It’s a solo George night tonight because DirecTV and Tegna (the company that owns Victor’s ABC affiliate among many other local stations), are in a fight. I hope one of these media conglomerates blinks so we can get some more of that sweet navy-blue analysis.
If you have any doubt that the Bachelorette is heavily and expertly edited, the show opens with Tayshia’s voice saying “I woke up this morning with a really anxious stomach” while we see her carrying a tray of eight pastries to a table that also features a plate of bacon, two pitchers of juice, and some sort of fruit tray. This food is not just for Tayshia to ignore while she sips black coffee, because there is a knock at the door. It is our old friend JoJo Fletcher! JoJo finished second on Ben Higgins’s season after he then-controversially told both of his final two that he loved them. JoJo brings a bottle of champagne to this breakfast meeting, possibly in honor of her mom, who won our hearts when she chugged champagne from a bottle on her daughter’s hometown date.
— Bachelor Bob (@BachelorBob_) June 30, 2020
JoJo is here to advise Tayshia and also to fill in for Chris Harrison, who is taking his son to college and will need to re-quarantine for a few weeks. Also, because Amy made me look it up, Joshua Harrison will be attending Texas Christian University. He will play lacrosse there.
JoJo and Tayshia have a short conversation essentially about not settling. But it may be that this is also the first time the two of them have met in person. JoJo is engaged to Jordan Rodgers, the seemingly estranged brother of NFL QB Aaron Rodgers. Jordan proposed to JoJo at the end of her season and she accepted. Jordan and JoJo have various projects including a show about turning properties into AirBnBs or something. Also, Jordan was a college QB at Vanderbilt. One of many (though not all) Vandy Football Commodores in history who have been guys.
Zac C One-on-one Date
Zac C gets the first date card in JoJo’s hosting tenure. Zac C puts on his nicest white basketball shoes and joggers and packs his bag in case he doesn’t get the date rose and has to leave. Then he heads out for the date, which is in the same damn resort because no one is leaving this year unless they need to deliver a TCU Horned Frog to his freshman dorm.
This date is essentially dress-up. They will be taking wedding photos with Franco LaCosta, who I assume responded to a casting call for “your worst uncle’s idea of a gay man.” Franco was a photographer on Hannah B’s season, a thing I learned searching the archives of our blog. Another thing I learned: we once referenced Francisco Franco in an episode of Rachel’s season. You are reading a weird blog, friends.
Tayshia claims to be second-guessing this date. As she has already worn a wedding dress for reals for a marriage that ended in divorce before her time in the show. But the Black Tux paid their money to sponsor this event so everyone fights through their misgivings and Zac C and Tayshia dress up for sweaty fake-wedding pictures.
The date is boring but fine. Everyone looks great, though the dresses and tuxes are a little out there. One of the dresses features more underboob than I think I’ve seen from the bride at any real weddings. But it is still people dressing up in the courtyard of the resort where they have been trapped for weeks.
Do you remember when it was raining in elementary school and you had to stay inside for recess? Sometimes it was a fun change-of-pace. A teacher would come up with a game that could plausibly be played indoors. Everyone stayed dry. Good times were had. But if it rained every day for the whole year, you might start to chafe under the restrictions. This show is there now. Without travel and celebrity guests, they are just mixing and matching from a small list titled “shit you can do in an empty sweltering resort.” Credit to the producers, who are counselors at what is essentially a barely co-ed sleepaway camp.
The dinner portion of the date is a chance to learn more about Zac C. We’ve noted that he is both an addiction counselor and a guy who looks like Matthew McConnaughey (but not as charismatic). Those things are both true, as are the following things we learn at dinner: 1) Zac C was married before. For about a year. And he readily admits it was his fault that she left him. 2) Zac C had a brain tumor. That’s scary! He was in his early twenties and he got dizzy and had it checked out and then they were cutting his skull open the next day. Fuck cancer, and I suppose it is a reminder that we are all potentially a-weird-headache-and-24-hours from an emergency brain surgery at all times. 3) Zac C was a pretty serious addict for a while. He told Tayshia he was addicted to pills and he didn’t exactly hold back on the details, including that he had DUI. His addiction cost him his marriage and the breaking point, as Zac C told it, was when he stole a check from his father and tried to cash it at the bank. The teller called Zac C’s father to come get him, and that put him on the path to eventual recovery.
Zac C also tells Tayshia that he was in rehab before the bank-teller time and it didn’t take, but Zac C is now on the board of the rehab facility that helped him. This story about Zac C seems to cover the highlights (lowlights?) of his addiction and recovery story and is worth the read. It is safe to say that Zac C has been quite successful in turning around a life that was headed in a very bad direction.
Tayshia gives Zac C the date rose, and I think we have to take Zac C very seriously as a contender for Tayshia’s final rose and not just an inspiring redemption story. Oh, and the producers rented a Ferris wheel for their post-dinner celebration. I assume they were pretty sure Zac C would get the rose if they sprung for a carnival ride. After the date Tayshia tells the camera that her heart is racing and she has shortness of breath. That is either good news for Zac C or bad news for the show’s Covid bubble.
Arts and Crafts Group Date
A date card arrives, and it is for quiet new-guy Spencer, chess-and-race-talk Ivan, producer-pick Ed, Less-Beardy Canada Blake (he trimmed it up a bit), divorcee Brendan, lawyer Riley, spin-instructor DeMar, Harvard-Fuck Bennett, army-guy Ben, and mustacheless mustache-guy Noah. Eazy is the only one left, meaning Eazy will have a one-on-one.
The date card says “express yourself” and appears to involve sketching a naked couple who are awkwardly posed together in front of a bunch of easels in the same conference center where the guys wrestled not too long ago. A woman named Natalya is their art instructor. The sketches the guys make are uniformly terrible, though all of the guys seem pretty stoked that they won’t be posing nude. Apparently strip dodgeball casts a long shadow over their psyches.
After the terrible sketches are done, there is a modeling-clay portion of the
sleepaway camp date. And Bennett becomes the second guy to kiss a blindfolded Tayshia this season. Not sure why they need blindfolds to play with clay, and I assume Bennett was peeking unless there is footage of him getting turned around and accidentally kissing Ed. Bennett called it “fifty shades of clay” and I have to admit that’s pretty good wordplay. The actual sculptures, on the other hand? They were bad. Bennett notably claimed that he sculpted a bunch of homes where he and Tayshia will live. It was actually just a bunch of lumps of clay, but it angered Noah, who asked Bennett how to spell “privilege.” Bennett can’t spell, as we have already established. But I suppose Noah has taken enough shit from Bennett that his effort to privilege-shame didn’t come totally out of left field. Oh, notably, Beardy Canada Blake sculpted a penis. So if you had that on your bingo card, kudos.
The last part of art day is self portraits. Here some of the guys managed to shine a bit more. Not all of them, of course, Ed used a fricking glue stick, though we never saw what he made. Bennett did a needlepoint of a butt. Or perhaps it was a badly-rendered heart, then he claimed not to be privileged. “I had to drive a C-Class to high school! Everyone made fun of me! A C-Class!” He didn’t say that. But complaining that people think you are privileged is a very privileged-Harvard-guy thing to do.
Brendan made a frame, then stood behind it and moved to one side to make room for Tayshia in his self portrait. It was better than I made it sound. Ivan made a puzzle with a missing piece in the middle, that piece was “wife and kids” and he had Tayshia complete the puzzle. The puzzle had like five pieces, but whatever, we like Ivan. Beardy Canada Blake told a story about his own heartache coming from a broken home, and he seemed pretty emotional, but he was doing it while standing next to a very childish child’s drawing of a bird that he made. It was supposed to be a turtle dove, which Blake says is one of nature’s only “monognamous” [sic] animals. Riley painted something kind basic, but told a very moving story about his mother contacting him recently after being out of contact for a long time. Riley told her he dreamed of having breakfast with his daughter, and Riley’s mom asked what kind of guy does that. Riley told her “someone who has never had that with their own family.” That’s a burn, Riley’s mom.
If you thought that was the most emotional self portrait, you’d be right. If you thought it was the weirdest, Ben would like you to hold his beer. Ben drew something loosely resembling Ben, but before he could present it he left and came back in a robe. He was naked under the robe, which he showed when he literally dis-robed to tell Tayshia all of his body was for her. It was bananas. We find out later (jumping ahead to the cocktail portion of the date) that Ben had an eating disorder, and if you don’t want to read a tone-deaf take related to eating disorders, the rest of this paragraph is not for you. Ben talked about being bulimic and… how should I put this… I don’t think Ben’s reveal on the heels of him being naked is actually going to dissuade anyone who is considering bulimia. I mean, it is wildly unhealthy and dangerous and murder on your teeth and esophagus, and definitely get professional help if you struggle with it because Ben said that it could have cost him his life if his sister hadn’t found out and gotten him help. But also, like, it would probably be easier to fight bulimia if it wasn’t being associated in the media with such obviously beautiful people as Ben and, I guess, season-four-of-The–Crown Diana. Minor spoiler for that show and the life of the People’s Princess.
Tayshia says “What an art day!” and then kinda runs out of the room to cry a bit. I think possibly because it was very emotional, or because what else do you say when your boyfriend whips it out in front of Natalya the art lady and nine of your other boyfriends?
The evening portion begins with Tayshia giving a toast to “keeping our damn clothes on.” Actually it is to “letting our guard down.” Riley snags Tayshia first and they discuss Riley’s emotional presentation on his family. Riley’s story detailed some of the difficulty he had with his mother, but he assures us and Tayshia that he and his mother are now close and reconciled and he tells Tayshia that he thinks she (Tayshia) is amazing and they kiss. Probably fair to add Riley and Zac C to the Brendan/Ben/Ivan peloton now.
As is her style, Tayshia names three standout group-date performers before choosing the winner. The date rose podium includes Riley and Brendan, who get special attention from Tayshia, before she tells Ben that he “showed up” and gives him the rose.
Then Tayshia tells 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.” Uh… I would start with the tape? I mean, people have been filming them this whole time.
Eazy One-on-one Date
The date card for Eazy says “I hope you aren’t scared of falling in love.”
Eazy, after hearing that tag line for the date card, says he is not scared of anything. Tayshia tries a jump-scare of Eazy when he shows up for the date. For some reason the first part of the date is filmed in night-vision like a ghost-hunting show.
Tayshia has a book about “the Haunting of William Morgan” who built the hotel. Allegedly Mr. Morgan went mad after his wife died giving birth to his child (who also died). This was 1919, and the spirits allegedly roam the property to this day. Though I also think that no one seems to know anything about these ghosts except the producers forced to come up with new dates in this resort like desperate teachers on their tenth straight recess rainout.
Eazy and Tayshia go to disturb some ghosts in what is clearly just a normal room at the hotel that the producers have decorated and rigged up with a creepy doll for some cheap scares. They then go to the tennis courts, where the ghost of Morgan’s wife asks them what was up with the white lady who oversaw strip dodgeball there about a month ago (I may have this wrong, the camera filter made it hard to follow). Finally, they go to the library for one last jumpscare. It seems like it was fun, but that you kinda had to be there. Also, a strong effort by the camp counselors but not a substitute for, like, going on a normal Bachelorette date in any other season. After disturbing some fake ghosts, Eazy and Tayshia head to dinner.
Over dinner Eazy goes right into his feelings for Tayshia. Eazy says “I honestly feel like I’m falling in love with you.” It is the first televised expression of the L-word this season (not counting Clare and Dale). Tayshia tells Eazy that she always wants people to show “their authentic self” and that is promising. She also calls Eazy “a solid good man” and that is… not as promising. I mean, I would like to be “a solid good man” myself and if Tayshia described me as such I would be flattered. But I would like my wife to see me as something more. And Eazy discovers that Tayshia hasn’t gotten there yet. She picks up the rose and tells Eazy that she isn’t sure she will get there, and she can’t give him the rose.
We get the obligatory shot of the PA picking up Eazy’s bag in front of all the guys. And we get the season’s first in-limo interview as a slightly-tearful Eazy tries to process his shock and disappointment. Eazy seems to be generally beloved in the house and would likely have had a bright future in the Franchise. And, as is too often the case of late, the “allegedlies” start. In October a woman alleged that she had what has been described as a non-consensual sexual encounter with Eazy. I have not read the tweets which have since been taken down. But it appears there was no retraction of the allegation itself, and that ABC did an investigation so the show has been aware of the allegation since at least mid October. It is hard to tell from the show what they felt about the investigation, though I should say it seems like Eazy got less screen time recently, either because of re-edits or because other personalities in the house emerged to take up more time. Then again, if the results of the investigation were conclusively bad, one would expect Eazy to be excised more aggressively and not given the sympathetic limo edit (or any solo footage at all). It is, to use the inadequate parlance of our times, a difficult situation. The Eazy we met on the show seemed to have a great future with the Franchise, but of course there is a lot we don’t know.
Bennett and Noah Surprise Two-on-one Date
The day of the rose ceremony JoJo is back to make her mark on the season by giving Tayshia a chance to end this most annoying of annoying peripheral feuds. Tayshia tells the camera that she is “worried about this petty drama” between Bennett and Noah. JoJo tells Bennett and Noah that they are the issue and she asks Bennett what is going on. I assume because she doesn’t actually recognize Noah. JoJo tells Bennett and Noah that “Tayshia can’t keep both of you” and it is a credit to JoJo’s gravitas in delivering this absurd statement that no one points out that this is literally hours before Tayshia can kick off one or both of them in the rose ceremony.
We see Bennett wrapping a gift during his date preparation. It is a gift for Noah, and Bennett opens it for him while they wait for Tayshia. In the box is a book on emotional intelligence, a bandana, a tie, and some socks featuring mustaches because “mustaches should only be worn on feet” or something snarky like that. Bennett is either absurdly clueless or a real jerk. It seems like this would be trolling, but Bennett seems very serious when he tells Noah “I did not have emotional intelligence at your age” as if he could really set the kid straight if he could just get through to him. I feel for Noah here, because Bennett seems to be a very earnest and patronizing insane person. And what do you do with that? Take the free shit and then say “maybe Tayshia should see this?”
Tayshia mercifully shows up, and gets a dose of both Noah and Bennett bickering and you can tell she doesn’t care for it at all. The cliffhanger is when she says “what’s in the box?”