Is this the first truly postmodern season of The Bachelorette? Where the tropes and clichés are being embraced and rejected at the same time? It feels like we’re churning through character arcs like so much Slurpee in a 7-Eleven. Everything feels huge and outlandish, but there isn’t a subversive thing about it. There are no fewer than four thematic buzzwords: bold, strong, vulnerable, real (Secret deodorant). By episode three, the meltdowns are typically still lighthearted and fun. There’s usually one guy that drinks too much at the cocktail party and tries to ride a cardboard cutout of Fred Willard. But instead we have the soul-crushing and not at all fun desperation of Luke P. and Cam.
Luke P. and Cam are definitely playing the parts that would fit in on another Bachelorette season, but it just feels … off. Let’s start with Cam, who has the energy of someone who posts on Reddit for relationship advice because the girl he likes is into a guy in a band but can’t see how great he is. Cam keeps talking about how he resigned from his job to appear on The Bachelorette like that’s something to be proud of. Why are you bragging that you’re unemployed?
Then we have Luke P. This motherfucker right here. Luke P. looks like if Justin Timberlake had to play the villain in a Disney Channel Original Movie about the noble game of squash. The whole narrative of someone believing that they’re the favorite and trying to monopolize the lead’s time, but by episode three, my guy? You’re already doing intense Arthur clenched fists, my guy? You can’t even wait until you’re in the top eight or nine? And Hannah doesn’t even seem that hypnotized by you and your wide-ass calves.
And if you take away Luke P. and Cam, what do we have left? A cast almost completely devoid of any charisma. Who is the hilarious comedic narrator of the season? Who is trying to push a completely misguided but mildly amusing catchphrase? Who is Matteo? They kept saying his name, but I’m not entirely convinced he’s a real person.
The episode starts with a group date that’s presented to us as utterly ridiculous and hilarious, but all the dudes nonetheless take away a very serious lesson about Strong Women™. Somehow Jason Biggs is the person to shepherd us through this experience. Does Jason Biggs need work? I stopped watching Orange Is the New Black, did they write him off? Jonathon, Matteo, JPJ, Kevin, Jed, Tyler C., Mike, and Cam all head to a combination warehouse-slash-Lamaze studio to reveal that that American health curriculum has failed them. The only thing Tyler C. knows about pregnancy is that the woman’s belly gets bigger and she eats a lot. Tyler C. looks like Michael Shannon as a character in Varsity Blues, both attractive and terrifying. Jed is able to correctly identify a basic reproductive-health fact and Hannah screams that he knows his way around a woman.
Meanwhile, Cam thinks the gestational period is two weeks. I thought maybe he thinks gestational is some fancy word for a woman’s period … so does he think a period is two weeks long? Murder me. My brain can’t even sustain the weight of that thought.
At one point, each guy has to hold a baby doll and get a clothespin clipped onto his nipples to feel what it’s like to breastfeed. Based on the number of guys in that room, at least one of them had to have felt a stirring in his pants because of the nipple stimulation. Being in public and on camera just added to the thrill.
The real centerpiece of this date is when a very severe nurse hooks the fellas up to a machine to simulate labor. I also clocked that this was the same nurse who led YouTube’s Try Guys through this experience, so she’s really got the market cornered on reproductive-health-based switcheroos. The guys all look like they’re somewhere between intense orgasm and throwing up all of their guts. JPJ is tensing up his entire body before they even turn the machine on. Tyler C. stays in a sexy pose while his taint is being shocked.
Then it’s time for the cocktail party. Hannah is stolen away by Jed and they throw a chicken nugget into the Los Angeles night to make a wish. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Mike has some time with Hannah and he tells her that his girlfriend was pregnant and they were excited to welcome the baby and he was preparing to propose, but they lost the baby in the second trimester. Mike obviously feels guilt over the situation and blames himself for not being there for his girlfriend. The details aren’t super clear, but in this delicate of a situation, I’m fine with no one prying for more info. As Mike is revealing this painful memory to Hannah, Cam is standing in the doorway looking at his watch. Every time Hannah or Mike manages to push Cam out of the room, he waits ten seconds and walks back in because he’s got something really important to tell her, like that he found a foil Charizard card and he really wants to show her. Read the room, dude.
Jonathon is pissed that Cam is being That Guy, so Jonathon decides to physically block Cam from continuing a conversation with Hannah. Jonathon says, “What goes around, comes around.” Cam heads back to the lobby to dig into some … nuggets. Where are these coming from? Is this something I missed?
It’s time for the group-date rose and Hannah gives the rose to Mike for being vulnerable in his own way. Mike is the only person on this date with even the slightest bit of charm, so I’m fine with this.
The next day, Connor is getting ready for his one-on-one date when we cut suddenly to see Hannah in the hospital. Has the Bachelorette ever been sent to the hospital? Connor gets the news that he’s going to go to her hotel room instead, and all the guys hoot and holler like hanging out with someone in their hotel room after being hospitalized is sexxxxxy. Oh yeah, baby, smear that Vicks VapoRub all over me. Connor picks up a card, some chicken soup, and flowers. He goes to Hannah’s hotel room where she tells him that she fainted and had to get fluids. Then they make out. Connor tells her a story about his mom’s health scares, and he writes little notes all over Hannah’s hotel room letting her know all the amazing things about her. Is anyone else FUCKING BORED?
The date isn’t over yet. After Connor lets Hannah take a nap, he heads back to the mansion, but a limo driver tells him he’s got 15 minutes to “look sharp, my man!” I would bet that limo driver says that no less than twice a day. They head to a private concert with Lukas Graham because ABC already paid the deposit. Connor gets the rose.
The final group date of the week is for … some assemblage of dudes. This date card isn’t really read at any point during the episode, but a gaggle of dudes head off to participate in a photo shoot that’s really a 20-minute ad for The Secret Life of Pets 2. Because pets are important but also our secret lives are important except for when they’re bad but pets show us how men relate to animals and secrets and pets and secrets.
Also, The Bachelorette is really overestimating how much I believe that Demi is a mastermind orchestrating honeypot schemes. They’re also overestimating how much Demi I want in general.
After a bizarre photo shoot, it’s time for the guys to get changed to go to the cocktail party. Luke P. is completely unable to let Hannah spend more than 13 minutes without him, so he offers to walk her to her dressing room. Hannah straight-up tells him to stand his khaki ass down.
At the cocktail party, Hannah is wearing something from the Taylor Swift Romper Collection, and she’s decided that she’s not going to tolerate Luke P.’s behavior no matter how ripped his quads are. She takes him aside first and lets him know that he’s acting like she’s promised to him and it’s irritating. He’s gotta give her space because that’s literally the premise of the entire show. Luke P. gets furious that he didn’t get to explain himself. Oh no. Run. Any time a guy says he needs to “explain himself,” just save yourself the trouble and get the hell outta there. Luke P. also says that he’s just going to act like that conversation never happened. That’s just what a woman wants when she sets clear boundaries: a complete disregard for her wishes!
Then Luke does exactly what you’d expect him to do in this situation while Hannah is being rocked by Peter and his extended airplane metaphors. He gets the group-date rose and Luke P. gets a second talking to.
Chris Harrison comes over to tell them that instead of a cocktail party they’re going to do a tailgate party, and the guys are excited because FOOTBALL! and SPORTS! Cam decides to make an actor’s announcement and tell everyone that he would like to talk to Hannah first to tell her another important thing about his life. Mike says “bullshit. There’s no rules of engagement.” He’s 100 percent right and I love him for that.
At the tailgate party, Cam pulls Hannah aside to tell her that he’s had three surgeries, almost lost his leg, his grandma died, and he had to rehouse his puppy. All in the same week. Any and all of those are difficult things to experience, but stacking them in one story that you demand someone listen to is A BIT MUCH. Mike takes Hannah aside and lets her know that Cam thought he was going home and demanded he get to talk to her so any story he told her is probably in search of a pity rose. Hannah is furious and puts it together that Cam just wants to stay and Mike never has to say anything of the sort. She confronts Cam and the rest of the guys to let them know there are no pity roses.
It’s time for the rose ceremony. Jed, Tyler, Dustin, Dylan, Grant, Luke P, Garrett, John Paul Jones, Matteo, Devin, Luke S., and Kevin all get roses. Cam says that it all comes down to if Hannah believes in him and is interested in him. Again, the premise of the entire show. He doesn’t get a rose and heads home to Always Be Cam by Himself.