnic!” Rachel proclaims.
“Here?” Dean replies.
Not for long. The two are picked up by the publicity thirst trap that is the Goodyear Blimp. Later, Dean tells Rachel a very sad story about how his mom died of breast cancer when he was 15 years old. They both cry, and head to a concert performed by a country artist you’ve never heard of named Russell Dickerson. Has there ever been a more classic “Bachelorette” date? Dean gets a rose.
Next, the group date takes Rachel and a whole flock of dudes onto a boat where they engage in some cringe-inducing one-upmanship. Josiah says he can do 30 pushups with Rachel on his back. He does 20. Kenny does a freestyle rap, and then Peter tries one as well. One note about the editing — was it just me, or did the sound designers line up a beat right in time with Kenny’s rap, but offset Peter’s just a little? Oh well, rude, but it was funny, so job well done.
Then, suddenly, time to spell! The genius of spending all this time inflating bro egos before subjecting them to a spelling bee cannot be overstated. This is the point at which I reveal my personal bias because Anthony and I share an alma mater. Let it be known that I wish him much success on television and in life. I’m also going to give Anthony a pass for getting out on the word “boutonniere” especially considering the next contestant was asked to spell … “stunning.” The methodology of this bee would not pass the Scripps test, or the smell test, or any test, really. It’s messed up. Josiah wins by spelling “polyamorous.”
After the bee, the drama heats back up leading into next week’s episode. If you’ve lost track of which meat heads are bickering, don’t worry because they’ll all (hopefully) go home soon. Eric yelled at Lee last episode, but now the so-called “b—” (Dean’s words, not mine), is mostly focused on annoying Kenny. Meanwhile, Iggy suddenly turns on Josiah, and the two start their own feud. At long last, this mostly frustrating and relatively gloomy episode come to a close.
How many roses do you think Rachel should give out at the next ceremony — more or less than two? Weigh in below.