We have achieved a high that I don’t know if we’ll ever reach again. My tolerance has gone up and I need a bigger and stronger thrill to find the same satisfaction. I gotta be honest with you – watching an incredibly beautiful Instagram influencer find love doesn’t hit quite as hard as the slow motion train wreck of watching an incredibly beautiful hairdresser destroy a season of reality TV on her quest to find love. Sure, sure, sure, Tayshia is adorable and emotionally mature in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you need to take care of her but is still shaving off guys’ mustaches. And yes, we’re clearly running out of date ideas already. But we need something more.
Fellow Bachelor Nation scholar and author Amy Kaufman explained when we were In Conversation at a humanities festival that there are two kinds of Bachelor watchers: beginning-of-the-season people and end-of-the-season people. You either love the mess and goofiness of the beginning of the season, when the Bachelor mansion is packed with people, or you love the sweeping romance and spectacle of the end of the season where the lead is torn between two options and ultimately confesses true love.
But what has happened this season is that The Bachelorette has already delivered both a beginning of the season and an end of the season. They’ve given us all they can give! What more can Tayshia deliver? At this point, we’d need someone to launch their T-shirt business from their villa and be silkscreening at the cocktail party while asking another contesticle to run away with him AND THEN Tayshia takes two guys’ virginities in the fantasy suites. So at this point, I’m just asking Tayshia to maintain what we’ve already got going and not make any sudden moves.
Let’s get to it.
It’s morning at the La Quinta resort. What day is it? Is it a rose ceremony day? Or a group date day? Where are we in relation to any other event we’ve previously seen? It might be yesterday, it could be tomorrow, but what I do know is there’s another group date on this day. Montel, Ivan, Demar, Chassen, Ed, Bennett, and Joe head to a room in the business pavilion that’s been set up with the “Classroom/Workshop” floor plan. Here to introduce the date is Ashley and Jared, who I guess we’re all still pretending are romance and emotional maturity experts. This is especially important because the theme of today’s date is “Grown-ass Man.”
Can we… just not? Maybe it’s a bad idea to start the week with a vaguely and narrowly defined demonstration of masculinity that for some reason includes a math quiz and a tug of war and will obviously end up with a bunch of the guys trying to pretend that toxic masculinity is in fact a sense of honor. Could someone who works on this show please invest in some knitting kits or something?
The first round of the date is MATH QUESTIONS. Because all good relationships are rooted in the foundation of being able to do simple subtraction. Bennett thinks he’ll be able to walk all over the competition because he went to Harvard, but he can’t spell “limousine.” In my experience with men from Harvard… that seems about right. I met a dude from Harvard and he told me, “You have nice legs for a girl from the Midwest.” Those two things have nothing to do with each other. There is neither correlation or causation there. The intellectual rigor of men from Harvard is greatly overrated.
The next ground is emotionally and physically fighting for Tayshia, aka a tug of war for a bouquet and a photo of Tayshia. Bennett has an old football injury so he can’t participate. I unsuccessfully tried to hunt down exactly when Bennett played football, but I found out that he graduated from Harvard in 2007, one year after I graduated from a nearby college, so it might be entirely possible that Bennett was the man who told me I have nice legs for a girl from the Midwest. This is my new headcanon. One day, our paths will cross again, Bennett. One day.
At one point in an interview, Ashley sneezes and Jared tells her to cover her mouth because y’know… the everything and she says “I was tested!” We’re doing great as a country.
The last portion of the date is a breakfast in bed competition. Chassen didn’t bother preparing a meal and took his shirt off because he can be the main meal. Bennett puts on a robe, gets in bed next to her, and feeds her beignets from Chateau Bennétt. This is what a grown-ass man does. Bennett wins the Grown-Ass Man diploma. Bennett goes in for a full on make-out when he wins the diploma. Guys, maybe he can’t read. Can’t read words, can’t read signals from women, can’t read math. Ed wins the Manchild award and gets to carry around a little babydoll that cries for the rest of the episode.
At the afterparty, Bennett declares his intentions to take Tayshia away and tells her that before she can even greet the guys. He’s also still in his bathrobe. And then Chasen takes her away first.
Okay, here is the beginning of the feud between Ed and Chasen. Ed has decided that Chasen doesn’t have a big enough vocabulary and deigns to describe two incredibly attractive women using the same words. He’s known Tayshia for two days; anything beyond “beautiful and fun” would honestly be creepy at this point. Ed accuses Chasen of being interested in the fame and getting more followers. I guess he didn’t hear when Tayshia said she’s in the “Beauty and lifestyle space” and travels a lot for work and for pleasure. Ed confronts Chasen and Chasen’s best comeback is, “You’re holding a baby and you have chicken legs.” This is not the man you should be looking to for an amazing vocabulary.
Ed then starts on the absolute dumbest of tactics of telling Tayshia about Chasen. This never works. THIS NEVER WORKS!!! But do we end up with Ed trying to get sympathy for being told he has chicken legs? Yes, yes we do. Does it work? I thiiiink? Tayshai takes Chasen aside again and he tells her he had to make a pivot to her from Clare but he’s working on it. Just what every woman wants to hear: “He’s pivoting for you.”
Chasen heads back to the group and stands over Ed to tell him that he wears a size L T-shirt and Ed should respect him! Ivan gets the group date rose for blindfolding her and feeding her a strawberry.
It’s time for the cocktail party and Chasen declares to all the men that he has designated a new word for Tayshia: Smokeshow. And that makes him a gentleman and a grown-ass man. Tayshia enters with legit Beyoncé hair and an Elizabeth Hurley-esque gown. That’s a deadly combination and these white men have absolutely no idea what to do. Ben takes her aside first and tells her she’s got animal magnetism. He’s about to lose his goddamn mind, so they make out.
Tayshia explains to Chasen that she thinks he’s hot so he should basically attempt to be a reasonable human and apologize to Ed. He takes Ed aside and Ed is not helping at all and still holding a baby. Ed is tired of the phrases and the cliches. Chasen just says, “I’m trying to have a fucking truce with you!” While those two geniuses of diplomacy are trying to solve their issues, Tayshia spends some time making out with Zac, who has been using The Secret to manifest being a husband and a father into the universe.
Time for the roses. Zac, Riley, Kenny, Ben, Demar, Bennett, Spencer, Jordan, Noah, Joe, Blake, Ed, and Chasen all get roses. We’re at the point of the season where I know the name of everyone who is left! I think… I wanna say… Chank? went home. Bye, Chank.
It’s the next morning and it’s time for another group date. Eazy, Brandon, Joe, Jordan, Spencer, Ben, Ed, and Chasen are heading out for the group date. It feels like we’ve seen six group dates in a row and most of them have involved either the men stripping down in some way or beating the shit out of each other. This one is both! The men head to the fitness center and meet up with Tayshia. She’s being tackled by fucking LITA from the WWE. GUYS. IT’S LITA! Team Xtreme Lita! She introduces herself as Amy Dumas, and her thong isn’t hiked up to her bellybutton, but it’s Lita. Wells Adams and Chris Harrison commentate for the date so I guess Michael Buffer didn’t want to enter the bubble.
Who thought this date would be a good idea? Whose bright idea was this? I’m gonna need someone to head out to Michaels and pick up some unglazed pottery and just turn the volume on these group dates down several notches. Cooking class. Mosaic making. Just pick literally any quarantine craft and have the men do it. It would be better than seeing the guys smack each other around again. Also, it’s not really clear exactly what they’re teaching these guys. They’re taught a couple real MMA takedowns by Tatiana Suarez and then just unleashed on a hard concrete floor to slam the shit out of each other.
Why not teach them a couple of pro wrestling moves so they don’t HURT THEMSELVES and have them invent a character? I basically teach this to my improv students and one of them came up with a character who won every match by flaking out because he had so much anxiety. You can basically do whatever you want. Instead of giving into the macho-ness of the day, Joe just compliments anyone he’s supposed to talk smack to and tells them they have nice arms. (Joe also brought some Korean food to the cocktail party the night before. He is the sweet angel baby we need.)
All the guys wrestle and it’s…too much. It doesn’t look fun to watch. It basically looks like some late ’70s gay erotica about a down-on-his-luck athlete who has to participate in Greco-Roman oil wrestling to pay for his entrance fee for the first New York City Marathon. I watched this with the sound off. Instead of wrestling Chasen, Ed tells Chris Harrison that he has a shoulder that dislocates constantly so he conveniently wrestles the guy he’s been feuding with who is about 5 inches taller than he is.
So instead, Noah hops over the fence and wrestles Chase in his fucking jeans. This is the part of the erotica when the athlete falls in love with the farmboy from Oklahoma and they have to erotically wrestle each other to impress the Richard Nixon impersonator. Noah’s antics get him invited to the afterparty. Everyone is fucking pissed. When you’ve been so hurt by the process, any and all deviation from the rules is going to send these guys spiraling. But Noah is just a tiny man with a mustache. Let her fuck around with him and soon, this national nightmare will be over.
Ben decides that his strategy is to wait until the end of the night and take Tayshia aside and be the last person on her mind when she’s got to give out the rose. Of all the stupid tactics on this show, this one is the most foolish and the one most motivated by love. Instead, Tayshia makes out with Noah and tells him he needs to shave his mustache. He dashes off and gets his mustache trimmer and Tayshia shaves it off herself. This isn’t sexy. This isn’t funny. This is weird and bad and I would like it to end.
When Noah and Tayshia go back to the group, Ben asks if he can take Tayshia aside and she says “It’s the end of the night. I gotta go to sleep.” Oh no, Ben, I don’t think I heard your voice before this episode but now I’m all in on your emotional nadir. Tayshia also asks all the guys if Noah looks good with his mustache and they answer with complete silence and a stillness that would fool the motion-activated sight of a T-Rex. Whatever, you dummies. Noah is getting the group date rose because breaking the rules is rewarded on this show if you’ve got a hot little mustache.