By now I’m sure all of you have heard the news that massively overshadows Nick’s pointless quest for love: in a historic, history-making move, Rachel Lindsay, lovely human being, is going to be franchise’s first black Bachelorette! I’m not sure why Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss thinks he has anything to be proud of: the first 33 seasons of the franchise featured exclusively White leads; prior to the current season, no Black contestant made it past week five; and, perhaps most tellingly, since the franchise began, over half the Black contestants have been eliminated or left by the end of week two.
While we only know what the editors want us to know, it was obvious from the first episode that Rachel was bringing a hell of a lot more to the table than Nick (or, arguably, anyone who’s ever been on the show before in any capacity). She’s been a joy to watch and by all appearances a joy to be around: she seems to have developed strong friendships with the other women, and even Nick seems like a tolerable person when he’s in her presence. Rachel is so great that a teeny tiny part of me is sad that she’s subjecting herself to this, because I feel confident she deserves better than the “entrepreneurs,” “real estate developers,” and “former professional athletes” she’ll inevitably be subjected to in her own season. But still! This is a big deal, and I’m actually excited for next season now.
… Wow, that good news really highlights for me how pointless this season has become. But we all have our jobs to do in this life, and mine is reporting back to all of you on the nonsense to which we bear witness each Monday night, so here I am. I do it all for you.
Episode 7 begins with a recap of last week’s garbage episode in which we see Nick pouting by the ocean while various women speculate that he’s leaving, culminating in Raven’s dramatic declaration that “he’s gone.”
The women are torn up over how upset Nick is, and they keep talking about how heartbreaking it must be for him to have gone through this three times and be having doubts. Their gratuitous empathy, which seemed to be based solely on the number of times he’s played this little Bachelor game, bothered me.
First, all relationships involve risk. Nick is in approximately a million relationships, so there’s going to be more risk, sure, but one relationship going sideways doesn’t mean they all will. Most people know what it feels like to think you’re more compatible with someone than you actually are, and it’s frustrating, but it’s not specific to this show and these circumstances. It’s just part of dating.
Second, Nick is getting paid for this nonsense. The women are not. They are not the appropriate audience for his maudlin self-indulgence. Nick can cry on Chris Harrison’s shoulder (seriously, someone should make him work a little for whatever massive paycheck he’s pulling), but he shouldn’t subject the women to it. It’s obnoxious and inconsiderate (much like the Viall himself).
Third, why are the women letting themselves get snowed? Expect more of him! Hold him to some kind of standard! Demand more for yourselves! … Or, cry yourselves numb over a professional reality show participant who struggles with basic sentence structure and wears hideous shorts.
Whatever. Live your own lives, I guess.
Obviously, Nick recommits himself to the process, the music swells, everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief, and the women yell in excitement over their trip to a Bahamian island called Bimini. (If anyone thought The Bachelor might be authentic, the unrelenting in-show advertisement should be enough to convince you otherwise. At least when the contestants yell about famous locales (“We’re going to VEGAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!”), it’s plausible that there’s some spontaneity to it. But this? No. They were fed lines. They were given a script. This show is scripted. I’m starting to feel like Lauren from The Truman Show, shouting about how nothing is real, not even the sand beneath our feet.)
Bimini does look gorgeous, though, and Raven, our reliable narrator, deadpans: “Here we are. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, so nothing can go wrong, right?”
Sidenote: Raven has been consistently excellent at recapping the drama with just enough of her own spin that it doesn’t sound totally canned. What a helpful person to have around! How convenient for us all! (But then again, as a friend’s mom noted in our group chat about the show, “Who doesn’t like a sassy Arkansan?” And I’m inclined to agree.)
The first one-on-one date goes to Vanessa, and Corinne does not take it well. Vanessa has already had a one-on-one, and Corinne has not. “I just see myself being the girl that he gets down on one knee for,” Corinne pouts. “I’m frustrated … and I’m really bloated.” It’s amazing how relatable Corinne is in between moments of being totally detached from reality. Also, I don’t think anyone warned her before she went on the show that the producers (who conduct these interviews and elicit these quite personal comments) are not her friends. They’re pretending to be her friends because that’s their job. (It’s pretty gross, actually.)
But, in case anyone needed reminding that Corinne is not a victim here in any way, she immediately starts trash-talking Vanessa. “If I’m being really honest,” Corinne says to Rachel, “I don’t get from [Vanessa] that there’s much to open up about.” Rachel struggles to control her face as Corinne throws more shit at the wall to see what sticks.
Vanessa, however, is feeling great. She and Nick are drinking and making out on a yacht. They both talk to the camera about how much they like each other, and I don’t care about this anymore. The most interesting part is at dinner, when Vanessa tells Nick she’s falling in love with him and his response is painfully tepid (and, in true Nick style, borderline incomprehensible). Apparently, Nick considers it a big deal to say “I love you” and he won’t be saying it to any of the women until he really means it.
Usually Bachelors deal with a declaration of love with coy smiles and kisses. Their eyes are saying “I love you and you only, don’t tell the other girls,” but their lips are sealed. Or their lips are kissing. Or whatever. The point is that they reassure without making any kind of commitment. But Nick totally flubs it up and Vanessa feels terrible.
Here’s the thing: Rachel’s the next Bachelorette, so obviously Vanessa wins. (Right? It’s not going to be Raven or Corinne. Right? Right. They wouldn’t give Corinne this edit if she’s going to win. The fiancée doesn’t talk about her nanny on TV. Right?) If Vanessa’s going to win, why isn’t Nick being nicer to her about this? It makes him look like a jerk, and it makes it hard for me to believe they really care about each other.
Oh my God this episode is long. Next up is a group date on a yacht with Corinne, Raven, and Kristina. As all three women strip down to their swimsuits, Nick leers, “I am one lucky guy right now.” Not to the camera. Out loud. To all three of them.
In short order, Corinne gets mad that Nick is paying a lot of attention to Kristina (including rubbing sunscreen on Kristina’s inner thighs, which also made me uncomfortable, so Corinne and I have that in common). Demonstrating some of that emotional intelligence she so selectively deploys, Corinne observes that “the attention is on [Kristina], and if I do anything to switch that up it will be very judged. And I just feel like this whole thing is making me fall behind. And it’s just making me feel very self-conscious.” The rose goes to Raven, guaranteeing that Raven will get a hometown date. It’s the only rose of the episode (they aren’t given out on one-on-ones anymore) and Corinne gets even more nervous.
The next day, Danielle M. goes on a one-on-one date. She is really excited and appears to enjoy their afternoon biking around Bimini, but Nick seems more and more distant. During dinner, he tells her he doesn’t see a future with her, and they part ways. This show might be fake, but some of the conversations could be lifted out of real life:
Nick: You’re so great, just-
Danielle M.: Not great enough.
Nick: I’ll walk you out.
Danielle M.: (pause) Sure.
She tearfully says to the camera, “I didn’t want this to work out because I’ve been through so much already; I wanted it to work out because someone wanted to be mine.” I appreciate that genuine observation, especially as so much of this show is framed as whose backstory makes them most deserving of love. Everyone is deserving of love, and not for whatever else they’ve been through or how many other bachelorettes have rejected them. And everyone deserves to find someone who’s enthusiastic about being with them. Here’s hoping Danielle finds what she’s looking for.
In another surprising turn, Corinne responds to the news with compassion (at least, with some compassion): “It does hurt my heart a little bit that someone so sweet did go home, but I didn’t see them together, and that’s one less girl here.”
Corinne then reiterates her devotion to Nick: “I’d live in a shack with no diamonds for Nick. I would!! … Who am I?” I do not believe her. Corinne is playing a game and she wants to win the game. To the extent that liking Nick is necessary to achieve her desired outcome, I’m sure Corinne has convinced herself that she likes Nick. Who knows whether she really does, or whether she even knows what that means.
But hey! At least Corinne has her wiles: “I definitely know how to turn on the sex charm,” she purrs. She’s going to pay Nick a little visit in his hotel room and win him over with her sexuality. At first blush, this move looks strategically sound. Nick tried it with Andi and with Kaitlyn, and it got him to the final episode (Andi and Kaitlyn were called whores on Twitter, but hey, Nick got what he wanted, so all’s fair in love and war, right? Awesome). But this season, Nick has been extremely wary, perhaps because of the backlash against Andi and Kaitlyn or perhaps because he’s trying to protect his own credibility.
Either way, Corinne’s full-court press does not go as planned. She shows up at his suite, they drink a little champagne, and she pulls him into his room. We have to listen to some kissing noises (is there anything grosser than hearing kissing noises when you can’t see the people kissing? Even when you can see them kissing, it’s weird, but it’s especially strange when it’s detached from imagery. Not something you want to think about in the abstract too much.) and then Nick tells her they should slow down and sends her on her way.
How awkward is it that there was a camera person in the room with before and after the encounter, and listening to them during it? There was someone filming Corinne going into the suite, filming the two of them going into the bedroom, and filming them coming out. However uncomfortable that situation seemed as we watched it, it must have been infinitely worse in the moment. In addition to sexual rejection, you have some dude in cargo shorts checking the audio feed and sticking a camera in your face. I think the fact that they carried on in spite of it might be proof that human beings can adapt to anything.
Understandably, Corinne is upset. If her sense of self-worth is based on men valuing her for her looks, she doesn’t know how to protect herself when they don’t respond the way she wants or expects them to. It’s familiar and it’s sad. Are we part of the problem for watching the show? Is the show just a reflection of society? Does any of it matter? I don’t know. That feels like the premise of a much longer article.
For now, back to Bimini: the next day, Nick takes Rachel on the final date of the episode. They hang out at a bar that Nick maintains is “locals only” (…okay) and have a conversation about hometowns. Rachel brings out the best in Nick: he’s genuine, but relaxed and funny. He jokes about the prospect of meeting her parents: “I don’t know what it’s like to say, ‘Hi Mom and Dad, I know I’m dating three other women, but can I marry her?’”
After the date, Nick confides in Chris Harrison that there’s someone he knows he isn’t serious about. My instinct: TWIST! Nick is sending Rachel home because he doesn’t want to marry her but he cares about her too much to drag her along. That would explain why ABC announced her casting as the next Bachelorette, right?
But no. Nick cuts Kristina loose, saying he knows he won’t propose and doesn’t want to put her through more time on the show. She handles it with the same composure she’s shown all season, and it’s probably for the best that she’s getting away from his mess anyway. Incidentally, one of my roommates theorizes that this is the ultimate proof Nick doesn’t care about Corinne: he (probably) won’t propose to her either, but has no problem keeping her around. And not even for sex reasons, since they presumably aren’t doing that! Could it be for ratings? Or will Corinne actually win this whole thing?
Maybe next week some of our questions about love and relationships will be answered. I’m not optimistic, but I’ll see you then anyway.