The Bachelor 23.4: The Expansion of Mrs. Right

Do you guys remember last week when I effusively recapped Tayshia’s extraordinary performance on the group date? Yeah, well, NOW YOU PEOPLE SEE WHY. Tayshia is a goddess. A divine light that we do not deserve in this world. Colton is but a mere mortal who she is humoring for these next weeks or months or years. But no matter. What is a few years to a goddess who measures time in eons? In three hundred years, when football is no longer a sport, she will scoff to herself about the time she was wooed by a boy who earned his wage playing a child’s game. Oh, the twenty-teens were a rare age.

So I like Tayshia. She and Colton had a thrilling date. Neither of them wanted to do that bungee jumping, but they both convinced themselves and each other that they would be game and they did it. Do you know how hard it is to just convince yourself to huck your body off the side of a building when you’re afraid of falling? I don’t know how hard it is, because I’ve never tried, but given I’m also afraid of falling, I imagine it would be excruciatingly difficult. But she didn’t break! She was totally positive the whole time and she did it! She threw herself off that building! She for sure should not have gone feet first—that was acutely frightening to watch—but she made it down and then they made out in the water and they’re both really, really hot and they seem to really like each other and you know what I’m happy for them I really am.

The bombshell of the date came during dinner. Tayshia revealed to Colton—and to all of us—that she was married and, in the last year-and-a-half, she had gotten a divorce. And Colton took it in stride. Not that he shouldn’t have, but maybe a few years ago a Bachelor wouldn’t have. Our society places an exorbitantly high price on “youth” and “purity” when valuing women. The man must be older and more mature in a relationship for it to “work.” And since The Bachelor forever strives for the pinnacle idea of a relationship in society, we are usually stuck with an older man and a younger woman.

And you don’t need to look too far to see this in action. Last season, the Bachelor was Arie Luyenduk Jr, a 37 year-old man. Do you want to know how many women in their thirties made it to the Top 9? Zero. Every single woman in his Top 9 was in her twenties. And, let’s not forget that this season, Demi, 23, is parading around the mansion talking about how she has the massive advantage of age on her side.

(Further reading: I highly, highly recommend data journalist Mona Chalabi’s opinion piece in the Sunday Times about the 2.3 years men have on women in the average relationship.)

So now, not only is the Bachelor a 26 year-old, but the Bachelor is a 26 year-old virgin, which makes it markedly harder to find a woman that he can be more “mature” than. But we are living in a new era! ABC is finally realizing that we are living in an age where personality and substance matter more and the baggage of one’s past matters less. And, because of that, we are BLESSED with the presence and glory of Tayshia.

Now, as we are finally nearing the end of candied first-half of the season, I’d like to acknowledge Demi’s contribution to our Bachelor year. Demi is a producer’s dream. I didn’t realize how deeply true that was until early this episode. The date card for the group date was read and everyone’s name was announced save for Caelynn. And it was Demi who jumped in and just said, “It is frustrating seeing even more time of his going to this whole situation.” She was the only one in the room willing to acknowledge the Miss USA throw down that has been the centerpiece of this season. Caelynn responded that she’d moved on from that drama. Demi nudged back, “But Colton, I feel like, hasn’t.” That is the journalistic interrogation that we all crave for in the room. Sure, maybe this journalist has a massive conflict of interest, but she’s out here asking the questions that need to be asked.

When Demi takes time off from being a freelance investigative journalist for the Buzzfeed News, she returns to her normal job of being Chaos. She has a brilliant knack for finding the most vulnerable and anxious contestants. She then takes these contestants and pokes them over the edge. To a casual observer, it would even seem like it was the other contestant who started the rift instead of Demi. But no, it was Demi. She took the time to investigate her target and locate the button needed to set them off.

When Demi told Colton that Courtney was a cancer in the house it was merely the final act of an O’Neill play. And by God it was brilliant. To follow it up, she openly admitted her accusation in front of the group. Every step Courtney took she landed on another trap that Demi had set. And, frankly, it was partially her fault. She spent the majority of the last two episodes trying to break Demi down instead of trying to build up her relationship with Colton. And surprise, surprise, she was sent home.

Lastly this episode, we have Caelynn who shared with Colton and with us the story of her sexual assault. She spent four minutes describing exactly what happened and how it happened and how it affected her life then and still affects her life now. She illustrated the fear and the disgust and the shame and the sadness that overcame her. And Colton listened. And ABC listened. And America listened.

It’s easy to imagine how just a few years ago, a woman with Caelynn’s story would have had her experience exploited by the show’s producers or she would have been cast aside for having too much baggage or “being broken.” But those things didn’t happened. She was treated with respect and she was listened to. And that is what all survivors deserve. In fact, that is the least of what they deserve. They deserve justice, which Caelynn sought. Despite her persistence, justice was not fully realized in her case, nor is it realized in millions of cases around the world. That fact has been ignored for too long. It is time to start listening to survivors like Caelynn.

After Colton listened and acknowledged her, he brought how his last partner was also a survivor. While he didn’t say it, Aly Raisman was likely the partner he was talking about. The decorated gymnast led the fight for justice for the girls of the USA women’s gymnastics team. Because her efforts and the efforts of more than 100 testifying survivors, Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the team, will be spending the rest of his life in prison for molesting at least 250 girls and women. The oldest allegation against Nassar dates back to 1992. He was fired in 2016.

Scoring

I just want to start this section by saying that I thought I made an awesome move this week, but instead it was not an awesome move. I had Caitlin, who was sent home in Week 3, making it all the way through Week 5 in my bracket. So I could have just swapped her name out in Week 4 for someone, but I chose instead to swap her name out of Week 5, because I was convinced that the Caelynn-Hannah feud would be resolved in Week 4 and one of the two would be sent home and, since I had both Caelynn and Hannah B in my Week 5 bracket, I wanted to plug the one Week 5 hole I had (Caitlin) and prepare to use my swap for the next week on whichever contestant was kicked off. But unfortunately, they’re both still here! And all of my Top 9 are still in the game! So I just lost 4 points for not using my swap for this week and now it won’t even help me next week. Did I make any sense in that last paragraph? Probably not. Alas, let’s get to scores.

Also, as a side note, there are 13 contestants left even though it should be the Top 12, so everyone got a freebee this week.

Bonnie the Oracle got two wrong, Courtney and Tracy, but she remains in first place with 134 points. Now tied for second place are Kristina and Caitlyn at 129 points. Both only got one wrong and they both also chose Courtney. At 128 and now in fourth is Doug who lost Caitlin and Courtney. Kelsey, 126, in fifth, only dropped one, Catherine.

Jenny has made no swaps so far this season and by God I admire that. Sure she’s hemorrhaging points, but she’s sticking to her guns. Maybe those contestants will come back? This week she got four wrong and all four had already been kicked off on previous weeks: Alex B, Bri, Caitlin, Annie. Somehow, somehow, she only has one incorrect in her Top 9 next week, so she can sort of get back on track if she makes a swap this week. Jenny has 104 points.

And just a hair behind her at 103 is our fearless bracketeer Justice. Justice got five wrong this week—six if you count her swap as getting one wrong as well. She incorrectly selected Angelique, Annie, Caitlin, Catherine, and Courtney, and she swapped Alex B out for Katie, which was her one good move. Fortunately, her Top 9 didn’t get any worse between last week and this week, so she still only has five of her Top 9 already eliminated.