The Bachelorette has specific rules about sex—nobody does it until the fantasy suites episode. The Bachelorette does not, however, have any rules about masturbation. In general, there are very few rules about masturbation besides “please don’t do it around other people” and “please don’t tell me about it.” Generally, it’s considered best not to talk about what we do while we’re alone with our own thoughts and genitalia.
However, our Bachelorette is intent on breaking that social construct. Katie famously entered the last season of The Bachelor with a vibrator, a move that turned her into a sex-positive hero and gave her a sole personality trait for ABC to focus on. But now she’s apparently changed her positive opinions about self-gratification: Katie claims that she’s heard through the grapevine that her contestants are jerking off a lot—who told her this?!?!?! And why?!—and thus imposes a masturbation moratorium. (A masturboratorium?) I guess she’s hoping they’ll show their dedication to her by saving their sexual energy for fantasy suites? Or something? Katie, Tayshia, and Kaitlyn talk about forcing a bunch of adult men to go celibate like it’s a normal thing. They also overtly copy one of the most famous episodes of Seinfeld.
After a lot of jerkoff jokes, Katie names this the “WOWO Challenge,” for “Week Off Whacking Off.” The men, meanwhile, begin policing each other and calling one another out for taking suspiciously long showers.
But the burden is too much to bear for new contestant Blake. Although he’s had significantly less time with Katie than contestants who have been on the show since the beginning, he uses a brief conversation with Katie to complain. “I’m really built up,” he tells her. Blake elaborates that he’s used to masturbating a lot, especially on weekends. (It’s unclear why a “wildlife manager” has such a firmly defined work schedule—I assume wildlife still needs managing on Saturdays and Sundays, unless woodland creatures have begun observing the conventional human workweek.)
He then later shows up at Katie’s room with a boombox after she has an emotional night. Blake is soaring on this season: Katie cracks up at pretty much everything he says, and they always end up kissing a lot. After Blake and Katie make out extensively, the show gives us an extended montage: Blake says it’s “time for my happy ending” before placing a “do not disturb” sign on his door and turning off his lights. Then there’s a shot of a sprinkler rising out of the ground and spewing water. The montage is meant to mirror the way fantasy suite dates end, except instead of portraying the consensual, romantic lovemaking the show builds toward, it’s portraying a dude in his own room going to town on himself.
Overall, the challenge raises a lot of questions: Why did Katie, once a masturbation enthusiast, prohibit others from masturbation? Where exactly are these guys jerking off, considering they’re all living in communal spaces while being subject to nonstop filming? Are they allowed to use the hotel TVs to order porn? Is it OK if we acknowledge that it’s healthy and normal for people to masturbate, but just all mutually agree not to talk about it, like we were doing before this episode? That would be great.
But most importantly: Why the celebratory tone for Blake? Everybody on the show agreed to stop jacking it—and Blake gets a damn montage for making a withdrawal from the wank bank? Does Katie know that he’s blatantly breaking her beat-off ban? Blake should suffer consequences for his inability to manage his own wildlife—instead, while all the other men are practicing self-denial for Katie’s sake, Blake gets to make out with Katie and masturbate while becoming a front-runner for the season. What a jerkoff!
Biggest Loser: Extremely Passionate Bachelorette Fans
Last episode, Hunter was criticized for his aggression. Monday night, a new element was added to the Hunter hatred: Several contestants accused him of being a Bachelorette obsessive, claiming that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of the show he is using to scheme his way through the season. From time to time, the show has played up certain contestants for their fandom of the franchise—on JoJo’s season of The Bachelorette, one contestant’s listed profession was “Bachelor Superfan,” but I can’t remember it being used as an insult like it was Monday night.
This plotline starts when Hunter explains to Greg that even though he’s received a one-on-one date in the past, he’s still eligible to get a second one-on-one date, insisting that “it’s happened before.” Hunter goes on to explain that he’s got a projection for the season’s top 4, which includes Greg, Connor, and himself. (Terrible projection—this guy can’t be that much of a superfan if his takes are this bad.) Greg comments that Hunter “knows the process very well,” and things spiral from there. The implication seems to be that Hunter may be more interested in staying on his favorite show than he is in finding love.
The group gangs up on Hunter on a date hosted by Shea Couleé and Monét X Change, a pair of former winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I kind of assumed when the drag queens walked out, the date was going to be drag-related—but no, for some reason it’s a “debate”-themed date, during which all the men stand behind lecterns and say mean things about each other. It’s completely unclear why Shea and Monét have been brought in to serve as debate moderators, although they do a fine job, wisely encouraging everybody to roast Hunter as aggressively as possible. James accuses Hunter of commenting on Bachelor fan message boards, a truly devastating zing.
The animosity grows, as several men personally address Katie about Hunter. At the end of the episode, Katie says that she doesn’t need to have a cocktail party because she knows who she’s going to pick—then she starts the rose ceremony by pulling Hunter aside for one last conversation to get final “clarity” on her choice before making him get back on the stage. (Katie’s good at the whole drama thing.) But when all is said and done, Hunter gets sent home, unable to sufficiently refute the superfan slander.
When the men started bringing up Hunter’s fandom, I loved it. “Holy crap,” I thought, “that’s so embarrassing! Imagine being outed as caring obsessively about this dumb TV show!” Then I remembered … I care obsessively about this dumb TV show! I have the encyclopedic Bachelor knowledge they’re making fun of Hunter for having! I frequently post online about this show! I tell anybody who will listen who I think will be this season’s top four! (Andrew, Blake, Greg, Michael.) They’re not just roasting Hunter—they’re roasting me! And if you’re reading this, they’re roasting you too!
I wasn’t a fan of Hunter—until his fellow contestants started attacking him for watching too much of this show. It’s unclear how accurate the accusations are, but I resent that anybody would be so mercilessly mocked for our perfectly normal, not-at-all-weird habits of overanalyzing this perfectly banal show which probably doesn’t require overanalysis.
And by the way, the other guys are lying if they claim they don’t also watch this show obsessively. (Remember last episode when Blake walked into the room and Aaron immediately knew who he was? HOW’D YOU PULL THAT OFF, BUDDY? DO YOU KNOW HIM FROM SAN DIEGO TOO?) But more importantly, Bachelor superfans are people too! We deserve love even though our perception of love has been permanently skewed by this TV show! Don’t insult us, or else … or else we’ll write lengthy posts online about your show!
Toughest Send-Off: Connor
As a white person, I feel strongly that it should be illegal for white people to play the ukulele. It’s a rule which Connor repeatedly broke on this season, making him my least favorite guy on the show. But even I felt a little bit bummed by the way Connor got axed Monday night.
Connor hit it off with Katie from the moment he walked out of a limo wearing a cat costume, so Katie decided to put their relationship to the test with a one-on-one date. It was a fun date—a grilling session with Kaitlyn and her man Jason, a great couple that proves the best outcome from being on The Bachelorette isn’t actually winning, but becoming famous enough to meet other hot people who have been on different seasons of The Bachelorette. Everybody has a great time—and Katie and Connor make out voraciously, as they have several times before—but Katie then announces that she firmly feels that her vibe with Connor is a friendship rather than a relationship.
So Katie visits Connor before the dinner portion of the date. She’s crying, and Connor knows what’s up—at one point he says “I know where this is going, it’s OK.” She eventually tells Connor that she simply doesn’t feel a spark when they kiss, a feeling she expresses over and over again. (This is possibly related to the fact that the first time they kissed, Connor was wearing full cat makeup, which smeared all over her face.) Connor is heartbroken and starts to cry.
There is no good way to tell someone you get along with that there’s no romantic component to your relationship. It’s obviously unfair, and it’s obviously going to hurt their feelings, and it’s obviously going to make them feel bad about things they can’t change. But Katie really focused on the kissing element, leading Connor to shout in an interview: “How bad of a kisser am I? Fuck!”
This could ruin his future. He’s going to go home and turn himself into the world’s worst kisser in an attempt to fix the kissing problem. He’ll get radicalized by “how to kiss” videos on YouTube and the next time he’s with a woman he’s probably going to shove his entire tongue down her throat while wildly gyrating his lower jaw. But I’m thinking all he has to do is not wear full cat makeup the next time you have a first kiss with somebody. It’s probably hard to get that image out of your head!
Most Bewildering Job, Non-Blake Edition: Franco
This was the second straight episode featuring tertiary Bachelor character Franco. Last week, he helped explain the sport of Bash Ball to the contestants, which is strange, because in every other episode he’d ever been on, he’d been the photographer in a wedding-themed photo shoot. Luckily, on Monday night … he was a photographer in a wedding-themed photo shoot.
By my count, Franco has now been on the Bachelor franchise four times. Considering the show is now including him on non-photography dates, it’s clear the producers are trying to make Franco a thing. So it’s time for us to have a talk about something: Why do all the pictures Franco takes suck?
These are terrible! If my wedding photographer sent over these pictures, I’d file a lawsuit. Is there a reason every one of them is blurry, out-of-focus, and extremely overexposed? Is it a stylistic thing? Is it supposed to be cool that these pictures look like they were taken with a Motorola Razr in 2006?
I’m not actually sure Franco is a photographer. On his Instagram—where all the pictures are suspiciously in focus—he calls himself a “designer, creative director, writer, and producer.” Maybe his lack of photography gigs explains why he’s dependent on reality TV appearances?
Worst Strategy: The Gang-up Gang
The contestants on this season got really good at banding together and deciding which guy they wanted to get eliminated. It started with Aaron warning Katie about Cody, but the whole cast got in on it when the men alerted Katie that Karl’s accusations were all bogus. Next it was Thomas, who supposedly wanted to become the next Bachelor; and Monday night it was Hunter, the Bachelor superfan. Each time, men alerted Katie to the fact that something was supposedly off with their enemy’s behavior or motivations—and each time, she listened to them, and kicked the accused contestant off. (Most of them deserved it, but I still believe Thomas got done dirty.)
But Monday night, the wheel turned. In the rose ceremony, Katie did eliminate Hunter—but she also eliminated Aaron, James, and Tre, the three men who specifically used their time in Monday night’s episode to warn Katie about Hunter. All three were extremely devoted to crafting drama—especially Aaron, whose entire stint on the show revolved around getting upset at other guys.
Maybe someday, there will be a Bachelorette who’s just looking for someone who’ll spend all day every day complaining about other people—but until then, this remains a strategy for unserious contestants. Hating on everybody might help you outlast the show’s skeeziest guys, but eventually, they run out, and then you’ve got nothing else.