Before Matt James was tapped for “The Bachelor,” Rachel Linsday was the only black person to hold a title role. She was “The Bachelorette” in 2017.
It’s no secret that drama and “The Bachelor” are practically synonymous. All’s fair in love and war, and when winning the Bachelor’s heart means fighting with dozens of other women, things are bound to get messy. But this week’s episode reached new levels of mean that made it almost unbearable to watch.
In the season’s fourth episode, five new women join Matt’s18 remaining contestants, which makes everyone feel more anxious about getting time with the Bachelor.
Among the newbies is Brittany, a 23-year-old model from Chicago who goes for the makeout session immediately upon meeting Matt: It’s a bold move, even by “Bachelor” standards, but not grounds for the malicious actions taken against her later.
Anna, a 24-year-old fellow Chicagoan, feels scorned by the idea that Brittany is stealing her time with Matt, and makes it known she has “dirt” on Brittany that she isn’t afraid to use.
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Matt James meets new contestant Brittany on episode 4 of “The Bachelor.” (Photo: Craig Sjodin, ABC)
“I had heard rumors, and people have gone out of their way to tell me, ‘Oh, my God, watch out for this girl… that she is entertaining men for money,” Anna tells Victoria. She repeats the story several times throughout the episode, each with a not-so-subtle “checkmate” look on her face.
Victoria resorts to name-calling, and assumes that Brittany’s alleged escort gig means she’s here for the wrong reasons. In front of the other women on their group date, Anna tells Brittany she was told to “watch out for this girl.” Brittany is concerned that other women were told this rumor, and Anna briefly apologizes.
“No, I’m not an escort,” Brittany says. It’s just so ridiculous to even say that – like, have that come out of my mouth. I’ve had a boyfriend my entire, like, since I was 16. Making a conclusion about me before you even know me … it just makes me feel like everyone’s against me right now. I know you guys don’t care at all, but it’s really hard.”
Victoria, meanwhile, is laughing. “OK then, get out (of) the house,” she says between sips of her drink. She immediately looks to her left, as if seeking confirmation that what she just said was hilarious and not a move out of a high school bully’s playbook.
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Even after Brittany has denied the rumor and made it clear she’s “really hurt,” Anna and Victoria continue to laugh about the situation while other women in the house discuss the accusations.
This week’s narrative clearly builds a divide between the new contestants and the “OGs” that was destined to cause a ruckus, but the rumor spreading – whether Anna was actually told by “friends” or the show’s producers – takes “Bachelor” drama to an uncomfortable level.
Matt James is pictured with Anna during the season premiere. (Photo: Craig Sjodin, ABC)
If we’re to take Brittany at her word, then her rivals are purposefully and maliciously spreading misinformation to humiliate her until she decides to throw in the towel.
Even if she was an escort, is that such an earth-shattering bomb that it should disqualify her from wanting love (or even fame, which plenty of other contestants have sought without getting reprimanded)? Shouldn’t Matt and the other womenbe more concerned about women who gleefully spread rumors they know to be hurtful and untrue? Would it be more terrible to marry a woman rumored to have been a sex worker than it would be to marry a woman who has no qualms about hurting an innocent person to get what she wants?
Contestants should know when they sign up for this reality show that their newfound fame means nationwide scrutiny. But at a certain point, harmless drama crosses the line to incessant bullying with real-life consequences. That happened Monday night, and it made for a cringeworthy and disappointing episode.
Toward the end, Katie offers a much-needed voice of reason. She asks Matt to address the bullying going on in the house, which he promises to do. (“Now it’s bigger than our relationship; it’s their family, it’s their career and I don’t want that for anybody,” he says.) But the damage has already been done. Bri will be known as the “Bachelor” contestant rumored to be an escort, while Victoria and Anna continue on, claiming things weren’t as big a deal as they were made out to be.
Matt James chats with Victoria on episode 4 of “The Bachelor.” (Photo: Craig Sjodin, ABC)
Most “Bachelor” drama is entertaining to watch. Some villains, like Corinnefrom Nick Viall’s season, are more funny than harmless. Others, like Luke P. from Hannah Brown’s season, are infuriating but pose fewer problems because the conflict was between a lead and one of the contestants, and the star has the power to send anyone home at will.
Victoria had already been inching her way toward a Corinne-like status: a villain woefully but comically obsessed with herself and willing to dole out zingers to anyone who gets in her way. But Monday’s episode launched her into the realm of the franchise’s worst villains of all time, mean for the sake of quelling theirown insecurities and willfully ignorant of how her actions hurt others. Anna’s brief earlier appearances made her seem like someone most women would want to be friends with. Now, it would be shocking if Matt didn’t send her packing.
The episode ends before the rose ceremony, so we don’t yet know Anna and Victoria’s fate. But the show – or at the very least, Matt – needs to make clear the consequences of their actions..
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