The Bachelorette recap: Naked truths
We all knew this day was coming, rose lovers — but this doesn’t mean it was easy to watch once it arrived. Yes, this week brought us an episode of The Bachelorette like no other, because… Chris! Harrison! Left! Us! Nothing against his temporary fill-in, JoJo Fletcher, but I found the experience of watching our Bachelor Nation overlord say (a temporary) goodbye to be very distressing.
The episode opens with former Bachelorette and perpetual fiancée JoJo arriving to share croissants and advice about televised husband-hunting with Tayshia. “You can’t overthink it,” JoJo says. “It is the hardest thing in the world to navigate.” Also hard to navigate:
“Normally, this is where I drop off the date card,” explains Harrison. “I’m going to step away for a few days. I’m going to bring my son to college… But I brought in a little help.” Noooo! Don’t leave us, Lord Harrison! No one drops off a date card like you do! She can’t POSSIBLY fill your “this is the final rose tonight” shoes! Oh, the humanity!
Fine, fine, you’re right. I’m overreacting. I’ll try to pull it together so we can discuss the first one-on-one date of the week, which goes to Zac. Even though Tayshia says she usually goes after guys who are “younger” than Zac (he’s 36), she’s still “intrigued” by him. Perhaps that’s why she chose this very intriguing individual to oversee today’s date.
“Today we’re doing a beautiful, fantasy wedding shoot,” gushes Franco, who is my new personal style icon. “I want it to be very special.” As fabulous as Franco makes this date activity sound, Zac can tell that Tayshia is “a little shook.” As we know, Tayshia was married before, and it did not work out. Does she really want to do another wedding shoot with someone who likely won’t end up being her husband? Probably not, but our Bachelorette is a team player. Start trying on those gowns, honey!
I mean, they are a good-looking couple. Tayshia definitely seems a little stressed during the first photoshoot, so Zac encourages her to laugh and joke as much as she needs to make it through. “This is so weird!” she squeals. A few outfit changes later, though, the Bachelorette starts to have a bit more fun.
Before we know it, we must say goodbye to Franco and his fantabulous wildlife shorts, purple loafers, and colorful neckerchief. Fare thee well, Franco! I hope they flew you to Pennsylvania for Matt’s season!
After the photoshoot, Tayshia informs Zac (I guess for the first time?) that she has been married before — and wouldn’t you know it? So has he! Zac doesn’t say much about it, though, other than that the marriage lasted for about a year. He clearly has something on his mind, but when Tayshia presses him, Zac says he’s only being quiet because he’s stunned by her beauty. Nice try, bro! You better be prepared to spill it ALL at dinner.
He is! That night, Zac tells Tayshia all about his upbringing in “an amazing home, with an amazing family,” only to discover one day in college that he had a brain tumor. He went into surgery the next morning, and that’s when he got introduced to pain meds and other addictive drugs. At 23, he got married, all the while hitting the booze and the pills hard. “I was hanging out with some sketchy people,” he admits. “I got arrested, a DUI, and my wife left me.” That launched Zac into a downward spiral. “I was hopeless,” he says.
When Zac tried to cash a check he stole from his dad, the teller called his dad and informed him that Zac really needed help. “She’s, like, my angel,” says Zac now of the teller who, it turns out, helped save his life. After spending four-and-a-half months in rehab, Zac is sober and serving on the board of the rehab facility. Dammit, I hate when this show makes me emotional! STOP IT, SHOW! Tayshia, meanwhile, is very thankful to Zac for Opening Up™. Of course, he gets the date rose. On to the rented Ferris Wheel!
Here’s hoping that Team Bachelorette hired licensed professionals to assemble and operate that thing and didn’t just leave it to the Bachelor Interns. (Also, Tayshia, if you literally have butterflies, you should probably see a doctor immediately.)
Group date! Okay, Spencer, Ivan, Ed, Blake, Brendan, Riley, Demar, Bennett, Ben, and Noah, the date card said “express yourself” — and these two are going to help you do it!
The guys are going to be painting these folks, I guess, with guidance from a pink-haired woman named Natalia. “Love is a lot like creating art,” says Natalia. “You have to really invest in yourself and be extremely open to the process.” The guys seem so relieved that they don’t have to get naked for this date (poor Blake still has PTSD from strip dodgeball!) that they don’t even seem that fazed about having to stare at two naked strangers.
It should come as no surprise to any of you that none of the guys can draw. Of all of the terrible drawings, I think Ivan’s is my favorite? I mean look at this!
And I love that the producers broke out the Black Box of Shame™ for cartoon junk. From the moment art class gets going, Bennett starts razzing Noah. First, he steals Noah’s seat next to Tayshia, and then he makes a not-so-veiled comment about “drama” in the background. Uh-oh… looks like Blake made a phallus out of his clay.
“It surprises nobody that he made a penis,” says Spencer. “He is constantly talking about sex.”
Bennett, meanwhile, makes a clay rendering of the three houses he and Tayshia will share once she marries his rich ass. “Hey Bennett,” Noah calls across the room. “You spell ‘privilege’ p-r-i-v-i-l-e-d-g-e,” right? Damn, that would have been such a sick burn — and a great callback to Bennett’s inability to spell the word “limousine” — if only Noah had spelled “privilege” correctly.
Tayshia is definitely not pleased about this petty rivalry between Bennett and Noah. Don’t they realize that the Bachelorette is looking for a grown-ass man?
The final art class exercise is a self-portrait, and the winner will receive extra time with Tayshia. All the guys try to out-vulnerable each other with their artistic efforts. Ivan’s portrait is drawn like a puzzle, with a missing “wife and kids” piece in the middle; Brendan crafts an empty picture frame and leaves a space for the love of his life next to him; Blake paints a turtledove, which represents monogamy and the stable life he never had growing up; and Riley’s blue-sky painting symbolizes his daydream of one day spending quality time with his wife and daughter.
When it’s Ben’s turn, though, he decides to ditch his self-portrait. “I forgot something,” he mumbles, before hurrying out of the room. When he returns, Ben is dressed in a La Quinta robe, and a La Quinta robe only. “I talk a big game, but it’s hard for me to express my emotions,” he says. “So figuratively and literally, I’m going to let my guard down.” You guessed it, rose lovers:
“This is me showing up for you,” Ben announces. “What you see is only just a small part of who I am. I’m so excited to share that with you.” (Also, can we please take a moment to appreciate the expression on Bennett’s face during Ben’s naked declaration?)
“I was not expecting that at all,” admits Tayshia, who is so overwhelmed by everything the guys shared with her, she needs to take a cry break backstage. “It’s a lot,” she sniffles. “This is what happens when you start dating real men.” Unfortunately for the guys, Tayshia loved all of their portraits so much that she simply cannot choose one winner. “I just want to hang out with all of you,” she says. The men all pretend to be fine with it, but I’m guessing Ben is bummed.
Why are some of these dudes showing up to the cocktail party in ratty shirts when Tayshia is serving evening glamour?
And don’t even get me started on Ed’s ripped jeans. Try harder, you doofuses! At least Riley, who steals Tayshia for the first one-on-one chat, is wearing a nicely tailored, collared button-down. When Riley was young, his parents got divorced, and he lived with his father — who apparently badmouthed his ex-wife in front of Riley. Though that initially drove a wedge between them, Riley says he and his mom were able to “talk some things out” later in life. The Bachelorette is pleased that Riley is “coming out of his shell,” but she also seems very into Brendan, as per usual.
Oh, hold up, we need to go live to the holding pen — it seems Bennett and Noah are fighting again. Mr. Harvard disses Noah for ruining last week’s rose ceremony, and then Mr. No-Mustache says he’s just about had it with Bennett’s “chirpy remarks.” Gah, get over it, you two! Can’t you see Ed is tired of your shenanigans?
Enough of that foolishness. During his one-on-one chat with Tayshia, Ben reveals that the reason he’s into fitness and nutrition now is because he had an eating disorder for 15 years. “I found out what girls were when I was 15, and I realized they don’t like the fat kid,” he says. “I stopped eating, started working out all the time, lost like 70 pounds, and had bulimia for 10 years when I was in my 20s.” Dang, Ben! Are you seriously going to make me emotional for the second time this episode? Ben says the only person who knew was his sister, whom he credits with saving his life. Oh man, something tells me Ben is going to get the date rose…
No surprise there. The evening does end on a bit of an unexpected note, though. After handing Ben the date rose, Tayshia makes an announcement: “Noah and Bennett, there’s something going on between you two, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it one way or another.” Oh, snap! Bennett is clearly shooketh to his core.
As soon as the Bachelorette leaves, Bennett and Noah go right back to sniping at each other. Noah points out all of the mean things Bennett has said to him (“you go on and on about how there’s no chance she’ll be with me”), while Bennett offers a non-apology for saying there was a “zero percent” chance Tayshia would pick Noah. Then he adds, “The behaviors that I have seen out of you have been juvenile.” Simmer down, boys — save it for your two-on-one.
But first: Eazy’s one-on-one date with Tayshia, also known as the most uncomfortable 13 minutes of the episode! No, the date isn’t particularly awkward by Bachelorette standards. What’s distressing about this involves the world off-screen, which some might call “the real world.” As I mentioned in a previous recap, last month a woman raised allegations of sexual misconduct against Eazy, and she reportedly spoke to the production company about them. Apparently, no charges were ever filed, an ABC investigation into the allegations was reportedly ruled "inconclusive," and Eazy — like everyone in America — is of course innocent until proven guilty. To my knowledge, he’s made no statement regarding these allegations, likely because he’s been on social media lockdown while filming the show.
Still… knowing all of this, it’s hard not to be very distracted while watching Eazy and Tayshia on their ghost hunting date. I’m not saying I know how the show should have handled this. Presumably, producers didn’t hear about these allegations until after the season had wrapped. Because Eazy wasn’t eliminated at a rose ceremony (more on that in a minute), it would’ve been hard for producers to edit around him until he was sent home. The dude got a one-on-one date — so producers would either have to cut the date completely and explain Eazy’s absence next week or leave the date in. The latter option is obviously easier, so I understand why the show chose it.
Anyhoo, quick date summary: Tayshia and Eazy walk around in the dark, exploring allegedly haunted spots on the La Quinta grounds with a thermal camera and a lantern. They scream and giggle and jump at noises both real and imagined. At dinner, Eazy makes this somewhat out-of-nowhere proclamation: “I honestly feel like I’m falling in love with you.” The feelings are not mutual, so Tayshia sends him home.
With that unpleasant bit of business over, let’s get to the grand finale! Harvard vs. The Artist Formerly Known as Pornstache! JoJo walks into the guys’ suite (she knocks first, of course) to let the men know how the Noah-Bennett rivalry is going to affect the night’s proceedings. But first, Noah has to give his stubble-stache a quick smooth-down in the mirror, which leads us to this perfect exchange:
JoJo [bemused]: “How does your hair look?”
Noah [over-eager]: “How does it look?”
JoJo [skeptical, already over it]: “I dunno.”
That was fun. Now for the breaking news: Tayshia’s sick of Noah and Bennett’s bickering, so she’s going to give one of them the boot tonight… before the official cocktail party begins. “The rest of you will be joining Tayshia later tonight,” says JoJo, before leaving Noah and Bennett to get ready for their mini two-on-one.
With that, it’s nighttime, and Bennett and Noah are suited up, both confident that they’ll leave the pre-cocktail party meeting with a rose from Tayshia. “I crush life under pressure,” boasts Bennett. “Noah will realize that’s the truth as he flies home to Oklahoma.” Hmmm… perhaps he’s a little too confident? Or is that just what Team Bachelorette wants us to believe? And one more question: Why did we see Tayshia sitting with two margaritas and a chips-and-guac spread earlier? Was she just pre-partying hard on her own?
Producers make sure that Bennett and Noah arrive at the date several minutes before Tayshia, perhaps because they knew one of them was going to do or say something stupid before she showed up. And guess what? They were right!
Yep, Bennett arrives with a gift for Noah, which he proceeds to open himself. The first two items in the box are fine: A red bandana, signifying a conversation Bennett and Noah had about a ranch somewhere; and Bennett’s freshly-washed “mustache socks,” as a nod to Noah’s dear, departed facial hair. The last gift, though, is pure condescension: It’s a book called On Emotional Intelligence, from a series by the Harvard Business Review. “There are actually four components for emotional intelligence,” notes Bennett, who goes on to list them all. “I think you are deficient in three of those four.”
Noah is irked, but Bennett insists he’s not “talking down” to his rival. “I did not have emotional intelligence at your age,” he insists. Okay look, I’m sure that Bennett basically means well here, but if he can’t understand how obnoxious he sounds right now, his emotional intelligence is pretty “deficient” too.
Oh thank God, Tayshia’s finally here. Honey please, end this! “I like both of you,” she begins. “I’m over the pettiness of this drama that’s taking place, and I just want to get to the bottom of it.” Noah’s all, "Fine! Bennett was mean to me after last week’s cocktail party! He said there was a 100 percent chance that I wouldn’t be with you! He said I was 14 years old!" Then Mr. Harvard immediately starts fact-checking Noah: “No, I said, ‘zero percent chance’” and “The comment was, ‘Can you imagine that you were arguing with a 14-year-old?’”
Tayshia has heard enough. “This sounds, honestly, like teenage boy drama, and the fact that I have to sit here and listen to you guys talk about this is ridiculous!” she huffs. The Bachelorette has some particularly harsh words for Bennett: “You realize that you are essentially questioning my integrity, right?” Wait… how? By saying he thinks Noah doesn’t deserve a rose from Tayshia? I don’t really get her reasoning.
Just as it looks like she was about to hand the date rose to Noah, the Bachelorette sees the present sitting on the table. “What’s in the box?” she asks. Dun-dun-DUNNNNN!
Dammit! I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out the “winner” of this little showdown. (Spoiler: There are no winners here.) Until then, rose lovers, I want to hear from you! How do you think JoJo is doing as host? Why won’t Bennett stop digging his own grave? And should we talk about Eazy… or never speak of it again? Post your thoughts below!
One single woman searches for her future husband amid a sea of studs in this romantic reality series. Will you accept this rose?