December 1, 2020
I’m not going to start with a lot of chit chat, but before we go on I would like to lodge a formal complaint that someone appears to have replaced my usual cast of slope-browed, emotionally unavailable mesomorphs with actual adult men who are in touch with their feelings and might have actually had therapy. It’s as if they actually want this dumb experiment to work or something. WHO AUTHORIZED THIS CHANGE?
Alright. On with it.
The day begins with Tayshia welcoming yet another former Bachelorette, Jojo, to her suite to discuss her “journey” (gag) so far and ostensibly receive advice. But really, Jojo is there to replace Chris Harrison for a few weeks while he takes his son to college (Texas Christian University, for those keeping track, go Frogs) and then re-quarantines. We learn this when Chris Harrison introduces Jojo to the remaining men, explains there will be two one-on-one dates and one group date this week, and then peaces out for at least the next two episodes.
Jojo then hands off the first date card: “One of the Zacs: I’m looking for a man I can picture a future with. Tayshia.”
One of the Zacs (I suppose more accurately, now he’s The Only Zac) meets Tayshia out on the lawn where he learns they are going to play bridal dress-up and take fake wedding pictures, and instead of being freaked out about it, he’s all, “cool cool cool.” But Tayshia, she clearly is freaked out once she sees the collection of wedding dresses she has to wear and reminds us for the umpteenth time that she’s been married before, so all of this is giving her some PTSD. She gamely, but nervously puts one of the dresses on, and is then forced into a veil by my favorite character of this entire episode, the creative director and photographer who shows up wearing short shorts with what appears to be giant insects on them, purple loafers, and a neckerchief. I love him. He is a treasure.
Oh, but one of the things he claims while waving his camera around is that the camera “doesn’t lie” as if all of us haven’t lived on social media for the past ten years.
Photographer: “you have to be authentic in these, the camera doesn’t lie”
He says right before a staged wedding shoot between two people who have yet to go on a date together. #TheBachelorette
— Colleen (@colleenk727) December 2, 2020
So, they take a bunch of bad wedding photos together, but we don’t see any of the actual pictures, we just see a bunch of screenshots that have been digitized to look like they’ve been put through the world’s worst filter. Did Neckerchief’s film get quarantined? What’s going on here?
After the first traditional wedding dress and tux combo, Tayshia and One of the Zacs do a few more costume changes and are forced into wearing the following atrocities:
After the photoshoot is over and done with, Tayshia admits to One of the Zacs that she was nervous because she has been married before, and he’s like, “So what, I’ve been married before, too.”
But wait! There’s more!
That night at dinner, One of the Zacs is like, “So you know how I mentioned that I had also been previously married? Yeah, that’s the tip of the goddamned iceberg. So check it: right after I graduated college I found out I had a brain tumor, and I had it surgically removed, but then I became addicted to pain pills and decided that it would be a good idea to get married but that didn’t last but a year because of the part where I was addicted to pills and then I stole a check from my Dad and tried to cash it to buy more drugs but I got caught and my family sent me to rehab and now I’m on the board of that rehab. The end.”
But Tayshia isn’t freaked out, she’s impressed by all the life he’s lived (and it’s a lot of life, let’s be clear) and she offers him the date rose before taking him on a ride on the Ferris wheel set up for them on the resort. OK BUT WERE ALL THE CARNIES WHO SET THIS UP QUARANTINED FOR TWO WEEKS?
Meanwhile, the other men receive the group date card: “Lunch Meat; Bobby Fischer; Bubble Boy; Bowtie; Groany McBadJoke; Parachute Guy; American Psycho; Sukhasana; and Porn Stache: Express yourself. Love, Tayshia.” Which means: Eazy receives the final one-on-one date. He’s so excited! The poor dear.
As for the group date, the men are herded into an art class where a middle-aged couple is embracing in the nude, and all of the men begin having flashbacks from the strip dodgeball competition.
But! Tayshia and the art instructor who is waiting for them assure the men they will not be getting naked in this challenge, they are just going to be “expressing themselves” through art.
The group takes their seats (at which point American Psycho shoos Porn Stache away from the desk next to Tayshia, and Porn Stache is just like, “Uh … ok …”) and they begin sketching the nude models.
They are all terrible.
The men are then all blindfolded and given some clay to sculpt something that represents their time with Tayshia, and American Psycho uses the opportunity to kiss Tayshia while no one else can see him do it, describing the moment as “a little fifty shades of clay.”
NO SIR. NOT OK.
One of the men, it doesn’t matter who, makes a pizza for some reason; Grizzly Adams makes a dick; and American Psycho makes a bunch of houses, explaining that they represent their New York home, their Hamptons house, their California home and that he didn’t have time to make the mountain retreat or the Paris chateau. In response, Porn Stache asks American Psycho, “You spell privilege P-R-I-V-I-L-E-D-G-E right?”
And friends, as much as I want — SO DESPERATELY WANT — to roast Porn Stache for misspelling “privilege,” the fact of the matter is I can not spell the word “privilege” to save my life, my husband’s life, or my children’s lives, and, not only that, but I will spell it exactly the way Porn Stache just did every single goddamned time, so I have to let this one go with a heavy sigh.
BUT. BUT! That does not let Harvard Boy off the hook for not correcting him if he’s so fucking smart.
The final assignment for the men is to create a self-portrait and reveal something deep inside themselves. The man who opens up the most will win extra one-on-one time with Tayshia.
And reader, these men, they actually do a good job. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the art is turrrrible, but I’ll be damned if the men (at least the ones they show on camera) don’t do their best to be emotionally available (for the most part) and do so in front of one another.
Bobby Fischer paints the “four pillars” of who he is with a missing puzzle piece in the center that represents his future wife and family; Porn Stache paints a yin/yang portrait to represent his mustache/no mustache duality, I suppose; Bowtie creates a picture frame and holds it around his head vertically to symbolize his self-portrait, but then turns it to the side horizontally to make room for his future partner; American Psycho does some terrible needlepoint, I don’t even know; Grizzly Adams paints some turtledoves, explaining that they are monogamous and after growing up in a failed, chaotic family situation, it is what he wants for himself and his future kids; and Groany paints something, I don’t even know what, clouds? and then explains his troubled history with his mother and how he has longed for a family.
Again, it’s one thing to open up to the Bachelorette when it’s just you and her and the camera crew, it’s another to do so in front of the other men. What happened with these art projects and their presentations is the exact opposite of toxic masculinity and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH ANY IT. WHAT IS THIS SHOW AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE BACHELORETTE?
We Stan men supporting men EMOTIONALLY #TheBachelorette pic.twitter.com/LmQDmoGaJ9
— Lemon Michaels (@LemonMichaels) December 2, 2020
And then we get to Sukhasana, who begins to hold up his portrait, before putting it back down and excusing himself. When he returns, he’s wearing a robe and explains that this experience is really about taking down their walls and exposing themselves, so he’s going to do that literally. He removes the robe and standing naked before the Bachelorette, the other men, and God herself, Sukhasana offers all of himself to Tayshia.
“What an art day!” Tayshia declares. Indeed.
Tayshia then excuses herself and goes backstage to cry at the producers and the poor art teacher who absolutely did not sign up for this about how overwhelmed she is by the men in the best possible way.
That night at the cocktail party, Groany takes Tayshia aside first and tells her that he is not used to opening himself up the way he did that afternoon. He then tells her a little more about his relationship with his mother, and how his parents’ divorce poisoned him against her until he was an adult and able to forge his own relationship with her.
But it’s Sukhasana who really reveals himself to her …
When they are alone, he explains that he made fitness and nutrition his life because as a teen he developed an eating disorder in an attempt to make himself more attractive to girls. He goes on to explain that he could only hide it for so long and that his sister saved his life.
And y’all. When he stripped down in the art room, I will admit that I was irritated. It felt like a cheap and obvious cry for attention. But to find out that he is a survivor of an eating disorder, that he has a complicated and difficult relationship with his body — and he always will — and that exposing his body to the world that way, to invite ridicule and judgment on the thing that is his most sensitive pressure point, it’s actually pretty incredible.
me realizing that the naked thing with Ben now makes sense because he’s had such a toxic relationship with his body I— #TheBachelorette pic.twitter.com/5YtqXTfaAl
— Lizzy Gulino (@lizzygulino) December 2, 2020
Add to all of this the fact that he would open up so publicly about being an eating disorder survivor as a man … According to the National Eating Disorders Association, men make up only 25% of the people with anorexia. In fact, because people assume men don’t suffer from eating disorders, men are more likely to die from anorexia as they are diagnosed so much later in the disease. It was brave enough for Sukhasana to tell the woman he is romantically interested in about this part of his life, but by speaking as a man about his experience with an eating disorder on such a national platform, he also put a much-needed spotlight on a serious problem.
Which brings me back to One of the Zac’s openness about his struggle with addiction and how he overcame it. Both men are so honest about conditions that cause such profound shame and embarrassment for many people, conditions that society associates with weakness, particularly with men. But by talking about their experiences, by talking about their fights, their reliance on their families to help them, and their eventual success at conquering their demons, these men are normalizing important conversations about very difficult subjects.
Because of the pressure our society and culture puts on our men and boys to never show a sliver of weakness, to repress their emotions, and to solve their problems on their own, men and boys have higher instances of depression, substance abuse, and rates of suicide. These men, along with the other men this season who have been so emotionally available, like Bobby Fischer and Groany McBadJoke, Esq, are helping — if even in a small way — to unravel the toxic masculinity culture that hurts men and women alike.
And before I get off my little platform here, I have a theory why there are so many “good” men (read: emotionally mature) this season. All of these men were originally cast for Clare, the oldest Bachelorette, to date. This is a self-selecting group of men who came into this season expecting to date a nearly 40-year-old woman, not a twenty-something-year-old child. They aren’t scared of maturity or intimidated by a woman who knows what she wants and is most definitely ready to get married and have children IMMEDIATELY. That requires an extra level of maturity and self-awareness on their part. I know this doesn’t apply to all of the men, but it sure seems like a combination of the type of man who would even apply to be on this season and the casting directors DOING THEIR DAMN JOB FOR ONCE has led to this very remarkable group of men.
BUT, there are the exceptions that make the rule. While Groany and Sukhasana are opening themselves up to Tayshia, American Psycho and Porn Stache are still sniping at one another. So much so, in fact, that after Tayshia gives Sukhasana the date rose, she warns American Psycho and Porn Stache that she is going to get to the bottom of whatever is going between the two of them one way or another.
Meanwhile, Eazy is hoping for the “most romantic date in Bachelor history,” when the date card arrives: “Eazy: I hope you aren’t scared of falling in love. Love, Tayshia.”
The next night, the Ghost Hunters night-vision cameras go on as Eazy arrives at the meeting spot to wait for Tayshia. But instead of just walking up and greeting him, she sneaks up on him scaring him and setting the mood for the date. Basically, the producers have turned a few rooms into a haunted house that they have to explore, complete with shaking rocking chairs, talking dolls, and picture frames that fall off of mantlepieces.
La Quinta staff when they’re told they need to set up a haunted house and rattle things from inside every 5 minutes #TheBachelorette pic.twitter.com/fpYz3RNwpN
— Reality_Check (@Realitty_Check) December 2, 2020
Afterward, the two go to
haunted dinner where they laugh about the date and how he was screaming louder than she was and something about grabbing his muscles. Then Eazy decides that it’s time: from their first conversation he has had strong feelings for her. He’s tried to be macho and not tell her too soon, but it can’t wait anymore: he honestly feels like he’s falling in love with her.
Tayshia explains that he’s a good man who has given his authentic self to her every time she asked, but she can’t give him the rose. She just is not where he is emotionally, and she doesn’t think she can get there. She doesn’t want to waste his time or have to go through a rose ceremony, and she’s really sorry.
As she walks him out of the bubble, Eazy whisper-asks, “Tayshia, is this real? Are you sure?” It’s pretty gut-wrenching, I have to admit.
And before Eazy is shoved through the airlock and exits the quarantine bubble, we have to touch on the controversy surrounding him. In October, a woman tweeted that she had a non-consensual sexual encounter with Eazy and that she was furious watching the show portray him as a “stand-up” guy. She took the tweets down on the advice of legal counsel but did reach out to Reality Steve who reported that her legal team had also contacted ABC, and Reality Steve predicted that Eazy would be removed from future episodes. ABC investigated, Eazy claimed that the incident WAS consensual, and the investigation was closed because it boiled down to a he said-she said situation. So before you feel too sorry for Eazy, who had indeed been painted as the big teddy bear of the group, keep all of this in mind.
This episode was filmed sometime in the summer, well before the allegations came out, and we can assume his exit was not orchestrated by the producers to get rid of a problematic contestant. However, it will be interesting to see if, as something of a fan favorite, he will be invited onto Bachelor in Paradise, or if he’s been tainted by this entire incident.
Anyway, your time in the bubble is over, Eazy. Enjoy life on the outside.
The next day, Jojo gathers the men together to explain that there will be a cocktail party and a rose ceremony that night, BUT FIRST, Tayshia will have a mini two-on-one date with American Psycho and Porn Stache because she is sick and tired of their bullshit.
So these two dingdongs go get ready and monologue about why they are confident they’ll be the one to stay. They then walk into the pool cabana together to wait for Tayshia. As soon as they arrive, American Psycho excuses himself, and returns with a gift box in hand, explaining that it’s not a “war gift,” but more a “gentlemanly gift.” Porn Stache, understandably suspicious, refuses to take the present, so American Psycho opens it and explains each item as he pulls them out:
First, there’s a red bandana, representing their first conversation, in which Porn Stache talked about his former cowboy days.
Next is a pair of socks with mustaches all over them because, and I quote, “the only place to wear a mustache is on your feet.”
And finally, he has a book on emotional intelligence for Porn Stache. There are four tenets to emotional intelligence, American Psycho android-splains to Porn Stache: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. American Psycho is genuinely concerned that Porn Stache needs to brush up on at least three of those, he is not trying to belittle him, he assures Porn Stache.
Porn Stache is, for obvious reasons, irritated with this whole shtick and grouses that American Psycho looks down on him because he’s 25 and not a Harvard graduate. But American Psycho protests that no, he just really believes Porn Stache has 0% chance with Tayshia, and the reason why can be found in this book that he is making great show of giving to him in the most condescending way possible. Porn Stache dares American Psycho to say that with Tayshia sitting with them, and American Psycho promises him that he absolutely will.
That being her cue, Tayshia enters the ring and explains that she brought them both here to get to the bottom of the pettiness because she is over the drama between the two of them.
American Psycho tries to protest that there is no tension between the two of them, but Porn Stache is all, “EXCUSE ME? YOU JUST SAID I HAVE A 0% CHANCE OF BEING WITH TAYSHIA.” This begins a back and forth between the two of them: “YOU CALLED ME ‘LIL’ PORN STACHE!'” “YEAH WELL, YOU MISSPELLED PRIVILEGE AT MY FACE!” “YEAH WELL, YOU SAID I WAS A 14-YEAR-OLD!” “NO, I DIDN’T, I WAS MAKING A POINT ABOUT OUR AGE DIFFERENCE!”
And Tayshia is left wondering if this is what goes on when she is not around because it. is. fucking. tedious.
And that’s when she notices the gift box.
TO BE CONTINUED!
The Men Who Have Been Dumped by Tayshia and Clare:
The Men Who Are Going to Soon Be Dumped by Tayshia:
The Bachelorette airs on ABC on Tuesday at 7/8 p.m.