When I first committed to recapping this season of The Bachelor, I have to admit I was nervous. This blog is home to various feminist pop culture commentary, and The Bachelor franchise is widely agreed to be one of the most sexist programs on television. Had I bought into the marketing? Was I being duped by my guilty pleasure? Am I a bad feminist? (About halfway through the night I noticed legendary Bad Feminist Roxane Gay was also live tweeting so I can’t feel too guilty).
The truth is, The Bachelor is sexist. Thirty (seriously thirty) women are competing for the love of one man, this year the adorable cocker spaniel Chris Soules who America (and admittedly, I) fell in love with on Andi’s season of The Bachelorette. He’s the good Midwestern boy, working on his family’s farm and unable to find love in his town of around 400 people. Being the bachelor “doesn’t happen to normal guys like me,” he says, leaning against his motorcycle as millions of viewers swoon. He makes shitty scripted similes about love being like planting a seed and hoping for the right weather. He is sweetheart masculinity gold—the Harley Davidson is overkill.
But despite being riddled with gender stereotypes and disconcerting dynamics, The Bachelor is a show about real people at its core. These real people totally fuck up the archetypes the producers attempt to cast and edit them into. Everyone remember Juan Pablo, the sexy single dad who wound up being a massive douchebag more interested in groping Clair in the ocean and then slut-shaming her? Yeah, his season’s winner Nikki showed up on the red carpet tonight alone and covering for his shady, abusive ass, diplomatically dodging questions about their breakup. Bullshit setup or not, even The Bachelor can’t script the actions and choices of its leading men beyond its marketing spots.
Chris’s behavior on his first episode shows he is not the classic Midwestern nice guy that this show is trying to sell, and thank god for that. Because this is the guy that fell in love with Andi on The Bachelorette, remember? A badass assistant district attorney who strove to be more than just a mom on a farm (no offense to mom’s on farms)? This show can parade as many cute blond Southern belles in front of Chris as it wants to, but his taste is varied and of course he’s going to go rogue. Because types of people don’t fucking exist, even on reality TV. And this season is going to make some god damn Bachelor franchise history as a result.
Chris made some unconventional choices when giving out his roses. First there is deciding to keep Kaitlyn, the dance instructor who within seconds of meeting Chris told him, “You can plow the fuck out of my field, any day.” I SWEAR TO GOD THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. She later went on to make a joke about tight vaginas in front of the entire room of women, horrifying the other contestants, and my mother who was watching with me. Even I was like, whoa, slow the fuck down, lady, while I laughed hysterically. That woman has serious balls and no manners and she is so acutely aware of each boundary she pushes. And instead of being disgusted like any good Midwestern boy would be, he calls her a firecracker and gives her a rose first in the rose ceremony. I love it. She just set fire to the good girl script demanded of this franchise’s female participants and Chris rewarded it instead of dismissing her as some slut on the program for the wrong reasons. This is amazing television.
And then there is legendary drunk girl Tara, who showed up in daisy dukes and cowboy boots instead of the usual cocktail dress, changed into a really cute LBD in the bathroom, and then went back outside to greet Chris again. He recognized her despite her outfit change, winked at her (making me black out for a second), and was wowed by her boldness. Her boldness wowed him so much that even after she got hammered and was minutes away from fainting during the rose ceremony, he decided to keep her around. Literally every woman in that room thought Tara was a done deal, and in all fairness I don’t think anyone other than Chris would have let that shit fly. The girl was wobbling, yawning, complaining under her breath about feeling dizzy, and making a scene, which is totally legitimate because I can’t even stand in one place for two hours in high heels when I’m sober, let alone when I’m hammered.
Tara gives me so much joy—I know she won’t go far because she was missing from the season previews, but she is the hot mess best friend from every romantic comedy. She needs to get her shit together but she is so delightful and fun and daring that you just want to talk shit about your exes and order another round of whiskey shots together. She is who I would want to watch The Bachelor with, actually. Did I mention her reported career is “sport fishing enthusiast”? This woman is a GEM. And Chris KEPT HER. The shocks just keep on coming.
And then there was The Kiss. Has a bachelor or bachelorette ever kissed someone before the first rose ceremony? Chris and Britt had sparks flying right from the get go, but Chris deciding fuck it and kissing Britt after giving her the first impression rose was totally unprecedented. That was a boss maneuver right there. You barely know this woman, Chris. You just know she wants to be your shoulder to cry on and she is generically pretty. But Chris felt the moment and he went for it. Nice Midwestern boy? Psh. That man has balls and is not going to stick to your bullshit Prince Farming script. He is going to make out with chicks and not give a fuck about the 29 other women waiting inside for two minutes to justify their existence. And he’s going to make it look romantic as fuck, because Chris is genuinely doing what he thinks is right. He is “going with his gut.” Chris is the best.
I wanted to dislike Britt, too, because she is just so sparkly and uninteresting. And then the girl whipped out my personal favorite post-kiss line and informed Chris, “This is gonna be trouble, I actually really like you.” She is acknowledging the weirdness of having a very real moment with a man she just met on a ridiculous TV show. See? Brains. She has them. Being aware of and realistic about the show puts you in a rare camp of the truly sane.
Also still in the picture: mystery woman Tandra, who decided screw the limo and rolled up the driveway on her own motorcycle. Her bio tells us pretty much nothing except that she’s an “Executive Assistant” and she showed up on a motorcycle that is literally all I care about.
Alas, we said goodbye to Amanda, who described herself as “fucking crazy” and called Chris a panty-dropper in her confessional. I’m all for crass honesty but she so broke the mold that even I felt tempted to slut-shame her before remembering I would also agree that Chris is a panty-dropper and I’d totally say that in a confessional. Bye bye Amanda and your crazy eyes. This season is a field day for sexually aggressive women and it is making my soul sing.
In all sincerity, we also lost Bo too early. Bo was a plus-sized model who said next to nothing this episode but we never see any variation in body type on this show and her presence was a fucking beautiful surprise. Bo did not get drunk or make catty comments about other women, and she did absolutely nothing wrong. Bye bye, Bo. You will be so desperately missed and I wish we’d seen more of you. Hopefully we’ll see your personality during the Women Tell All.
Notably, Chris sent home the chick who cried after getting rejected and said something along the lines of, “I’m just a little servant and I’m willing to be” about wanting to get married. Girl, get back to the 50s. You are too old fashioned for this Harley Davidson-riding, feed-shoveling bad boy.
I could already tell this was going to be a crazy season from that first episode, but the season preview they played after the episode? Holy shit. From what I can gather, a woman crawls into Chris’s tent during a group date and they have sex, and then literally every other woman cries. There’s footage of Chris crying, looking ashamed of himself, apologizing for hurting women, and basically acting like a nice guy who got carried away with a hot lady and feels bad about offending his ten other girlfriends. I’m sure there will be plenty of slut-shaming of his tent-partner by the other women, but it’s refreshing to see a dude talking about taking responsibility for his actions instead of just blaming his lady friend (I see you, JPabs). The sexual politics on this show. I honestly can’t even. You honestly can’t make this shit up.
I’ll see you next week for more champagne-fueled antics and Chris talking about the harvest he’s missing to find his wife. Same-day recaps might not be sustainable considering I posted this at 1am and I have to be awake for my real job in six hours, but join me on Twitter as @brosandprose for live-tweeting. You’ll get a lot of winners like this: