A few weeks ago, I braved the outside and O’Hare Airport and went on A TRIP on AN AIRPLANE and flew to ANOTHER CITY. It was a monumental occasion that fully exhausted me. Flying is the absolute worst; I can’t believe we used to do it all the time. “I’m going to get in this giant metal tube and hurtle through the sky while some jagoff manspreads in the middle seat next to me”? NO THANK YOU. But during my reentry into the allegedly friendly skies, I realized I can no longer handle turbulence. Everything goes “shaky-shaky” and it feels like my guts are going to drop out of my body, and we’re all expected to just keep reading American Airlines’ magazine! No! No! I do not want this!
That trip made me realize that at this point in the pandemic (THAT IS STILL GOING ON, DEAR GOD WEAR YOUR MASK, YOU VARMINTS), I cannot handle physical turbulence, but I also cannot handle any amount of emotional turbulence. I have to know and anticipate every single emotional turn of whatever I’m about to watch, read, or do. Am I watching a movie? Gotta read the Wikipedia summary to find out if the character I like dies. Am I about to go shopping for some shorts? Gotta watch two hours of YouTube haul videos to know what I want. Am I about to go out to eat? Gotta read the menu three full days in advance. I need to be prepared because I cannot have any shaky-shaky. I don’t do shaky-shaky anymore.
And this episode of The Bachelorette was all shaky-shaky. I did not expect to be crying about dads, and then horny because Quartney with a y was comparing his penis to an oddly thin carrot, and then completely disoriented trying to comprehend Tayshia and Kaitlyn’s denim outfits. I’m upside down, y’all. An entire room of men screamed, “BUT YOU ALREADY DID THAT!” at Karl and Katie basically stormed out of the cocktail party and it’s only episode two. I’m politely asking everyone to take it down 13 to 27 notches. Enough with the shaky-shaky. Let’s get to it.
Greg is about to run away with this thing if they let him, isn’t he? We’re going a little out of order, but this li’l floppy-haired OKCupid bot got the first-impression rose, held Katie underneath the vast New Mexico sky while she gently wept about her father, and then they both hugged, looked into each other’s eyes, and cried. He hacked a plastic bucket with an axe to make a toilet and they made out while he sat on it. I’m gonna need one of the other guys to make Katie do that New York Times questionnaire if anyone else is going to stand a chance here. Does the Hyatt have a business center? Print that shit off!
Before we can get to the surprisingly poignant one-on-one date, it’s time for a performance date! And this one doesn’t have a product tie-in from a nebulous specter hawking its book. The theme is … um … Katie likes sex stuff, so like, talk about sex, but like … don’t make it all about sex, but you should be sexy or whatever. Katie’s “thing” is that she’s an adult woman who has sex, so at least once an episode, someone has to call her sex-positive. Boston Christian, Garrett, Tre, Quartney, Mike P., James, Justin, Thomas, Connor B., and Karl are on this group date and uh-oh, Mike P. is wearing a giant crucifix around his neck. I have a feeling this group date comes with a Revelation.
Mike says he doesn’t know if Katie will understand his being a virgin and if she doesn’t, he’ll probably be sent home. Because the show hasn’t properly defined “sex-positive,” it seems to mean wildly different things in various contexts. Sometimes Katie wants men to describe their penises in incredible detail, but sometimes Katie is just medium-thoughtful about relationships. Whatever is most convenient for whoever the producers have decided is the main character of the segment.
Some highlights from the performances: Connor B. rhymes “self-worth” with “girth.” Christian seductively says “litter box.” Tre’s puppets have a safe word, and someone is wearing that Dick in a Box underwear. Who is it? Oh gosh, lemme do some process of elimination to figure out who it is … My official guess is James? Oh! It’s box-themed! I welcome more Box. Box is stability, Box is security. Box is box. Next up to the mic is Karl. When I was in high school, my friends and I went to an open mic to perform our spoken-word poetry; that’s who I was in high school and I need us all to accept it and move on. One of our friends decided he wanted to sing at this open mic. So he walked up to the mic and sang “Ordinary People,” by John Legend, with no accompaniment for 15 minutes. My friend sang the chorus eight times. Imagine sitting in the back of the African bookstore, watching a 17-year-old bellow “And we RISE and we FALL and we RISE and we FALL We’re just ordinary PEA-PHUL!!! We don’t know which way to go!” for 15 minutes. That’s what Karl’s performance felt like.
Finally, it’s Mike’s turn and he sits Katie down and talks to her about what his future wife would be because he’s saving himself for marriage, and he leaves out the word “disappointed.” He also says, “I would wait another 31 years to have sex to show you I would sacrifice everything to make you feel loved and secure.” Please, let this man fuck. He wins the Greatest Lover Award and they head to the after-party.
At the after-party, Connor Bustopher Jones asks if he can redo their first kiss to make sure she’s not a straight-up furry. Karl is taking an intense game-theory approach to the evening portion of the date and makes sustained eye contact and interrupts Katie whenever she tries to answer his questions. Thomas makes out with Katie so hard that he picks her up and shows her li’l Spanx shorts to the world. When it’s time to hand out the group-date rose, Katie picks her top three and gives them some positive feedback: Thomas is hot, Mike is a virgin, and Connor is also hot. Thomas gets the group-date rose.
It’s time for Greg’s one-on-one date. Katie picks him up in a red pickup truck. The other contesticles stand around to watch. Katie and Greg are both wearing plaid jackets and waffle-knit hoodies. This is all imagery from Fixer Upper-themed erotica. They head out into nature in an attempt to set up a tent and slightly fish. Again, because Katie got zero one-on-one time during what legal has informed me I must call “Matt James’s season,” this stuff about Katie’s father passing away and how much time they spent doing outdoor things all feels like new information. Greg tells her that she shouldn’t feel like she can’t tell him things or that her opening up is a burden, which is honestly the sexiest thing anyone could possibly do. Katie tells him she can see him being there for a long time and this season is about to be OVER. When they head to the evening portion of the date, Greg opens up that his father died of cancer two years ago, so he understands what Katie is going through. Katie says that Greg gave her a gift by giving her space to talk about her dad and comforting her. They sweetly hug while crying and Katie just says, “This date was perfect. Will you accept this rose?” They both say they might be falling for each other!!!
Meanwhile, back at the resort, John, Andrew S., Kyle, Josh, Aaron, Brendan, Hunter, and Cody are asleep in their beds waiting for the next group date when two denim-clad maniacs break into their hotel rooms. I was already very much onboard for Tayshia and Kaitlyn as hosts, but I’m ALL THE WAY onboard if they are just agents of chaos who can barely read their lines, dressed in themed costumes for each date. The date is the thing we’ve all heard of, “Katie’s Big Belt Buckle Brawl.” The guys get some cowboy outfits of their own and they have to wrestle at the mercy of an old man with a big white beard. He will decide their fate. He will whisper “keep going” when they have not satisfied his need for blood. Aaron is paired with Cody for story purposes. They don’t make eye contact and their wrestling isn’t homoerotic. It’s just angry. Aaron wins because he’s the main character of the group date and he gets eight minutes of time with Katie while still slathered in mud. He tells Katie that he knows Cody from San Diego and Cody posted some things on social media that he didn’t like and he just gets the sense that Cody is malicious and a piece of shit who just wants to be famous. Can he be more specific? Not at all. Don’t ask any follow-up questions.
It’s time for the evening portion of the date and Katie pulls Cody aside right away and asks him about his relationship with Aaron. Cody’s only response is, “Uh-uh-uh, I’m unsure what you’re talking about. That’s not factual information,” which is what fucking liars say. Katie doesn’t like Cody’s answers and can tell 100 percent that something isn’t right. So she just sends Cody home on the spot. Y’all. This season is going to be five episodes long. Cody tells her, “Good luck,” and Katie is so done she says, “Mm-hmm.” Okay, I might be into this bitch. She takes some time to recover and Andrew comes over to check on her and they bond over their similar childhoods. Katie continues the rest of the evening portion and Hunter gives her a weird note. Andrew gets the group-date rose.
It’s time for the cocktail party, and Karl is about to Karl the whole thing up. In the history of the world, has there ever been a Karl who hasn’t fucking ruined the party? Never once has anyone said, “Oh hell yeah, Karl’s here!” No, a Karl is arriving and everyone is finishing their drinks. Karl starts laying the groundwork for his master plan. First, he starts just wildly speculating to Quartney about the number of men who might not be here for the right reasons. Three? Five? All? Quartney is just like, “… the fuck are you talking about?”, which becomes everyone’s reaction to Karl for the rest of the episode. Karl sits down with Katie and tells her that he can’t name names, he can’t list any specifics, he cannot and will not provide any other information, but no one can be trusted and Katie should not be left alone with any of the other men. Katie freaks outs and demands more information and again, Karl cannot and will not elaborate. He tells her that she can trust him, which is the reddest flag. Don’t ask any follow-up questions.
Katie pulls Aaron aside again to say that if he knows anyone else who’s not there for the right reasons, he has to tell her now. Aaron already ruined one dude’s life and got him kicked off the show, so no … he doesn’t know anything. It gets back to the rest of the contesticles that someone told Katie something and Karl says he doesn’t think everyone is being 100 percent authentic. He heard some stuff circulating and it’s not his place to throw anything out there. Everyone keeps screaming, “Oh my God! You already did!” Aaron says that Katie is really upset, so Karl needs to lay out exactly what’s going on, and Karl says, “I’m not putting anyone on blast. I’m just accusing an unspecified number of people of being inauthentic!” Tre calls Karl a weak, spineless man who has to manipulate Katie to get her interested. IT’S ONLY EPISODE TWO!!!