Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC
Even though I went to a women’s college, the study abroad program I went on had one guy, and this lil’ dude was tragic. Let me paint you a word picture: He was a white 21-year-old who wore a backwards Kangol hat, a dangly dragon earring, and a Mets watch and jacket. He looked like the guy who gets mugged in the beginning of an SVU episode because he’s not paying attention to where he’s walking because he’s attempting to read Proust in the original language. We had to get this guy out of a lot of scrapes: breaking him out of a closed park he had gotten locked in, negotiating with French EMTs after he violently vomited at a party at my apartment — and my personal favorite, the time he got his ass kicked after somehow managing to become a stash house for his drug dealing neighbor. And he was only abroad for a semester!
All those things were certainly annoying and time-consuming, but we spent the most time dealing with his obsession/crush on another girl in the program. He would get drunk on French aperitifs and cry on our floor about how much he loved her. She was perfect. She was beautiful. She had made eye contact with him once. He would rush to her side and thought doing anything for her would make her fall in love. He was just a naïve little rube who we all had to clean up after.
Well, Matt James is fucking rube who everyone is going to have to clean up after. He has no idea what he’s doing, he has no idea how to manage the situation, and he’s falling for any and all bullshit coming his way. He’s going to make another woman wait for her one-on-one date while he flops onto Sarah’s bed to make her feel special. I don’t want this. Who wants this? It will truly be remarkable if this show somehow manages to explode another season because this Young College Republican can’t stop falling for a conventionally pretty white lady crying on a hotel couch.
But let’s be very clear: I believe that Sarah’s feelings of jealousy compounded with her guilt about leaving her family to go watch this Handsome Squidward kiss a bunch of other women made it a truly terrible experience. If you locked me in a hotel room and told me the only things I could do were re-arrange my Revolve dresses and think about my crush dating other women, I’d lose my shit too.
But it’s pretty hard to be invested in this season when we’re at the second white woman in three episodes deploying her tears and disparaging the other women in order to get his attention. At this moment, it’s unclear if this trend is a result of the production only knowing how to light a Fenty 100 face or if Matt has something in him that wants to give these women more time and sympathy. Either way, this is going to get old fast if each episode is about another white woman’s tears and not sex toys being used as pointers. Can’t we just go back to that?
Let’s get to it.
Oh my god, we’re still at the rose ceremony. Matt walks Sarah back inside and delivers a long speech about how rose ceremonies are only going to get tougher and tougher. Sir, that’s the speech for the beginning of the rose ceremony. Please stop deviating from the discourse the show is known for. Anyway, Khaylah, Mari, MJ, Kaili and Victoria all get roses. Cheers to another week!
Chris Harrison comes in to set up the theme of the week, “Being Comfortable in Uncomfortable Moments,” which is Bachelor-speak for “One vaguely sexual date.” The first group date card of the week is for Rachael, Bri, Lauren, Kit, Serena C., Victoria, Khaylah, Anna, Kaili, and Katie. All the date card says is “Today is a surprise for everyone” and the surprise is Ashley I. reading Chris Harrison’s erotica. It includes the word “buttocks.” It honestly would be more erotic if the passage went, “Her hand cupped his absolute dump truck of an ass.” Matt introduces Ashley I. to a group of women who have been watching this show since they were 12 years old because he has no idea who Ashley I is.
Each of the ladytestants is tasked with writing their own “love scene” starring Matt James. You can really tell who had a password-protected Livejournal where they wrote sloppy Harry Potter/Draco slashfic, who has spent their adult life reading Bust’s “One Handed Reads,” and whose parents still haven’t told them where babies come from. Matt’s story includes an extended description of the smell of chocolate cake and a woman dropping her purse.
All of the ladies read their passages in front of a live studio audience of the other ladytestants. Serena C.’s story rhymes, Kit uses some fun misdirects, Rachael says the phrase “my groin fluttered.” Katie and Victoria’s stories are absolutely filthy. A really fun game is trying to imagine what words are being bleeped. Was his #&^ completely *@(#@* or was her &&^# quivering as she &@&@*?
Sarah cannot handle this. She didn’t know she’d have to see him with other women and this whole thing feels like a knife through the heart. The time has come for the afterparty and Matt takes Rachael aside first. He listens to her talk for about 45 seconds and then leans in for a kiss with absolutely no warning. Rachael even says, “Oh, you just really went for that, huh?” and Matt says he couldn’t wait any longer. Incredible rube energy. He also spends the rest of the date with just a little bit of light foundation under his lip and on the tip of his nose. Please get him a make-up wipe or some Carmex.
Meanwhile, back at the house, the next date card arrives and it’s for Serena P.! Someone we’ve gotten zero screentime with so far.
While Matt is chatting with Katie, Sarah decides that she’s had enough and heads over to the afterparty. She says that in her past relationships she’s had issues with faithfulness and commitment and jealousy so all those emotions are coming back. Ma’am. You are on The Bachelor. What did you think would be happening? Also, there’s not usually a lot of commitment after the first date in most relationships. If there was, I’d be married to the first guy I went out with on OKCupid. He pretended to stab me one minute into the date as a joke and blew his nose on a cloth napkin.
She is guided directly to where Matt is sitting with Katie and asks to interrupt. Katie goes downstairs and immediately tells all the other ladytestants what is going on. I will never be fully on Victoria’s side, but she does a pretty good job at reminding Katie to get back up there and reclaim her time with Matt. Sarah is telling Matt that she had to tell him how she was doing. She could have waited until the group date that she was going to be on, but nope. She had to do it right now.
Katie asks if she can get back in there with Matt and Sarah says, “Can I bring him to you in five minutes?” Bitch. No, you cannot. Katie waits behind a room divider. Sarah also asks Matt to walk her out when she finally has to leave. It’s very obvious that she’s realized she can get as much time and attention as she wants. Very cool lesson to learn on this show!
Sarah decides to come tell the women so they can hear from her what she did. They heard it from Katie! The other ladies on the date get frustrated because Sarah has already had a one-on-one date and is going to be on the other group date that week. Victoria wants to know what was so serious that she had to interrupt their group date. Well, that’s private.
Victoria follows Sarah outside as she’s trying to leave and just wants to tell her that she changed the whole vibe on the group date – which is true! I hate this! Victoria is saying accurate things!! Katie comes out and asks, “Is what you’re going through insecurity? Because we’re all dealing with that and you’ve already had a one-on-one!” Katie tells her to basically figure it out as soon as possible because she’s taking time away from everyone else. All the other women are excited to get the group date back on track, but Matt James comes in and gives Rachael the group date rose! Good night, ladies!
The next day it’s time for Serena P.’s one-on-one da—just fucking kidding. Matt James arrives and realizes that his sweet little princess is upstairs pouting and wants to take five minutes to go comfort her again. I just wrote in my notes in all-caps “READ THE ROOM MATT.” Poor Serena P.! She just wants to have her donkey riding date or whatever but Matt decides he’d rather take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to go flop on Sarah’s bed and make out with her. Can he at least mouthwash before he takes Serena P. out?
For all the shit Sarah is pulling, it’s only working because Matt is giving her attention at the expense of everyone else. Most leads of the show (Claire excluded) tend to realize they have to temper their affections a little bit and try to focus on everyone equally. But because he’s never been on the other side of the rose, Matt doesn’t seem to have the situational empathy to realize what he’s doing is driving everyone mad.
And again, the optics are WILD. He’s delaying the start of his date with Serena P., a woman of color, to go comfort a white lady. I’m not saying anyone is consciously doing anything here, but it’s becoming more and more clear in which direction Matt and the show’s instincts lean.
Time for his date with Serena P. They ride horses and Matt tells her that he loves turtles. This is a man who kinda looks like a sea turtle and he’s always wearing turtlenecks. He should be moving away from this association but he’s running toward it. Again, Matt uses the same romantic moves and the same generic language on Serena P. that he has on everyone else. Matt talks a little more about his romantic history, how he’s never been in love and he’s had to reevaluate what he thinks love is. What caused him to do that? What lessons has he learned? Unclear! His last relationship was about four months long and they broke up when it was time to define the relationship and he couldn’t see himself marrying the person he was dating. What was his longer, more serious relationship like? I’d love to hear about that, but I guess we just never will. He tells Serena that he loves that she can see herself marrying someone like him and she gets the rose and they make out in a hot tub.
Back at the house, it’s time for the next group date card to arrive and Sarah sneaks in just in time for the card to be opened. That was her biggest mistake. Just stay up in your room, lady.
The rest of the women are ready to get their frustrations off their chest. This whole confrontation has “We can’t decide on what costumes to buy for the sixth-grade variety show and we’re going to argue in my mom’s station wagon on the way to the Old Navy but Christina refuses to compromise” vibes. It would make no sense for us all to wear flag tees, Christina. It’s March and it makes no sense thematically with our *NSYNC song choice!!!!
Sarah apologizes and wants to clear the air and says her timing was bad. She was planning on going home and she just wanted to talk to him. The mistake Sarah makes is she doesn’t just own up to how shitty the baseline behavior is. It wasn’t shitty because her timing was bad. It was selfish and inconsiderate behavior. She tries to say that all the girls obviously know her heart and have gotten to know her and Victoria says “Whomst?” Everyone is mad about the unfair situation they’re all in with Sarah.
But Sarah can’t see that. You can’t make someone understand something they don’t want to understand. She can’t fathom that she’s in the wrong here so she brings up how overwhelmed she is, how hard it is, without realizing that those aren’t unique feelings on The Bachelor and if she had maybe brought that up to the other women to vent, they might have felt more bonded with her. Instead, all the women are saying, “Just say you wanted the attention!” If you’ve ever heard your friend try to rationalize why she texted her ex and she says anything other than, “Because I wanted the attention,” you know exactly what the other women are feeling. Sarah isn’t special or unknowable. In fact, they all know exactly who she is and they would like her to stop.
The moment that’s a little too harsh is when Victoria and Kit basically tell Sarah to fuck off. Sarah thinks she’s made amends and made a good apology but she just… hasn’t! She even tries to whine to MJ that she feels emotionally beat up and MJ says “I need to cool down.” MJ is totally within her rights to need time to cool down! And Sarah can’t see she’s affected everyone and they’re the ones who need to cool off.
Katie is the bigger person and goes to talk to Sarah and Sarah says she’s decided to go eliminate herself. She opens up to Katie about her dad’s illness, and Katie, whose father died in 2012, tells her, if you want more time with your dad, go get it. Katie comes down to the rest of the women to tell them that Sarah is going home and they should remember that they all have their own stories. Beautiful nuance and compassion from Dildo Girl.
Sarah heads over to Matt’s house to tell him that she’s decided to leave. She leads with how important her family is but rounds out the explanation with how cruel and malicious the other women are. BITCH. Sure, a couple of them were a little harsh, but what you’re actually experiencing is “Consequences for your Behavior.” Of course, Matt is crushed and he tells her how excited he was to spend time with her and get to know her. He says he doesn’t want to lose her. He says she’s going to find someone amazing but he’s just bummed it isn’t him and how she taught him so much about sacrifice and family. Okay, that’s a bit much.
Next week — five random new women! Because this worked out so well for Tayshia!
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