The Bachelor is back on the road. After four claustrophobic seasons filmed entirely inside resort hotels, the show’s cast left the Bachelor Mansion and headed for Houston on Monday night, signaling a return of the show’s trademark of trying to make every city on earth look “romantic.”
It doesn’t matter that Houston is actually a vibrant city—the most diverse city in America, actually—but every city The Bachelor visits is portrayed from the same Bachelor perspective. The Bachelor will look out the window of his hotel suite at a bunch of glass office towers and say something about how the city has great vibes:
The contestants will find a piece of street art that spells out the name of the city in big letters and do a coordinated jump-and-scream in front of it:
And every date will seem regionally specific, but in reality be totally replicable anywhere. Monday night featured two dates in Houston—a game of football played at the Texans’ stadium and a horseback riding date that ended at a family barbecue. There are NFL stadiums all across the country, as well as horses and meats.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Cleveland or Portugal or Latvia or South Dakota or even Houston—The Bachelor will make it look like every other place The Bachelor has ever visited. Actual romance exists all over, but I’m so glad The Bachelor is back to its roots: pretending that whatever place it happens to be is the ideal place for its specific version of romance, which may or may not exist anywhere.
Biggest Liar: Elizabeth
Monday night’s episode is a continuation of Shrimpgate, a perfect incident in which one contestant got mad at another contestant for eating too much of the shrimp she cooked for the house. Clayton asks two main feuders, Elizabeth (the shrimp cooker) and Shanae (the shrimp eater), to talk things through and settle their crustacean conflict. It’s completely pointless, though, as Shanae launches into a detailed and seemingly baseless recounting of the shrimp situation. According to Shanae, Elizabeth is bullying her—and her evidence is that everybody ate Elizabeth’s shrimp, whereas when Shanae made shrimp later, nobody acknowledged it. Elizabeth is baffled. How does everybody else failing to eat Shanae’s shrimp amount to proof of an Elizabeth-led anti-Shanae bullying campaign? Besides, Elizabeth claims, she wasn’t even in the hot tub when Shanae brought over her shrimp.
Everybody is over Shanae’s shrimp story. Clayton walks away from Shanae and Elizabeth saying, “We’re not resolving conflict, we’re talking about shrimp.” (Iverson-esque.) And when Elizabeth tells the rest of the women about Shanae’s everybody-not-eating-the-shrimp-is-bullying theory, Marlena pops up with a simpler explanation: Nobody ate Shanae’s shrimp because “We were all full off of [Elizabeth’s] shrimp!” Shanae later posits that Elizabeth’s shrimp were poisoned, causing her to poop explosively, which might actually be better evidence that her own shrimp were poorly cooked, since nobody else ate her shrimp and no one who ate Elizabeth’s reported poop problems.
Shanae has quickly and universally become acknowledged as the absolute worst person on the show. She randomly started this beef with Elizabeth over nothing, continued to escalate it even though Elizabeth seemingly never did anything wrong, and somehow has the audacity to complain about being victimized. She’s also resorted to uncalled-for personal attacks against Elizabeth: two weeks ago, she mocked Elizabeth for having ADHD; Monday night, she made a joke about Elizabeth’s weight, just a week after a bunch of her fellow contestants admitted that they had dealt with body image issues. And she absolutely refuses to apologize for any part of it.
All that said, though, Clayton still picks Shanae over Elizabeth in the final LA rose ceremony. Shanae celebrates about having “won” the face-off, and warns everybody else to avoid crossing her lest they suffer a similar fate. Everybody else, meanwhile, is appropriately devastated. “The consensus is she’s irrationally lashing out and targeting Elizabeth,” says Gabby. “Justice was not served. It’s hard when evil wins.”
But Clayton may have made the right call. You see, Elizabeth repeatedly claimed that she wasn’t in the hot tub when Shanae brought over her shrimp. And indeed, this week’s episode provides no evidence to the contrary. But guess what? If we review last week’s footage, we can clearly see that Elizabeth was in the hot tub when Shanae was serving shrimp.
Sure, it’s unclear why it matters that Elizabeth was there, since none of Shanae’s arguments made logical sense. And sure, Shanae shouldn’t be taken seriously in any way shape or form. But the worst person we know just made a great point: Elizabeth was caught in broad daylight embellishing this immaterial point in an idiotic feud she was forced into by the show’s wildest villain. What else would she lie about? Clearly, she deserved to go home.
Most Dominant Performance: Marlena in Bachelor Bowl IV
One way The Bachelor makes every city look the same is by having football-themed dates in pretty much every city that has an NFL team. On the last traveling season of The Bachelor before the pandemic, the contestants went to Cleveland and played some football in the Browns’ stadium. A few years before that, they went to Pittsburgh and played football in the Steelers’ stadium. In Houston this week, of course they went to the home of the Houston Texans.
The episode began with a tailgate—by which I mean a commercial in which Clayton demonstrated that he could plug an electric grill into an electric Hyundai. (Electric cars: Hell yeah, awesome, we probably should make it illegal for companies to sell new gasoline-powered cars in most circumstances. Electric grills: No! If we’re tailgating I want my food to taste like fire!) After everybody got to eat, they were then immediately forced to participate in physical activity.
Jesse Palmer announced that the women were playing in Bachelor Bowl IV, at which point the show ran a montage of past Bachelor football dates … which showed that they were often dominated by spectacular athletes who had no business competing in reality show football. In Cleveland, actual SEC quarterback Jordan Rodgers took the field to pass to software salesmen. In another Bachelor Bowl, maybe then-active NFL player Clay Harbor trucked wannabe influencers. (Harbor is also technically named Clayton and played college football in Missouri; every single guy on this show is actually the same guy.) Monday night was no different. One team was called “the Shrimp Stampede” and was led by Shanae, who is becoming famous for being extremely irritating. The other team was led by Marlena Wesh, who became famous for being one of the fastest women in the world. Wesh was an ACC champion in the 400 meters at Clemson and an NCAA All-American before competing in the 2012 Olympics; here she is running her Olympic heat. You may not be surprised to hear that Marlena obliterated her competition in the Bachelor Bowl, scoring two of the game’s three touchdowns in a 21-0 win.
The Olympics are happening again later this week, and every time they do, people joke that every event should have one regular person attempting to compete on the side, just to show how hard it is. That won’t happen—someone would probably die on the luge. But we got a decent glimpse at how it would go Monday night when an Olympic runner from a decade ago torched a bunch of normies in a half-assed football game.
Most Dominant Postgame Performance: Shanae
Marlena’s dominance is not well-received by the losers of the Bachelor Bowl, who are forced to return to their hotel while wearing their uniforms and pads. But as is always the case with these losers-go-home dates, they make for a great opportunity for someone to completely ignore that edict and show up to the second part of the date anyways, pissing off an entire house in the process. (Blake Moynes is somewhere in Canada, nodding to this.) After some brief moping, Shanae puts on a nice dress and shows up at the afterparty. Clayton is initially mad and launches into a briefly impassioned defense of the sacred rules of the Bachelor Bowl. Then he remembers that he thinks Shanae’s really hot, and they make out on top of a bar.
After that, Shanae triumphantly returns to the group, picks up the Bachelor Bowl trophy, and spikes it into some bushes like she’s Rob Gronkowski (if anybody was dumb enough to let Gronk actually hold a Super Bowl trophy.) The blue team might have won the game—but Shanae clearly won the war. And she really knows how to celebrate her wins: After Shrimpgate, she made a point of eating sushi—with full shrimp inside of them—in front of the rest of the contestants.
Shanae ate Elizabeth’s shrimp, got Elizabeth kicked off the show, ate more shrimp, and then ignored her actual football L by winning the afterparty and making the actual winners watch her smash their trophy. As Herm Edwards said, you play to win the game—and on The Bachelor, the actual game does not involve scoring touchdowns.
Best Sports: The Houston Texans
The women were guided in their football pursuits by two members of the Houston Texans: Jonathan Greenard and Kamu Grugier-Hill. (Big snub by Texans starting center Justin Britt, who was actually Clayton’s teammate at Mizzou, for not participating here.) These are not the most famous football players in the country; for comparison, when they did this same date in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger showed up. Like, I personally know who Jonathan Greenard and Kamu Grugier-Hill are, but I have a Pro Football Focus account. Their appearance is kinda like how every once in a while a random guy shows up to sing a song and a contestant has to say, “I absolutely LOVE country star Holcomb Truckley.”
On the other hand, who was The Bachelor supposed to get from the 4-13 Houston Texans? I need to give serious credit to Greenard and Grugier-Hill for coming out. They stayed for the whole date and continued to coach the women even after it became clear that the presence of an actual Olympian would outweigh any supposed guidance. According to Reality Steve, this date was filmed on October 12. That was two days after the Texans lost to the Patriots, their fourth consecutive loss in what would be an eight-game losing streak. They were losing week after week after week—but unlike Shanae, they accepted those losses with grace and agreed to participate in this dumb contest on a dumb reality show. Although, I guess it’s possible the Texans might have only lost six or seven games in a row if their best defensive players hadn’t dedicated time to go on The Bachelor.