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‘Listen to Your Heart’ Recap: The Laws of Emotional Cheating

If you think about it, we’re all emotionally cheating on ‘The Bachelorette’ with ‘Listen to Your Heart’

Getty Images/ABC/Ringer illustration

The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart is based on the premise that it’s possible to simultaneously find a soulmate and musical partner. (Actual evidence of this theory from the world of music seems to be lacking, but I have listened to Rumours a lot more since making a Fleetwood Mac joke in my last recap.) Each episode repeatedly shows coupled-up contestants performing together. And after two episodes, I have one big question: What happens if the show’s breakout couple sucks at singing?

Much of the plot of the first two episodes has centered around Trevor, a former American Idol contestant who was openly lusted after by Katy Perry on air, and Jamie, a 21-year-old fresh out of Berklee trying to make a name for herself in the music industry and on Instagram. (It doesn’t seem like Listen to Your Heart carries the IG pull a typical season of The Bachelor does—after one episode, Jamie still hasn’t cracked 20,000 followers.) In the first episode, clean-shaven Ryan made a strong play for Jamie, but after a John Mayer song duel, she chose Trevor. On Monday night’s episode, Jamie and Trevor got the first date, but their relationship was nearly derailed by the entrance of Natascha, who claimed to know Trevor’s ex and warned Jamie about Trevor’s history of cheating-adjacent behavior. (We’ll get into this later.) That’s how you know Jamie and Trevor are going far on this show—the producers are bringing in people from their pasts to stir up drama. They don’t waste that kind of effort on nobodies.

But there’s something much more pressing that’s keeping Jamie and Trevor from being the show’s runaway favorites. Here is what it sounds like when they sing together:

As Jamie and Trevor busked on Venice Beach, I kept thinking: Would I stop if I was walking down the promenade and heard these two voices? The answer is a resounding no. And yet, the show insults us by implying that dozens of people would stop and listen. We’re even shown passersby dropping money in their guitar case—at the end of the date, Jamie claims they collected $82, apparently from playing a single song. I’d be surprised to hear that a high-quality singer got $82 in an hour of boardwalk singing—and these guys got that much from one song? (Did Jamie and Trevor get to keep the money, or did The Bachelor, which airs on ABC, which is owned by Disney, end up pocketing these donations from beachgoers?)

I’m not here just to cynically dump on this show. On Monday night’s episode, four couples performed together, and honestly, three of them sounded great. I really cannot stress enough that only Jamie and Trevor sound bad. Jamie’s been pitchy on both of her performances, and Trevor doesn’t sound too much different from any frat guy with a guitar. It feels like the show has 14 professional musicians and two people hot enough that everybody humors their attempts to sing.

Does this matter? It’s unclear. The show claims that in the end, performers will be judged on their musical and romantic compatibility, but we haven’t yet seen the grading rubric in action. I guess it’s possible for someone to win by scoring a 100 on “hotness” and a zero on “singing.” That’s Jamie and Trevor’s only hope.

Hottest Buzzword: “Emotional Cheating”

Natascha wastes no time before attempting to defame Trevor. Basically, she enters the house, hears that a contestant is named “Trevor,” and instantly screams “You mean TREVOR FROM AMERICAN IDOL?” A pretty bold guess by her, considering how many Trevors there must be in the world.

Despite Natascha’s instant realization that “Trevor” was a guy she knew, Trevor enters and seems to have no idea who Natascha is. She fills him in: Natascha knows Trevor’s ex-girlfriend—the one whom Katy Perry seemed to wish dead on American Idol—and is aware that he cheated on her and lied to her. Trevor responds by claiming he didn’t actually cheat on his ex, but did participate in “emotional cheating”—as he explains it, he carried on a text relationship with another woman as his relationship with his ex soured. Natascha, meanwhile, continues to rip into Trevor about how he didn’t inform Jamie that he cheated on his ex.

Natascha, it should be noted, is a habitual Fringe Reality TV Singing Competition Contestant. She’s been on the Dutch version of The Voice, attempted to become the Dutch representative to the Eurovision Song Contest, and—this is the most important one—was on the 2007 show The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll. She did not become the next Pussycat Doll, presumably because viewers did not wish that their girlfriends were hot like her. She’s a pro. And when the show’s producers contacted her and told her to pick a fight with Trevor, she knew she had to give 110 percent.

Unfortunately, she’s a bit too vigorous. I don’t quite buy her righteous rage in an attempt to burn a guy she barely knows, nor her repeated insistence that she wants to protect Jamie, whom she hasn’t even met yet. And, not to defend cheaters, but is it considered mandatory for cheaters to confess all instances of past cheating on first dates? Seems abrupt, especially if the cheating in question was more figurative than literal.

Even though Natascha’s attempts at gotcha journalism seem forced, Trevor decides he’s gonna run with the “emotional cheating” thing. He actually pulls Jamie aside and admits to her that he emotionally cheated on his ex-girlfriend. Which, like, if all you did was text someone else, why would you ever agree to use the word “cheating” when describing it to your new girlfriend? Trevor’s gotta be covering for actual cheating, right? Because otherwise, just say you texted somebody, right?

All of this comes to nothing. Jamie doesn’t seem too bothered by Trevor’s emotional cheating, and Natascha’s efforts at spoiling their relationship are dashed. But we can’t say Natascha didn’t warn us if Trevor commits “spiritual adultery” or “psychological fornication” somewhere down the line.

Biggest Trend: Cheap Dates

One way The Bachelor tricks contestants into thinking they may be falling in love is by sending them on very nice dates. It’s probably much easier to be convinced there’s a real spark between you and someone with whom you share no common interests if you’ve been flown to a secluded mountain waterfall by a helicopter. For example, on a typical Bachelor date from this past season, Peter and Victoria flew to a theme park that was entirely closed so they could go on all the rides by themselves, and then country star Chase Rice put on a one-song concert just for them. I don’t know anybody with the money or the connections to shut down a theme park or convince a well-known country musician to fly in to perform exactly one song. I, for one, would immediately fall in love with someone if they deprived hundreds of children of a fun day at an amusement park just for me.

But while The Bachelor can afford to put a lot of money and effort into its one-on-one dates—because it’s one of the most popular shows on television—Listen to Your Heart has no such budgetary freedom. So instead of waterfalls and shopping sprees, L2YH gets this:

  • A trip to Venice Beach, where Trevor and Jamie play a song on the boardwalk for passersby. Cost: $0, unless they had to pay to install that random hot tub. Plus, as we have already discussed, the show may have made money off of this date.
  • A trip to an empty Guitar Center for Bri and Chris to play around with the instruments. However, this is not just any Guitar Center—Chris makes sure to clarify that they’re in “THE MOST ICONIC GUITAR CENTER.” All joking aside, it’s a pretty good date idea by the show—anybody who plays music has probably gone into a Guitar Center at least once to just play random instruments without purchasing anything. Though it is a bit awkward because Bri doesn’t seem to actually play any instruments. Cost: Probably $0—the date was filmed at night, presumably after Guitar Center’s regular business hours, and it’s safe to assume Guitar Center was more than happy to open the doors of its most iconic location for the tradeoff of being featured on the show.
  • A visit to a radio studio, where the hosts of a show called “Valentine in the Morning” ask Sheridan and Julia a few questions before coaxing them into performing a song together. This is the date that comes closest to a typical Bachelor date—they had to inconvenience some minor celebrities! (For the record, it does not appear as if Sheridan and Julia’s performance was actually broadcast on the radio as promised during the episode. I’m holding out to see whether it’s a “Victoria didn’t get her promised Cosmo cover because she modeled in racism-adjacent clothing” situation.) Cost: $0 again, unless you count the gas money spent to drive the couple from the mansion to the station.
  • Brandon and Savannah’s trip to the Dresden, a historic lounge where they sing some jazz together and meet Marty and Elayne, the couple who have been performing there since the 1970s. This date is less about how frugal Listen to Your Heart has been with its dates and more about showing how creative the show has had to get. On the one hand, the Dresden is a legit L.A. institution. (It was in Swingers!) On the other hand, as a Los Feliz resident, it is stunning that The Bachelor decided to film a date here. Normally the show sticks to downtown L.A. or Hollywood; if they’ve got camerapeople dodging hipsters, you know they’re desperate for content. If The Bachelor shows up to film while I try to eat wings at Ye Rustic Inn, I’m gonna fight somebody. Cost: Roughly $100 (depending on how many cocktails Brandon and Savannah had).

Best Moment: Trying to Win Over the Last Single Guy

Much like Bachelor in Paradise, L2YH repeatedly, drastically shifts the flow of the show by introducing large swaths of new contestants. On the show’s first week, there were 12 men and eight women, leading to the elimination of four men at the end of the episode. But last night, there were 11 women and eight men, leading to the elimination of three women.

This drives the action of the show by forcing extraneous, uncoupled contestants to fight for survival. In Monday night’s episode, the attempts to stay on the show were particularly desperate—and, therefore, enjoyable to watch. The Last Single Guy this time around was Ryan, the contestant who may or may not be capable of growing facial hair. (There’s another contestant without facial hair, Brandon, but I think he has to shave.) Ryan’s had a bad run—in the first episode, he competed for Jamie but lost, and needed to be saved at the last moment. It kind of seems like nobody likes him!

But because there were more women than men, the ones without partners lined up to smooch Ryan’s smooth face. First up was Natascha, whose attempts at selling her passion for Ryan were about as convincing as her attempts at selling her disgust with Trevor earlier. “You give me a vibe of a Clark Kent–esque situation,” she says. Ryan is confused, because Natascha is dressed like a person who likes partying at clubs and Ryan is dressed like a person who got picked on in high school by the people who partied at clubs. But she’s into that, she unconvincingly explains. “I kinda like the nerdy type. I’m most attracted to that, because I find that sexy.”

Do you remember the song “This Is Why I’m Hot” by Mims, in which Mims purportedly sets out to explain why he’s hot but never actually does (besides when he says he’s hot “because I’m fly, and you ain’t because you not”)? When you break it down, this is essentially Natascha’s explanation. She is most attracted to the nerdy type because she finds it sexy. She doesn’t say why she finds it sexy or give any evidence that she is attracted to other nerdy-type men, besides a comic book character who is also stronger and faster than any human to ever live. One could argue that the nature of physical attraction is unexplainable, but I’d also like to point out that Mims’s inability to explain his own hotness immediately prefaced his complete and utter disappearance from rap, which shows that you probably should be able to explain hotness. In the end, it doesn’t matter: Natascha just starts making out with Ryan immediately after failing to explain his hotness.

Next comes Rudi, who’s armed with another, less flattering comparison to a fictional character. “You look like a very cute Harry Potter,” she says. Then, after a few moments of giggling, she blurts out “we should kiss right now,” and starts vigorously making out with Ryan. (I mean, who isn’t turned on by the thought of a 14-year-old British wizard?) But much like how Cho Chang’s kiss with Harry instantly made her think of Cedric Diggory, Rudi’s kiss with Ryan instantly makes her realize she has no connection with him. “I felt nothing,” she tells another contestant, before returning to Matt, her fling from the previous episode. (I guess the Plain White T’s incident from last week didn’t hurt Rudi’s feelings too badly.)

In the end, Ryan picks Natascha. She will assuredly dump him next week when the numbers switch again and she’s put in a position of power. I just hope Ryan enjoyed his one night of being the hottest commodity on the make-out/music TV show.