The Bachelor Recap: Let Clayton Himbo

The Bachelor

Week Three
Season 26 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 2 stars

The Bachelor

Week Three
Season 26 Episode 3
Editor’s Rating 2 stars
Photo: John Fleenor/ABC

A limo pulls up to Bachelor Mansion, and as the door opens, a Birkenstocked foot steps out of the car and an L.L.Bean Winter Fleece Zip-Front Robe unfurls to the ground. Have you ever seen a woman more beautiful? Have you ever seen a woman more alluring? Have you ever seen a woman more prepared to drolly recap The Bachelor franchise? That’s right …

I’m back, my beautiful babies. I had to take a couple of weeks off to take care of my health, and thank you all for not bothering me on Twitter, and a big, warm thank you to Kathryn for filling in! But I’m back and better than ever? Yeah, let’s go with better than ever. I’m all caught up, and I have so many questions.

Do I have face blindness, or do half of these women all look alike? I’m not saying they all look alike. I’m saying that there are three faces available, and no one has bought an expansion pack. Is Sierra using Fenty Fairy Bomb or a discontinued tub of Jessica Simpson’s Dessert by Jessica Simpson? How is the show burning through villain edits this fast?

But the biggest question I have is, Why won’t they let Clayton be a big, dumb slut?

He’s a himbo! I mean this in the nicest possible way. Justice for the himbo! Long live the big dumb sluts! He’s clearly a big ol’ dummy who likes to smooch. He’s unproblematic Gaston, and they’re trying to make us think he’s end-of-the-Movie Beast — you know, after Belle taught him to use a fork again.

Why won’t they let us have our first himbo Bachelor?

The show keeps insisting Clayton is this sensitive, thoughtful, supportive man who has reached new levels of emotional enlightenment when there ain’t nothing rolling around in that large noggin of his. He’s a doof! Instead of forcing this guy to validate and acknowledge everyone’s emotional needs, he needs to be taking everyone to laser tag. That’s more his speed. So far, he’s told nearly every woman they have a very strong connection and he’s so glad they’re here. And every woman says Clayton makes her feel so comfortable. It’s easy to feel comfortable with a strong connection when he hasn’t uttered a unique thought and repeats what you say back to him as if it’s his own thought.

The show has been working hard to remind us that Clayton is a safe choice and that if you settled down with him, your mom would be proud. But really he’s the cheerful rebound guy you take to your friend’s play and date for 12 weeks until you express a negative emotion and he gets scared. A Clayton has its purpose, and it’s not as the Bachelor. It’s being in your phone as “Maybe: Clayton” for three whole months.

Let’s get into it.

We are still at a rose ceremony because the show wanted to wait for me. Thank you, show. Clayton wants to know if anyone has ever taken a rose back before, and Cassidy is waving that rose around like the answer is no. The mighty hubris of a blonde on reality TV. She is Icarus in a red dress. Cassidy’s crime is she has a fuck buddy she’s trying to impress by going on The Bachelor. Oh, sweetie. That’s … not how this is going to work. Let me give a word of advice to all 26-year-olds: He’s not jealous. He’s never going to be jealous. Learn a trade.

Clayton goes to Jesse for some advice, and this is the first time Jesse is tasked with solving a Bachelor-related quandary, and he mostly says, “But you gave her the rose already,” and Clayton says back, “I’ve already given her a rose.” Someone explain to me why either of these men are on my screen. Just let The Bachelor be hosted by an animated nacho chip named Chip Harrison. But Jesse does remind him that there are no rules, and Clayton can do whatever he wants. Clayton goes back in and pulls Cassidy aside. She tells him she already knows what he’s going to say. We never come back to it, but I desperately want to know what Cassidy thought Clayton would say. What was so unspoken between them that was finally going to be named?

As Clayton asks Cassidy about this alleged relationship, the dates and how often she saw this FWB changes wildly. She hasn’t been in a relationship since 2019. Well, she’s had an interest in him. Well, they are friends, and he supports Cassidy in taking this riskWell, Cassidy doesn’t want to resume the relationship because it isn’t going anywhere. The what isn’t going anywhere? Okay, fine: He’s a guy she slept with in the last few months before she left to be on The Bachelor, but she’s into Clayton now. Can someone tell me the acceptable amount of time between your last relationship and going on The Bachelor because what is the crime here? It doesn’t matter because Clayton’s trust and their connection have been shaken. And thus a rose is rescinded, and Cassidy didn’t even pack her stuff!

It’s time for the rose ceremony?!?!?!

Elizabeth and Shanae both get talking heads about how stressed they are that the other might get a rose, which ensures that both of them will get roses. Eliza, Rachel, Serene, Sierra, Teddi, Lindsay, Jill, Gabby, Kira, Mara, Marlena, Genevieve, Hunter, Melina, Elizabeth, and Shanae all get roses. Clayton thanks everyone for their continued patience as the organization restructures. Cheers!

It’s time for the week’s first group date, and this segment will contain sensitive subject matter. Bachelor, please, let me go. Jesse comes in and tells the ladytestants they’ll have 45 minutes to create the perfect cupcake display … wait … sorry, he entered a fugue state and thought this was the Holiday Baking Championship. There will be two group dates and one one-on-one date. The first date card is for Serene, Susie, Eliza, Mara, Marlena, Hunter, Genevieve, and Jill, and it just says, “I see you.” Clayton is hiding behind a potted plant.

They all head to a theater, and it feels like they’ve rented out this theater before for a spoken-word performance or something. Inside, a woman is cloaked in darkness, and it’s Kaitlyn Bristowe! They blew their celebrity budget on Hilary Duff! Kaitlyn is there to guide them through exercises to open up and be vulnerable. The exercises are Kaitlyn reading one phrase off a clipboard, and everyone stands up if they agree, and that’s it. The statement is “If there are parts of yourself you’re not proud of, stand up.” Everyone stands up because you’d definitely be an asshole if you didn’t. Let me just say one thing about this exercise:


Someone clearly told Clayton that he has to have a sob story about his troubled past for him to be the Bachelor, and he landed on “I am insecure about my body,” which fine, yes, as a society, we would all be better off if we could more honestly talk about how fatphobia and diet culture has fucked us all up. There are puh-lenty of things about professional sports and how it completely screws up people’s bodies and their relationships to their bodies. But if we’re all gonna hang Clayton’s emotional life and growth on “I didn’t have abs,” I’m not gonna make it! It was high school! No one has abs! As someone who has been fat for most of my life and, when I wasn’t fat, still pushed to be on diets and lose weight to satisfy other people, hearing someone say, “I lost 15 pounds and pinch my stomach, and I didn’t have abs” definitely isn’t giving what it’s supposed to be giving. I can only talk about my own experience with fatness and how I think and talk about it, but I didn’t feel like when Clayton was talking, I heard some profound, prolonged struggle with body image and weight. It sounded like a couple of bad years. Which is fine!!! I don’t want to dismiss any anguish or strife Clayton went through when it comes to his body, but knowing that this show will probably never cast a fat person and then having the only stories we get about body image be either “I was skinny” or “I had to make weight during football season” is a disservice to the thousands of stories about weight that basically any television show could be telling.

And Marlena says she told herself she wouldn’t bring up race to Clayton at all, and I had to lie down for 45 minutes before I continued the episode.

At the night portion of the date, everyone keeps talking about how great it was to open up, how great it was to see Clayton open up, and how validated they feel by Clayton active listening to their stories. Everyone says they have a strong connection with him, which he repeats, and they make out. My guy, if you have a strong connection with everyone, you don’t have a strong connection with anyone. Can someone point me to the front-runner so far? We’re three episodes in; I should at least know your type! I guess his type is “human woman.”

It’s time for Sarah’s one-on-one date. Sarah is a beautiful human woman inside and out and has a strong connection with Clayton. There is simply no budget left for this date, so Becca Kufrin will lead them through the Say Yes Scavenger Hunt, which is definitely left over from a pandemic season. They have to strip down to their underwear, and Sarah asks what to do if they aren’t wearing any underwear. Interesting, go on.

They have to do a series of activities that reveal literally nothing because when Clayton has to sing his feelings for her, he says she’s beautiful and once stepped out of a limo. PLEASE! GIVE ME ONE SPECIFIC DETAIL ABOUT ANY OF THESE PEOPLE AND HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT EACH OTHER! For the night portion of the date, they go to the “Van Gogh Immersive Experience” because I guess all the Instagram museums were closed that night.

Back at the house, everyone is saying the word shrimp entirely too much. It’s lost all meaning and shape. Elizabeth decides to make a plate of garlic shrimp for lunch with no sides, and Shanae takes eight shrimp out of 15. That’s entirely too much shrimp for one woman. Elizabeth judges how much shrimp Shanae is taking, and there is a shrimp counter in the corner of the screen. But Shanae decides to turn the shrimp tables on everyone by making another serving of shrimp because other people are still hungry. Shanae is furious that Elizabeth does not profusely thank her for the second serving. This is the best drama we can manage? I remember when some girl in Paradise was “Scallop Fingers,” but suddenly shrimp is the social currency in the house?

Back on the evening portion of the date, Sarah tells Clayton she’s adopted and, because her family is white and she’s Vietnamese, French, and Irish, it’s clear she’s adopted. As a result of being adopted, she feels like a second choice, and she doesn’t trust love when it comes to her. I’d like to hear more about this, and I’d love Clayton to ask a single follow-up question, but he just thanks her for sharing and says it helps him understand her better. Sarah tells him that he deserves to find love. Girl, he’s a straight white man who used to play in the NFL; there’s no debate there. They head to another room in the exhibit and make out, and it’s the most romantic moment of Sarah’s life. She’s 24, so this just blasted her promposal out of the top spot.

It’s time for the week’s second group date, and the ladytestants all head to a beach on an overcast day in their cute beachwear. The theme for the date today is “Uh … Baywatch, I guess?!?!” Nicole Eggert greets them, and I would bet a year’s salary that none of these women recognized her without being prompted. No shade to Nicole Eggert, but were we really watching Baywatch like that? The women all put on the iconic red suit, and they have to do a series of Baywatch-themed events, one of which is “Putting on sunscreen.” Shanae goes up to Clayton and puts a little dab on each of his nipples! Shanae is here to win. It’s a real bummer she’s a complete nightmare of a person. If she were like 12 percent less awful, she’d be a truly iconic contestant. It’s time for the slo-mo run, and Shanae jumps in Clayton’s arms and makes out with him for six full minutes. Clayton doesn’t realize he shouldn’t make out with one of the women in front of the other ones for six full minutes. But he’s a himbo; we can’t expect that much from him.

Gabby wins somehow because she managed to be quirky and sexy, so she gets extra time with him. Shanae plots that this will be the night she gets rid of Elizabeth. It’s time for the night portion of the date, and what is Melina wearing?!? Also, all the women love Clayton’s leather jacket and take way too much time going “Ooh, leather!” None of these people knows anything about each other. Rachel tells him she wants a better connection with him and lunges at his face. Gabby says she has layers and rubs aloe on his back. But now Shanae puts her plan into action: Just straight up lie about Elizabeth! She’s being victimized in the house, and when Elizabeth is around, no one talks to her, and her tears conveniently dry up when she wants to change the subject. Clayton decides to take Elizabeth aside to tell her that Shanae’s mental health is wavering. We all can see that, my guy. Elizabeth starts crying, and those look like more real tears. Clayton is perplexed and wants them to figure it out. Fantastic work, big guy!

Then we get the iconic double-finger flip-off from Shenae in a confessional, and she sits down across from Elizabeth and says, “You’re fake, you’re two-faced, I’m done! I’m done!” from every trailer for this season. Gabby gets the group date rose, and Shanae’s eyes narrow and shoot lasers directly at Elizabeth.

It’s not an official “To Be Continued,” but it’s a “To Be Continued” …

The Bachelor Recap: Let Clayton Himbo