overnights

The Bachelor Recap: Blunt Trauma

The Bachelor

Week 4
Season 23 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****

The Bachelor

Week 4
Season 23 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: ABC

After watching this episode, I’m just sitting here like Carrie Bradshaw, wearing an incomprehensible mix of pajamas and my actual work clothes and for some reason, fingerless gloves, just making faces at the window over my laptop as I try to find the words to process what I just saw. So let me try my best Carrie impression:

“This episode seemed to exploit the worst aspects of The Bachelor franchise: wringing out women’s emotional trauma as an expression of romantic worthiness, pitting women against each other in demeaning feuds, and forcing the lead to create charisma-less Snapchat video diaries. As I watched Colton and his virginity galavant around Singapore, I couldn’t help but wonder: When it comes to The Bachelor, why are we so willing to go all the way?”

That felt right. Let’s get to it.

The episode starts with the ladies waiting around totally naturally for the date cards to arrive. Instead, they get a visit from Host Chris. He mixes up Caelynn and Hannah B. How can he mix up the only two people providing any interest on this season at all? Caelynn and Hannah B. are paying your fucking mortgage right now, Chris Harrison. Chris isn’t there to confuse two white women, that’s my job, Chris. He’s there to announce that they’re taking a trip to SINGAPORE.

OKAY. THIS IS GENUINELY COOL. Then again, they could be going to Indianapolis, Indiana and Cassie would have to be talking about how exciting it is to see the Broad Ripple Park Carousel! Whichever one is the content creator asks “Where is Singapore?” Colton says that Singapore has lights and buildings.

It’s time for the first date card and it goes to Tayshia. Hannah B. is staring directly into the sun and full-on weeping. Colton and Tayshia are going bungee jumping on the beach in Singapore. The whole thing becomes a giant metaphor for overcoming your fears and being open.

The unfortunate thing that’s happening on this season, probably because Colton has the natural charisma of a soap dish, is the emotional reveals are becoming inelegant. Observe:

“I had a great time today.”

“Me too.”

“So. What happened to you?”

So, in the words of the show, what’s Tayshia’s damage? She’s divorced. It’s 2019. We’re all divorced. Tayshia married her first boyfriend and because she’s a Christian woman, she believed she would get married once and that was it. Hmmm … maybe marrying the first person you’re intimate with doesn’t always lead to success. Thankfully, Colton has divorced parents so he can relate. Colton’s desire to relate doesn’t come off so sweet later in the episode. They head to a giant ferris wheel and make out HARD. Tayshia gets a rose.

The group date card arrives and Hannah B. would be happy to be on any date as long as Caelynn doesn’t get a one-on-one date. She’s never seen this show, has she?

Hannah G., Elyse, Kirpa, Sydney, Heather, Onyeka, Tracy, Nicole, Demi, Courtney, Katie, Cassie, and Hannah B. head out for the markets of Singapore. Again, classic “group date in a new country.” This group date also has a healthy dose of “Aren’t foreign cultures just a lil kooky?” They stroll through the market, get leeches applied to their bodies, and a fortune teller tells Colton and Cassie they were brother and sister in a past life. Y’know, date stuff.

The other storyline brewing this episode is Demi being impossibly great at this game and Courtney being a hatin’ ass bitch. That might sound harsh but … c’mon. It’s a game show, ma’am. You gotta hit the buzzer at some point. No one has ever said “I really liked how this person didn’t make an effort to come talk to me.” Not on this show and not in real life. Demi is still doing her best impression of the overexcited daughter of Samantha Jones and that robot-lady from Weird Science. She does the run up and jump into Colton’s arms. The only flaw is that move is usually reserved for one-on-one dates or hometown visits. Demi does not stop there: She’s riding on Colton’s back like a lil baby chimpanzee riding on her mama.

Courtney asks if the leeches are FDA approved. The FDA does not have jurisdiction in a Singapore back room. Then there’s a little montage of everyone eating offal and various animal parts. Hannah B. says that Colton should recognize that she’s eating a fish eye to impress him. It doesn’t get his attention, so she does that thing where she puts a whole fish in her mouth and just pulls out the bones.

It’s time for the evening portion of the group date. Hannah B. steals Colton away immediately and decides to tell him that she’s not talking about Caelynn anymore by talking about how this feud with Caelynn is ruining her relationship with Colton. Hannah B. is just asking for a little reassurance, but it always comes off as a feelings ultimatum. She wants to know that Colton can see that she has noble character and that’s the most important thing for a man to see in his wife.

Courtney is sitting around waiting for her turn and she’s getting wound up. She says she’d just like to feel confident for once. Demi says that no one feels confident. It’s The Bachelor. Courtney also says that Colton is getting hankered down and I’ve been trying to crack what that means for the last 45 minutes. Demi says that Courtney’s approach seems lazy and she hasn’t done anything to get Colton’s attention. DEMI IS NOT WRONG. Courtney thinks that Colton is busy thinking about her, and Colton ain’t thinking about ANYTHING. Demi tells Colton about her mother being released from federal prison. I feel like we’ve all forgotten that her mother is in federal prison and is setting us up for an unbelievable hometown visit if she makes it that far. Demi is frustrated that Courtney isn’t taking advantage of her time so she goes to find Colton again.

Demi is playing three-dimensional chess while Courtney is still figuring out how to set up the Jenga pieces. Kirpa tells Courtney that people are getting double time and Courtney loses her goddamn mind. Instead of going to find Colton and stealing him away, she finds Demi to tell her that Demi is a two-faced bitch. Courtney then starts to insult Demi’s maturity level and tells her she has no class. “Class” is a lie invented by the boring to justify their existence. Courtney’s plan backfires when Demi gets the group date rose.

It’s time for Caelynn’s date and it’s not worth talking about anything other than her incredibly powerful story. After a day of shopping with shopkeepers who feel like they’re from the straight-to-DVD version of Crazy, Rich, Asians, Caelynn and Colton sit down for the inevitable emotional backstory conversation. Caelynn’s story is powerful and raw and you can tell this was a formative moment for her. Sometimes these sob stories feel like someone is spinning a tale to get more screen time, but no one would invent or exaggerate a story like this. Caelynn talks about being sexually assaulted at a party in college and how it became a mission to fight for justice. Survivors’ rights were her platform in the Miss USA pageant.

It’s STUNNING to see the difference in how The Bachelor treats sexual assault and harassment now versus how it handled it on Paradise. Do we all remember how the cast of Bachelor in Paradise sat around and accused Corrinne of not watching how much she drank? Do we remember when ABC trotted Corrinne and DeMario out and Corrinne essentially had to apologize to DeMario for making his life hell? Do we all remember how the cast got to say over and over that nothing happened and the whole thing was blown out of proportion? Do we remember how “sexual assault” became something women who regret their sexual experiences cry to avoid consequences? It’s amazing how sexual assault gets treated on the show when it doesn’t threaten any executives’ livelihoods. Or when the survivor in question has been portrayed as a gentle Southern beauty queen instead of the season’s villain from Miami who loves to parade around in lingerie and a trench coat.

Then there’s Colton’s reaction. His first impulse is to bring up that he’s dated a woman who went through an assault before to reassure Caelynn that he understands the complex healing process might lead to slowing down some physical aspects of a relationship, which is not completely awful. BUT THEN — he pivots to this somehow being the reason he’s still a virgin and this idiot completely lost me.

Where is the logic here? How is this appropriate? Colton’s most famous ex-girlfriend, Aly Raisman, spoke out about her assault and her courage helped take down an entire insidious network that enabled a predator that assaulted hundreds of young people. This isn’t really his story to tell and it’s CERTAINLY not his story to tell about HIS VIRGINITY.

It’s insulting to even bring it up, but nonetheless, Caelynn gets the one-on-one rose. Also, this date took place where the wedding reception took place in Crazy, Rich Asians. How did they do this whole episode without bringing that movie up?

At the cocktail party, Colton makes out with Hannah G. on his hotel-room bed in a VERY intense way, and because I have trouble telling these women apart, I thought it was Cassie for the first three minutes of their make-out.

Caelynn and Hannah B. call a truce on their feud and Hannah B. refers to it as an apology from Caelynn. This bitch is crazy. Demi pulls Colton aside to tell him that Courtney is a cancer in the house. Demi breaks the cardinal rule of being a ladytestant: Never complain about another ladytestant — but once you have a rose, it makes it a lot easier. Courtney tries to tell Colton about Demi’s behavior, but she inadvertently questions Colton’s judgement and continues to lecture Demi about her maturity when they’re the same age. Colton is clearly annoyed that he has to deal with this again (and probably annoyed that Demi already has a rose and he can’t send both of them home).

I should add: Have the optics of this fight changed now that Demi is inventing that Courtney attacked her? Yes. Yes, they have, but there’s no time to break that down when it’s time for the rose ceremony! Hannah G., Heather, Kirpa, Hannah B., Elyse, Sydney, Cassie, Nicole, and Onyeka all get roses. Tracy and Courtney head into that sweet Singapore night.

Next week, Elyse does something SHOCKING. Is it turn 32?

The Bachelor Recap: Blunt Trauma