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Breaking Up Is Not Hard to Do for ‘The Bachelor’

Beach volleyball proves too stressful when dating en masse, plus awards from Episode 6

(ABC)
(ABC)

There are only two good sports in the world. One is that awesome handball thing from the Olympics. The other is The Bachelor, a show that features 30 women competing to gain as many Instagram followers as they can before they’re eliminated by a slightly-above-average guy who once got dumped on national television. This year is the best yet, because the Bachelor, Nick Viall, got dumped on The Bachelorette … twice! Every week we’ll be telling you who, uh, rose to the occasion. So read along — we actually are here to make friends!

This week’s episode of The Bachelor felt like a bad slasher flick made by a director who thinks the only interesting thing about horror films is people getting murdered. No suspense, no drama, just a high body count, leaving you uninterested in who’s getting killed or why.

Last week’s episode ended with 12 contestants remaining, and by the end of Monday’s episode, Nick had halved the crew to six. First he eliminated Alexis, Josephine, and Jaimi in a rose ceremony in New Orleans, then the show moved to St. Thomas, where he dismissed Jasmine after she confronted him with concerns about their lack of time together. Next, Nick arranged a two-on-one date with Whitney and Danielle L. with the purpose of eliminating one of them; he ended up dumping both. The two-on-one did deliver on one front: the time-honored Bachelor tradition of leaving a date loser on an island by themselves.

Some of the axed were contestants Nick had barely exchanged words with. Whitney essentially didn’t speak in the first five episodes of the season. Jaimi seemed to be on the show as proof The Bachelor was interested in having an LGBT contestant, even if the show was unsure about how to actually interact with one in any way beyond pure novelty. Josephine hadn’t really appeared much since forcing Nick to eat a raw hot dog on Night 1 and slapping him Week 2, a trend of exerting dominance upon Nick that sadly fizzled out early on. Alexis was primarily here for the humor, and while her jokes were quite good, she will probably always be remembered as the aspiring dolphin trainer who thought dolphins were sharks. I’ll remember her for her self-diagnosed Nicolas Cage phobia. She was the best part of the show, and though she will be missed, I can’t say she ever had any spark with Nick.

The other two were featured more prominently. Jasmine was one of the more vocal characters, and Danielle L. appeared to have captured Nick’s heart via a series of makeout sessions on stages at various concerts. As he dumped her, Nick revealed he thought she was one of the people he might end up getting engaged to, before admitting the relationship had “gone flat.”

But all six breakups had a common theme. Nick shrunk in all of them. In New Orleans, he canceled a cocktail party in which the girls would have had a chance to talk to him. With Jasmine, Whitney, and Danielle L., he went quiet and stone-faced while they spoke, until he cut the conversations short to spring the breakup news on them.

Nick chalks this up to a desire to be decisive, and to avoid wasting girls’ time and inflicting what happened to him on past seasons on them. As cynical as I can be about this show, I believe him. But if his past Bachelor experiences have left him scarred, he’s going about dating the wrong way. If he’s worried about the end product of this show being a failed relationship, he should keep his options open instead of immediately dumping every person after a hiccup. It seems like he’s dumping people because he’s in a bad mood. Rachel accuses him of being “in his head” too much, and I don’t disagree.

The episode ends with Nick returning to the remaining contestants to deliver a tearful speech about his fear that this process won’t work out.

But enough about the emotions of an angsty reality TV veteran having a bad week while on vacation with a bunch of hot women. Nick’s breakup bash is bad news because it’s going to make the rest of The Bachelor worse. This show is at its best when it’s filled with conniving characters, drunken idiocy, in-fighting, and pointless group dates. With each departure, we get less of the delightful idiocy and more melodramatic moping and discussing of emotions. This season was already monotone, with 80 percent of the intrigue centered on Corinne. I suspect that with fewer characters than expected, the fun stuff will be even scarcer.

Most Relatable Moment: Vanessa

As the women await their first date card in St. Thomas, we find them lounging in their suite. What are they chatting about? Nick? The beautiful beaches? Future dates? No.

Vanessa is telling them about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ incorporation as an American territory. She is met with resounding silence.

I’ve never felt more connected to a human on this show. I was reading the Wikipedia page for St. Thomas seconds before Vanessa said this, because neither sexy high jinks nor pretty beaches could possibly be more interesting to me than the history of a specific island’s sovereignty.

I’m officially rooting for Vanessa, by which I mean I’m rooting for her to lose on The Bachelor and find a guy willing to listen to her describing the complicated political autonomy of the Netherlands Antilles, even if it lasts the whole plane ride to Aruba.

Worst Date: This Stupid Game of Volleyball

The premise of this episode’s group date is that they are having just a regular, fun day at the beach, with beers and booze and various beach games. They play cornhole, a game which Nick claims not to understand despite being from Wisconsin. Can a state nullify a person’s connection to it? That should be enough.

The day evolves into a game of beach volleyball. Everybody is clearly bad at beach volleyball and nobody is interested in it. Things get out of hand quickly. The women all seem to simultaneously realize that they’re smart and beautiful and shouldn’t be playing a game they hate to get a guy’s attention when he could just talk to them.

Players soon begin leaving to cry and wonder why they’re putting up with all this. Reminder: Two episodes ago, about 10 women happily shoveled cow turds as part of a group date, even criticizing Corinne for the fact that she quit shoveling poop before everybody else did. Now, a game of beach volleyball is a bridge too far.

Worst-played Hand: Jasmine

Jasmine has an understandable gripe. She’s the last woman remaining to have exclusively gone on group dates with Nick. Consistently being lumped into group settings while trying to establish a romantic relationship would be frustrating for anybody, as evidenced by the collective anger during the volleyball game. It seems to be especially frustrating for Jasmine, a professional dancer who is used to being the center of attention. Jasmine goes on an extended rant about her situation.

When she finally gets her hands on Nick, she literally puts her hands on him, telling him she could “choke him” for being so dumb as to ignore her. She proceeds to demonstrate repeatedly choking him, and then tries to pass the whole thing off as a sex joke.

He hates every second of it. Remember, the sexiest thing he could think to say to a near-naked person mounting him was “hi … how are you.” Nick’s kink level is so low that he’d call the cops on a girl for talking dirty to him. He’s not down with chokeplay.

Jasmine apparently thought that confronting Nick with her frustrations would help her case. Nope, not at all. Nick has shown he’s interested in immediately breaking up with anybody who expresses modest concern about the course of their relationship — he’d previously dumped Liz and Dominique in the middle of dates when they pressed him. Combined with Nick’s disinterest in asphyxiation, this was the end of Jasmine.

Best Spin-off Premise: Corinne

On multiple occasions, Corinne has lamented about the absence of her nanny, Raquel, during the process of filming this show. What’s a 24-year-old to do without the lady who makes her cheese pasta and lemon salad?

But as the show has left Los Angeles and moved to various locales where the women stay in hotels, Corinne has found her element. Last week, she ordered extravagant room service:

This week, she realizes the room comes with a maid named Lorna. Corinne, revealing herself as the ultimate ex-sorority girl, refers to her as a “house mom,” and sets about getting Lorna to bring her booze and fluff her towels.

I’m fascinated watching Corinne. She’s the least self-sufficient human being I’ve ever seen, and she seems to genuinely believe that Raquel’s greatest joy in life is pampering her. I want to watch her traveling the globe, constantly expecting people to do stuff for her. Will they? Find out — and see how she reacts! Profile of Privilege, coming to E! next fall.

Most Interesting Story: Kristina

Nick actually talks to Kristina, allowing her to tell her life story. Starved as a result of the economic failure of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Kristina says she resorted to eating lipstick for sustenance, and she ran away from home at age 6 when her mother got mad at her. She spent six years in an orphanage before being adopted by a family in Kentucky. She remembers feeling selfish about leaving everybody she knew behind, but a teacher told her that in Russia, her life would always be in black-and-white, and in America, it could be in color.

It led her to this point, when a guy on reality TV stumbles through questions about her past — “Do you miss speaking Russian?” “Do you remember wondering where your mom was?”

It was a similar conversation to one from Ben’s season. Jubilee had grown up in a Haitian orphanage after the death of her birth parents, eventually getting adopted by American parents and serving in the U.S. Army. Kristina and Jubilee both have extraordinary stories that speak to the power of reaching across borders, but The Bachelor discusses these backstories in an uncomfortable way. These women tell their stories of intense, traumatic upbringing while supposedly romantic music plays, and the white guy they’re trying to impress stares deep into their eyes. He nods and says something like, “Wow, this lets me see you in a whole new light,” before handing over a rose. Their stories are their lives, but on the show they’re made to seem like party tricks to impress men.