‘The Bachelor’: Playing dirty

The Bachelor
February 6, 2023

It’s a new day and after a gratuitous trip to the shower with our Bachelor Zach, he calls former Bachelor Sean ostensibly for advice, but all Sean has to offer is “find the one who feels like your best friend,” which was the same “advice” he offered in the first episode, so I’m unclear why we are bothering the Lowe family on their day off.

Jesse Palmer visits the McMansion where he delivers the first of two one-on-one date cards — and warns that this is a “NIGHT DATE” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Don’t all of these dates have a night component? Is it somehow more special if it begins at night?

“Austin Nurse: I want a love for the ages. Zach.”

Austin Nurse puts on a fancy dress — because NIGHT DATE — but then, somehow, for some reason, everyone is surprised when Zach arrives wearing a suit and is like, “Oh, so this is going to be FANCY?”

Also, when Zach goes to sit with the women, a number of them sniff him as he passes by which … no ma’ams. Absolutely not. Stop being weirdos.

Zach and Austin Nurse head to their date at the Natural History Museum which they have entirely to themselves. Well, and the crew. They wander around the museum with electric lanterns because I guess turning the lights on would ruin the mood, and Austin Nurse spends the entire evening whispering about how amazing this is and how as a person who “loves experiences” (are there people who don’t love “experiences”?), adds that she’s “never done anything romantic in [her] life” which, honestly, is just a huge bummer.

At dinner, Austin Nurse whisper-repeats that she’s never had a romantic experience like this before. She then whispers about her past toxic relationship that lasted 7 years on and off, but that she now knows what she wants — a good man and just some basic respect. Zach assures her that she’s worth more than just the “basics” and calls other men idiots for not treating her to five-star dates like this.

OK BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE EVER GET TO GO TO A CLOSED MUSEUM ON A DATE WHO IS NOT ON A REALITY DATING SHOW? HMM? It’s not like most people are out here having museums shut down, taking helicopter rides, or going skydiving for first dates, Zach.

Zach offers her the date rose, which she obviously accepts, and then he springs the real surprise of the date: they will be spending the night together in the museum in a tent.

WHAT, NO HOT TUB?

I want to know how many hours the producers begged the museum to let them put a hot tub in the elephant diorama before they gave up.

Austin Nurse readily accepts the slumber party invitation and they put on pajamas and zip themselves up into the tent.

And I have a few questions, mostly about liability and production. I don’t actually care if they slept together that night — what two consenting adults do on or after a date is none of my business — but I assume the producers stuck around in case there was some sort of emergency or something went terribly wrong? Despite what this date is intended to do — wind the other women up with jealousy thinking that Zach and Austin Nurse have become “intimate” — this feels different than a Fantasy Suite, the expectations are wildly different, and I would be curious what the parameters were that the producers expressed to Zach and Austin Nurse after they agreed they would spend the night there.

Back at the house, the other women start freaking out that Austin Nurse hasn’t returned yet. So well done, Producers.

Also back at the house, the group date card is delivered:

“Bored; Henry the Pig’s Mom; Bullhorn; Someone Named Anastasia; Christina Mandrell; Baylin; Baby Nurse; Rodeo Girl; First First; Glitter Bomb: Julia Roberts; Belchmeister: Maple Syrup: There are no rules in the game of love.”

This means Someone Named Aly receives the last one-on-one date for the week, and everyone is super jealous it’s not them.

The next morning, Austin Nurse returns to the house in her pajamas and when asked if she got any sleep last night replies without hesitation, “NOPE.”

… Which … you know what? Considering how boring Zach is, I don’t blame the producers for making the drama where they can. This season isn’t going to be interesting on its own.

Next up: the group date which is another installment of “Bachelor Bowl.” Zach meets the women at a football stadium and they are split up into two teams: The Shall-Crushers and the Ball-Zachs.

Straight to pun jail with everyone.

The Shall-Crushers are: Blackface Defender; First First; Henry the Pig’s Mom; Maple Syrup; Glitter Bomb; Someone Named Anastasia; Belchmeister; and Baby Nurse.

The Ball-Zachs are: Christina Mandrell; Bored; Baylin; Rodeo Girl; Love Charity; Julia Roberts and Bullhorn.

I’ll spare you the details of the game because WHO CARES. I will note that Someone Named Anastasia gets tackled early and rolls around on the field to get attention, but she is totally fine.

Also, Maple Syrup at one point announces — loudly — that she’s peed her pants?

But eventually, the Ball-Zachs win and the Shall-Crushers are sent back to the McMansion to cry about it.

At the afterparty, Zach first visits with Christina Mandrell who whines about how “hard” it’s been for her this week, and Zach pulls the “you have to trust in what we have” script from the Bachelor playbook. It satisfies Christina Mandrell who says she feels “validated.”

When Christina Mandrell rejoins the women, they are busy talking about how while they are happy to have won this time with Zach, they feel kinda bad for the women who lost and were sent back to the McMansion — they are building friendships with them, too.

But Christina Mandrell is not here for it:

After all, she reminds everyone to their growing irritation, she had the first one-on-one.

Zach visits with Love Charity, who Zach tells that he loves her “laugh” and sitting next to her, and adds that it’s clear to him that she’s “giving it her all.” We will have to take his word for it because she’s received zero screen time from the editors. But no matter: he shoves his tongue into her face.

Back with the other women, Christina Mandrell is still going on about how she had the first one-on-one and Rodeo Girl has had enough. “WE KNOW. YOU HAD THE FIRST ONE-ON-ONE. YOU MET HIS FAMILY.”

And then there’s our friend Baylin. Baylin has been feeling a little insecure and realizes that since the first night, she hasn’t really spent much time with Zach. She decides that she is going to use her time with Zach to discuss this situation and make sure that he still sees something with her. She needs “validation” from Zach.

Or, and hear me out, Baylin, maybe therapy. Maybe what you need is therapy.

Instead, when she tells Zach that it feels like they’ve been regressing and that it’s been “weird” between them, Zach agrees. It IS weird. Things DO feel off. There ISN’T a spark. Baylin, who was not expecting this response AT ALL, suggests that maybe with some time they can find that spark. But just as Zach begins reminding her that their “time is so limited” Bored arrives to interrupt this conversation and save Baylin for five more minutes.

Baylin complains in an interview that Zach’s response was “disheartening”: she was looking for him to make her feel better and … he definitely did not do that. Maybe, she tells herself, maybe he didn’t hear her, maybe he misunderstood her.

Girl. His ears work fine. You’re the one with the hearing listening problem.

Eventually, Baylin returns to Zach to finish their conversation. There she “reassures” him that she wants to be there, but he’s like, “yeah, but I can’t reassure you that I want you to be here. SO BYE.”

Baylin goes out to the other women and explains that she is leaving and everyone is all, “GASP! SHOCK! SURPRISE!” Except for Christina Mandrell who shrugs that it was “inevitable.” The women are not amused.

Bye, Baylin!

Zach then joins them and explains that Baylin has left because she was looking for validation that he couldn’t give her. SO PAY ATTENTION, LADIES: DO NOT ASK HIM FOR VALIDATION. YOU WILL NOT, I REPEAT, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE VALIDATION FROM ZACH SHALLCROSS.

Zach then offers the group date rose to Love Charity because he feels in his “heart and gut” that there is something there, and wants to explore it more.

Zach then takes his leave, but the women don’t, not immediately. Love Charity says that she’s really happy, to which Christina Mandrell, this one right here, is in UTTER DISBELIEF. “I’m just confused,” she huffs. “Maybe I missed something.” When the other women are like, “the fuck are you talking about?” Christina Mandrell makes herself explicitly clear: she’s mad she didn’t receive the rose. She’s just being “100,” y’all.

Rodeo Girl, who has had exactly enough of Christina Mandrell’s nonsense, tells her that she’s ruining Love Charity’s moment and to STOP TALKING. Christina Mandrell wonders if it would be better to “not be honest” and Rodeo Girl is like, “MY GOD, STOP MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU,” as Love Charity leaves the room in tears.

Christina Mandrell protests again that she wasn’t trying to “ruin the moment,” and Julia Roberts is like, “READ THE ROOM. ONE OF OUR BEST FRIENDS WAS JUST SENT HOME AND SOMEONE NAMED ‘NOT YOU’ RECEIVED A VERY DESERVING ROSE, WHICH YOU JUST SHIT ON. LET’S STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.” But Christina Mandrell can’t stop won’t stop, and complains that it’s just “really hard to be like, ‘oh, I’m so happy for you.'”

TOO BAD. TRY.

Meanwhile, back at the McMansion, Someone Named Aly receives her date card, along with a gift: “Someone Named Aly: Are you ready to fall in love? Zach.” And inside the box is what is described as a “wedding dress,” but is actually a wedding catsuit? 0/10. Absolutely not. I mean, she looks great in it, but no. Personally, I am anti-jumpsuit. YOU HAVE TO GET TOTALLY NAKED JUST TO TAKE A PEE AND I AM NOT HERE FOR IT.

But Someone Named Aly, she puts on her wedding onesie and meets Zach at what is clearly an airstrip, and we all know where this is going: to symbolize falling in love, they are going to go sky diving. In wedding clothes. Because the producers have run out of ideas.

Anyway, they jump out of the plane, we’ve seen this a thousand times on these shows. Although, one question: why don’t they have helmets? THEY ARE LEAPING OUT OF AN AIRPLANE 10,000 FEET IN THE AIR, GIVE THEM A DAMN HELMET.

Their reward for leaping out of a perfectly good plane is to relax in a hot tub in a vineyard. They were going to get that hot tub in this episode one way or another, godammit.

That evening they have “dinner” at the Bradbury Building, which you recognize from Blade Runner, Double Indemnity, Chinatown, Lethal Weapon 4, Pay It Forward, What Women Want, and (500) Days of Summer, as well as a bunch of old movies you’ve never heard of.

Over dinner, Someone Named Aly reveals that she is a control freak with a Type-A personality, and has a hard time being vulnerable. Zach offers her the rose, she accepts, and then they go enjoy a “private concert” by some country-pop singer you’ve never heard of. So between the hot tub, a villain heel turn, a “falling in love” metaphor, an “extreme” date, and now the not-famous singer, congratulations, everyone, we’ve hit a Bachelor Bingo.


The next day, Jesse Palmer arrives at the McMansion with news: there won’t be a rose ceremony cocktail party this evening. Instead, they will be having a pool party. With that, the women run squealing to their rooms to wrestle themselves into their bikinis.

Zach arrives sometime after, and there are typical pool party shenanigans: chicken fights, hot dogs, tequila shots.

But while Zach is making out with Bored and Glitter Bomb, First First is confiding to Rodeo Girl that she is not forming a real connection with Zach, and that she feels like she’s on her way out.

BUT SHE IS NOT GOING TO BE GOING ALONE.

First First takes Zach aside and explains that she is having a tough day because she just doesn’t think they are on the same page. Zach tells her that things don’t feel “natural” or “real” or that she’s being “genuine.” But it’s fine, First First isn’t upset, she’s planning on leaving anyway.

… BUT BEFORE SHE GOES, he needs to know that Christina Mandrell is out there making women — namely Love Charity — cry. Christina Mandrell also made First First cry, SEVERAL TIMES, and she is intimidating people in the house. ALRIGHT, BYE!

Zach, however, is befumbled.

What is he missing? What is going on?

To that end, Zach confronts the remaining women, explaining that he’s been told that someone is making the women uncomfortable and he needs to speak to some of them to get to the bottom of it.

Zach takes Christina Mandrell aside, and explains that it’s come to his attention that she is making the other women feel hurt and insecure, which is SHOCKING to him. Christina Mandrell argues that she is just “outgoing, happy, and loud” and that the other women are mistaking all this positivity as her wanting to be the center of attention. Zach argues that he’s been told about two different women having problems with her, but Christina Mandrell is adamant: she doesn’t start drama.

Christina Mandrell, realizing that this isn’t working, begins crying, insisting that this is all a huge mistake and that it would be a bummer if he believed these stories about her. Zach tells her that he’s worried, he’s scared that these stories are true, and she protests that she doesn’t want to be “the victim” but WHAT THE FUCK? This makes no sense to her! Help her help her help her help her!

Zach tells her that he needs to think about this, and takes his leave as she retreats to the stairwell to have a good sobbing fit.

Zach then visits with Rodeo Girl to hear her version of events, and she tells him how Christina Mandrell took a huge dump on Love Charity’s rose moment, and Love Charity confirms for him that yes, Christina Mandrell took her “moment” away.

With that taken care of, Jesse Palmer alerts the women that the pool party is officially over, so go wash the chlorine off, put on your evening gowns, and line up: it’s time to send someone home.

Rose #1: Glitter Bomb
Rose #2: Maple Syrup
Rose #3: Bored
Rose #4: Baby Nurse (She arrives with her arm in a sling? WHAT HAPPENED TO HER ARM? ARE WE REALLY JUST NOT GOING TO DISCUSS WHAT HAPPENED TO HER ARM?)

Rose #5: Blackface Defender
Rose #6: Julia Roberts
Rose #7: Bullhorn
Rose #8: Belchmeister
Rose #9: Someone Named Anastasia
Rose #10: Rodeo Girl
Rose #11: Henry the Pig’s Mom

Which means, yes, Christina Mandrell is going home. I’m genuinely of mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, on the scale of bad Bachelor villain behavior, Christina Mandrell saying that she wished she had won the group date, and repeatedly reminding people that she had the first one-on-one is fairly low. I’ve seen SO MUCH WORSE on this dumb show.

Furthermore, I have a sneaking suspicion Zach was looking for an excuse to eliminate Christina Mandrell after learning she had a kid, but in a way that wouldn’t make him the bad guy. ET VOILÀ.

On the other hand, she made two women of color uncomfortable with her behavior. I’m not calling her racist but it’s an unfortunate coincidence.

But whatever! Christina Mandrell needs to go bikini shopping because she’ll be in Paradise four months from now.

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” Zach:

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

4 thoughts on “‘The Bachelor’: Playing dirty

  1. “Zach meets the women at a football stadium and they are split up into two teams: The Shall-Crushers and the Ball-Zachs.”

    I presume that the Ball-Zachs were named for French novelist Honoré de Balzac, and that their coach read passages to them from La Comédie Humaine at halftime, thus inspiring them to victory.

    As for the Shall-Crushers, I got nothing.

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