The Bachelor 23.2: The Institutions are Falling

Well, well, well. You thought you got rid of me, didn’t you. I thought I got rid of me too. But alas, here we are.

I was not excited about Colton being the bachelor. He is passionately boring. His muscles are very, very big and he looks very, very hot with them on his body, especially when he is wearing a tight shirt, but there is shockingly little substance to this man otherwise. So much so that I nearly didn’t watch this season at all. Yet here I am.

I’ve received two texts from two friends that perfectly sum up his Bachelorhood.

The first just read, “He’s a dumb bitch.” And frankly, we don’t need any more precision than that.

But, in case you were looking for more precision, my other friend declared, “Someone needs to tell Colton that being a virgin isn’t a personality.” And that I think hits the nail on the head. I don’t know how much of it is Colton just always talking about it or ABC forcing it onto us, but either way it’s too, too much. My New Years Resolution for this blog is to bring up Colton’s virginity as little as possible.

And that begins right after this next paragraph.

Look, we hemmed and hawed about Colton’s virginity for WEEKS last season, so I’m just going to make this one point. I think that there was reason to doubt Colton’s claim last season. He has a history—even before The Bachelor—of dating famous women (see: Aly Raisman (who also happens to be one of the women I am most in love with) and Tia Booth (before he was on The Bachelorette and after she was on The Bachelor (we know all this, all of you know this, I just wanted to recap (have I gone too deep into the parentheses? (Yes))))) because he is addicted to the spotlight or something, who knows. But I think I can firmly say that ABC wouldn’t commission a whole Bachelor season based on the sole premise of him being a virgin if they weren’t positive that he was a virgin.

The first episode is great in its own right, but it’s not great for this particular blog. It’s all candy and great little look-at-this-fucking-loser moments, which I don’t really like to harp on. This blog is much more oriented to the meat of the second half of the season.

And also I was busy last week.

So that’s why I didn’t do a recap for the first week.

There are only two things I want to bring up about the first week. The first is Adrianne, aka Jane. Jane was one of just two women (out of thirty) to whom I gave a perfect pre-episode score. I will not tell you the other woman I gave a perfect score to because my Fantasy Bachelor opponents are also reading this recap and I don’t want to share my strategy. But JANE! Jane’s perfect! She’s a social worker with an “infectious energy” who loves tacos and “would choose her checkered sneakers over stilettos any day!” And not to mention, she’s v, v gorgeous. Anyway, I gave her a perfect score, but also, all SEVEN bachelor brackets in our league this year had her moving on. There’s only an 8% chance of any given player moving on in all seven brackets. In short, Colton fucking goofed it. She’s better off without him anyway.

The second thing I want to bring up from Week 1 is also just another complaint about who Colton sent home. Colton. Sent. Home. THE SLOTH!!! How fucking dare he send home THE SLOTH. Was he not impressed by her job title, “Sloth,” because he has such a great job title of Failed Football Player? Was he not struck by her beauty like the rest of us/me? But, worst of all, does Colton Underwood think that he is too high and mighty to respect the Law of the Costume?!

The Law of the Costume is an essential Law to the physics of the first week of every Bachelor(ette) season. If someone decides to make a fool out of themselves by wearing a costume, they automatically get a rose. Of course they look like a fucking idiot, but how else are you going to feed the masses of Middle America? They live for that dumb bullshit. So, to encourage people to throw on a stupid costume every season, you HAVE to give a rose to those who take the risk. It’s an institution!

So now Colton’s just out here breaking the Law of the Costume and we’re supposed to be on his side for nine more weeks?!

Let’s just move on to this week’s episode. Until later in the season, I’m going to try to keep these short (editor’s note: I failed at keeping this short) and only point out moments I think are worth unpacking.

The first of these moments is Nick Offerman giving his “firsts” story and ABC playing music in the background in order to portray it as weird and dumb and also the women not giving it the credit it deserved. We only got bits and pieces of his story, but it was clearly fucking genius. Tracy’s recap was that Nick Offerman’s story was “very cryptic and unusual.” But I will not let his performance to be panned by the critics. Just because the live audience wasn’t appreciative of the art that was happening before their very eyes, doesn’t mean that the American viewer has to have the same take on it. So Tracy sucks.

Skip forward to the post-stand-up-special-group-date cocktail party when Demi returns and picks up the rose and waves it around. Tracy—already back again—gets pretty pissed about this. She makes a strong argument about how the rose shouldn’t be touched by anyone except for the principal until they give it away to the winner of the group date rose. And she’s right. It’s an institution that has long stood. It is a sacred (as sacred as The Bachelor can be) act in this universe.

And maybe in 2015 or earlier I would have had a similar outrage. I love institutions. Traditions, rituals, anthems, all of it, I love that shit so much. They humble us and they guide us. They bear the wisdom of generations. But our society’s institutions are crumbling around us. We are living through a time of immense uncertainty and we are all being forced to examine the institutions that we hold dear. We now must choose which are the most important to us and do everything we can to protect those institutions while letting those slightly less important institutions fall. That is the mindset I carry with me in the Year of our Lord 2019.

So when Demi went over to the table and picked up the rose and waved it around, I didn’t really feel the jolt I may have felt four years prior. Yes, it’s an institution, and yes, I think it is important in the world of The Bachelor to maintain the sanctity of the group date rose, but its difficult to work up the outrage when four of the justices on the Supreme Court were nominated by presidents who did not win the popular vote and two were confirmed despite having credible sexual harassment/assault allegations leveled against them.

I don’t have much to say about Hannah B, because Hannah B doesn’t have much to say about Hannah B. Did she deserve a rose? Well, I put her in the Top 6 in my bracket, so I guess I’m glad she did. But also, congratulations to the next person who gets a one-on-one because it is going to be a cake walk. Roll Tide!

Dear God, I love Billy Eichner. He totally made the camp trip.

I was shocked that Colton actually sent the losing team home. Usually the principal will just go “Well OKAY, I guess you can hang out with us too.” But no, Colton wanted the losers to get the fuck out.

I’m very excited for this Miss USA controversy to play out, but since the meat of it has yet to come, I’ll wait to dive into it in an upcoming week. The one thing I will point out is that Donald Trump used to own Miss USA and Jesus Christ come on why does he have to be in literally every aspect of our world.

Scoring

Bonnie the Oracle has returned to dominate for yet another season. She only got 4 wrong in Week 1 and got none wrong in Week 2. She now sits in first with 54 points. Behind her, both Caitlyn and Doug got six wrong in Week 1 and one wrong in Week 2 for a total of 49. Kelsey and Kristina are tied for fourth after both getting five wrong in Week 1 and two wrong in Week 2. Jenny is in sixth with six wrong then two wrong and Justice is currently placed last after getting six wrong then all three wrong in Week 2.

Unfortunately for Jenny and Justice, not only are they in last in actual points, but the future of their brackets are already in jeopardy. Jenny has both Alex B and Annie in her Top 12. Justice is in an even worse position as she has Alex B, Annie, and Angelique all in her Top 9! So a full third of her Top 9 has been eliminated after the first week of a full and solidified bracket. It is honestly difficult to pull off a feat that drastic that quickly. Fortunately for Justice, the only one of the three to make it to the Top 6 is Alex B and none make the Top 4.

And now is the time in the recap when our predications get a little bit sad. We have severe crowding again this season. I used to argue that public brackets were good and helped us all keep an eye on trends or hot takes, but now I am coming out firmly against it. Last season the bracket challenge was far less exciting because everyone’s Top 6 was nearly identical. This season, it has gotten even worse. Just four contestants appear in the Top 6 of at least six of the seven brackets. Three more appear in at least three Top 6s and four appear in just one Top 6.

Sure, only 27% of the 22 contestants remaining after Week 1 will reach the actual Top 6, but there’s only an 11% chance of not appearing in the Top 6 of any of the seven brackets. Yet half of the contestants make no appearance in any Top 6 of our brackets.

But that’s not even the worst of it. Cassie and Hannah G make all seven Top 6s, all seven Top 4s, and all seven Top 3s. Hannah G makes all seven Top 2s, while Cassie makes a measly four Top 2s (Caelyn, Heather, and Tayshia get one apiece). And the Final Rose? You want to know who gets the final rose in our seven brackets? Four final roses go to Hannah G and three go to Cassie. What a nightmare.

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The Bachelorette 14.10: Finale, or Boil

As we watched the final ninety minutes of the season finale of the Bachelorette, I embraced the feelings boiling within me. They were intense. I felt hot. I felt unable to shift a muscle fearing any movement could potentially deepen the pain. I felt powerless as I watched someone I profoundly care for make an unequivocally bad decision.

Then, suddenly, I recognized the heat that was paralyzing me. It was just a fraction of the strength of the last time I felt it, but it was the same feeling nonetheless. I was transported back two years to another time when I was watching an intimate friend make a decision that I knew would cause them gratuitous suffering, but I could do nothing to stop it. I just sat and stewed then as well.

That time was the night of November 8, 2016.

Commentary

This episode was littered with dichotomies. It truly looked like the final two were opposites. Let’s cast aside the fact that they are both straight, white men and they are both sales reps, and they are both from the American West, and they are both from rural towns, and they both don’t know how to shave, because, other than all of those things, they were opposites.

Becca began the week by saying her and Blake’s hearts recognize each other. Then she said that her growth was slower with Garrett. I think that could be because he is a shell of a functioning human being, but I don’t want to make presumptions. When asked about his two-month marriage, Garrett blamed his wife for not finding a way to connect with his family, even though it should have been his job to be the arbiter between his family and the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Blake, on the other hand, looked terrified to meet Becca’s family. He’s a nervous guy in general, so the stakes of the situation didn’t do him any favors. But he offered a clear alternative to Garrett. While Garrett kept talking about how he wanted Becca to be his wife and the mother of his children, Blake vowed to be an equal partner, a teammate, a cheerleader.

When Becca debriefed with her family she said that Garrett would be a good father, but Blake would challenge her and support her as a strong, independent woman.

Another clear dichotomy came during the two dates. Garrett literally pulled Becca down into the water and Blake literally lifted her up out of the water. It could not have been clearer.

And, of course, Blake survived a school shooting while Garrett liked an instagram post accusing the Parkland shooting survivors of being crisis actors.

ABC couldn’t find out that Garrett’s dad, David Yrigoyen, gave $300 to Brad Goehring, a tea party Republican running for Congress in 2010 who said on the campaign trail, “If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today opening day for liberals. The season would extend through November 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to ‘thin’ the herd.” Or, if they did find it out, they didn’t think that that might have been a flag for someone who is trying to marry Becca Kufrin, a lover of Joe Biden? 

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The first thing out of Blakes mouth after he found out he was rejected was, “I didn’t expect this.” That shattered me. None of us expected this. Becca didn’t expect this. It was the most honest thing he could have said in that moment. From “I didn’t expect this” to “I love you. Bye,” we saw a human being become as undisguised as could be.

Becca’s reasons for sending him home were senseless. Their relationship was too steady, so she needed to send him home? He might not be able to care for their child if their child became sick even though he survived his mother leaving his father for his football coach and a fucking school shooting?

But her hug as he turned to leave. That was real. That was genuine. She knew she couldn’t say anything to make it better, but she couldn’t stand to see him so upset. So she tried to hug him. And he didn’t move. That moment is the rawest moment. In that moment, there is nothing left to say; they are just two humans drowning in their emotions doing whatever they can to try and catch a breath.

Becca’s new fiancé apologized to the nation for his bigotry by saying, “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” The photos he liked were intentionally offensive photos, so he’s either lying about not meaning to offend anyone or he doesn’t see immigrants, feminists, or survivors of mass shootings as human enough to be included in the population of “anyone.”

And he wrote his apology in the Notes app of his iPhone. I will never consider an apology if it is written in the Notes app of an iPhone. You write an apology in Microsoft Word or, at the very least, Google docs. And, preferably, you would convert it into a PDF as well.

Well. That’s it. For the fourth season in a row, the bachelorette gave the final rose to the same man she gave the first impression rose to. And for the fourth Bachelor Franchise season in a row, the principal picked the demonstrably worse person.

Scoring

Congratulations to Kristina Lew for taking home her first Bachelor Fantasy League title. She took an early lead and then held it down the stretch, getting only one pick wrong in the final four rose ceremonies (fifteen total picks).

Bonnie cruised to second by building the most accurate initial bracket we have ever seen. Unfortunately, she fell two picks behind Kristina in the early rounds and was unable to make up the difference.

Caitlyn, who took third, had an outstanding comeback. She was in seventh place after the fifth rose ceremony, but she picked fourteen of the final fifteen roses correctly to climb up to bronze.

But, before we give Bonnie and Caitlyn their medals I am here to say, Shame on you two! Both Bonnie and Caitlyn were within 30 points of the Kristina, meaning they were in striking distance of the championship title! All three of them had selected Garrett at the beginning of the season and Kristina made it clear that she was sticking by that pick, so at least one of them should have switched their winner to Blake. There’s no second prize here in Fantasy Bachelor—it’s win or go home! If either of them had picked Blake they could have won. Instead, they handed Kristina her win on a silver platter before the episode even began! S@D!

Now for some brief analysis. At the beginning of the season, eight of us picked who we thought were going to win the bracket. Five of us picked Garrett. One of us picked Jason. One of us picked Colton. None of us picked Blake.

And Danica picked “Willis.”

     Until next season,

          May we all continue to be sad because of the outcomes of the Bachelor Franchise,

                  And may we be delighted by what looks to be the best season of Bachelor In Paradise yet because a lot of the people on it are legitimately cool and genuine people so I’m excited to see what happens hello again Grocer Joe,

                            Roses without thorns,

                                       Douglas

The Bachelorette 14.9: Fantasy Suites or I'M SAD

Blake and Garrett’s dates were both objectively boring, so I will be spending the majority of this recap talking about the only thing that matters this week: JASON.

Commentary

Let’s begin with the date that the producers set up for Jason and Becca. Their date was just the two of them walking through town like a normal couple on vacation. You know why? Because the producers trusted that they were two people who could really get along with each other in any scenario. Becca got three walking-through-town dates with Arie, because they didn’t have to force it; they were good together. So the producers trusted Becca and Jason—the two logical choices for each other—to have a lovely time hanging around town and then Becca got in her head.

Becca got in her head and that was it.

Of course, Becca wasn’t totally sure she saw a future with Jason, because their first date was TWO WEEKS AGO. Our sweet, sweet boy was fighting an uphill battle this whole season and it came to a head tonight.

As she sent him home, he repeatedly put up credible rebuttals to her arguments. She couldn’t clearly see a future with him, but, as he pointed out, she could potentially see a future with him. He didn’t go down without a fight, but he was ceaselessly respectful amidst the whole ordeal.

My argument two weeks ago about her Wills vs. Jason choice was that she had three safe choices and could afford to pick Jason. Well, this week both Garrett and Blake were “safe” choices (as safe as Garrett the fascist can be) and she could have—should have—taken a risk on Jason another week.

When Becca says, “I just did to Arie what Arie did to me,” we assume she is saying that she blindsided Jason like Arie blindsided her. She may even believe that that is what she meant when she said that. But Becca saying, “I just did to Arie what Arie did to me,” is a true on a deeper level that she doesn’t want to explore. Arie let Becca go in favor of Lauren B. with the full knowledge that Becca was the better human being. He let her go even though he knew that Becca would have been a better partner, a better wife, a better mother, a better supporter, a better challenger, a better companion than Lauren B. could ever be. Becca did to Jason what Arie did to Becca, because she let go a truly kind, smart, mature, funny, insightful, caring, and good man that she knows neither Garrett nor Blake can match. But the heart wants what the heart wants.

And the-heart-wants-what-the-heart-wants leads me to the grandest leap I have ever made in my two-season, nineteen-entry career of writing recaps for The Bachelor franchise.

The Bachelor franchise is evidence that it is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself. The scientific hypothesis essentially says that when a civilization becomes advanced enough it will invariably cause its own demise. The likeliest ways intelligent life could end itself are war, accidental environment contamination or damage, resource depletion, climate change, or poorly designed artificial intelligence. The crux of the argument is that said life forms are never able to act on what is best for them, whether they know what is best for them or not. Becca knew that Jason was the best man there. Arie knew that Becca was the best woman there. Rachel knew that Peter was the best man there. Nick knew that Rachel was the best woman there. That is four seasons in a row where the principal actively diverted away from their best path. No human is perfect. No life form is perfect. It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself.

Jason deserved to win.

I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD. I’M SAD.

But Jason is going to be the next bachelor. I was resistant last week to endorse him for that title, because I felt he was too pure, but the producers convinced me. And then they sent him back with a scrapbook and they convinced me even more.

Watching the rest of this season will be like watching a car crash in slow motion. Becca is going to pick Garrett. He is so clearly her type it is painful. Blake still looks like he is in high school, and, frankly, with the way he talks about the guys he’s competing against, he seems like he’s still in high school. Garrett is going to win and they are both going to be unhappy when they realize they forgot to ask each other the most important question you ask someone you’re considering dating in the latter half of the 2010 decade: who did you vote for in 2016?

This is something Garrett liked in Instagram: 

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This is Becca’s Twitter cover photo:

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How on earth are they going to survive together?

But aye, there’s the rub. This may be ABC’s great Response to the political climate we have found ourselves in. This is the most polarized America has been in over a century. ABC would love nothing more than to show America that love is still greater than politics. Even in these troubling times, two people can overcome the most immense of differences to be together.

And you know what?

I think that’s horseshit.

Scoring

Kristina (319) swapped out Jason in favor of Blake and Garrett was her other choice, so she had a perfect week and remained in first. Bonnie the Oracle didn’t change anything and had a perfect week to hold second, 11 points behind Kristina. Caitlyn (298) also didn’t change anything and had a perfect week, launching her ahead of Doug and into third place. Jenny (283) swapped Blake in for Colton to have a perfect week as well, also passing Doug.

Doug (280), on the other hand, was the only person in the league to make a play for first place as he took a chance of Jason, while everyone else in the league was totally okay with letting Kristina win the bracket this season. His risk dragged him down to fifth place.

Justice’s (272) final two was Colton and Wills, so even though she swapped in Blake, she was already out of contention.

Kelsey, who was eliminated last week, swapped Jason in for Colton, which failed and kept her in seventh.

In last, Danica finally eclipsed 200 points by having Blake in the final two along with… Willis.

Kristina has eliminated all but two of her opponents as we approach the final week of the season. With one thirty-point pick remaining, Kristina is 11 points ahead of Bonnie and 21 points ahead of Caitlyn. All three of them chose Garrett to win the final rose at the beginning of the season, but they are, of course, awarded a change if they so choose to use it. As 8:00 EDT on August 6, 2018 draws near, we will see the flips and flops in choices and the mind games creep in as the final three attempt to leverage their picks against their opponents’.

The Bachelorette 14.8: Hometowns or The Pre-Mortems

Hometowns are my favorite week of the season. There are two main theses of this blog. The first is that love is inherently political. There is no better way to understand a person’s political ideology than to visit their hometown. The second is that The Bachelor(ette) is better when you analyze everything with data. Choosing your Top 3 is the last time in the season that you can really make strategic choices about when to take a risk on a contestant or when to play it safe. This week was filled with all of that goodness.

Commentary

Let me tell you all a little bit about Manteca, CA. When I was 13 years old I played on a travel baseball team. For my very first travel tournament we drove down to Manteca, CA where they have a baseball complex called The Field of Dreams. There they replicate the dimensions of real major league stadiums and put up lights so that you can play through the night. In my first game, we played at the replica Tiger Stadium at night and I was the starting pitcher. My curveball was never better than it was that game. We were up against the third best travel team in the state and I pitched five innings and allowed just one run and I hit an RBI double in one of my at bats. We went on to get blown out in our other three games and we lost the tournament, but that first night will always be one of my most treasured memories.

The Field of Dreams is the only good thing about Manteca, CA. Manteca, CA is the American South of California. Manteca, CA is just flat fields of crops for as far as the eye can see. Where there are no crops there are cows. And where there are no cows, there are racist Central Californians. Now that I know that Garrett is from Manteca, CA, I am more confident than ever before that Garrett is a worthless pile of manure.

I am a little disappointed we didn’t get to see him in Reno though. God only knows what they would have done on their date in Reno.

Oh, so Garrett’s family owns a farm? And Garrett still hates immigrants? There’s a 104% that Garrett’s family has employed undocumented immigrants on their farm at one point or another and they have certainly accumulated a handsome sum of wealth because of it. One would think Garrett wouldn’t be such a xenophobic bag of shit, but, alas, he is.

The moment that probably best told the story of Garrett to me was when he genuinely said to his aunt, “Goodbye, I love you,” and hugged her, and then the uncle mocked him for it. It’s no wonder he doesn’t understand how to have a healthy relationship when his family doesn’t allow him to express basic compassion.

The editors did a beautiful job of finding motifs between the different towns in America. Garrett and Becca held each other as they rode on the front of the tractor and then Jason and Becca held each other as they rode on the front of a Zamboni.

That’s right: Jason. Jason, Jason, Jason. Jason has stolen my heart, let me tell you. He looked good in Buffalo. The Buffalo banker knows how to wear a winter city outfit. And if you didn’t tell me differently, I would have assumed that Jason was the chairman of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce. He loves that city to death.

Jason is the only person who has ever made me think that hockey is hot. Watching him glide around the ice and dribbling the puck on his stick shook me to my core. And he calls her Bec-ster for Christ’s sake! The only other person I’ve met who adds –ster to the end of a name is my best friend from middle school’s dad who is a born and bred New Yorker.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Jason is the perfect foil for Garrett. Jason is smart while Garrett is not. Jason is a banker while Garrett is a farmer/medical sales rep. Jason has an openly gay older brother that he looks up to and takes advice from while Garrett is a homophobe. I mean, Jason’s brother and his husband met working at Apple for goodness sake, how anti-Garrett could that possibly be?

Jason’s family is full of straight shooters. There’s truly nothing more convincing than the confidence of a gay man, so when Jason’s brother said, “She’s amazing,” like it was the most obvious thing in the world, I felt like Becca and Jason were going to get married.

And then the advice Jason’s brother gave him was so necessary and so beautiful. “So, have you told her all of this? . . . Okay, and what are you waiting for? There isn’t a lot of runway left here. There’s a finite number of moments left to truly express how you’re feeling and you have to make sure you take advantage of that.” THAT is the reason we have hometowns at all, it’s for moments like that.

And then he did it. He told her exactly how he felt about her in the most truthful way he could. And it was snowing. It was SNOWINGGGuh.

Becca then brought that snow with her to Colorado. Thank you ABC for the continuity of the motifs.

One of the critiques of Blake is that he seems too young for Becca, so having him take her around his old high school and making out in a bunch of different classrooms didn’t help his image.

It’s easy to say that ABC bringing up the school shooting in Bailey was a political choice. In fact, as the children of the last few decades grow older, it will be more and more difficult to avoid having survivors of school shootings on reality shows like these. So instead of taking the easy route, I’m going to go against my brand and argue why this was an apolitical choice for ABC to make.

ABC has a very simple formula for how they produce a couple on The Bachelor(ette): they plan fun activities so two people can make memories and they encourage people to share their saddest moments to tighten their bonds. To ABC, the shooting was just a really good sad moment that they could tighten the bonds between Becca and Blake even more.

As Becca left Blake at the end of the night, you could see that she wanted so badly to say that she loved him back. And she thought about saying it—she really thought about it—but she was not going to do what Arie did.

Colton made a really good move to have their date be at the hospital. It was probably the best move he could make. Unfortunately for him, she had just had three amazing hometowns and had already made up her mind. She had to humor the inexperienced Colton and his litany of scandals.

Before the rose ceremony Becca got to share her week with the all-stars of Arie’s season. The best moment was delivered by our favorite Yale grad.

Becca: Jason is the best kisser.

Sienne: You’ve got to take him to the fantasy suite, girl.

Sage advise.

When the finish line draws near, Tia starts throwing elbows. She did it last season and threw Becca M. under the bus and she’s doing it this season by throwing Colton under. Any chance she had of becoming the bachelorette just slipped through her fingers.

Honestly, the rose ceremony decision was easy. I got really excited that Garrett was in the bottom two, but everyone knew he wasn’t going home.

Before we go to scoring, I’m going to do a pre-mortem on the three different ways the season could end. This season truly feels like a toss-up right now, but I’m sure as soon as Becca makes the final decision, we’re going to be talking about how obvious it was, so I’m going make a case for each one of the remaining contestants as if we just found out they had won.

Garrett: Of course Garrett won. The person who got the first impression rose went on to win the previous three Bachelorettes. She said from the very beginning that he reminded her of her dad and she clearly yearns to have him there as a sort of replacement. Plus Becca loves meatheads, we know this. Do you remember when her ex came down to Peru last season? I’m confident that he and Garrett would be great friends. It was the obvious choice from the beginning and it only makes sense that this is where it finished.

Blake: Of course Blake won. He had this thing sewn up before hometowns even started. Sure their relationship doesn’t make sense to anyone; she told us she was in love with him in Week 6. No one else stood a chance against Blake.

Jason: Of course Jason won. He was categorically the best man there. It doesn’t matter that he got a late start, he was the best possible choice out of the 28 she was given, so, of course, he deserved his win.

Scoring

Of our original eight brackets, Garrett, Colton, and Jason were all in five while Blake was in just three. After our allotted one-weekly-change, Blake was in seven of the eight, Garrett and Jason were in five, and Colton was in four.

Kristina (279) smartly swapped Colton out for Blake to get a perfect score and maintain her lead. Bonnie the Oracle (268) didn’t make a change this week, so she also got a perfect score because she’s blessed. Doug (260) swapped Blake in for Wills, but he also had Colton in the Top 3, so he fell back down to third place in the standings. Caitlyn (258) was perfect after swapping Jason in for Wills, which put her in front of Justice and brought her right up on the heels of Doug.

Justice (252) swapped Blake in for Wills, but still suffered from the loss of Colton to drop to fifth.

Jenny

Threw

Away

Her Shot.

AGAIN.

Jenny (243) swapped Jason out and Blake in, while Colton remained on her bracket untouched (both literally and metaphorically, am I right?). Limping into seventh place is Kelsey (234) who swapped Jason in for Wills while Colton got kicked off the show.

And lastly, our true hero, the leader of the losers, Danica Martino (191) got 15 points for Blake, but zero points for Lincoln and “Willis.”

The Bachelorette 14.7: Whittling The Top Five

This season’s Top 5 may have been the easiest Top 5 to pick of all time. Blake, Colton, Garret, Jason, and Wills were all clear front-runners from the very first episode. In fact, seven of the eight brackets chose exlusively from that group of five to fill out their Top 4 at the very beginning of the season. The only bracket that didn’t was, obviously, Danica’s, but even she still managed to pick three of them for her Top 4.

But now that there are fewer than five contestants left, the turmoil begins. I went ahead and broke down how many times each of these guys made it into the Final Four of our brackets. Blake picked up the rear by only being in the Top 4 on four brackets. Next was Jason who made five. Tied for second were Garrett and Wills who both made seven, and in first was Colton who made it to hometowns in every one of our eight brackets.

There was a different temperature amongst the bracketeers going into this week, though. Using their one-change-per-week, two people swapped Wills out and Blake in, one person swapped Colton out and Blake in, and one person swapped Jason out and Wills in. After the tinkering, Blake, Garrett, and Colton were all in seven Top 4s, Wills was in six, and Jason was down to just four. It is worth noting though that the only bracket that Garrett was left off of was Danica’s, so, for all intents and purposes, he was in all of our final fours.

            Commentary

Becca was not happy that Colton is a virgin and her Bach Nation approval rating took a hit because of it. So, as a committed defender of Becca as the Bachelorette I’m going to try to justify her reaction.

Becca Kufrin is a 21st Century woman working in the confines of a very conservative matchmaking structure. The modern institution of marriage is supposed to be rooted in love. Before it was about money or security or procreation, but now it is just love. And a vital part of love is intimacy. Not only does Becca believe that one has to meet lots of different people to understand what personality compliments their own, but one should have experience with intimacy in order to know if they can be intimate with a potential lifelong partner. All that to say, Becca wants Colton to be fuckin’!

But let’s take a look at another reason why Becca could be skeptical of Colton. Colton Underwood played quarterback for three different NFL teams between 2014 and 2016 and never played a single NFL snap. That has nothing to do with the point I’m going to make next, but I thought that it was some information you all ought to know. Colton dated Olympian gymnast Aly Raisman for a year following the 2016 Olympic games. That is, presumably, the long-term relationship he has repeatedly referred to. Colton also dated Tia from Arie’s season of The Bachelor after she appeared on the show.

How often does a relatively unknown person—I don’t know how many members of the Chargers’, Eagles’, or Raiders’ fanbases know who Colton Underwoos is—manage to date two national figures in two years? And then how does he do that and still not sleep with either of them? It is high time, ladies and gentlemen, to start scrutinizing Colton’s motives for coming on this show. I’ve never been a fan of the “here for the right reasons” trope, but I’m starting to legitimately think he’s not here for the right reasons.

Garrett, on the other hand, is playing this game masterfully. He is the only one of this group to never show a sign of weakness. He has remained historically level-headed through the process and it’s making me furious. This racist homophobe is stealing the heart of a woman who just changed her Twitter cover photo to Joe Biden in aviators driving a convertible. Becca deserves better and I, frankly, will not stand for it.

Blake has categorically solidified himself as the frontrunner this episode. We aren’t even at the hometowns yet and Becca has already admitted to the audience that she was in love with Blake. Even before this episode started, there was a significant move to coalesce behind Blake in our brackets. While he started the week in just four of our Top 4s, three of us swapped him in. With Colton being too shady and Garrett being a MAGA fuckboi, it’s really just between Blake and Jason, and after this week, Jason looks like he’s on the ropes.

The success of the beach volleyball game on the three-on-one date is a further testament to Becca’s quality as a Bachelorette. On Nick Viall’s season, Nick set up a beach volleyball game in Week 6 and he was nearly mutinied on the spot. Becca, on the other hand, not only inspires the men to be better, but has selected this specific group of great guys to make it this far.

After Leo left, as expected, the real showdown between Wills and Jason began. Fortunately for me (and my bracket), I became a Wills-skeptic a few weeks back. Here are the five different conversations I remember hearing Becca and Wills have at cocktail parties. 1) I love Harry Potter. Look at this tattoo. 2) I’m such a nerd. You are also is such a nerd. But I am also, also such a nerd. 3) Harry Potter is a very good series, I’m still here and I’m still a fan. 4) Are you a nerd? Because, I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m also a nerd, that’s very interesting about the two of us, nerds. 5) I’m falling in love with you.

Jason is also being faulted for having a late start. He had his first date with her last week. She then spent most of the night talking about how she didn’t feel it enough with him and that giving him a rose would be a risk. Fortunately for her, she had room to take that risk. Blake, Colton, and Garrett all had roses and were all safe choices for hometowns. Wills would have been another safe choice and since he didn’t have as strong of a connection with her as with the other three guys, he was sent to the chopping block. Jason is not as tested as Wills, but he has greater potential, so Jason got the rose.

            Scoring

Kristina (234 points) barely held onto first place despite having Wills in her final four. Doug (230) swapped Blake in and Wills out to put together his second perfect week in a row and jump into second place in the standings. Bonnie the Oracle (223), made a game-time decision to swap Jason out and Wills in, so she actually had chosen a perfect Final Four at the start of the season and she was the only one of us to do it. This only further proves that Apollo himself visited Bonnie as she made her bracket after Week 1 and any change she makes now will not be blessed. Justice (222), who also picked Wills, is now in fourth by just one point.

Jenny (213) was the only other person besides Doug to have a perfect week, which helped her climb back up to fifth where she is now tied with Caitlyn (213). Kelsey (204) is stuck in seventh after also dropping Wills.

Last and most certainly least is Danica who, radically picked Lincoln and  “Willis” to round out her Final Four AND Final Three. At just 176 points and a horrendously low forty potential points remaining, Danica is staking her claim as the worst bracketeer of the season for the second consecutive season. A historic feat indeed.

The Bachelorette 14.6: The Tugboat

Week 6 is statistically tied for having the second most vicious cut of the season. It begins with nine contestants and ends with six, meaning a full 33% of the guys are cut. Week 1 is occasionally worse, but this year there were only 28 contestants, so the cut was a mere 25%. After that, Week 2 is 14%, Week 3 is 17%, Week 4 is 20%, Week 5 is 25%, and Week 8 is 25%. Weeks 7 and 9 are tied with 6 at 33%, but, of course, Week 10 takes the cake as 50% of the contestants are kicked off (it’s just the runner-up, but it’s still sad). And yet even though this was the biggest cut we have seen so far this season, the end result was entirely predictable.

Commentary

Chris began this week in Richmond, Virginia by stating that he would rather have a one-on-one or a two-on-one than be designated to the group date. If you take the statistics of that at face value, everyone can see that he is wrong. A 50% chance at a rose is worse than a 67% chance at a rose. Even if you assume that the two people getting one-on-ones automatically get roses, he still has a 57% at a rose.

But Chris put himself in an intriguing predicament last week. Everyone can see that he is on the outs, so he had to make a bold move to stay alive. He probably looked around and saw that he was near the back of the pack and, if the status quo remained the same, he would have well under a 50% chance of getting a rose, so taking a chance on a two-on-one, where he would have time to shift the status quo, was a decent bet. Unfortunately for him, he never got the chance, but he definitely took as many other chances as he possibly could to climb out of the hole he had dug for himself.

It was telling last season that Becca and Ari always had the dates where they would just wander around the city together and still have a good time. Putting Ari’s fuckboiness aside, Becca won the competition because they could just be themselves together wherever they went. Now Jason is the one just meandering through towns with Becca and they are doing it right. And they’re taking public transportation together for goodness sake. If that doesn’t say romantic, I clearly don’t know what does.

It’s good that Becca let Jason see his friends now, because it’s going to be a while before he sees them again. He is in this one for the long haul. It’s hard to picture any of the other contestants’ friends showing up and being such effective advocates. I mean could you imagine any of Garrett’s fuck head friends from Reno or Colton’s football goons having a positive impact on Becca? No. Jason’s the real deal.

I wasn’t sure where Jason was going with the story about his grandmother other than it just being a sad story, but him concluding with the meaning of it all—“It made me realize I can’t take any moment for granted”—showed a level of emotional intelligence that the rest of these guys haven’t displayed. As a result, he is the first person that Becca has really opened up to about her father’s passing.

And at the end of their first date, she said that she was falling for him.

Now we turn to the Beccalection and what a timely way to shit on American history. A reality TV star is in the White House, so why don’t we put a reality TV show fake debate on the steps of one of the most historic buildings in the country. And even Ralph fucking Northam showed up for the festivities. That’s alright; he’s a Democratic and he knows where Becca stands.

Chris spent the debate throwing around racist dog-whistles about Lincoln in the former capital of the confederacy, so that was cute. Then at the cocktail party he told Becca that he feels hurt when people say they feel threatened by him, which is the rhetorical equivalent of a racist saying they feel hurt when they’re called a racist. He’s from Orlando, Florida so how much can we really expect out of him.

Let’s leave Chris alone one more time as we turn to Leo. Jason reading Leo’s date card to Leo when Leo and Jason were the only ones in the whole hotel room was the cutest thing of all time. I passed away briefly in the moment.

This is the first one-on-one of the season where the odds were stacked against the guy. Colton last week and Jason this week both had a solid foundation that they could build off of. Not only did Leo not have that foundation, but there are literally fewer spots left remaining for frontrunners in Becca’s heart. And add onto all that the drama from the day before weighing Becca down and Leo needed to do backflips in order to turn things around. Thank God Leo is a stuntman.

Leo telling Becca that he would be hers in the “real world” is one of the only acknowledgements of that elephant-in-the-room difference between the real and bachelor worlds we have seen on the show. He openly discusses the absurdity of the process in such a refreshing way all while staking his claim as a legitimate contender. The ship was sailing away from him from the beginning and he turned that thing around like a goddamn tugboat.

Chris’s exit and the subsequent rose ceremony were entirely uneventful. Chris and Lincoln were on their way out and it’s remarkable that Connor I’m-gonna-throw-this-framed-picture-into-the-pool-on-the-second-episode-because-I’m-that-much-of-an-asshole made it to the Top 9. I even called the order in which the contestants would be picked before the ceremony started: Garrett, Colton, Wills. It was too easy. We all agree on the Top 5 and Leo was the only outlier, so when he got the rose, the Top 6 was set in stone.

Scoring

Kristina, Caitlyn, Doug, and Justice all had perfect weeks. Kristina (204) is clearly the team to beat as she sits 11 points ahead of the second place bracket. Bonnie’s (193) oracle vision slipped up enough to let Lincoln into her Top 6, though she maintained second place. Justice (192) is now just one point behind Bonnie and Doug (190) is two points behind Justice, which rounds out those in legitimate competition for the championship.

Caitlyn (183) jumped way ahead of Jenny to take the lead in the second tier of brackets. Kelsey (174) also jumped Jenny despite having Ryan held-over on her bracket. Jenny (173) threw away another opportunity by not replacing either David or Ryan in her Top 6, leaving her deep in seventh place.

I didn’t mention PPR or HPS at all this week because every single one of us has a fully-intact Final Four and beyond, which is truly remarkable. We crowded our brackets like crazy and we are still all correct thus far. All of us, that is, except for Danica Martino. You know who Danica put in the Top 3? (Other than “Willis” of course.) Flat-Earth Lincoln. I’ll give Danica a break on not knowing that he’s been convicted of assault, but Lincoln’s biography is literally just a list of places he’s lived and the fact that he’s named after our sixteenth president. There are presumably no interesting facts about him other than that. Congratulations, Danica. At 48 points behind Kristina and 17 points behind Jenny, she has again found her way into last place likely for the remainder of the season.

The Bachelorette 14.5: The Best Bachelorette

We are HALFWAY through the season already. Poor yourself some rosé to celebrate, or maybe some vodka to get rid of all the stress Chris caused you this episode. You deserve it.

Commentary

Becca may be one of the best Bachelor(ette)s we’ve ever had and there are three reasons why I believe that.

The first is because of this Instagram post of her wearing a shirt with the likeness of our former vice president that says “Biden my time,” accompanied by the hashtags #haveyouseenhimeatanicecreamconetho and #bidenisbae. It speaks for itself.

The second reason is that she is easy to read. We know exactly what she is thinking when we look at her. Every other principal this show has seen is just a plastic, emotionless, shell of an attractive human. Becca is sharing her soul each time she raises an eyebrow or lifts the corners of her mouth or tilts her head back to see the sky. It has become effortless to root for her.

The third reason is that she does not tolerate bullshit. If you don’t give it to her straight, she will know, she will let you know she knows, and she will hold it against you.

Colton’s date just confirmed our assumptions. She really likes him and he’s a frontrunner.

Wayne Newton was a show. He criticized all of the guys’ lyrics but a) he didn’t even write the song he’s most famous for, Danke Schoen, and b) he was infatuated with the use of foreign languages, which proves he doesn’t give a shit about the lyrics anyway as long as it sounds pretty. Also, his wife, Kathleen, was literally not even born when he first recorded Danke Schoen in 1963.

Have you guys seen the Netflix show American Vandal? The only reason I bring it up is because there is a character in it that is notorious for confidently saying “hundred percent” every time he lies. The number of times Chris said “hundred percent” this episode was outrageous.

When Senator Ted Kennedy passed away in 2009, the state of Massachusetts held a special election to fill his seat. A Republican had not won a Massachusetts Senate race since 1978, so the Democratic nominee, Martha Coakley, was a clear shoe-in to win the seat. It was reported that she didn’t even take the time to go knock on doors, because she was so confident in her chances. And who wouldn’t be? Scott Brown, the Republican nominee, saw the hill he had to climb, so he busted his ass until January of 2010 in order to even have a shot. You want to know what happened? Scott Brown won the goddamn seat with 51% of the vote.

David was a shoe-in to win this two-on-one. He took his foot off the gas and tried to coast to victory. He made unforced errors. Jordan, on the other hand, laid it all out on the table. He was legitimately vulnerable, which is not something I thought he was capable of.

To circle back to an earlier point, Becca smelled the bullshit on David. Becca already knows Jordan is an idiot, so David didn’t need to make stuff up to get his point across. Honestly, Becca made the right choice to send David home right there. She will not reward people who don’t take her seriously.

She also knew that the best way to sink Jordan’s chances is by giving him time to talk. I think that was best captured by this snippet of their dinner conversation:

Jordan: What’s a weekend look like to you?

Becca: Um, I think it depends—

Jordan: Yeah, me too.

Goodbye, Jordan. In your own immortal words, “Cheers to you being a bitch.”

Wills gets full marks for how he handled the situation with Chris. He was respectful, he gave Chris time, and he stood his ground. Chris feels entitled and Becca wasn’t having it. Sure the producers made her keep him on for another week for drama, but we all know where her head is at.

Garrett standing up for Wills and explaining to Chris why he is in the wrong was very impressive. One would think that with that level of analytical thinking he would be less of a racist homophobe, but I guess he hasn’t gotten there yet.

The first five people to get roses this week (Colton, Blake, Garrett, Jason, and Wills) happen to also be the clear Top 5 in all of our brackets, which leads me to this week’s scoring!

Scoring

Kristina (168) is still in first followed by Bonnie (163) in second after both picked 8/9 correct. Justice (156) is still in third but dropped further behind due to going 7/9. Jenny (154) jumped up to being tied with Doug (154) in fourth after being the only other person besides Kristina and Bonnie to get 8/9 correct. Kelsey (149), who got 7/9, is sitting in sixth. Caitlyn (147) unfortunately missed all three of tonight’s losers dropping her down to seventh.

Danica, amazingly, did not have a single person who was kicked off tonight on her bracket this week. But she still dropped three because she had Clay, Ryan, and Nick, all kicked off in previous weeks, on her bracket. She has 138 points.

Of the eight brackets, no one had either John, Jordan, or David in their Top 6 except for Jenny. Jenny had David in the Top 6, making her the only other bracket besides Danica’s with fewer than 5/6 of their Top 6 contestants still in the running.

Bonnie McHeffey is an oracle. She has not made a single change to her bracket this entire season and yet she is still in second place. Not only that, but she still has a perfect Top 6 and has the best Highest Potential Score in the league at 359.

The Bachelorette 14.4: The Politics of Love

Commentary

Lights up on Becca and Blake leaning into each other on a bunk bed. They’re talking about how many kids they want and the names that they’ve picked out. They peer into each other’s eyes and see a future. I. Love. This. Episode. At least the start. The start got me.

And now I’m off the high because of Nick. The only thing worse than showing up to a rose ceremony in a track suit is believing that a track suit is part of your identity.

First rose ceremony: Ryan was a bracket buster. As a league we had him receiving 2.4 more roses, which would have put him around 10th place instead of the 16-18th where he ended up. Five of the brackets had him in the Top 9 and two (Jenny and Kelsey) had him in the Top 6.

While Clay hurt our hearts more by leaving, he didn’t hurt our brackets quite as much. On average, we had him getting 2.0 more roses, which would have left him in about 12th place.

We’ve left the mansion and gone straight for the mountains and I am hyped! Arie’s group went from LA to Lake Tahoe and so Becca had to one-up him by going LA to Park City, UT.  

Garrett got the first date. He lives in Reno, so he definitely has a leg up in these mountains. The best acting I’ve seen on the show this year was Garrett pretending to be excited about two women being married. Nice try, you fucking homophobe.

For an in-depth analysis of what I think of Garrett, please visit my first recap of the season.

In the 280 Bach Nation [rose emoji] [bumblebee emoji] group text, we discussed this article about ABC’s poor vetting this season. Former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey said, “Nowhere in the [casting] process does anyone ask you what your political views are. That’s the thing I can’t get out of my mind as a viewer: I have a hard time even thinking [Garrett] could fall in love with Becca. I wish I didn’t have to say that.”

In response, I would posit that maybe ABC knew about Garrett’s views, or, even if they didn’t know, maybe they wouldn’t have cared. I know of multiple families where the spouses are in different political parties. (For example, my mother is a Democrat and my father is in the Green Party, though not’s not the point I’m trying to make here.) But times are changing, and ABC may not realize it. This article in the New York Times discusses a Gallop poll that says, “In 1958, 33 percent of Democrats wanted their daughters to marry a Democrat, and 25 percent of Republicans wanted their daughters to marry a Republican. But by 2016, 60 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans felt that way.” As our nation becomes more polarized, fewer and fewer Americans are willing to commit themselves to someone on the other side of the ideological spectrum.

This borders on being antithetical to the vision of the Bachelor Franchise. If they believe that true love can outlast anything, then ‘anything’ should include being born in a different environment where a different political party happens to reign supreme. Because that’s all it is: the best indicator of one’s ideological leaning is whether they grew up in an urban or rural environment. Can the openly liberal Becca fall in love with the openly bigoted Garrett? Time will tell.

Moving on to another frontrunner: Colton. Jordan has found a way to drag Colton into his madness. But if Colton wants to remain a frontrunner, he can’t be bogged down by this bologna. He needs to shape up or ship out.

Jason looks like Al Pacino in The Godfather. Jason acts like Al Pacino’s character in the beginning of The Godfather. I really hope he doesn’t end up turning into the godfather and breaking Diane Keaton’s heart, because Jason is amazing and capable of anything watch out world I love you Jason.

ABC pulled a fast one on us. They showed the clip of Jean Blanc saying he was falling in love with Becca in the season promo and I obviously thought that that meant he was going places. Psych, Jean Blanc is a fuck.

Wills had a great date and we were blessed with two rose ceremonies this week. The second rose ceremony was aggressively unsurprising though. The bracket busters came the week before/earlier this episode.

Scoring

Kristina is leading the pack with 128 points followed by Bonnie with 123 and Justice with 121. Doug (119) and Caitlyn (117) hold fourth and fifth, while Jenny and Kelsey are tied for sixth with 114.

Bringing up the rear is our perennial champion of last place, Danica Martino with 108. It is worth mentioning that this week she put Wills on her bracket as Willis. In fact, she wrote Willis instead of Wills every single time in her bracket. And guess what? According to Danica Martino’s 2018 official prediction, Willis is going to WIN The Bachelorette.

Like last season, I put together the Potential Points Remaining (PPR) stat and the Highest Potential Score (HPS) stat. Unfortunately, every single one of the brackets has their Top 4 completely intact. Right now, we are just competing on the margins for the extra mid-season points.

Despite being in second in points currently, Bonnie is leading the league in HPS with 359 points. She is one of only two with a perfectly intact Top 6.

Kristina is in second with a 358 HPS, because she has Clay going to the Top 6. Justice is in third with a 357 HPS and a perfect Top 6, like Bonnie. In fourth, Doug put Jean Blanc in the Top 6 and Ryan in the Top 9 to drag down his HPS to 344. Caitlyn made identical mistakes to Doug and is left with a 342 HPS.

Jenny and Kelsey are tied at 339. Both have Ryan in the Top 6, but Kelsey has Clay in the Top 9 while Jenny has Jean Blanc there.

As per the scriptures, Danica is in last with an HPS of 322. Making five incorrect picks in Top 12 hurt, but having Clay and tracksuit Nick in the Top 6 really hurts. Fucking tracksuit Nick, Danica? Remarkably, she still has a perfect Top 4.