‘The Bachelor’: In which Clayton’s parents become the unexpected heroes in the situation

The Bachelor
March 14, 2022

It’s been a minute since these final two episodes of The Bachelor aired, I know, I KNOW. And I know that you know by now what happened: that, Clayton Echard, the Bachelor no one wanted, made a complete hash of the whole thing, and managed to disrespect three perfectly lovely women in one fell swoop. As a result, Clayton might just have made himself the most-hated Bachelor of all time, displacing both Pilot Peter and Juan Pablo.

Which brings me to what I think is a crucial observation about why this season went so far off the rails: Don’t 👏 Pick 👏 Leads 👏 Who 👏 Don’t 👏 Make 👏 It 👏 To 👏 Hometowns 👏.

Back when Juan Pablo done fucked up his season, my theory about what went so terribly wrong was based on the fact that he was a relatively unknown quantity, having been eliminated in week 6, and not having gone to Hometowns. Making it to the final four is important, according to my theory, for two very big reasons: 1. it allows the audience to get to know the contestant on a very personal level and become invested in their “love story” and 2. it allows the producers to really vet them.

And so I was feeling smug when this hypothesis of mine which was born out of Juan Pablo’s season was proven by Clayton (both of whom were coincidentally eliminated from The Bachelorette in week six), I’m not going to lie. And then along comes this insight from one of my least favorite Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise contestants, Blake Horstmann:

Insert the “Worst Person You Know Made a Good Point” meme here because Blake’s not wrong. By the time you are in the top three or four on this show, you probably have developed feelings for the lead, and having your heart broken on national television would be a very singular experience. I do think experiencing that would make one realize as the lead how much power they have over other people’s feelings, and approach the task with more tenderness than demonstrated by Clayton (or Juan Pablo).

Now, obviously a Bachelor with no Bachelorette experience can get through the “journey” without being the total shitshow that Clayton was: Matt James was pulled out of thin air and he’s still with his final choice, and 11 previous Bachelors had no Bachelorette experience themselves, including our host Jesse Palmer. That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the only Bachelors who are still with the women they chose (with the exception of Matt James) had all been contestants on The Bachelorette — and made it to at least the final four.

AND IN CONCLUSION: No more leads who have not gone to Hometowns. Periodt.

As for the actual recap of an episode that aired literally weeks ago … so here’s an image that encapsulates how weird the world is right now:

That sign back there, in case you were wondering, reads, “Russian warship, go fuck yourself Bachelor Nation supports Ukraine,” and I won’t bore you with how long it took me to translate that, but it did involve finding an online Cyrillic keyboard and Google Translate. You are welcome.

But yes, I’m sure the Ukrainian people feel just a little bit better knowing that some ABC production assistant made a poster saying that a U.S. reality dating show supports them while they’re being relentlessly shelled and genocided by Vladimir Putin. Every little bit helps and all that.

Anyway, the world is on fire, so why not just dive into some reality show bullshit and pretend for four short hours that none of this is actually happening right now, yes?

Last we left Clayton, he had just shoved Hannah Brown, Jr. in the Go Away Now Van (or, in Iceland, the Farðu í Burtu Núna Van) after she had the audacity to tell him that she found it unacceptable that he claims to love her “the most” but went ahead and slept with two other women before their Fantasy Suite Date.

Clayton did not cover himself in glory in this particular moment.

The next day, Clayton spends his morning in the Hallgrímskirkja listening to an Icelandic chorus sing some sort of dirge, feeling very sorry for himself, and sobbing that “Clayton so broken.”

He then has a sitdown with Jesse Palmer where he reiterates that through some very convoluted Entitled Man logic, it’s Hannah Brown Jr.’s fault that he slept with Bachelor Groupie and Pilot Rachel. He feels blindsided by the fact that she has values and standards, and “she shattered me trust.”

Anyway. What’s done is done, and he’s ready to keep moving through this process, as he could see marrying either Pilot Rachel or Bachelor Groupie. That said, he insists that it’s time to be completely transparent with the remaining women, and tell them everything. EVERYTHING everything.*

Jesse Palmer wishes Clayton godspeed, and then he and the producers run off to pop some popcorn.

It’s Rose Ceremony time, and they choose to have it at the Harpa Concert Hall which is grand and cold and empty and has amazing acoustics, which will be important later. Pilot Rachel arrives first, Bachelor Groupie follows, and then … nothing. The two women look around for Hannah Brown, Jr., and whisper worriedly to each other about whether or not she’s coming. When Clayton arrives, they quickly realize Hannah Brown, Jr. will not, in fact, be joining them, and they literally both look sick to their stomachs.

Definitely going to vomit.

Clayton takes his place beside the column of ice holding the last two roses and notes that Hannah Brown Jr. isn’t joining them. He tells them then that they deserve to know that he’s “shattered in pieces” right now, and questioning everything. He then announces that “Clayton be transparent. No be easy to hear.”

Clayton then explains that Hannah Brown Jr. told him that she couldn’t continue if he had been in love with or intimate with either of them; that it was a deal-breaker. He then announces to the two women that “Me in love with Hannah Brown Jr., and AND me in love with both you. Also, me made the sex with both you.”

Clayton then insists that he does see one of them on the other side of all this with him, he just isn’t sure who that is now. He’s willing to answer any of their questions and — lying straight to their faces for the umpteenth time this evening — promises to respect whatever decision they make.

Wait wait wait … Twitter actually makes an excellent point:

Upon hearing all this, the women scatter; Bachelor Groupie managing to stay upright, Pilot Rachel less so.

Bachelor Groupie is furious that he told her and Pilot Rachel that he was in love with both of them, noting that it’s not fair. In the background, Pilot Rachel’s sobs echo through the dimly lit halls.

Jesse Palmer checks in with Clayton, only to be interrupted by Bachelor Groupie who is like, “LET’S TALK. NOW.”

Alone, Bachelor Groupie demands to know what, exactly, happened the night before with Hannah Brown, Jr., because the fact that she is not there tonight is … concerning.


So Clayton explains in greater detail: “Me told Hannah Brown, Jr. me in love with her and she told Clayton that if he make sex or told someone Clayton loved them, she no move forward.” But, Clayton insists, “No me fault. She told Clayton explore. She told Clayton explore ladies during sex week.”

So Bachelor Groupie asks him to clarify: if he loves all of them, how is he going to choose between them? And Clayton explains that “lady Clayton chooses, that lady be lady he loves the most.”


Bachelor Groupie is not amused by this answer, and though Clayton insists that “just because Clayton love one lady ‘the most,’ Clayton love other ladies too. But also, once Clayton make decision, it over with other ladies.”

Bachelor Groupie, she is incredulous: so after telling three women he’s in love with them, he’s going to ultimately walk out of here with one of them, which is great for him, but what about the other women? They’re just supposed to stop having feelings for him? And also, what’s this about the woman he loves “the most?”

Love isn’t measured that way. She doesn’t want to be loved “the most,” she wants to be loved for who she is.

Meanwhile, Pilot Rachel has her own questions for Clayton, namely, WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE?

Clayton admits “No make sense, but Clayton love her and Bachelor Groupie different.” Clayton insists that it isn’t over unless she feels like it should be. But Clayton feels like this is worth fighting for. “Clayton take day by day. Clayton want Pilot Rachel meet Clayton family. Clayton care about Pilot Rachel so much.”

With that, we head back to our ice podium, and Clayton thanks both of them for hearing him out, reminding them that it’s their choice in the end: they don’t have to accept the rose if they don’t feel able to do so.

Rose #1: Pilot Rachel: She accepts
Rose #2: Bachelor Groupie: She says, “Oh hell no.”

As Clayton walks Bachelor Groupie out, Pilot Rachel comes to the sickening realization that she might have just won this thing by default.

On the way outside, Bachelor Groupie explains to Clayton that she’s not here to compete for love, to be the one he “loves the most.” And this little bitch, Clayton tries to claim that it’s not meant to be a competition, that he can compartmentalize his feelings for them. He then disproves what he just said about this being her choice and begins badgering her to stay and meet his family. “Clayton know this real. Clayton try do right. Clayton take day by day.”

And something works, because Bachelor Groupie finds herself back upstairs, again, in front of that damn ice column.

But someone who is happy to see Bachelor Groupie return is Pilot Rachel:

Anyway. Clayton tries this again:

Rose #2: Bachelor Groupie: “Yeah.”

Goddammit all to hell.

Back in the Bachelor Studio, Jesse Palmer invites Michelle Young, Nick Viall, and Clare Crawley to come up and give their opinions on this whole meshuggah, and they are all in agreement: Clayton done fucked up.

That said, Nick Viall is the most insightful, pointing out two important things: 1. It sure is interesting that Clayton neglected to tell both Bachelor Groupie and Pilot Rachel that he’s already told someone that he loves them the “most”: Hannah Brown, Jr., and that 2. Clayton never took the time to really empathize with what the women were going through. He was focused on finding love for himself, not finding love with someone else.

Back in Iceland, Clayton heads to his family’s Airbnb, because apparently, we’re just going to plow straight ahead and go through the motions as if this is a normal season.

Clayton sits his parents and two brothers down and reveals what he did: “Clayton have hard week. Clayton fall in love with three lady.”

Clayton’s parents:

Clayton then explains that one of the three, Hannah Brown, Jr., self-eliminated when he told her that he had fallen in love with the other two and had slept with them, and his parents are like, “Well, no shit, Sherlock.” Clayton’s father points out that no one wants to be a consolation prize, and that he needs to recognize that these women have a right to be angry with him.

Clayton is all, “Me know. Bachelor Groupie no take rose but then take rose. Somehow Clayton make ladies stay.”

With that, Clayton goes outside and retrieves Bachelor Groupie. Upon meeting Clayton’s family, she is her usual charming, funny self, but the tension and unavoidable awkwardness, it’s there.

Oh, it’s there.

With Clayton’s mother, Bachelor Groupie explains that she changed her mind about leaving because she is falling in love with Clayton, and she realized she needed to trust her intuition and see this thing through.

Clayton’s dad, meanwhile, tells Bachelor Groupie that he admires and respects her for walking away and for coming back, and suggests that it could make them stronger in the long run.

No one actually believes that, of course, but it’s a nice thing to say, I guess.

With that, Clayton walks her out, and she tells him that she is glad she changed her mind because she does have deep feelings for him and she’s excited about the future. 

The next day it’s Pilot Rachel’s turn to meet Clayton’s disappointed and embarrassed family, and, again, though this is all … weird and terrible, she is lovely and charming, if not quite as outgoing as Bachelor Groupie.

When alone with his’s mother, Pilot Rachel is very forthcoming about being heartbroken by Clayton’s revelation that he had fallen in love with three women. But in the end, she decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life wondering what could have been, and that she really feels like he’s “perfect” for her.

Pilot Rachel tells Clayton’s father that when Clayton told her that he loved her, it was a “feeling that [she] hadn’t had before.” Clayton’s dad asks her if she actually believes that she can trust his son, which GOD BLESS THIS MAN. When she tells him that she does — for no good Goddamn reason — trust Clayton, he replies that he thinks it would “be tough” and that he “would have smacked him.”



And then as soon as Pilot Rachel leaves, Clayton is out here whinging that “Me still love Hannah Brown, Jr. Me no able let Hannah Brown, Jr. go.”


Clayton sits his parents down to talk about the choice he now has to make. They assure him that they approve of both women: they are both beautiful, special women and he just needs to follow his heart.

“That problem,” Clayton answers. “Me heart say Hannah Brown, Jr.”

Clayton’s family and every single person watching this:

Clayton insists that “What me and Hannah Brown, Jr. have so special …”

Clayton’s dad: “She didn’t think so.”

Clayton’s mom: “SHE LEFT YOU.”

Clayton tries to argue that it’s not that simple, that he stopped listening to her, but she never stopped listening to him, and she was trying to talk to him all the way to the point when he opened the Go Away Now Van door for her to leave. But he’s pretty sure he can get through to her now.

Clayton’s dad, unexpected feminist, insists that when someone walks away from you, it’s done, it’s finished, and that Clayton is just getting himself hung up on the one who got away.

Clayton argues that “Hannah Brown, Jr. could have walked away anytime … ” to which both parents respond, “SHE DID.”

Clayton insists, “Hannah Brown Jr. once in lifetime lady,” but his parents aren’t here for that, arguing back, “THEN WHY DID YOU HAVE SEX WITH TWO OTHER WOMEN?”

But Clayton, he’s not here to be deterred by logic, and insists that he has to follow his heart, knowing full well that he might just break his heart in the process. His exasperated family asks how he’s even going to reach out to Hannah Brown, Jr., which is when Jesse Palmer strides in and is like, “Sorry to interrupt, but it’s time for me to intervene before you talk some sense into your idiot son and ruin our little show here…”

Jesse Palmer asks Clayton what he wants, and Clayton is all “Me want Hannah Brown, Jr. Me need to know if chance.” And that’s when Jesse Palmer informs Clayton and his incredulous family that Hannah Brown, Jr. is still in Iceland. “ME WANT ONE MORE SHOT,” Clayton declares.

“Cool. Well, this will end one way or another tomorrow, I guess.”

We then return to the Bachelor Studio where Jesse Palmer has dragged three more former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants to the couches: Kaitlyn Bristowe; Rodney “Shoulda Been The Bachelor” Matthews; and Cassie Randolph, the woman our gay Bachelor stalked and harassed to avoid coming out of the closet.

Cassie is the most insightful on the situation, having herself tried to escape this damn show, only to have her life ruined by it. When asked what Hannah Brown, Jr. should do, Cassie hopes that Hannah Brown, Jr. doesn’t feel pressured by Clayton or the show or by the entire Bachelor narrative to give it a happy ending, or pressured by even her own decision to be on the show because she wanted to find love. Again, Cassie speaks from experience, having dumped Colton ahead of the Fantasy Suites, only to have him beg her to come back. She reluctantly agreed, and the whole thing ended with a restraining order, Colton getting a Netflix series, and Cassie trying to avoid everything Bachelor-related for years.

Alright. We have two more hours of this nonsense, kids. So stretch up and stay hydrated.

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

Here are the women along with their dumb nicknames who are still “dating” Clayton:

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

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