I often feel like The Bachelor focuses on the wrong things. It shows us contestants completing obstacle courses and performing in talent shows—but what’s actually most interesting is the way they interact during their downtime at the Bachelor Mansion. What do they do all day? What do they talk about? What do they eat? We never get to learn these things. Until Monday night, that is. I’m talking about the Shrimp Incident.
In Monday night’s episode, Elizabeth decides to cook up some garlic butter shrimp for her housemates. She offers the shrimp to everybody, including Shanae, which is notable because they’ve been fighting. Two episodes into their feud, it remains unclear why Shanae chose to pick a fight with Elizabeth. I think it might be because they’re the two blondest people on the show—maybe Shanae thought it was like how you’re supposed to fight the biggest person in prison on the first day to show you’re tough, except on The Bachelor, you’re supposed to fight the blondest person in the mansion.
When Shanae hears about the shrimp giveaway, she perks up and makes a beeline for the kitchen. The camera tracks her as she goes over to the pot and takes shrimp after shrimp from Elizabeth’s pot. A shrimp tracker pops up on the screen. After taking a seventh shrimp, she starts to walk away—then pauses, comes back, and takes an eighth shrimp. (When later reflecting on her crustacean chowdown, she remarkably remembers that she ate exactly eight.)
The other contestants notice that all the shrimp are gone—and Elizabeth is confident that Shanae was the perpetrator. Eventually, Shanae decides that the right thing to do is make more shrimp for everybody—but while housemates were eager to eat Elizabeth’s food, nobody seems particularly interested in Shanae’s shrimp.
Elizabeth is furious at Shanae for eating roughly half of the shrimp she prepared. “There are two things Shanae can’t keep out of her mouth: my name, and shrimp.” (I need to give credit to Elizabeth for this zinger—this sounds like something a Real Housewife would say, which is the biggest compliment I can give to a reality TV contestant.) Shanae, meanwhile, sees everyone’s enthusiasm for Elizabeth’s shrimp and the deadpan disinterest in her own shrimp as a sign that the house has turned on her.
The actual fight between Shanae and Elizabeth is pretty tiring. Shanae claims that Elizabeth’s “bullying” is affecting her mental health—a pretty galling claim, considering Shanae spent most of last week’s episode making fun of Elizabeth’s mental health. At the end of Monday night’s episode, Shanae once again attempts to throw Elizabeth under the bus by talking about their feud to Clayton, who confronts Elizabeth about it and makes her cry. It’s all unnecessary, and no fun for anybody. The beef is only good when it’s shrimp.
The Shrimp Incident was a great Bachelor moment for two reasons. First of all, it gave us insight into the food situation in the house. I had no idea they had shrimp available for cooking! I had no idea the contestants cooked for one another! Show us the pantry! Show us the snacks! But more importantly, seeing the way the contestants act in their downtime lets us better understand their personalities. Do they cook for others? Do they unapologetically eat half of the food someone else prepared? Do they get a waiter to come over and pretend there’s a rule saying that one person can’t eat all the fully loaded nachos? How someone handles communal food is arguably the no. 1 thing you should consider when choosing a partner—and, as I learned Monday night, who to root for on a reality TV show. So show us more of this kind of stuff! This one Shrimp Incident is more memorable than a million contrived athletic competitions.
Biggest Disappointment: The Rose Removal
The last episode of The Bachelor ended on a cliffhanger: Clayton had just learned that Cassidy had been hooking up with someone before appearing on the show and was planning on returning to that guy if she were eliminated. Clayton was disappointed that Cassidy had a backup plan for their relationship—especially since he’d given her a rose earlier in the show. The episode ended with Clayton torn on how to move forward: Was he allowed to remove her rose and send her home?
Monday night’s episode opened with the not-so-dramatic answer to that question: Yes. Totally yes. Of course. It’s, like, not even that big of a problem.
Clayton and Cassidy talk through her situation. At first, she denies having been in any relationship with any man since 2019—but she eventually admits to something of a situationship. She says she’s been hooking up with a guy who knows she’s on the show and wants to continue hooking up after the show, but swears to Clayton that she feels a genuine connection with him and is no longer interested in her hookup buddy. Clayton is unswayed and decides he wants to send her home.
On the last episode, we saw Clayton ask host Jesse Palmer about the show’s rules. As the credits hit, it seemed like Jesse was seriously pondering the problem at hand. But Monday night, Jesse explained that it really isn’t much of a dilemma. “There are no rules,” Jesse says. “You can do whatever you wanna do.”
It would’ve been pretty dumb if a rose constituted a binding contract and Clayton was beholden to keeping Cassidy around for another week, since he would’ve just waited until the next rose ceremony to officially dump her. But while the show obviously didn’t have to treat the rose as ironclad, I kind of wish they had pretended like it was a bigger deal! Especially if they were going to make a cliffhanger out of it!
Here’s how it should’ve gone: They should’ve invited Cassidy to the rose ceremony, and then, when all the roses had been handed out and everybody thinks things are over, Clayton should’ve walked over to Cassidy, removed her rose, and given it to someone else. Everybody would’ve lost their minds, like when Katie used a rose ceremony to call up a contestant and then kicked him off instead of giving him a rose.
Of course there aren’t hard-and-fast rules on The Bachelor. Remember when the lead of The Bachelorette decided she’d found her guy two weeks in and blew up the whole season? And then the show just brought in another lead and kept on chugging? That was like 18 months ago. But still, The Bachelor is at its best when it pretends its rules are real—not when it admits they don’t exist.
Biggest Winner: Cassidy’s Non-Boyfriend
Here’s what we know about this guy:
- He has slept with Cassidy.
- He is not interested in being her boyfriend.
- According to Cassidy, he “thinks it’s cool” that she went on The Bachelor.
- He told Cassidy before appearing on this show, “Look, if it doesn’t work out, you know, I still wanna be friends and whatever.”
This guy didn’t even care that Cassidy was going on a reality TV show—mostly, he was just preoccupied with whether he’d get to keep having sex with her when she was done with it.
All in all, this whole incident was a disaster for Cassidy. First of all, she didn’t do anything wrong. Who cares if she has a guy she likes hooking up with?! What, Bachelor contestants are supposed to be totally abstinent for months on end before appearing on a show where they have a 1-in-30 chance of finding a fiancé?
As for the mystery non-boyfriend, it couldn’t have worked out better for that guy. He played a massive role in a TV show he doesn’t care about and inadvertently ensured a quicker return to his sex-based friendship with Cassidy. Good for him, I guess!
Biggest Mystery: Clayton’s Sunburn
Clayton gets shirtless on two of his three dates on Monday night’s episode. The other date featured a vulnerable and honest discussion during which Clayton and several contestants revealed that they have struggled with body image issues throughout their lives … and that was promptly followed by an hour of Shirtless Hot People Frolicking.
Clayton’s one-on-one date with Sarah simply saw them performing various tasks near L.A. City Hall while in their underwear. Why were they in their underwear? I think maybe it was supposed to, like, bring them closer together, or something? Make them more intimate? Who cares—this show needs ratings, dammit!
The second group date was on a Southern California beach, where the women were taught how to be lifeguards by Baywatch star Nicole Eggert. The instruction starts with all the contestants putting on sunscreen—which we all should do more often by the way, and also remember to hydrate. But when Shanae inexplicably rushes over to apply sunscreen directly to Clayton’s nipples, we see that Clayton is already quite sunburnt. Not even tanned—the man’s arms are straight-up strawberry-colored.
Later, Gabby provides him with aloe, but it’s too late. He’s already spent several hours shirtless in the sun, scorching his already existing burns.
When I first saw Clayton’s burn, I assumed it was a result of his previous shirtless date. But he was fully shirtless with Sarah, and the shape of this burn clearly reveals that Clayton was wearing a tank top.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a burn this bad on TV. Most people who know they will be shirtless on television are smart enough to either build up a tan beforehand or properly sunscreen themselves. But Clayton chose neither path—and that’s how he wound up looking like a human tank top.
Most Surprising Departure: Kate
Four contestants were eliminated on Monday night’s episode—Cassidy got her rose revoked, and Ency, Tessa, and Kate were eliminated during the rose ceremony. I was surprised to see Kate go so quietly, though, because her presence on the show caused a bit of a stir. After she was announced, people noted that she’s a realtor for the Oppenheim Group—the Los Angeles real estate firm that is also the subject of the hit Netflix reality show Selling Sunset, although Kate herself has never been featured on the show.
I thought this would be a fun subplot! How would The Bachelor discuss her near-appearance on another reality show? Her Bachelor bio doesn’t make any mention of Selling Sunset. (It does, however, claim that Kate once went on a date with Harry Styles, a man who might be the polar opposite of Clayton.) Was Kate trying to make enough of a mark on The Bachelor so that Sunset producers could no longer ignore her? Would she go over the top to get noticed and prove that she’s capable of being the subject of captivating reality TV—or would she try to last long enough and build a relationship that could be a plot on future Sunset seasons? Could we potentially get—gasp—A CROSSOVER EPISODE?
But none of this materialized. Kate is gone before most viewers could even learn her name. She lasted two weeks, and the only time I noticed her was when she gave Clayton a tiny bottle of alcohol and neither of them finished it. The dreams of a crossover episode are dead—at least until former Love Island rejects start showing up on Bachelor in Paradise.