Sixth Grade: At a sleepover at Vanessa’s house, the topic of conversation turns to next week’s scheduled “Body Science” classes (read: “Split up the boys and the girls and tell them puberty is weird, and also wear deodorant, kids” classes). I say, without thinking at all, “It’s so stupid because we all obviously know what happens when you get your period.” They do not know. So the burden is now on me to explain how a period works.
Eighth Grade: I admit that I’ve never seen Grease because, much like Top Gun, it is part of the white canon. Have you ever watched Grease while 12 people watched you watch Grease?
If you ask any woman, she has AT LEAST three sleepovers-gone-wrong stories. But I don’t think any of us, with all of our sleepover-related trauma, could have possibly predicted this new type of trauma that just dropped: being at a sexy sleepover with all your boyfriends and they ignore you.
I’m sorry — was this some sort of waking nightmare Michelle was having? I kept expecting her to have to take a biology final she never studied for while Tanya Tucker watched and ate egg salad. All of these men should be punished because WHAT? WHY? You’re all low-drama cuties (except for fun-size James Franco over there), and you just should try to make out with Michelle as much as possible because she wants to and seems good at it.
Guys, how do you fuck this up this badly? How do you invent something that sounds like it’s a hypothetical scenario in a Cosmo Girl quiz? How is an ab-punching contest a good idea in this, or any, situation? That’s how Houdini died!!! I’m so disappointed, and if it weren’t so late, I’d call all your parents to pick you up. No waffles in the morning. Let’s get to it.
The episode starts with the first of many chats between Kaitlyn and Michelle. Michelle says her biggest worry would be that she’d pick Jed somehow. Kaitlyn jumbles out the words toxic, cleanse, red flag, and vulnerable, and that means something to Michelle, so she’s excited to start the new week. The guys sit around talking about how excited they are to make her feel special. This is foreshadowing. Then Chris S. sits down on a chair and falls completely backward. This is symbolism.
The first date card of the week goes to Martin! This is a strategic date, because Michelle knows that Martin was close with Jamie, so she wants to see if he’s still holding some lingering doubts about her character. She should also be concerned because he looks like the statistical average of every FBoy on FBoy Island. They head to the BMW Test Track, where they’ll be driving some BMW M3s. BMW: Sheer Driving Pleasure. They have come to love a driving date during these quarantine seasons. First, they’re going to learn to Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Martin somehow can’t drive a car that’s not a stick shift? What kind of extreme masculine display is insisting that driving stick shift is easier and more enjoyable?
Martin does not start this date off on the right foot: He can’t drift, he loses the handling race, and he weirdly attempts to defend Jamie in the hot tub. This is an episode of men talking directly past Michelle’s head and not reading even one iota of the room. Martin tells Michelle that he’s not trying to defend Jamie, but he just doesn’t think Jamie is a rat or a bad person, and maybe what Jamie did was justified, if you really think about it. No! In the words of an amazing tweet, “you do not under any circumstances ‘gotta hand it to them.’” Michelle keeps giving Martin the opportunity to say, “Michelle, you’re right and at the very least, you’re in charge and you get to make the decisions,” but he keeps following it up with a “Yeah … but …” Martin is cute, and Michelle is a little into him, but he’s going to have to learn to shut down his most F-boy tendencies and focus on Michelle.
During the evening portion of the date, Michelle tells him that he shut her opinion down, and Martin says he’s not good at communicating or expressing emotion because his dad was never good at communicating. Martin, no one’s dad is good at communicating. Even if your dad was good at communicating, counterpoint, no he wasn’t. He’s a dad. Michelle asks him how he’s going to parent if he knows he’s gotta work on communication. Martin says his father led by example and that was a bad thing so he’s going to lead by example except it’ll be good. Michelle says that when she got to college, she learned the words she needed to express herself – which is huge! When you start talking about your feelings, you just need new and better words than you had before. Martin tells her that they’re on the same journey. Kinda. He gets the rose and they head to a laser light show and make out.
Back at the house, the date card for the group date is arriving and Nayte says that even if he’s not on the one-on-one this week, he feels like he’s in a good spot with Michelle. But seriously – how crazy is it that Nayte hasn’t had a one-on-one yet? He’s obviously the one Michelle likes the most at this point, and she’s taking Rick to new heights? I know Chris S. latches onto this as evidence of Nayte thinking he has this in the bag, but all evidence does suggest it’s his to lose, despite what Michelle or anyone else says.
Will, Chris S., Casey, Chris G., Leroy, Rodney, Olu, Brandon, Clayton, Joe, Romeo, and Nayte are heading to the group date and it’s a slumber party that will end in tears! It’s just like every other slumber party! They all get special pajamas and Chris S. gets the Risky Business shirt and tighty-whities. They all assume they won’t be wrestling because every single person’s nuts would pop out of their shorts. Michelle comes in wearing the absolute cutest matching pajama set. The expectation that women have to be this cute in their pajamas is harming us all. My pajamas are either a full-length flannel nightgown from LL Bean or a novelty T-shirt stained with pimple medication. Normalize that, Bachelor Nation.
They head to the slumber party and almost immediately the guys lose their fucking minds. There’s cotton candy! There’s a Build-a-Bear station! There’s pedicure tubs! There’s Michelle? Michelle … ? There isn’t a clear activity for the first 30 minutes so the guys just run around getting b-roll and Michelle starts to freak out that no one is coming to talk to her. And she should!!!!!! What are they doing?!?!?!?!? At one point, Olu organizes an ab-punching contest and literally tells Michelle to get out of the circle. Are you fucking kidding me? I almost wish Michelle cancelled the date right then and there. When she invited Clayton over to work the cotton candy machine and you could see him looking over his shoulder at the fun the other guys were getting into, she should have said, “Unplug the fluff machine! We’re all going home!”
Then The Bellas are there. Listen. I fucking love The Bellas. I’ve watched their TV show. I’ve read their book. I watch their YouTube channel where they attempt to answer simple geography questions. But this was a waste of The Bellas. Both of them are reality stars in iconic relationships and their whole brand now is fancy wine and talking about their feelings. Do we really have to have the men smack the shit out of each other? Because we just did that. They don’t really get to do or say anything cool and Michelle is quietly melting down. I guess we gotta do the Teddy Bear Throwdown or some shit.
Michelle shuts down her feelings and puts on a good face, but later she tells a producer, “Why am I here?” and sits down again with Kaitlyn to talk about how she didn’t feel seen and how she’s used to putting in all the effort in the relationship so she needs someone to take care of her for a change. She wrote a poem about it!! The guys heading to the evening portion have no idea what’s coming their way.
Michelle comes in and says the last thing she wants to do is switch things around, but she’s very disappointed and they’re all in detention. She reminds them that she wrote a poem about this exact thing and how she puts in effort to make moments with the guys and remember things about them but they’re distracted by a knock-off Build-a-Bear? She pulls Nayte aside first to tell him that she likes him the most so he fucked up the most. Nayte’s (and most of these guys’) reaction is to tell her, “Well, you definitely are seen” which isn’t really the point. They’re clearly trying but it’s very clear that they do not have all the feeling and emotion words that Michelle does. Nayte does commit to being more obvious with his feelings. Michelle says, “I’m not asking for the world. Just a little bit more from you.” If you’ve ever said those things in your relationship, drink! And make an appointment with your therapist.
Olu and Michelle go chat, and Olu has four sisters and he’s seen how they’ve been treated as Black women and how he’s had to protect them. He’s had to help them when they come to him crying, so seeing Michelle feeling awful reminded him of that and he can’t stand that he made Michelle feel like that. He tells her that she’s a strong woman, which, okay, but Michelle appreciates that he opened up to her and made her actually feel seen rather than just telling her “Oh, for sure, you’re seen.” Olu gets the group date rose.
For the final date of the episode, Michelle takes Tabletop on a ride up a mountain and then a hike through the park. Michelle needed a quiet regular date after all the commotion of the slumber party. Rick is happy to just walk and hold Michelle’s hand. They come across a “wish box” that contains “Plot devices” put there by production. They read lines like, “ I wish for a love like my grandparents’,” which is another opportunity for Michelle to talk about how horny she is about commitment, and another one that says, “I wish my dad could see the man I’ve become.” Jesus Christ, Bachelorette production, I know we have to get to a situation where Rick can trauma-dump on his first date with Michelle, but good lord, I’m sure he would have gotten there. They might as well have had a skywriter above them write, “YOUR FATHER IS LOOKING DOWN ON YOU AND HE SAYS SORRY” and had Michelle go “Hmm … I wonder what that’s about.”
Rick says that his dad passed three years ago and was depressed for a long time, and Rick’s struggle was that he couldn’t help his father. On the evening portion of the date, Michelle and Rick whisper-talk at each other and Rick reveals more about his family situation, and this one … is rough. There’s a moment when Michelle goes, “You only have to tell me what you feel comfortable with” and Rick tells her everything: that he found evidence of his father’s affair and his mom left his dad right around Christmas. He also says that years later, he didn’t pick up a phone call from his dad while he was at work and his father died later that day. Rick thinks his father died blaming Rick for the discovery of the affair. And if he did, that’s bullshit. Don’t cheat and don’t count on your 17-year-old son to just carry that forever for you.
It’s hard to read Michelle’s face during this story. She’s very sympathetic but this one seems a little tough to hear. And this seems like something that Rick is still in the process of dealing with and he maybe hasn’t closed the door on this difficult relationship with his dad. Then there’s a lot of discussion about how your terrible experiences make you who you are because you went through them and … I don’t know what there is to get out of an experience like that. Having experienced only a tiny fraction of the turmoil that Rick is describing, I’m not always happy about the scars I have. I would much prefer to be unscarred, thank you! The emotional ship has to be righted back to a place where Michelle and Rick can make out and he can get the group date rose, so Rick says that he can see himself seeing himself falling for Michelle and she is…thankful for that. They close out the date with a man playing plinky guitar. Would it kill them to hire an R&B singer or something?
It’s time for the cocktail party and before Michelle can even say a word, Chris S has found a way to make this about him. He admits he wasn’t at the afterparty so that gives him the perfect perspective to comment on the events of the day. He thinks it’s bullshit that some men think they have it in the bag (Nayte) and yes, that has nothing to do with Michelle saying she doesn’t feel seen but he’s going to connect those two things because it’s convenient for him! Michelle says “Uh … okay … ? Cheers,” and just like that the cocktail party is off to a terrible start. Chris tries to steal Michelle away from Brandon even though Brandon asked first but Chris decided he was going to steal her. Everything is bad and I wish it would stop. Chris tells Michelle about Nayte saying he isn’t stressed about getting a one-on-one and Michelle is not happy that the guy she likes is in Chris’ narrative.
Nayte tries to talk to Chris and ask him exactly what he said, but Chris just says that Michelle asked him and he just told her. Bullshit. Sir, you’re on camera and you’ve been mad at Nayte this entire time. Nayte also puts his hands up because he’s getting frustrated and Chris immediately yells, “Are you going to put your hands on me?” Cool, it’s like this now. When guys like Chris get upset, they always seem to take it out on the men of color in the house and they love to insinuate that somehow violence is going to erupt. Standard playbook and it’s bullshit. See also: Chris S wanting to wink at Olu when he gets a rose.
My favorite part of this is that Nayte keeps referring to Chris S as a dweeb. Perfection. More people should be called “dweebs.”
It’s time for the rose ceremony and Brandon, LeRoy, Joe, Rodney, Clayton, Casey, Nayte, Chris S. all get roses. Farewell to our sweet Romeo! Michelle tells everyone that she has something difficult to tell them, things are going to be changing, because she’s going back to Minnesota … and they’re coming with her! Time to see that the Midwest is best!!!