‘The Bachelorette’ Season 11, Episode 3 Recap: America’s Favorite Cringewatch Continues
I do not understand why anyone goes on The Bachelorette.
What is the upside? Falling in love? At best one out of 25 contestants winds up happy and engaged — and many of the show’s final couples break up before they’re ever married. The other 24 losers are there to have their hearts broken, to have their personal tragedies exploited, or to be mocked and used as comic relief. If you do anything dumb or embarrassing, or in a moment of weakness you say something mean, The Bachelorette will air it, and that mistake will haunt you for the rest of your life. Five years after Bachelor Jake Pavelka screamed “Stop interrupting me!” at his fiancée Vienna Girardi on national television, my wife and I still jokingly quote it whenever we get into minor arguments. There’s no escaping that. Jake’ll be the “Stop interrupting me!” guy forever.
It’s worse for the contestants, but I don’t even understand why anyone would be the Bachelor or Bachelorette. It’s a shortcut to tabloid fame, I suppose, and if you’re not a professional dancer but you want to be on Dancing with the Stars, I guess there’s that. Otherwise: What could be worse than trying to simultaneously date 25 different men or women? Can you imagine trying to juggle all those egos? Or remember all those names? In order for the show to work, it needs to build to a final episode where it at least appears that the main Bachelor or Bachelorette is falling in love with multiple people and can’t decide who to pick. Which means either:
- You actually do fall in love with multiple people, so that the man or woman you ultimately choose has to live with the fact that their new fiancé was also in love with someone else when they proposed or:
- You pretend to fall in love with multiple people, which means you’re leading someone on and toying with their genuine emotions for the express purpose of extending and creating artificial television drama, knowing that when they time comes you are going to break their heart.
Either way, you look like an awful person. And it gets worse! If you kiss too many people, viewers judge you. If you don’t propose to someone you’ve only known for like three months and maybe ten dates, viewers judge you. If you pick someone and then break up, viewers mock you (“Stop interrupting me!”). The Bachelorette is the dating Kobayashi Maru. It is the ultimate no-win scenario. Every time you watch The Bachelorette you are watching someone come to the realization that they have made the biggest mistake of their life.
Take, for example, Tony, Season 11’s self-described “healer” and a man who clearly takes himself and his vaguely New Age-y philosophies about life and love very seriously. In last week’s season premiere, Tony made it clear he wanted Britt to be the Bachelorette. After Kaitlyn won, he stuck around anyway, a decision that was revealed this week to be a fairly disastrous one. Hanging around the Bachelor Mansion waiting for a date, he accidentally calls Kaitlyn Britt, realizes his mistake, then fumbles around as he tries (and fails) to play it cool and recover his train of thought before concluding with “Yeah, but definitely I’m here for her,” meaning Kaitlyn, the woman whose name he couldn’t remember a minute ago. The producers leave all of this material in because, again, people goofing up on camera is their bread and butter.
But it got worse for poor Tony, because next Kaitlyn took seven guys to the Los Angeles Improv where Amy Schumer and some of her comedian pals offered the contestants a crash course in comedy before throwing them on stage in front of an audience. When it’s Tony’s turn, he opens with “I’m so excited I hope I don’t gag,” and then repeatedly explained how being up on stage “really warms [his] heart.” For the viewer, there was a kind of delicious irony in the guy who had the most unintentionally funny moment of the episode being so completely devoid of actual humor. But for Tony, this was all just stuff he’ll come to regret (if he doesn’t already).
Another guy who probably has second thoughts about going on The Bachelorette this year is Kupah. He was on this episode’s other group date, where eight men trained to box with Laila Ali and then got in the ring and punched the crap out of each other. Kaitlyn claimed she “felt terrible” because she “didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” because what are the odds someone might get hurt on a boxing date? Of course, someone did get hurt, though; earnest Rhode Island restaurant manager Jared got the tar beat out of him by man-mountain entrepreneur Ben Z.
The men took the boxing competition seriously, because they wanted to impress Kaitlyn and, more importantly, they didn’t want to look like goobers on national television. Still, this was a date, and it was important to at least make an effort to talk to Kaitlyn. Generally, the men did a nice job of balancing their desire not to embarrass themselves and their desire to win Kaitlyn’s heart — except Kupah, who got so wrapped up in landing punches on the heavy bag that he forgot to try to land Kaitlyn. She made a note of it in an on-camera interview during the date, but the issue came to a head at the night’s Rose Ceremony, which escalated the tension and awkwardness to heights that were impressive even by the standards of The Bachelorette, America’s most beloved cringewatch.
When Kupah finally has his private time with Kaitlyn at the pre-Rose Ceremony cocktail party, he reveals the source of his discomfort. He doesn’t want to be on the show just to fill some kind of “quota” for minorities, and though he never outright accuses Kaitlyn of having or allowing such a quota, his uneasy footwork in tiptoeing around that point would not have impressed Laila Ali. (“I don't want to be here because I look good on the roster of men that you keep around,” he hints with all the subtlety of a right hook.)
In fairness to Kupah, The Bachelorette’s treatment of minorities has never been particularly great. The lack of diversity among the show’s cast (and particularly among its prime Bachelors and Bachelorettes) has been a source of frequent criticism, and even the subject of at least one racial discrimination lawsuit. So worrying you’re being kept around solely to counteract some of that negative press and publicity is a legitimate concern for a guy like Kupah, who claims he doesn’t feel “a huge connection” with Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn, though, insisted she did feel a connection with Kupah — “until right now.” Oops. And quite understandably, she wasn’t too keen on the insinuation that her decisions on the show were racially motivated. The conversation ended there, but after Kupah returned to the rest of the men and immediately revealed the details of their conversation within earshot of Kaitlyn, she returned, pulled him aside, and told him it was time to leave. "That's not really fair," he replied. “I don't want to go home. I think you’re hot and sexy.”
Shockingly, that line didn’t work, and Kaitlyn, who’s proving herself a savvy judge of how things will play on television, flat-out warned him that “This is bad.” After a swig of his drink, Kupah doubled down with “I don't think it’s bad!” “No,” Kaitlyn correctly insisted. “I’m telling you. It’s bad!” And with that, Kupah finally relented, though the episode ended with him getting increasingly upset in his exit interview, rambling incoherently about the show’s “process,” and screaming at some off-camera producers.
Well, that escalated quickly. And it was yet another painful reminder: It is always a terrible idea to go on The Bachelorette. Next week: The results of the Rose Ceremony, plus at least two more men do things they’ll never live down (I’m guessing).
-The Bachelorette does not observe Memorial Day.
-Although Britt didn’t get chosen to be this season’s Bachelorette, her story continued in this week’s episode, as Brady, the singer/songwriter who decided to drop out of the competition when Kaitlyn won the Bachelorette-off, meets up with Britt and the two decide to pursue a relationship. For all I know, this is the last viewers see of either of these two, but what would happen if Britt and Brady live happily ever after as castoffs while Kaitlyn doesn’t find love within the confines of the traditional Bachelorette contest? That might tear Bachelor Nation asunder.
-After her one-on-one date taking underwater photographs with Clint, Kaitlyn says “This might be the best first date I’ve ever had.” But then after the group comedy date with Amy Schumer, Kaitlan claims “Today was the best date I’ve ever had.” Sorry, Clint. Guess your fabulous hair can’t rate with Amy Schumer (who was hilarious by the way, and should have an open invitation to come back any time she wants to make fun of these people).
-Line of the Night #1: Chris Harrison intro-ing The Bachelorette boxing matches with a standard “Ladies and gentlemen!” greeting. Except this being The Bachelorette, a show watched almost exclusively by women, there were absolutely no gentlemen in the crowd of hardcore fans.
-Line of the Night #2: “Villains gotta vill,” from JJ, who deliberately and maliciously committed a classic Bacheloretiquette faux paus, stealing time with Kaitlyn at the cocktail party even though he already had a rose, just to get under his competitors’ skin. Way to own your evil, JJ.