The funny thing about a dating show is that if everything goes to plan, the end is just a bunch of nice people. We want to see people yelling and screaming at each other, but if the person in charge has done a good job weeding out the assholes and the jerks, you’re just left with some kind gentlemen.
And Tayshia did a great job on this season of The Bachelorette. It’s hard to find anything wrong with the final three guys. Ivan is one of the best contestants the show has ever had, as previously noted. Brendan is chill as hell. Zac is my least favorite of the remaining three, and he seems like a great guy. The last major pot-stirrer was Bennett, the Harvard grad who made the final eight, and even he was more comic relief than villain. (As effective as his haughty act was, it’s hard to truly beef with a man in a scarf.)
So it’s time for The Bachelorette to take a syringe of drama and inject it right into the heart of this season. After saying a tearful goodbye to Brendan, who decided he wasn’t ready for a committed relationship, Tayshia is mulling over her next steps, when IN COMES BEN. That’s right—the kindest sweetheart of the season is BACK, and he’s not leaving until he says something INCREDIBLY KIND. Pass the popcorn and the pinot grigio, because something HEARTFELT is about to happen!
The episode ends on a cliffhanger, as Tayshia is unsure what to do with Ben. I have a guess though—she probably dumps him, just like she did in the previous episode. Tayshia and Ben shared some deep moments as he opened up about his emotional struggles, but not a lot of chemistry. Tayshia is someone who appreciates emotion, and Ben is someone who struggles to emote.
There will be drama in Tuesday night’s finale, but not the wild kind—just the kind where Tayshia struggles with the fact that she doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of the very nice men she’s selected. It’s going to be captivating, but probably more painful than thrilling.
Biggest Snub: The Guinness Book of World Records
Once upon a time, Michelin was like “people driving Michelin tires will often be in areas they aren’t familiar with—we should come out with a book reviewing restaurants so our consumers can know which establishments are reputable,” and 100-plus years later, Michelin is a tire company and the world’s preeminent resource on fine dining. In a similar vein, once upon a time, Guinness was like “PEOPLE ARE GONNA GET DRUNK AF ON GUINNESS AND WANT TO SET THE RECORD FOR MOST TACOS EATEN, WE SHOULD COME OUT WITH A BOOK SAYING WHO ATE THE MOST TACOS EVER SO PEOPLE KNOW THE RECORD SO THEY CAN EAT THE MOST TACOS EVER,” and over 60 years later, Guinness is a beer company and the world’s preeminent resource for information on pointless human achievements.
On Tayshia’s one-on-one date with Ivan, the two were tasked with setting a world record: the “longest coldest kiss.” The two are asked to sit in ice tubs—probably a refreshing break from the 110-degree Palm Springs heat—and make out for long enough to break the all-time record of five minutes and 16 seconds. As Chris Harrison and Bachelor security chief “Big Paulie” Danner provide commentary, the two lock lips—quite literally, it didn’t seem like there was much mouth movement or tongue action. Their strategy was questionable—Ivan, for some reason, puts his hand into Tayshia’s ice tub so he can caress her body like one would in a non-icy makeout session.
But the two break the record and keep going for a minute extra because they were enjoying the kiss so much. They emerge from the tubs as world-record holders—the third time Bachelor contestants have broken a kiss-related world record. In 2013, Sean Lowe and Lesley set the Guinness World Record for longest on-screen kiss at three minutes and 22 seconds. (The record has since been broken by The Bachelor Australia—lucky for Sean, who broke up with Lesley and ended up getting married to his season’s winner, Catherine, making him the only Bachelor to ever actually marry his season’s winner. It seems bad to hold kissing world records with your exes.) And in 2016, Evan and Carly set the record for “longest hottest kiss”—a kiss after eating a habanero pepper—on Bachelor in Paradise. (Carly threw up afterward and spoke at length about how much she did not find Evan attractive—before subsequently marrying him. It seems good to hold kissing world records with your wife!)
But there was a notable difference between the records set by past Bachelor kisses and the one set by Tayshia and Ivan. When Sean and Lesley kissed, the rules of the record-breaking opportunity were explained by an official from Guinness World Records, who promptly provided the couple with a Guinness World Record certificate. The same went for Evan and Carly.
But no Guinness representative was on hand for Ivan and Tayshia—and when they break the record, they are given a clear glass trophy:
This is not an official Guinness World Record trophy. This is something they bought from the same store that sold a trophy to my fantasy football league.
Clearly, the couple did not break a Guinness World Record, as past couples did. The Guinness website has several instances of kiss-related records—world’s longest underwater kiss, most kisses received in a minute, longest time kissing a car—but seemingly none related to being in an ice bath. (Notably, Chris only says they have set a “world record” and not a “Guinness World Record.”) When Chris cited the previous ice-bath kiss record of five minutes and 16 seconds, was he just totally making that up? If so, couldn’t they have picked a lower number? I would’ve believed anything over 45 seconds.
Nowadays, you don’t really need a book to settle drunk debates. (Have you heard of the internet? You’re reading it right now!) As a result, Guinness World Records—no longer affiliated with the beer—has had to shift its business model. The money isn’t in books anymore, but rather getting people to pay for having their world records certified. Some of that money comes from random joes who want to set a world record in something—that’ll set you back about $800 if you choose the DIY option. But if you’re a business looking for a publicity stunt and want to have an official Guinness adjudicator on site, that gets pricier—$10,000 on the cheap end. It’s become a favorite of franchises like The Bachelor and the dictator of Turkmenistan. (The dictator of Turkmenistan really likes setting world records.)
So I’ve gotta wonder: Why didn’t The Bachelorette have Ivan and Tayshia set a Guinness World Record? Did Guinness back out because they didn’t want their adjudicator to have to quarantine at a resort? Or did The Bachelor decide they could just claim a world record without having to pay up?
Biggest Surprise: Chastity
Monday night was the Fantasy Suites episode of The Bachelorette, the annual episode in which the Bachelorette gets to spend the night in a hotel room with each of the three remaining contestants with no cameras—you know, to take a test ride before putting down a deposit. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the show has made this entire episode about sex. Here are some past sex plotlines:
- One contestant is a virgin, did they have sex?
- One contestant has already had sex on this season, how will it affect the other contestants’ sex?
- One contestant is jealous about the other contestants getting to have sex with their hopeful future partner
- One contestant has archaic sex opinions and thinks it’s OK when he has sex but bad when other people have sex
The last season of The Bachelorette had the famous “four times in a windmill” episode, where Hannah Brown referred to Peter’s Olympian lovemaking; a few seasons before that, we got to see a montage of Raven celebrating her first-ever orgasm. Even if we don’t get literal discussions on sex, we’ll typically get pretty strong references to sex—a shot of the couple making out on the bed before closing the door in a cameraman’s face—or at least a shot of a bird and a bee or a video of fireworks exploding over the couple’s bedroom.
But Monday night? Honestly, you could watch it without knowing that it was the sex episode! Zac spends the night with Tayshia in a two-story house where it’s just them, while Ivan spends the night with Tayshia in an Airstream trailer. (As cool as Airstreams are, tough break for Ivan.) But neither Tayshia nor the men ever even really hint at the sex-having. Ivan does say that he and Tayshia stayed up all night—but also says they spent that time talking and watching the sun rise. There’s an audio clip of Zac and Tayshia moaning as the bed creaks—but then we see that they’re actually just jumping up and down on the bed. Instead of jokes about having sex, this episode had jokes about not having sex. It’s probably the least sexual sex episode in the show’s history.
Biggest Winner: Brendan’s Ex-Wife
It’s gotta be weird to be the former partner of a Bachelorette contestant. It’s one thing to see Instagram pics of your ex having a good time on the beach with a new person; it’s another thing to have millions of people across the nation specifically thinking about how your ex is a really eligible partner because of how hot and fun and cool they are—and to have people writing blog posts about their new relationship. Tough to one-up that.
Unfortunately, Monday night’s episode revealed that Brendan isn’t fully ready for life as a hot, fun, cool, television-famous person. He tenses up early in his one-on-one date with Tayshia, and at the beginning of their dinner, he tells her he can’t move forward with the relationship, still rattled by his recent divorce. At first, it seemed like Tayshia and Brendan were bonding over the fact that they’ve both been married and moved on, but Brendan gets teary-eyed realizing that he’s not in the same place as Tayshia. “There’s a big part of me that’s still broken, a big part of me that still needs time to heal,” he says. “I still think there are pieces of myself I need to pick up … my heart isn’t whole.” Tayshia is heartbroken, saying that from the beginning, she felt that Brendan was “it”—and they say their goodbyes.
Brendan said in a past episode that nothing really went wrong in his past marriage—“no cheating, no abuse, no addiction”—but that he and his former high school sweetheart just “fell out of love.” Which is good, because it means we can joke about this: Congrats to the former Mrs. Brendan! Clearly, your hold over Brendan is still significant enough that he just walked away from a nationally televised relationship with an extremely attractive person! It’s gotta be tough watching your ex in new relationships on TV—unless it involves your ex saying they’re partially still in love with you and unable to move on!
Most Unnecessary Airtime: Neil Lane
Perhaps part of the reason Brendan’s dinner goes so poorly is the nature of his daytime date. Tayshia brings Brendan to a hotel suite where the show’s resident jeweler, Neil Lane, is playing the piano in a lavishly decorated hotel room. You know—like normal people do.
Lane asks both Tayshia and Brendan to put on an array of jewelry. It’s not really clear why—they definitely don’t get to keep any of it, so it kind of feels like Neil is just bragging about all the sick jewelry he has. (Since everybody wants to know: Bachelor contestants do get to keep the engagement rings Neil gives them, some valued at close to $100,000, but only if the relationship lasts for a contractually agreed upon amount of time, in which case they are returned.) After they try on all of Neil’s fancy jewelry, they sit down and drink champagne. And when I say “they,” I do not mean Tayshia and Brendan—I mean Tayshia and Brendan and Neil. Neil tells them that he tries to remain friends with all of the former Bachelor couples he meets, a prospect that doesn’t seem to excite Tayshia or Brendan.
In all, it is about 10 times more Neil Lane than anybody ever asked for. Lane has become famous for his appearances on The Bachelor, catapulting from the relative anonymity of designing jewelry for Hollywood celebrities to becoming a guy who puts his name on jewelry sold at your local Jared/Kay/Zales. (Fun fact: Those companies are owned by the same conglomerate to create the impression of competition! Stay woke!) Normally, he only shows up for one episode, to provide the rings to whoever is proposing. But this is his second appearance of the year. When Clare picked Dale, Neil Zoomed in. But for the actual ring handoff, he presumably wanted to appear in person. That meant quarantining at the La Quinta—and if Neil was going to quarantine, he was going to get two full segments, one on Monday night’s episode, and one on Tuesday when he actually gives out the ring.
The entire experience weirds out Brendan, who was already dealing with his own issues about his recent divorce. And honestly, Lane kind of weirds me out, too—something about his permanent smile, the way he says the word “love,” and the general premise of an industry whose pitch is that you can convince someone you love them more if you spend a shitload of money on precious stones. Lane might be good at designing jewelry—I say “might,” because with full apologies to my girlfriend, I simply have no idea what makes good or bad jewelry—but he’s not exactly a well of charisma. I’m not sure why The Bachelorette needs to run an annual advertisement for this unnaturally tan guy’s jewelry business—or why it felt the need to significantly expand that advertisement this year.