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‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: ABC (Always Be Corny)

Luke P. is a front-runner, Bachelor Nation may be holding Fred Willard captive, and Cam is a rapper who resolutely cannot rap

ABC

I can tolerate a season of The Bachelorette with an obvious front-runner. To be honest, they basically all have obvious front-runners. But after two episodes of the Luke P. experience, I’m not sure I can tolerate an entire season with this obvious front-runner.

We rag on men for being superficial, but The Bachelorette argues we should rethink that. The last four seasons of The Bachelorette have been won by the guy who got the first-impression rose on the opening night of the show—Kaitlyn’s Shawn, JoJo’s Jordan, Rachel’s Bryan, and Becca’s Garrett—while no season of The Bachelor has ever been won by the woman who received the first-impression rose. It’s actually women who immediately jump on the hottest guy in the room.

This season, the hottest guy in the room is Luke, who looks like Bryce Harper with a subscription to the Dollar Shave Club. (Hannah describes Tyler as looking like “Tim Tebow but hotter,” which is a less flattering comparison from both a looks and baseball-talent perspective.) Monday night, Luke took his shirt off to reveal he has something like an 8-6 lead on the rest of the 29 guys in the house in terms of total abs. But Luke can be a bit much. In the premiere, we learned his backstory, which essentially boiled down to “I had a lot of sex in college but then took a shower and found religion.” I’ve heard a lot of religious awakening stories; I don’t think I’ve ever heard one that made sure to clarify just how cool the pre-awakening part was. Like, “just to be clear, I was pulling pre-Jesus. Non-stop 9s and 10s before J-Dawg told me to cut it out.”

Monday night, Luke seized the spotlight. On his group date, Luke ignored the “talent” portion of a talent show competition and used his time on stage to tell Hannah that he’s beginning to fall in love with her. Somehow, this worked—he was named the winner of the pageant. (A true slap in the face to John Paul Jones, who learned how to ride a unicycle for the talent show.)

Luke has become skilled at grabbing every moment he can with Hannah. He jumped in on the premiere night, consoling Hannah when obviously-not-a-plant Scott disappointed her with his totally real, active girlfriend. On Monday night, he snagged Hannah for a shirtless massage party. (“It’s not what it looks like,” Luke told a fellow contestant who walked in on the massage. Which is weird, because it looked exactly like he was giving her a massage.) Luke later crashed one of her interviews after the rose ceremony for one last bout of alone time.

The first-impression rose would already be enough reason for us to assume Luke has a good chance of winning. But he’s refusing to take his foot off the gas pedal, making sure Hannah hears about his fledgling love as often as possible.

On the one hand, Hannah is clearly smitten. “Let’s skip the main course and go straight to the dessert,” Hannah said on Monday night. “And Luke is the dessert.” (Thank you for the clarification, Hannah.) I don’t think she came into the season with the goal of exclusively dating Southern guys, but you can kind of tell that she’s just happier when talking to the cast’s twangier contingent, especially Georgian Luke.

On the other hand, she’s a bit weirded out by how aggressive Luke is. She’s urged her men to be bold and honest, and while using the word “love” when meeting someone for the second time is certainly bold, Hannah’s worried it isn’t exactly honest. It seems like a stunt you’d pull if you were trying to seize attention. But Luke doesn’t really need to seize Hannah’s attention—he had it from the moment he left the limo. He’d probably be best served by chilling out until the crowd thins, looking pretty without pissing anybody off. That’d probably be best for the show, too.

Boldest Strategy: Cam

Cam came into the season looking like a potential favorite—he first appeared on the season finale of last season of The Bachelor as one of five contenders who got an early introduction to Hannah, and won a rose by impressing Hannah with his rapping. Unfortunately, this painted Cam into a corner—he’s now The Rap Guy. He rapped to Hannah again on the season premiere, and apparently now he’s just expected to rap around the house. Which is unfortunate, because he’s not a rapper. He’s a software salesman. Like, straight up, his job is selling software.

With another dude, I’d say I’d be a liar
If I don’t miss her too much
But I say, “Forget you Tyler!”
But, uh

Is Cam the area surrounding a college campus in the state of Utah? Because I was expecting some bars here and yet it doesn’t seem like there are any.

Cam’s status as The Rap Guy has caused him to tumble in Hannah’s eyes. Of the 22 remaining contestants, Cam was one of three not invited on a date. That’s grim. With his newfound free time, Cam spent his non-rapping hours dolefully playing harmonica, like a prison inmate in a cartoon.

That’s also grim.

However, while playing harmonica as if a dateless week was equivalent to serving 25 to life, Cam was apparently scheming his way back into the picture. As Cam says 400,000 times, “ABC—Always Be Cam.” (ABC: Always Blast Catchphrases.) First, Cam crashed the first group date. I expected Hannah to send him home for disrespecting her choice not to include him, but she humored him with a few minutes of conversation. And during the weekly cocktail party, Cam pulled an unprecedented move by usurping a conversation between Hannah and Kevin. Normally, contestants on this show interrupt conversations with the tired “can I steal you for a second?” However, Cam had a new strategy: He claimed that his interaction with Hannah was meant for three people, and invited Kevin along for the ride. Look at this awkward double-handhold situation:

The trio sat within a heart made out of flowers, and Cam presented Hannah with a chicken nugget. At no point in the nugget presentation was Kevin’s presence necessary. He just sat there like a dumbass while Cam did everything. Technically, Kevin’s conversation with Hannah wasn’t ended by Cam—Cam just made his time with Hannah unusable, as Kevin looked on from the sidelines like a coward. He’d been conversation-cucked. Kevin couldn’t muster a legit argument as to why he felt so degraded by Cam’s move, later throwing chicken nuggets at Cam in frustration.

Did Cam look good? Dear heavens, no. Both his date-crashing and insistence on forcing Lesser Luke into a convo for two made it clear that Cam has big weirdo vibes. But Cam made something out of nothing. I don’t think Hannah actually enjoys spending time with him, but he is now controversial enough that the show’s producers convinced Hannah to carry him around for at least another week. Cam could’ve spent all week lounging by the pool and eating from the craft services table, but instead he fought hard to retain access to that pool and that craft services table.

Biggest Loser: Actual Talent

This week’s final group date brought the men to a roller rink for a contest announced, as always, by a confused Fred Willard. (I guess Fred Willard just does this every year now, even though The Bachelorette has long moved on from the Best in Show callback joke that initially brought Willard on the show several seasons ago.)

The contestants are always bad at sports dates, but they were especially bad at roller derby. Connor J. revealed he’d never been roller-skating before, while Daron claimed to be “the only person with any past roller-skating experience.” First of all: Is Daron saying he’s the only person there who has ever roller-skated, or that he has skated in some high-level capacity? Are there pro roller races? Was he an extra in the film Roll Bounce? Was he an extra in the film Whip It? Was he an extra in the film ATL? (I did not realize there were this many roller movies.) Secondly: Am I severely overestimating how common it was to roller-skate as a child? I feel like basically everybody roller-skated at least once, and yet here there were a dozen able-bodied millennials treating skates like mythical objects from a far-off land.

Daron’s illustrious skating résumé proved to be critical. He dominated the derby, gracefully sliding past his opponents as they flopped to the ground like drunken penguins. He also scored the winning point (goal? run?) for his team, though his glory was short lived: Daron’s skating prowess didn’t buy him Hannah’s heart, and he was one of three men eliminated at the end of the episode.

Not eliminated? Dustin, who fell and hurt his ankle during the roller derby match. Yes, he got the injury-sympathy rose. If you’re injured while playing Bachelorette sports, you’re basically guaranteed a shot at another week. (Last year NFL player Clay Harbor got the group-date rose after injuring his wrist during a football-themed date, although he chose to leave the show to focus on rehabbing the injury.) I don’t think Hannah ever talked to Daron about his incredible skating skill, while Dustin got a sit-down meet-and-greet where Hannah praised his willingness to go out and try hard even if he wasn’t particularly good at skating.

The celebration of Dustin and shunning of Daron makes it clear: Actually being good at a Bachelorette sports competition is a mistake. It’s much better to injure yourself than win. Between this and Hot Luke’s no-talent talent show victory, it was a rough week for people displaying actual skill.

Best Performance: This Fan of the Green Team

Whenever The Bachelorette has dates that feature performances or athletic events, the show provides a crowd. It’s semi-plausible that a legit crowd would attend Bachelorette dates if given the opportunity—millions of people love The Bachelorette and would love a sneak peek into its world, and the dates are often in public locations. However, The Bachelorette went a step further this time by trying to convince us that the fans who attended the roller derby were not Bachelorette fans. No, they are fans of the two roller derby teams, Orange and Green. Here we see a fan of Green, buying into her role and acting legitimately disappointed that the hated Orange team scored.

I need to know everything about Green team fans. Are we to presume that this woman was already going to the roller derby to root on Green, and just happened upon a Bachelorette filming? How does she feel about the fact that her beloved Green team has been subbed out and replaced with reality-show contestants, drastically harming the quality of their roller derby play? How did she become a Green fan? Are certain neighborhoods Green neighborhoods? Does she come from generation upon generation of Orange fans, and has the decision to support Green torn her family apart? Is one team the Roller Lakers and the other the Roller Clippers? Maybe it’s just because she likes the color green? It seems like the crowd is 50-50 split between Green and Orange fans—is this anybody’s home game, or some sort of neutral site? Do you have to buy special Green team merchandise to cheer them on, or is any piece of green clothing acceptable?

Anyway, I hope this actress gets all the extra roles imaginable after this virtuosic work. She’s a real scene-stealer. That’s what everybody’s looking for in good extras, right?

Most Unkillable: The Antiques Store

Somehow, Fred Willard isn’t even the element of the show we’ve seen the most. On the last season of The Bachelor, I realized that the show’s producers had been using the same antiques store, Big Daddy’s, for at least three years. Monday night, they went back. “This is like an antiques shop,” Hannah explained, “but it also has other stuff in every nook and cranny.” (I think that is literally the premise of antique shops.)

Big Daddy’s has now been featured on three consecutive seasons of The Bachelor/ette. So remember: If you’re looking to host 12 people of the opposite gender on a date with an open bar, choose this antiques shop.

Worst Trend: Dumb Rose Ceremony Phrases

I’d like to talk about a thing that has bothered me for multiple seasons now. Most episodes of The Bachelorette feature a rose ceremony, where contestants are given roses or eliminated. The rose ceremonies are genuinely riveting when it’s late in the show and you’re curious about who will be eliminated, but in the first few weeks, they’re interminable slogs where the show’s lead calls out dozens of names we don’t really know that well.

For the guys on The Bachelorette, the challenge is ensuring the viewer (and, I guess, the woman handing out roses) actually does learn who they are. For the cool and hot guys, this is easy—they’re cool and hot. For the dorks and losers, this is a real dilemma. They’ve somehow weaseled their way onto a TV program where they’re supposed to be desirable, and now, they must rely on their personality to stand out. But what is a personality? For some guys, the answer is apparently inventing corny lines to drop during the rose ceremony.

The rose ceremony works like this—the lead calls out a name and says, “Will you accept this rose?” Thousands upon thousands of times, the rose recipient has said “I will” or “I do” or “Of course!” or something else normal. But the dweebs have decided this is an opportunity to stand out, and apparently spend their week cooking up catchphrases to drop during the rose ceremony. This was the week when such a practice officially jumped the shark, after the back-to-back replies of Kevin’s “Every single time” and Jonathan’s “With honor!”

With honor. Get the hell out of here. My guy, you’re not pledging your house’s bannermen to Hannah for 1,000 generations. You’re accepting a flower to signify that you get to be on a reality TV show for another week. Honor is not on the premises here.

It should be noted that this trend is entirely a trend among the male contestants of The Bachelorette and not one proliferated by the women of The Bachelor. The women are capable of going through the rose ceremony like normal people. But there’s this subset of guys who are insecure enough to believe that they must peacock at every moment, that this dramatic faux-chivalry is what women want. Fortunately, the Bachelorettes usually turn out to be less interested in dudes dropping to a knee and screaming “MY LIEGE” and more interested in guys who don’t try to hijack every moment. I feel like cooking up corny rose ceremony lines is an indicator of a guy who isn’t going to have many opportunities to use his corny rose ceremony lines.

Worst Performance: Jed

Luke’s non-talent wasn’t even the biggest letdown of the talent show. Some guys acquitted themselves fine, like John Paul Jones, who looked pretty decent riding a unicycle. Others didn’t try too hard, like Jonathan, who juggled two balls, the absolute minimum number of balls required to legally qualify as juggling. Some didn’t try at all—like Mike, who wore high heels and told Hannah, “I’ll walk a mile in your shoes to get close to you.” Saying a quote is not a talent!

But the most disappointing of all had to be Jed, the singer-songwriter from Nashville. Jed’s job counts as a talent, so of course, he sang to Hannah. And while all the contestants and judges and Hannah made it clear they were blown away by Jed’s song, I … wasn’t blown away.

If some dude pulled out a guitar at an open mic and sounded like this, I’d be like, “OK, he’s not bad at guitar but he probably should stay away from the high notes.” But, like, this is Jed’s job? He does this professionally? Here’s the only song he’s ever uploaded to YouTube—he really seems to be a fan of breathy, high-pitched, atonal mumbling over acoustic guitar. I’m hoping the bills get paid by the “songwriter” portion of his job title, because, well, you know.