‘The Bachelor’: Daddy Lessons

The Bachelor
March 8, 2021

For most of The Bachelor‘s history, at this point in the process, the producers would separate the final three contestants, squirreling them away into their own individual hotel suites, not to see one another until the final rose ceremony. It was a kindness, a saving grace, a shred of humanity to the final three, keeping them from the painful reminder that they were still competing with two other people, both of whom were also boning the person you were now boning, and in fact, boning them that very week. Well, someone in the producers’ coven realized recently that they were wasting a rich vein of awkwardness by not forcing the final three to be together, to have to look into each others’ eyes as they come and go from dates with the man they all will bone that week, and rectified that situation RIGHT QUICK.

And so we begin with the final three women forced to sit together and listen to Chris Harrison’s spiel about this time being so intimate and important, before handing the first date card over to No Accent, while Veronica from Riverdale looks like she’s going to throw up all over her sweater.

Baby girl, it’s only going to get worse.

Meanwhile, the producers Matt James has decided that before he can move on to the Very Serious Part of this process, he needs to confront a painful and difficult part of his past: his father. To that end, they have flown Matt James’s father to Pennsylvania, and this man proceeds to walk cheerfully into a well-laid trap.

After welcoming his dad, Matt James explains that he is not there to tell Matt James how proud he is of him, but rather for Matt James to confront him about cheating on his mother and wrecking their family.

Matt James’ father:

Matt James explains that he feels like he missed out on a lot of things because his father decided to go off and start other families and that the hole his father left in his life is holding him back from being the man, husband, and father that he wants to become. He demands to know where his father’s head was at when he ruined Young Matt James’ entire life, so that he doesn’t make the same mistakes.

At first, Dad is defensive, pointing out that he didn’t have a proper male role model himself as his own father died in Africa when he was only five. Additionally, his father tries, Matt James shouldn’t be mad at him since he was the one abandoned by Matt James’ mother. “AND FOR GOOD REASON,” Matt James argues, “SINCE YOU WERE UNFAITHFUL TO HER.”

Matt James’ father. Literally:

Matt James then goes for the jugular, asking his father if he would be cool with someone disrespecting his daughter the way he did Matt James’ mother. Matt James’ father again tries to bob and weave his way out of this one, pointing out that they’re there to celebrate Matt James not there to talk about Dad’s relationship with Matt James’ mom, to which Matt James is like, “that is where you are wrong, old man, that is the only reason we are here.”

And in an interview, Matt James breaks down crying, talking about how the only things his father gave him were new shoes and pizza, neither of which he needed. He needed a dad. It is genuinely heartbreaking and it is genuinely awkward.

Dad clearly feels attacked and goes silent for a long time, until finally submitting if only to get out of this conversation. Dad agrees that he failed to teach his son some important life lessons that might help him in his upcoming life-changing decision, and for that he’s sorry and he will try to do better. He wants to have a healthy relationship with Matt James, he doesn’t want to miss out on any more of his life.

Matt James forgives him, and in an interview notes that one conversation isn’t going to fix everything, but it’s a start. But more importantly: he knows now he is not his father, and just because he’s his father’s son doesn’t mean he has to make his father’s mistakes.

And listen, I recognize that Matt James having this conversation with his Black father about being an absentee dad on national television is a land mine, possibly playing into painful and vicious stereotypes about Black men. Matt James acknowledged this in a very nuanced message the night the episode aired:

And I should note here that having daddy issues is so color-blind, so universal, that it’s literally been the foundation of Western literature since the Greeks — there are no hero journeys without first having some emotional damage caused by your dad. While I understand our culture has wielded the deadbeat dad trope like a cudgel against the Black community for decades now and the Black community is very sensitive about reinforcing those tropes, the truth of the matter is Black men do not have a monopoly on disappointing their kids.

Fantasy Suite #1: No Accent

Having hashed out issues with his absentee father that were some twenty-five years in the making just that morning, Matt James meets No Accent for their date, which was described to him as a “Pennsylvania Dutch Spa Day.” So … they’ll be raising a barn and building space heaters? Matt James is as confused as the rest of us.

They go inside a room that is filled with taxidermy and furs and a tub full of what appears to be milk and a smaller foot tub which is filled with either oatmeal or wet cement. (Are we sure they didn’t mean Pennsylvania Mob Spa Day?”)

Matt James and No Accent strip down to bathing suits and shove their feet into the oatmeal cement mixture for a while, before indulging in butter massages and the milk bath.

That night at “dinner” they talk a bit about her parents, and how comfortable they made him feel. (Suggesting, of course, that some parents made him feel less than comfortable. LOOKING AT YOU, MR. AND MRS. RIVERDALE.) No Accent discusses how her parents have taught her the value of staying in love and making love work for the long haul, and Matt James is like, “Staying in love? Instead of just falling in love? Hmmm … The producers didn’t say anything about staying in love .. “

No Accent then tells Matt James that she wants to know more about him and why he is the person he is, and he asks her how much time she has. But, it’s the perfect segue into him opening up about his conversation with his father, how he confronted him about his infidelities, and how he made the decision that he didn’t have to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Matt James, having assured the first of three women he intends to sleep with this week that he is not going to be a serial adulterer, then offers No Accent the Fantasy Suite card, and No Accent happily accepts.

Matt James and No Accent retire to a large hotel suite to get their Fantasy Suite on, while we go back to Veronica from Riverdale who is losing her mind at the idea of Matt James having sex with someone else.

And on the one hand, as my poor husband who does not watch this crap kept saying while checking his email, “Honey, you signed up for this. You literally were hoping to get to this point when you joined this show.” But on the other hand, unless you are in some sort of polyamory situation, it is not normal to act like it doesn’t bother you when you know full well that your friend is having sex with your boyfriend at that moment. Jealousy isn’t a great emotion, but it’s real.

The next morning, No Accent is blissfully happy and tells Matt James that she loves him, getting a “thank you for sharing that with me,” in response. IT IS NOT A RESPONSE.

No Accent then returns to the holding pen where they are keeping the women and tells them about their date, where First One and Veronica from Riverdale look like they pass out.

With a heavy sigh and a voice-over talking about her mixed emotions, First One gets up to prepare for her date.

Fantasy Suite #2: First One

First One meets Matt James in the woods where he hands her a backpack and sleeping bag, informing her that they are going to spend the night in the woods. And that, friends, would be the moment my ass turned around, walked back to the hotel, grabbed my suitcase, and asked for the airport shuttle. I’VE SEEN THIS SHOW BEFORE, MATT JAMES, AND I KNOW FANTASY SUITES DO NOT TAKE PLACE IN POP-UP TENTS IN THE COLD ASS WOODS.

But First One is more agreeable than me, and the two hike to a fire pit where they pitch a tent …

… and after rolling around in said tent for half a minute, Matt James reveals that this is all a big joke, of course they’re not spending the night there. HAHAHA GREAT ONE.

That night at dinner, they talk about Matt James meeting First One’s mother, and whether or not he was intimidated by her, which he shouldn’t be since First One’s mom is maybe six years older than Matt James. But whatever.

First One then asks Matt James if he thinks he’s ready to get engaged, and he’s like “great question, now let me talk about my dad at you for half an hour.”

When he’s finished with his monologue, Matt James offers First One the Fantasy Suite card and she happily accepts. Keeping with the “outdoorsy” theme of the date, Matt James brings her to a cabin which despite all of the bitching happening on Twitter, is actually quite cozy and romantic. First One tells Matt James that she’s in love with him and he, once again, is like, “Hey, thanks.”

In the morning, First One is still burbling about her feelings for Matt James and how excited she is, and how her mind has been put at ease.

Meanwhile, Matt James walks her out of the cabin dressed like this:

So many questions.

  1. Are those clogs?
  2. Where’d you get those pants that are seven inches too short? Are those First One’s pants? Did you borrow her pants, Matt James?
  4. What is happening where am I am I having a stroke right now

Back in the holding pen, Veronica from Riverdale and No Accent are discussing how they’re feeling, and by “how they’re feeling,” I mean No Accent watches Veronica from Riverdale cry over her insecurities and how she doesn’t want to see First One come home.

First One tells the other two about her date and her “uninterrupted” time with Matt James and how it was worth the wait. And Veronica from Riverdale is like, “OH THAT’S REALLY GREAT AND I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU AND I AM NOT CRYING AT ALL.”

Veronica from Riverdale then leaves to get ready for her date. First One asks No Accent if Veronica from Riverdale is alright, and No Accent is like, “Actually, she’s having a hard time with this part of the scheduled process which has been a part of every season of this show, on account of her white fragility.”

Fantasy Suite #3: Veronica from Riverdale

Matt James is at his house talking about how he had no expectations for this week, but that every date has turned out to be huge. He hopes Veronica from Riverdale is as fired up about their date as he is!

To prepare for their date, Veronica from Riverdale stares pensively into the middle distance from her balcony for a while and then puts on her laundry day outfit. I’m not even kidding:

Leaving aside the schlubby oversized jacket and torn jeans, I don’t care how young you are, or how fit you are, there is NO ONE ON THE PLANET CAN PULL OFF THE WORLD’S LEAST FLATTERING SHIRT. And you know how I know that? Because this 24-year-old Instagram model can’t pull it off, that’s how.

So she mopes into their pottery date and makes some pinch pots with Matt James until her sour mood is so distracting that she stops everything, sends the poor instructor out of the room, and informs Matt James that his participating in this obligatory part of the process has been UNBEARABLE for her. If he’s going to dump her, THEN JUST DO IT ALREADY.

Matt James not only assures her that he is 100% certain of his feelings for her, but when Veronica from Riverdale tells him that she is in love with him, he returns the sentiment.


That night, Matt James puts a suit on for Veronica from Riverdale and takes her to dinner. There, Veronica from Riverdale talks about putting her guard down and struggling to communicate her feelings and Matt James is like, “That reminds me of my father …”

After milking that visit with his dad one last time, Matt James offers Veronica from Riverdale the Fantasy Suite card. After she accepts, they go to some McMansion on the property somewhere, where they are treated to their own private fireworks display.

No Accent: butter.

First One: pup tent.

Veronica from Riverdale: Louboutins, a pile of designer dresses, a private McMansion, fireworks.

I think we all know who wins this season, kids.

Finally, the rose ceremony. Let’s not drag this out.

Rose #1: No Accent
Rose #2: Veronica from Riverdale

With that, Matt James walks First One out to the “Sorry You Quit Your Job for This” van and she’s like, “I can’t even be mad or sad, you just like someone better. Now if you excuse me, I have to go make a call to my old boss”

Goodbye, First One! You were very pretty, but let this be a valuable lesson that you don’t give up your career for some dude you meet on a TV set.

Here are the ladies who were eliminated along with their very not good nicknames:

Here are the women along with their dumb nicknames who are still “dating” Matt and whose nicknames could change as the show goes on, I dunno:

The Bachelor airs Mondays on ABC at 7/8 p.m.

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