At about the midway point of a given Bachelorette season, after living and breathing the same tiny group of extremely well-manicured people for nearly a month, the contestants have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen. Either they’re in the select group that actually has a shot to win, or their presence is a mere function of appearing in melodrama that is contractually obligated to produce a full 13 episodes of #content. For the sake of TV, the bachelorette has to gradually nix the suitors she doesn’t like, which often means keeping some hapless oafs on TV for another week even though her interactions with them more closely resemble co-workers at an uncomfortable office happy hour than people allegedly interested in spending the rest of their lives together.

In response, one of the more savvy also-rans inevitably shrugs, pounds a few extra drinks, and decides that if they’re going down, they’re going to do so on their own terms, and SPECTACULARLY. This could be simple pride at work: it’s maddeningly frustrating to be in a relationship–using the term loosely here, of course–in which you know you’re not wanted. Maybe they arrive at this decision to make the most of their limited screen time. Or perhaps the producers cajole them into mixing things up with the vague promise of a longer tenure (“Tom, you’re probably out this week, UNLESS you were to start a SHIRTLESS FIGHT with two other guys…anyway, just saying, carry on”).

Whatever the reasoning, it’s now a consistent trope of the franchise. Two seasons ago, the unremarkable but otherwise normal-enough Ian dramatically pledged to the camera, out of nowhere, that he intended to make his “last stand” during the episode [DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYS]. He then proceeded to accuse Kaitlyn (to her face!) of wanting to be the bachelorette just to make out with a bunch of dudes, as if this rationale were deeply offensive and/or significantly different than anyone else’s motivation for doing the show. Ian finished with a breathtakingly uncomfortable rant in which he unironically said all of the following things:

“I have a good time in my own life. I meet chicks and I have a lot of sex in my own life.”

“If I was made Bachelor, I think they would come out of the woodworks, man. I think they’d be like, oh shit, I wanna go out with that guy. He’s so deep. Oh man, I need to have some sex.”

“I’m too deep a thinker, I’m too self-aware. I’m very different than every single other person that’s here. I went to Princeton, Deerfield, and that’s what I have to offer.”

And, in what I now desperately wish I had used as my high school yearbook quote:

“I don’t understand why Kaitlyn wouldn’t want a Princeton graduate, former model that defied death and has been around the world a couple of times. I am an enigma and who I am is a gift you unwrap for life.”

You’re not going to believe this, but Kaitlyn did NOT give him a rose. Last year, Leah, The Blonde Girl Who Was Not Lauren B., fretted constantly about why she was not spending very much time with Ben (note: because he did not want to spend time with her, because he did not like her). She finally addressed this angst by going to Ben’s hotel room, a maneuver reserved for only the most desperate of times, to tell him that frontrunner Lauren B. was–NONSENSE BACHELOR LINGO ALERT–“different with him than she was in the house.” First, there had been absolutely no evidence of this dynamic the entire season. Second, up until then, Leah had been so totally anonymous that I only halfway believed she had been on the show the entire season. Ben was equally flummoxed, and I couldn’t tell if he nodded somberly as Leah recounted her completely-fabricated story because he took it seriously, or because he was desperately trying to remember her name.

Anyway! This year’s Ian From Princeton award goes to James Taylor, the real-life version of Woody from Toy Story, but not nearly as good of a singer. James spent an entire group date moping and bemoaning the fact that Jojo doesn’t seem as interested in him (he’s right) and that she will pick someone who is “traditionally good-looking” (again, he’s right). Like Ian and Leah, James responded to the looming iceberg by cheerfully rearranging his deck chairs, confiding in Jojo that Jordan is “entitled” because, as James explained it, Jordan had the nerve to correct James when James inaccurately stated a rule of poker. (Note: this was exactly as inane as it sounds, and I feel stupid just writing it.) Incredibly, the ploy worked: not only did James then have a dramatic, entertaining confrontation with Jordan, but he ALSO scored a rose, squeezing out one more episode before Jojo sends him off to perform at a Potbelly lunch hour near you.

Otherwise, a fairly bloodless week. Down to one rose to give to either Alex The Tiny Marine or James Taylor, Jojo pleaded out, and Chris Harrison graciously brought her a second bud so that both men could stay on the show. Remember, the order in which the title character gives out roses is NOT necessarily a ranking of her preferences. In fact, this is the single most obvious way for the producers to stage drama (“Okay, Jojo, tell us who you want to keep, and we’ll tell you in which order to pick them”). But somehow, contestants never understand this, and it appears that ATTM–prepare to be shocked–is pretty mad about “just making the cut” along with James Taylor. I expect lots of adorable miniature temper tantrums next week.

Alas, two other men were not as lucky as James and ATTM and their eleventh-hour reprieves.

WELLS

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 9.09.34 PM.png

Wells quickly established himself as a totally normal, functional human being, so he couldn’t have been more out of place among a bunch of guys who look like Nike DriFit mannequins brought to life by three heaping scoops of NO-Xplode. I laughed out loud when Jojo called him “intriguing” on their entirely chemistry-free date, like she knew she wasn’t interested in him, but was also genuinely curious about what it might be like to spend time with a man who had read more than two books NOT authored by J.K. Rowling in his life. In the end, Wells’ exit is probably for the best. Already the most slender contestant by far, he started looking downright sickly as the season progressed, to a degree that probably had some contestants nervously sidling up to producers between takes to make sure their Hepatitis boosters were up-to-date. Get better soon, Wells, and eat a sandwich when you can.

DEREK

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Tan Jim Halpert bowed out this week by way of a two-on-one date against Chase, which is tough because Chase is a breathtakingly dull man who looks like the long-lost third member of Florida Georgia Line. Derek and Chad are substantively indistinguishable from one another, and so are their chances of winning (0%), so I guess Jojo figured this was an easy way to get ride of at least ONE also-ran. The win-or-go-home element of the two-on-one is usually an easy way to manufacture drama, but as Jojo slogged through an evening with two dudes who talk like they’re struggling to read cue cards that don’t exist, I found myself unable to decide which one I cared about less. Although we will forever fondly remember Derek for being the first contestant in Bachelorette history to correctly use the word “misogynist” on camera–pioneers are never appreciated in their time–this was perhaps the only multisyllabic word he used in five weeks. Just too little, too late.


Previously in insightful commentary on today’s most pressing issues:

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3 thoughts on “Take A Moment, Say Your Goodbyes: Bachelorette Obits, Vol. 5

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