I could do the whole “pithy imagined opener” to my recap where, I don’t know, an ABC executive is throwing cow intestines at a PA’s head to mak her go sweep up Noah’s mustache hairs to either glue them back to his face while he’s sleeping or use them in some sort of magic ritual. I don’t know. One of those things. Just imagine I did one of those things. But what I want to do this week is just dive in because…
THE BACHELORETTE HAD AN EXTENDED CONVERSATION ABOUT POLICE BRUTALITY THAT WASN’T INTERRUPTED BY A COUNTRY STAR NAMED CHEZ WILKS OR SOMETHING. Two Black adults sat down and talked about the state of race in America during the pandemic on the same television program where men had to make orgasm noises into a hotel phone. Tayshia and Ivan talked about growing up biracial in mostly white towns and schools and Chris Harrison didn’t pop in to put them in a hot air balloon over the desert.
What is HAPPENING? In the middle of the most average, ordinary episode of The Bachelorette, we got an in-depth conversation on police brutality, prisons, racial identity, and George Floyd. Or as in-depth has these two people and the show are capable of. Because I’m putting together the context clues here and… has Tayshia ever dated a Black person before? Has she ever had these conversations with a partner of any race before? She seemed a little stunned that Ivan had been called the n-word walking around school. Like… girl… that shouldn’t be a surprise to you considering everything.
And when I say everything I don’t just mean “the racial climate in America this summer,” I also mean “the history of America as a country up until and continuing past this moment in time.” But just think about how fucking nuts it was in America this summer. I was spending most of my time doing interviews with various reporters about how racist literally every place I’ve ever worked was, and all my white friends were apologizing to me. I know Tayshia and Ivan have been quarantining for a few weeks but things were, to use a euphemism, racially awkward for a while. This really seemed like one of the first times that Tayshia was letting her guard down about being a Black woman in America and connected with someone about that reality. It was one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in the Bachelor franchise in a long time, and when this show even attempts to strip away the artifice and just lets the leads be people with needs and desires and emotions, it’s a better show. Just let the show be a better show! And Tayshia, get a Black girlfriend or something.
Okay, let’s really get to it.
The first date of the week is a songwriting contest where the winner gets one-on-one time with Tayshia. This is neither a group date nor a true one-on-one date. It also prompted my boyfriend to say, without looking up from his phone, “Did these dummies not learn anything from The Bachelor Presents Listen to Your Heart? No one is remotely interested in this.” When it comes to The Bachelor Cinematic Universe, the answer to the question “Has anyone involved in this program learned anything?,” is always no.
So a random selection of guys who weren’t on the group date pick up instruments and head off to their corners to write a song for Tayshia, a woman they met nine days ago. Bennett brags that he used to impress all his friends at Harvard on retreats with his rap skills and honestly, this fucking tracks. Kenny is continuing to call Tayshia “T,” so he’s got that going for him. It’s time for the performances. Everyone attacks the task with an ABAB rhyme scheme and it’s just a lot to listen to. When Bennett said he could “rap” what he actually meant was “speak slightly quickly in what can only be legally called ‘rhythm.’” He says she doesn’t need a Harvard degree to be in Paris (pronounced: Paree) to be eating brie with he. Ivan is a fucking genius and asks Tayshia to sit next to him so they can connect. He’s a real sweetie and he must be protected at all costs. Demar is the only person to write a chorus where he calls Tayshia his “Mocha Latte” and he needs a caffeinated rush. I don’t like comparing women to creamy drinks but I’m here for a song with structure.
Ivan wins and gets to head to Tayshia’s suite where they play the floor is lava, have a pillow fight with open bags of feathers, and order a comically large ice cream sundae. Ivan talks about being Filipino and Black and Tayshia says she hasn’t met anyone who was Filipino and Black before. Ivan is like “You’re from… California? Right?” Is Tayshia from Earth? Has she met other people? Was she brewed in a lab fueled by Sugar Bear Hair gummies and athleisure wear? She says she is really enjoying meeting someone else who is biracial who is her age that she can relate to. Please, Tayshia. I beg of you, follow this feeling. Choosing a partner who you relate to, who validates you, and creates a feeling of safety around you, is like the most important thing and I want that for this beautiful little influencer.
Ivan and Tayshia also bond over being older siblings and Ivan talks about his younger brother’s incarceration and drug use. Ivan doesn’t tell the story with any shame or pity for his brother. Usually a contestant would share this as some sort of failure on their part that taught them to seize every day, but Ivan doesn’t judge his brother or his family in any way. In fact, he uses it to put a human face on the issue of police brutality and connects it to people in prison. Ivan says his brother’s incarceration challenged how he viewed police brutality because of how correctional officers abuse people in prisons for no reason. He says, “My first question would be ‘what did you do’ but it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter what George Floyd did. [Law enforcement] has a job to do and they need to do it without hurting people… It changed me as a man.” Tayshia isn’t able to articulate her feelings in the same way, but both of their vulnerability and connection really surprises her. Ivan gets the rose. For whatever classification of a date this is.
Meanwhile, the next date card arrives. Zac, Kenny, Demar, Bennet, Riley, and Blake get another date for… some reason. Noah says he’s upset he’s not on the date despite getting the group date rose on a date he barged into. Literally everyone is silent in response for three full minutes. I think at one point, Joe gets up to get a cup of tea and comes back and everyone is still silent. No one fucking likes this Noah dude. Bennett is the only one to break the silence and calls Noah greedy. No time to unpack that because it’s morning already and time for the group date!
This show has completely run out of date ideas and keeps falling back on its instinct is to humiliate the men. I don’t fault it for that, and in fact I respect it, but I would love for this show to even pretend that these early group dates could be romantic or interesting. A group dance class? Put them all in a bus and roll them out to the desert to hunt the jackalope. Something! They have to drink disgusting smoothies, get Chris Harrison to autograph their butts, and make orgasm noises into a hotel phone. Okay, men’s orgasm noises aren’t that interesting, so to compensate the men all pretend to have sex with Tayshia. This is dark. There is a darkness here that I must turn away from. Blake puts his leg up on the podium and really puts his back into it. The final challenge is to eat a habanero and then propose to Tayshia. Bennett gets down on one knee and has real feelings as he’s proposing to her.
At the afterparty, he tells her about his previous engagement and how proposing to Tayshia showed him he had more feelings for her than he realized. The way he describes his engagement breaking up makes me need way more information than he’s revealing. Tayshia goes to the other dudes with a question prepared for the “Truth” part of the evening. She asks Blake what his exes would warn her about and he says, “Oh, I’m good friends with all of my exes.” BULL. SHIT. First of all, no one is good friends with all of their exes. Everybody got one motherfucker in their phone as “DO NOT ANSWER” and three skull emojis. Second of all, that’s not what she was asking. You could have a good relationship with your ex but they’re still your ex. There’s a reason y’all aren’t together and that’s what Tayshia wants to know. I’m friends with literally one of my exes and he’d still be like, “She’s a bit stubborn.” And third of all, Blake’s personality and his habitual line-stepping tell me that if you got all his exes in a room, I bet they could come up with one red flag. Zac and Tayshia make out in a hot tub and he gets the group date rose.
Finally in the ill-defined date section of the episode, Ben works up the courage to walk over to Tayshia’s room to talk about how he disappointed her. The whole walk over to her room is cut between Ed also walking over to Tayshia’s room only to find Chris Harrison’s suite. This season is really stretching my limits for how much Chris Harrison I’m willing to watch. And I guess my limit is “Chris Harrison on a romantic one-on-one date with a man with no neck.” That’s my limit. Ben and Tayshia talk about how he waited to take her aside at the last group date and how it really shook him up. Tayshia says it kind of pissed her off that he didn’t take her aside and they talk through their issues? Like adults? And build a more honest foundation for their relationship? God damn it, Bachelorette. You got me again.
Time for the rose ceremony! Oh boy, Noah fucks this up immediately. The strategy of telling the Bachelorette that guys in the house are mean to you is a bad strategy, but the end of the strategy is just telling her that they’re so mean and you get sympathy. It ends there. What you don’t do is insinuate that everyone is questioning her judgement. Because in this case, it’s not only completely invented but you’re also shifting the emotional stakes in the house and you’re doing so in a way that’s not beneficial for everyone. You didn’t even follow it up with, “but I trust you Tayshia,” making her the only one you can trust. Noah, these kinds of tactics might work in whatever Tilted Kilt you tore through when you turned 24, but this is The Bachelorette and Tayshia is not having it.
She storms into the cocktail party and the guys start to react to her beauty and she literally tells them “No No. Nope. Everyone in this room. Please.” She doesn’t even stop walking as the guys stumble behind her. She sits them all down and tells them not to question her judgement, she’s being vulnerable, and they need to shut the fuck up and catch these roses. Noah did not expect this. You know you fucked up when Jordan in the cute lil’ glasses who got zero screen time this episode is fucking pissed. Riley screams at Noah “FIX IT!” He can’t fix this. Even Chassen has turned on Noah.
Rose ceremony now! Tayshia walks in to the Prowler music from Into the Spider-Verse and doesn’t even have a speech. She just starts throwing roses at these idiots. Ben, Eazy, Riley, Brandon, Bennett, Blake, Demar, Spencer, and Ed all get roses. JUSTICE FOR JOE! JUSTICE FOR LIL’ JORDAN WITH THE GLASSES!
Noah says he’s not going to change. He’s only going to take it up a notch. This dummy is going home next week.