‘The Bachelorette’: Welcome to the Sex Bubble

The Bachelorette
October 13, 2020

This was already set to be one of the most controversial seasons of The Bachelorette ever: Clare Crawley, this season’s Bachelorette is 39 years old, making her the oldest Bachelorette ever, and long past the age at which women in “Bachelor Nation” are expected to shuffle off stage and resign themselves to a life of lonely spinsterhood. And lest you think I’m just on one of my feminist rants again: Clare was being taunted for being an old lady by the other contestants when she filmed Bachelor in Paradise six years ago. In Bachelor Nation, you are either a perky 24-year-old dental hygienist with Instagram Influencer ambitions, or you are a NOBODY.

And sure enough, when she was chosen, the criticisms came in. But the show was undaunted and stuck to an admirable goal: finding love for a mature woman who knows what she wants. To that end they cast …  a bunch of 20- and 30-something children for her to date.

Listen. I have long been critical of men in their late 30s, 40s, and older who date women in their early 20s, not just because it’s gross, but because … why? What do you have in common? What on EARTH do you talk about? I mean, I get it: it’s not about the talking … at first. But at some point? At some point, it becomes about the talking and then where are you? What could you possibly have to say about the TikTok and the BTS? And that’s why I am BAFFLED that in this group of men the show had assembled for Clare, there are eleven (11) men in their twenties.

But then the whole age thing? That was put on the back burner when COVID-19 struck, and the entire production had to be temporarily shelved. A couple of months later, the show had procured an unused resort and moved the entire cast and crew in, creating a quarantine date bubble. (And I should add, the show did a really good job showing the quarantine in action, along with the rigorous testing regime they put into place. This was, and I mean this sincerely, very responsible television. I don’t say it often, but kudos, Bachelorette producers.)

And maybe THAT should have been the thing that was notable about this season, except! Soon after filming began, rumors started percolating that Clare had left the show early — possibly with one of the contestants with whom she had been covertly communicating during the production hiatus — and that a new Bachelorette, the lovely and likable Tayshia, from The Stalky Virgin’s season was set to take over the remainder of the season. ABC refuses to confirm these rumors while perpetuating them through anonymous sources to entertainment sites and publications, so it’s all but confirmed.

What remains a question for your trusty box-wine-soaked blogger is how much of this was premeditated? Were the producers, as they suggest in the promos, utterly blindsided by Clare’s decision to leave the show early? Or was this all part of a plan on their part? Did they already have a backup Bachelorette on standby in case Clare tested positive? And did they decide after seeing the early chemistry between Clare and one of the contestants, to encourage Clare, as a mature woman who “knows what she wants” and “doesn’t play games” to leave the show early? After all, what better way to create buzz ahead of the season — which it absolutely did. Additionally, it helps their whole “Clare is a mature woman” narrative while costing them absolutely nothing if they already had a young Bachelorette waiting in the wings in case something went wrong.

 And not to be cynical, but it’s also worth pointing out that Tayshia is biracial. If the rumors about her taking over for Clare are true, she did so in the immediate wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, and mere weeks after Matt James was announced as the first Black Bachelor. After years of being criticized for their lack of representation, what better way for the franchise to prove their commitment to diversification than to replace a White Bachelorette with a Woman of Color mid-way through the season?

Excuse me while I adjust my tin foil hat.

So, those are the clues I’ll be looking for this season. Come! Pour yourself a big glass of the finest box wine and join me!

We begin the season with the traditional “Meet the Bachelorette!” package:

Chris Harrison calls The Bachelorette to let her know she’s been chosen; said Bachelorette pretends to be surprised despite the camera crew in her bedroom, capturing her in her sweatpants and full makeup.

Bachelorette burbles platitudes about looking for love while doing press and photoshoots.

A look back on The Bachelorette’s time in The Bachelor Universe, in this instance telling that fucko Juan Pablo what’s what, and her two stints in Paradise. This, notably, leaves out her participation in Bachelor Winter Games and the whole talking to raccoons thing.

The Bachelorette then wanders through Los Angeles, preferably at the beach, while murmuring more platitudes about journeys, and explaining her particular hook: SHE’S AN OLD. At 39, this is HER TIME.

Except … COVID-19 has other ideas.

While they were busily babyproofing and Scotch-guarding the McMansion in preparation for the men to arrive, California shutdown and Clare had to return to Sacramento to wait it out. There’s a montage in which Clare sits on her couch and plays with her dogs and bakes and is bored and lonely and YEAH, WE ALL KNOW, WE ALL LIVED IT. She does reveal something heartbreaking, however: her mother has Alzheimers and lives in a care facility, and like so many people during this fucking outbreak, Clare hasn’t been able to see or hug her mom. What a goddamned bummer.

And I’m not judging Clare for going ahead and filming The Bachelorette, truly, but I just can’t imagine choosing to go film a TV show for 8 or 10 weeks while my only surviving parent was in a nursing home during this pandemic which has been particularly dangerous for those in such facilities. And I do wonder if one of the reasons she — MAYBE POSSIBLY — leaves the show early is for this very reason.

In any event, in June, Chris Harrison calls Clare to inform her that the show IS going to happen, and they are going to begin filming in just a few days. The show has relocated to the La Quinta resort in Palm Springs, and errrrrybody gonna quarantine.

Beautiful.

Clare arrives and is put up in the Presidential Suite where she quarantines and tests for 14 days. Finally, Chris Harrison arrives and informs her that she is 100% clear to go. She needs to go get ready, because this is all happening that night.

Sooooo … they were loaded and ready to go that night, right? What would have happened if Clare had tested positive? Is it possible that they had a backup Bachelorette somewhere on the property prepared to film? And is it possible that they realized they could still film with her if something were to … happen with Clare?

Setting dumb conspiracy theories aside and getting back to the show: This is where we would usually get into our “The Only Men You Have to Pay Attention To” portion of the premiere, but because COVID-19 flipped the table that is 2020, this turns into a segment about the men quarantining at the resort. We are given glimpses of (almost) all the men as they travel to California, check into their individual rooms, and have test swabs shoved into their frontal lobes.

We do have longer moments with a few of the men including:

Ivan (28; Aeronautical Engineer; Dallas, TX): who turns out to be one of those sad kids who plays chess against himself.

Yosef (30; Medical Device Salesman; Daphne, AL): who notes he’s flown 2,000 miles to be there AND IT BETTER BE WORTH IT, so no entitlement issues or alarm bells going off there.

Ben (29; Ranger Veteran; Venice, CA): who assures us that his military and yoga training has prepared him for isolation. To illustrate this point, he proceeds to do the Sukhasana pose on every flat surface in his hotel room.

Eazy (29; Sports Marketing Agent; Newport Beach, CA): who, as a giant former NFL player, probably shouldn’t be jumping on that bed.

Bennett (36; Wealth Management Consultant; New York City): who, as predicted, in his first breath informs us that he went to Harvard, before calling it “the H-bomb.” He then proceeds to put on a face mask because he is Patrick Motherfucking Bateman.

And then the men are informed that they are negative and released from their pens.

It’s almost Wet-Driveway LimoTime, but first, Chris Harrison makes Clare sit down for a quick interview so she can spout off some more clichés about how she’s looking for a man who is there for her and who can have hard conversations and will “bring it” whatever the hell “it” is. They briefly talk about how when she was on Juan Pablo’s season, she had just left an abusive relationship and clearly was not about to TAKE ANY MORE BULLSHIT FROM A MAN.

And then Chris Harrison goes for the low blow, asking her what she thinks her dead dad would think of her being the Bachelorette, and whether she has watched the DVD he made for her before he died. Clare explains that she has not — because it’s meant to be watched by the man she’s going to marry, CHRIS HARRISON, and then goes on to say that her father would be proud of her for just showing up.

And listen: just showing up absolutely is a win in this shithole of a year.

They go outside to wait for the limos and Chris Harrison assures her that she did, indeed, show up: she always does. The Bachelor, season 18; Bachelor in Paradise, season 1; Bachelor in Paradise, season 2; Bachelor Winter Games; and The Raccoon all agree.

Limo 1 arrives and spits out:

Ben (see above): Ben asks her if she’s ready 17 times and then urges her to take a deep breath. YOU READY? Yes, for the love of God, man, how many times can she assure you that she’s ready?

Riley (30; Attorney; Long Island City, NY): Mr. I-Hate-Museums busts out with a bad lawyer joke, saying that it’s his job to find verdicts and that she is guilty as charged of looking beautiful in that dress. Alright, Groany McBadJoke, Esq. Calm down.

Zac C. (36; Addiction Specialist; Haddonfield, NJ): Zac notes that the hug he receives from her is the first hug he’s had in six months, and tells her he’s happy she didn’t settle. He seems sincere, and there’s nothing mean I can say about him without looking like a jerk, so I’m just going to quietly sit here and mentally calculate when I think the sob story will be brought out. Tonight or on a one-on-one date?

Jordan M. (30; Cyber Security Engineer; Santa Monica, CA): Jordan M. is not on stilts.

Not stilts.

Jason (31; Former Pro Football Lineman; Arlington, VA): Jason shows up with a pillow shoved up his shirt as an homage to Clare’s own entrance on The Bachelor all those years ago. Points for a deep dive, Jason.

Ivan (see above): As he comes out of the limo, the chess master says, “maganda ka,” which, he explains means “you’re beautiful” in Tagalog, his mother’s native language. Alright, Bobby Fisher. I see you.

Kenny (39; Boy Band Manager; Chicago, IL): Kenny’s gimmick is that he had a t-shirt made with her dogs’ faces on it. She asks to “pet” her dogs and spends an uncomfortable about of time focusing on the nippluar arena. No. NO. Also, we can’t just gloss over the “boy band manager” part, because as his bio makes clear, he’s not a “boy band manager” — IT’S SO MUCH WORSE. He “creates and manages boy band cover bands.” He’s not Lou Pearlman; he’s a faux Lou Pearlman. 

Brendan (30; Commercial Roofer; Milford, MA): I don’t know, he wears a bowtie?

Mike (38; Digital Media Adviser; Calgary, Alberta, Canada): Canadian Mike offers her some bedazzled flip flops. The gesture is sweet, but have you seen Stilts? If she takes off her heels, she won’t be able to hear a thing he’s saying way up there.

Jeremy (40; Banker; Washington, DC): I have no idea what this dude says to her, I’m way too distracted by his strong Dummy Jr. vibes.

Blake Monar (31; Male Grooming Specialist; Phoenix, AZ): Pineapple Hair says something bland and forgettable about being happy that she’s the Bachelorette.

Tyler C. (27; Lawyer; Morgantown, WV): Tyler C. pulls up in a Clark Griswold-esque station wagon, loaded to bear with a bunch of junk, and promising there’s room in there for kids and dogs. And it’s cute and all, but — and I hate to give this asshole credit for anything — but Becca’s choice, Chris Farley, did it first with a minivan.

Bennett (see above): And THIS asshole pulls up in a Rolls Royce, wearing a tux and white scarf. He’s not just not hiding it, he’s going full American Psycho. They’ll have him rolling up in a clear rain jacket in the next episode.

And I genuinely don’t know what is happening here: is Bennett doing this himself? Is this him trolling the show? Or is some producer suggesting that he do these little things because they think it’s funny: “you look great, but maybe we could add a scarf, a white scarf, to really make you look elegant” and Bennett has no idea? Or is this just … serendipity? I just want to give credit where credit is due, and if it’s to the universe, so be it.

Limo 2 arrives and dumps out:

Blake Moynes (29; Wildlife Manager; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada): He teases that he has something to tell her, but that she’ll have to wait until they’re at the party. Listen, he can play coy all he wants as long as he retains that Canadian citizenship and that whole Grizzly Adams vibe.

Chris (27; Landscape Design Salesman; Salt Lake City, UT): Chris here notes that he’s been waiting 139 days to meet her.

Future me:

AJ (28; Software Salesman; Playa Del Rey, CA): Bless AJ’s heart, he grabs Clare’s hands and then just straight-up CRUSHES her fingers while he babbles on about her green eyes. And, look, I know it’s been a long time since most people have had actual physical contact with another human being, but baby, you gotta be cool.

Oh, my sweet summer child.

Dr. Joe (36; Anesthesiologist; New York City): Dr. Joe arrives with his stethoscope and declares he’s there to “save her love life.”

Garin (34; Professor of Journalism; North Hollywood, CA): Garin asks if she’s ready for an adventure before threatening that he’s “fun.”

Robby (31; Insurance Broker; Tampa, FL): Hey! Robby found a new shirt! Good job, Robby!

And then begins the gimmick portion of the arrivals:

Eazy (see above): Eazy makes an entrance.

Jay (29; Fitness Director; Fort Lauderdale, FL): Jay shows up in a straightjacket. Why? No good reason.

Chasen (31; IT Account Executive; San Diego, CA): Chasen shows up in a suit of armor. Why? No good reason.

Demar (26; Spin Cycling Instructor; Scottsdale, AZ): Demar shows up dragging a parachute. Why? NO GOOD REASON.

Ed (36; Health Care Salesman; Miami, FL): Ed rolls up in a giant inflatable bubble, which, yes, is an obvious joke, but hey, at least there’s an identifiable reason.

Yosef (see above): His trick is that he brings moonpies and then when he goes inside with said moonpies, he gets pissed off when people call his moonpies cookies. THEY’RE NOT COOKIES, THEY’RE MOONPIES. Dude. They’re just moonpies. Don’t get so bunched up about moonpies. They’re available at every gas station on I-10.

Jordan C. (26; Software Account Executive; New York City): Jordan arrives with popcorn for some reason, prompting Eazy to note that it’s becoming a potluck. LISTEN: I’ve seen how these first nights go. Some of these guys are going to need to put something in their stomachs before they start pounding bourbons at the cocktail party, trust.

Zach J. (37; Cleaning Service Owner; St. George, UT): This dipshit gets down on one knee, and presents a box to Clare. When he opens it, she’s greeted by a tiny plastic exposed ass that makes a farting noise.

I would like to point out this line from his biography: “Zach J. says his best attributes are his abilities to be empathetic, fun and clever.”

Brandon (28; Real Estate Agent; Cleveland, OH): Brandon gives her a kiss on the cheek — the only arrival to do so — and Clare’s all YEP! Because, again, human contact, you guys. But also because, I mean, just look at him.

Dale (31; Former Pro Football Wide Receiver; Brandon, SD): Dale walks in and Clare’s knees literally go weak. He doesn’t say anything special, he doesn’t have a gimmick, he just asks her how she’s doing, picks her up in a big bear hug, and heads inside.

As she watches him walk away, Clare announces that she just saw her husband, so … are we done here? I think we’re done here.

But then that wet blanket Chris Harrison shows up, and reminds Clare that we’re not, actually, done here and a third limo arrives, depositing:

Page (37; Chef; Austin, TX): He says some generic shit about journeys. He should have talked about some of those tats:

THEY DO AND I APPROVE.

Tyler S. (36; Music Manager; Georgetown, TX): Blah blah, he’s excited to be there, blah, completely unmemorable blah.

And let’s just talk about editing for one hot goddamn moment because I assure you, those two were not the only men in that limo. Just … just keep this as a friendly reminder that every single thing you are seeing has been manipulated in ways big and small.

Alright. So, Clare heads in and greets the men in what would normally be, what? A pool house? I don’t know. There, she delivers the custom, “excited to be here, my spouse is in this room, can’t wait to get to know all of you” toast, before one of the white guys — honestly, I have no idea which one? Zach J.? — sure, let’s say Fart Box, takes her aside for a boring chat.

She talks to some of the other men, who cares, before chatting with Eazy, who, FUN FACT: was a wide receiver at Texas A&M, and was drafted by the Houston Texans (before being released from the roster). Clare reveals to Eazy that she brought her two dogs with her (HOORAY! DOGGOS!) and he talks about how he’s a momma’s boy who has to call her every Sunday to promise he went to church that week. This gives her a chance to discuss her mother’s condition and the two of them talk about how much such situations make them value life, and serve as a reminder to not hold anything back. You know the typical “deep” conversations they have on this show.

Clare then sits down with Dale, whose face is pulled into close up as she narrates over it that it’s exciting to think she’s possibly met HER HUSBAND. So, we’re done here right? We can go? I mean, I am sorry those other 29 guys had to have toilet scrubbers shoved up their noses for two weeks, it was clearly all for nothing, but we’re obviously very done here.

Clare and The One discuss her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and how during the quarantine it’s been even harder. And … pay close attention here. The One begins this conversation by asking how her mother is doing, as if he knows all about Clare’s mother’s condition already. He then adds that he’s had her “in [his] thoughts and prayers.” Now, wait. How did he know to ask about Clare’s mother, and why would he have her in his thoughts and prayers if he didn’t already know that Clare’s mother had some sort of medical issue?

Maybe this is just the producers editing out the conversation in which Clare reveals to The One that her mother has Alzheimer’s — it would, after all, be repetitive coming right after the conversation with Eazy. Or maybe The One did some research on Clare before he came to the show. It’s possible she mentioned her mother’s condition in some interview ahead of filming. Or maybe … they had been in contact before the show began?

Now, it’s strictly against the rules for the Bachelor or Bachelorette to be in communication with the contestants before filming begins. But that is difficult to enforce in the days of social media, especially when 90% of all contestants are Instagram models. And so, yes, there are rumors out there that these two had been DMing each other during the production shutdown, which is why they connected so quickly. They deny these rumors as does the show. But come the fuck on. We’re all adults here. It’s perfectly obvious what happened.

Anyway. They go on to have a perfectly boring conversation about how excited he was to see she was going to be the Bachelorette and they talk about “energies” and being empaths and … just …

Then a producer releases Clare’s golden retriever Honey, who runs around and sluts it up for the men. Honey for The Bachelorette, season 17.

Clare visits with more of the men and they do the typical first impression stunts: strong man contests, portraits drawn by young relatives, origami, comparing themselves to My Cousin Vinny — which she’s never seen, until Chris Harrison brings out the dreaded First Impression Rose and everyone begins to unravel.

Mr. Moonpies starts yammering about how he’s going to get the First Impression Rose because he’s “the best.” He then sits Clare down to tell her that he’s a single father to a little girl and how it’s important to show his daughter how a woman should be treated — which is why he’s going to treat Clare so great, or something. And I’m NOT going to go on a rant here about how maybe if one wants to set an example for one’s young daughter, participating in a reality TV dating show that perpetuates outdated gender and societal norms isn’t the best place to start BUT I’M THINKING IT REAL LOUDLIKE.

Meanwhile, Clark Griswold is over here, sitting on some Grade-A “not here for the right reasons” information about Mr. Moonpies. It seems that some of Clark Griswold’s female friends have reported to him that Moonpies has been flirty with them on Instagram shortly before filming began.

Clark Griswold takes Mr. Moonpies InstaCheater aside, tells him he’s not there to make a scene but that he knows this thing, and he just doesn’t want InstaCheater to waste Clare’s time because she just doesn’t have that much time left SHE’S NEARLY FORTY, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. InstaCheater swears he has no idea what Clark Griswold is even talking about, but he appreciates bringing it to him. InstaCheater then gives an interview where he simultaneously claims 1. he has no idea what Clark Griswold is going on about but 2. he’s not here for “high school drama” and “OH MY GAWD YOU MESSAGED SOMEONE.”

Totally guilty.

To that end, InstaCheater interrupts Clare’s conversation with some other guy to inform her that Clark Griswold is “dragging his name through the mud.” Clare stops him from saying more and grabs Clark Griswold so that he can be part of this conversation.

There, Clark Griswold explains that friends of his were receiving sexxxxy video messages from InstaCheater, repeatedly. InstaCheater argues in response that if he WERE to message someone, they’d respond to him. HE HAS TOO MUCH RESPECT FOR HIMSELF TO PUT UP WITH ANYTHING LESS.

GIRL.

InstaCheater is bringing this to Clare’s attention because he doesn’t want to blindside her, Clark. Clare asks InstaCheater if he has a girlfriend back home who is going to show up and ruin their good time, and he insists that he does not. Good enough! And we move on.

Clare then takes Grizzly Adams aside to talk, noting that she really needed to speak to him specifically. There, she pointedly explains that Grizzly Adams was the only — THE ONLY — man to reach out to her on social media during quarantine. She didn’t want to bring it up and get him in trouble, since what he did broke the rules. But at the same time, she wanted him to know how much it meant to her that he took that risk when her mother was going through a particularly bad spell. Also, too, she just wanted to REEMPHASIZE the point that he was THE ONLY MAN TO CONTACT HER DURING QUARANTINE.

That bit of business taken care of, Clare gives the First Impression Rose to The One.

Great, so we are definitely done here, right?

NOPE. Because Chris Harrison arrives and tells everyone to line up because apparently we’re still going to go through the motions of this charade. I GUESS WE’RE ALL IN THIS SUNK COST BOAT TOGETHER.

Rose #1: Grizzly Adams
Rose #2: Eazy
Rose #3: Sukhasana
Rose #4: Groany McBadJoke Esq.
Rose #5: Fart Box
Rose #6: A.M. Radio
Rose #7: Dr. Joe
Rose #8: My Cousin Vinny
Rose #9: Parachute Guy
Rose #10: Sir Dumbass
Rose #11: Four Eyes
Rose #12: Pineapple Hair
Rose #13: Faux Lou Perlman
Rose #14: Bowtie
Rose #15: Fun Garin
Rose #16: Bubble Boy
Rose #17: American Psycho
Rose #18: One of the Zacs
Rose #19: Straightjacket
Rose #20: Besame Mucho
Rose #21: Bobby Fisher
Rose #22: InstaCheater

Which means we must say goodbye to: Finger Smasher, Donald Trump Jr., Waiting Chris, Stilts, Soup Nuts, One-Shirt Robby, Flip Flops, and, somehow, Clark Griswold.

I’m really genuinely sorry you guys had to isolate, alone, for two weeks and have nasal pap smears performed on you daily just to be sent home on the first night. You don’t even get a stupid group date or a romantic one-on-one date on the other side of the pool to remember. And chances are maybe MAYBE one of you will be called up for Bachelor in Paradise duty. Maybe. And that’s presuming there’s a Paradise to go to next summer. That genuinely — and I mean this in complete sincerity — sucks ass.

But your time in the bubble is over, guys. Enjoy life on the outside.

The Men Who Have Been Dumped by Clare:

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The Men Who Are Going to Soon Be Dumped by Clare:

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The Bachelorette airs on ABC on Tuesday at 7/8 p.m.

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