This week The Bachelor was all about Cinderella—Disney’s new live-action version, that is, in theaters this March. The entire one-on-one date served as a massive plug for the movie, with clips of it interspersed through the episode with no attempt at subtlety. In a stunning move of product placement, the rose on the date sat under a giant plastic replica of Cinderella’s slipper. It was… gross.
But I can’t complain, because I’m actually a huge sucker for the Cinderella fairy tale. When you grow up with the name Ella, it comes with the territory. I’ve already written about my love of Ella Enchanted, a feminist-in-training children’s lit masterpiece, and my favorite movies growing up were always Cinderella retellings: Hillary Duff’s semi-vapid A Cinderella Story, Drew Barrymore’s Ever After, and even the adventurous, mildly flaky Cinderella in Sondheim’s Into The Woods. Cinderella was always a ballsy, smart, self-sufficient female lead who valued her independence as much as she valued love. She was my kind of princess: she didn’t give a damn about achieving royalty as much as she did escaping mistreatment. A real Cinderella is never about the glitz.
Which was why this episode was actually genius. Sure it had all the classic, shallow Disney-Meets-ABC’s The Bachelor trappings: free diamond earrings for the woman who won the one-on-one date, a ton of ball gowns for her to choose from, and a full orchestra to which she and Chris awkwardly waltzed. But the date was about elevating character, drawing attention to a wallflower with a kind soul: Jade, 28, an organic cosmetics developer from LA. This week Chris’s sisters swung by the mansion to get to know the girls individually, and they chose Jade as someone they could see their brother with. She had been overshadowed by the larger personalities in the house, and even Chris admitted to not having really noticed her despite bringing her to week four.
Jade made a great Cinderella: sweet, unassuming, and quietly strong. She was also so damn grateful to be on that one-on-one, practically glowing with excitement and muted confidence as she looked at herself (and her MASSIVE Neil Lane diamonds courtesy of the producers) in a full length mirror. “It just feels nice to be, like, recognized,” she said as she delicately wiped surprised tears from her eyes after learning she’d won the date. “I’m ready to be a princess.” This chick is adorable and I love her.
On a side note I stalked Jade’s cast page and her interview is gold. Her favorite animal? The elephant, because she loves the “matriarchy.” If she could be any fictional character? “Jane Eyre. She’s admirable, a heroine that relies on herself to get back on her feet. She’s complex and passionate.” I’m sold. Team Jade all the way.
Of course for every Cinderella, there are some ugly stepsisters. While most women in the house gushed over how beautiful Jade looked and dealt with their jealousy with grace, two women decided to fill the necessary villain roles: Britt and Ashley I. Britt, a leading contender who won the coveted first impression rose back in week one, is still convinced she is the frontrunner and told Chris’s sisters such. “It is uncomfortable to name myself as the frontrunner because it seems like bragging,” she said during a confessional interview. “But I feel confident that I’ll get [the date].” Unfortunately for Britt, Chris’s sisters weren’t looking for the woman Chris liked the most, they were looking for the woman they liked the most for Chris. Her lack of humility did not win her any points, and she was shocked when she predictably stayed home.
And then Ashley I. returned from the camping group date and learned Jade had gotten the one-on-one. Loyal readers will remember Ashley I. as the girl so obsessed with her own virginity that we quite literally never hear her talk about anything else. Does she have hobbies? A career? A family? We know she watches the Kardashian reality franchise, considering she liberally compares herself to Kim K, but that’s about it.
When the girls filled the ladies from the group date in on Jade’s upcoming romantic evening, Ashley’s jealousy introduced us to a new trait: she’s a self-appointed Disney princess. “I’m going to try to not let it get to me, even though we all know this is Cinderella,” she said, gesturing to herself emphatically. She then proceeded to let it get to her, big time. “It honestly, like, physically pains me… That’s my element. This is what I wanted, I just wanted a princess date.”
Her temper tantrum went beyond jealousy to full blown entitlement as she ranted about how this date had her name all over it. “I think his sisters… I would have definitely emphasized the fact that I’m this helpless romantic Disney princess, and I would have gotten this date. I mean, whenever somebody wants me to describe myself, that comes up. I think we would have hit it off, and I would have been in Jade’s place right now.” Yeah, sure, kiddo. Beause that’s what Chris’s sisters wanted to hear: how much you wanted to be a princess, not how much you like their brother, or how much you want to start a family, or how ready you are to settle down. They want to hear how much you want to dress up in a glittery gown. Makes total sense.
This episode made it clear how little Ashley I. is interested in Chris as much as she’s interested in attention and free, expensive shit. “I feel the sort of jealous that I have not felt in this house before,” she said, unfazed by Chris on a date with someone else unless it’s the type of date she wants to be on. Left behind as Jade was whisked off to her royal ball, Ashley I. put on the dress she bought specifically for her inevitable princess date and declared, “Princess Farming decided to go on a princess date with some other girl, so I decided to have a ball of my own. That’s supposed to be my date.” We get it. You’re a princess. You are entitled to be a princess.
In a way I almost respect Ashley I.’s self-involvement. She isn’t threatened by the other women. They aren’t obstacles to her goal for attention, even if they are competitors for Chris’s affection. She doesn’t care about or understand their feelings—it’s as if they are wall decoration. “I can’t even describe how frustrated I am, ‘cause nobody in this house would appreciate this specific date more than me,” Ashley said, because obviously no other woman in the world would want to be swept off their feet by Chris in a tuxedo. I just… I can’t with this woman. I would write about how this week she finally told Chris she was a virgin, but it was such a shit show she herself manufactured that I can’t (in a nutshell: Chris was sweet about it and said he respected her, and then she went and cried because… because she could, I guess?).
At the end of the night, Chris and Jade had a wonderful time together. It was some genuine falling in love mush, and I don’t say that about this show often. They shared genuine, easy-flowing conversation—the likes of which we don’t often see as viewers—bonding over broken engagements from when they were younger and how lonely Los Angeles can be. Jade absolutely sparkled. “Her inner beauty really stood out to me,” Chris said in his confessional, before calling her the girl-next-door who has it all. “She has this Cinderella feel to her.”
Who knows how far Jade will go. This game is full of wildcards. But hopefully Chris will get better at sorting out the stepsisters from the princesses as the series continues. Jade got a rose… and so did Britt and Ashley.
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