Tuesday night’s episode of The Bachelorette features a conflict as old as the series itself: a battle over who’s real and who’s fake. Ed, a man who I thought was confused all the time until I realized that’s just how his face is shaped, determines that Chasen, who is 100 percent the person you picture in your head when you imagine someone named “Chasen,” is being insincere with Tayshia. Ed notices Chasen’s using the same adjectives to describe her as he used to describe the previous Bachelorette, Clare, which Ed thinks is a sign that he’s just saying whatever he needs to say to stay on the show. He accuses Chasen of being on the show to get Instagram followers, and jokes about how when Chasen is off the show, he’ll just start making paid club appearances. (Ed may be trying to zing Chasen, but he’s clearly researched how contestants make money from their post-Bachelorette fame.) Ed is so concerned with Chasen’s disingenuity that he actually tells Tayshia.
Whether Ed’s right isn’t immediately apparent, but Chasen is not particularly good at defending himself. Every time he opens his mouth, he just says something hilarious. While trying to defend the concept of finding multiple women attractive, he yells “I’M PIVOTING.” When Ed calls him out for wearing a “smedium” shirt to highlight his muscles, he screams “THIS IS A LARGE.” And after the adjective-use accusation, Chasen makes it his personal goal to find a new way of describing Tayshia. After 24 hours in his BroCave, he emerges with his new descriptor, declaring that “Tayshia is a smokeshow” with the pride of a scientist announcing that he’s discovered a new vaccine. He repeatedly calls Tayshia a “smokeshow” throughout the rest of the episode. It’s incredible—during filming the contestants have no internet access and zero contact with the outside world, but Chasen is such a pure Chasen that he was still somehow able to spiritually commune with Barstool Sports. (Notably, he never tells Tayshia that she is a smokeshow—I’m not sure what her reaction would be.)
But for all his flopping and flailing, Chasen does make a valid point about Ed. Ed looks like a meathead—but Chasen, who describes himself as a “fitness enthusiast” in his Instagram bio—accuses him of merely having “glamour muscles.” Chasen believes Ed only focuses on building muscles that look good in photos rather than actually increasing his total physical strength. Chasen accuses Ed of having “chicken legs”—and indeed, Ed gets dragged around by Ben during a tug-of-war contest. And when Chasen and Ed are supposed to wrestle during a group date at the end of the show, Ed bails, calling Chris Harrison over at the last second to explain that he has chronically dislocated shoulders. I don’t doubt Ed’s injury, but he did wait until the very last second to get out of the fight, and he called Chris over with the same shame and fear as me walking up to my sixth grade gym teacher right before the mile-run portion of the Presidential Fitness Test to tell him that my mom wrote a note saying I had a cold and shouldn’t have to run.
Chasen might be a Chasen, but Ed is trying to show off too. During an earlier portion of the episode, in which Ed was supposed to prepare breakfast in bed for Tayshia, he opted not to cook anything, asked her to get out of bed, and sit on his back while he did push-ups. He was so eager to show off that he actually inconvenienced Tayshia by making her leave her comfy fake bed.
The feud between Chasen and Ed highlighted the funny part of accusations of fakeness on reality TV. Pretending you’re actually interested in a woman when you’re really just there to boost your social media clout is an example of fakeness, but so is skipping leg day to build your biceps. Everybody on a romance-themed show that consistently fails to produce successful couples is being dishonest about something. The reason we watch is because it’s fun to sort through the levels of dishonesty.
Best Work: Bennett
Since the beginning, we’ve established that Bennett is essentially a pro wrestling heel whose gimmick is that he went to Harvard. His job on the show is to somehow divert every conversation back to the fact that he’s classier and smarter than everybody else, and, if possible, drop the H-Bomb. He’s extremely good at it—it’s possible he has years of practice at bringing up the fact that he went to Harvard.
In Tuesday night’s episode, Bennett was the main character of a “grown-ass man contest,” in which contestants were put through various challenges exhibiting their intelligence, strength, and thoughtfulness. Bennett struggled with the intelligence portion, botching basic math questions and spelling “limousine” wrong.
(That’s Ed in the way back spelling it “limosuine.” Later it’s revealed by Bennett that Ed got a perfect 800 on the math portion of SATs, which reveals that Bennett and Ed, who are both 36 years old, had a conversation at some point about how they scored on a standardized test they took when they were 17.)
Angered by his failures, Bennett began to criticize the wording of the questions, even though they weren’t quite tricky enough to trip up other contestants like Chasen, who needed a Thesaurus of Ways to Describe Hot Girls; or Demar, a spin instructor who cackles, “Mr. Harvard had more wrong answers than me, and I went to Arizona State!”
Bennett then ditched the strength portion of the contest, citing an old knee injury. And for the “thoughtfulness” portion—the breakfast in bed—he stripped down to a robe and brought Tayshia “beignets from Benn-ay.” And what do ya know: Despite wildly underperforming in one of the three events and skipping another altogether, Bennett was dubbed the most grown-ass man. As a reward for winning, he was given a “diploma,” which, oddly, was already printed up with his name on it and framed:
I guess it’s possible the show’s producers watched the entire “grown-ass man contest,” somehow decided Bennett was the winner, and made the guys wait around while they printed up a diploma with his name on it and popped it into a frame. But I’d be willing to bet that they printed up the diploma before they even started filming. After all, it’s not like he actually baked the beignets he gave Tayshia, or brought the robe he slipped into—that stuff was clearly provided by the show’s producers. I’d even be willing to bet that they told him it’d be a funny gag if he spelled “limousine” wrong and made a big fuss about the confusing questions.
To continue to borrow wrestling parlance, Bennett’s undeserved victory was a work—and an excellent one at that. All the other guys on the show got mad at Bennett’s victory—Chasen called Bennett’s decision to change into a robe “classless,” even though he’s the one who decided to get shirtless and put on an apron.
Overall, though, the fact that Bennett wins in spite of his inability to spell serves as a truly cutting commentary on how America’s educational system pushes well-off dullards through our elite academic institutions, allowing the powerful to tighten their vise grip on our so-called meritocracy by laundering their wealth into degrees that supposedly prove their intellectual worth, even if they’re not actually more intelligent than spin cycle instructors who went to Arizona State. At least that’s what I think The Bachelorette was trying to say with this dumb group date. Fork ’em, Sun Devils.
Worst Faux Pas: Montel
Last week’s episode introduced us to four new contestants who had been living in a secret Bachelorette bunker just in case they were needed in the event of an emergency Bachelorette swap—a situation which, stunningly, came to pass when Tayshia replaced Clare. The new arrivals were treated with hostility by the original castmembers, like they’d just encountered a new group of survivors on Lost. The hostility was unwarranted, though—on Tuesday night’s episode, two of the four new arrivals were eliminated.
I don’t think poor Montel had a chance. He showed up to Tuesday night’s rose ceremony wearing a fancy suit with a flower on the lapel. To repeat: He was already wearing a flower in the place where Tayshia was supposed to put a flower.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen someone show up to a rose ceremony with their own flower. This is not a BYOF situation.
What would’ve happened if he’d been picked? Would he have removed his preexisting flower? Would Tayshia have been forced to fumble around? Would he have gone double-flower? One flower on one lapel and one on the other? It feels like a video game when your character has a sword and then stands over a different type of sword, and when you try to pick it up the game tells you that you can’t have multiple types of swords. On The Bachelorette, you’re really only allowed to carry one flower.
Boldest Plays: Noah
Tayshia’s stint on The Bachelor ended when Colton refused to let Cassie break up with him and hopped a fence to chase her into the Portuguese night—all while Tayshia happily waited in her hotel room for a date that never happened. So what better way to prove your passion for Tayshia than literally hopping a fence—which new arrival Noah did Tuesday night, flying into a makeshift ring to wrestle Chasen after Ed bails.
Noah wasn’t even invited on the wrestling date, but was part of the “live audience,” which this season only consists of other contestants. His decision to wrestle was a bold one for multiple reasons—Chasen and the other guys invited on the date had spent the morning getting trained by WWE Hall of Famer Lita and undefeated UFC fighter Tatiana Suarez, who won bronze medals in wrestling at the world championships. (With one “real” wrestler and one wrestling entertainer, it’s not quite clear what type of training the wrestlers received.) Also, Noah was wearing jeans, which probably aren’t ideal for wrestling.
Noah loses, and Chasen gets a championship belt, which he proceeds to bring with him everywhere for the rest of the episode. (Fair—lots of guys get roses, not a lot of guys get championship belts.) But Noah’s fence-jump impresses Tayshia, who pulls him aside and hints that she really likes him but would like him a lot more if he didn’t have a mustache. So Noah eagerly runs back to his room and returns with a trimmer, letting Tayshia de-fur his lips. (An act that she weirdly finds very sexual.)
But I’m bummed Noah shaved. For one, he really looked like Goose from Top Gun with the mustache, which meant that every time I saw him I thought, “Wow, you know who ruled? Goose. From Top Gun.” That was fun for me, because Goose from Top Gun ruled. Secondly, Noah happens to look really good without the mustache. He makes it seem like shaving a mustache is the male equivalent of the thing in movies where a nerdy girl suddenly becomes THE HOTTEST GIRL IN SCHOOL by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. In fact, with most mustachioed men (like me), the mustache actually serves as a distraction from our relatively homely faces, rather than being a roadblock from our actual handsomeness. Now my girlfriend is going to say, “I’m sure you’d also look cute without the mustache! Maybe you should shave your mustache!” and I’ll seem like a jerk if I say no. BUT—I happen to have lived many years without a mustache and I know that I was extremely single for most of those years. Then I grew a mustache and almost instantly became not-single. Noah looked doofy-hot with his mustache and regular hot without one, but trust me! I look less ugly this way!
But I’ve got to applaud Noah for his boldness. Hopefully his mustache doesn’t turn out to be a Samson-esque source of his powers. I guess if it is, it’s a good thing he proved himself as a manly wrestling guy before shaving.