So it took until episode four, but Ben Higgins finally made it through a week of dates on The Bachelor without a woman leaving voluntarily. And while it seems the spread of unlovabenitis has slowed, it remains to be seen if that trend will continue with two and a half of the remaining 11 women teetering on the edge.
While most of the ladies are content to see where this journey takes them, the trio of Jubilee, Olivia and, to a lesser degree, Caila seem to be overwhelmed by the process.
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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
While our war veteran may be a bad-ass with many, many layers, it is clear that each one is riddled with insecurities that require constant maintenance and reassurances. And that’s going to end up being too much work when other potential wives come with less complication and baggage, though it’s worth noting that Mr. Nice Guy is exceptionally gifted at soothing the freak-out. Still, connections with other women could end up being too much for her.
Then there’s Olivia, the hot 23-year-old (from the waist up, anyway) who found success as a TV journalist at a very early age and perhaps before developing the maturity necessary to handle the limelight. Her overconfidence borders on delusion, and despite a clear connection with Ben, she has a target on her back and has been progressing towards a Britt-like me-or-I’m-gone meltdown for weeks.
Then there’s potentially-crazy Caila (for daily use!), who combats the rigors of reality show dating with sex-panther aggressiveness (It’s a real animal, people). She pounces on Ben every time they’re alone, to the point where it’s more abrasive than sexy or romantic. She seems like a drama queen by nature, but so far she is coping just fine. Stay tuned.
The Number One Bachelor No-No
It happens every season, and it appears this will be the week when certain women commit the Bachelor cardinal sin of airing grievances about the girl they don’t like. The victim, obviously, is Olivia, who Ben will be forced to confront. But the easiest way to ensure you won’t win is to be the one to initiates the “wrong reasons” conversation with the main attraction.
Right or wrong, as soon as someone becomes more concerned with sabotaging the competition than the prize, the quest for love is doomed. It’s only a matter of time before Ben stops viewing that particular female as a viable match, as staying above the drama is crucial to sticking around. Unless, I guess, your name is Vienna. Or if you’re a model.
Let’s find out who takes the plunge and just how disruptive ABC News reporting on the Iowa caucus will be. Thankfully, Chris Harrison promises we won’t miss anything.
Viva La Mexico
Mexico City is the first international destination of season 20, and the women are already talking crazy as they yuk it up in coach. Twin-less Emily (or Haley) says she now has nothing holding her back (ouch!), while Olivia discusses her and Ben’s super special private love language, of which we are still not sure he is aware.
The girls are obsessed with their respective hotel bidets, and they pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate cleanliness. They spot a date card in the corner, and Olivia is shocked that “Let’s put all our eggs in one basket” goes to Amanda, the divorced mom with those disgusting icky things other people call children. Clearly, she already put her eggs in someone else’s basket, so why should she be rewarded with a date?
Amanda, for her part, has been away from her kids for a while now, so she wants to take this alone time to determine if it’s all worth it.
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Up, Up and Away
Ben surprises the girls in their rooms before the crack of dawn, and he doesn’t care that they look like crap because he too sleeps with a retainer. Olivia has dragon breath and someone’s weave is sitting on the nightstand, but Amanda apparently did herself up before bed and looks spectacular even though it’s 4:30am.
She and Ben go soaring over ancient Mayan ruins in a hot-air balloon, and after some very normal-looking kisses, they share a picnic in the grass and get to know each other for the first time. This is a different experience for her because it’s so outside her everyday life as a mom, and she needs to balance opening up about her past with not scaring him away.
They cozy up for a romantic dinner, and then it’s time to talk divorce. She and her baby daddy got married when the oldest was six months old, but he always had other priorities and wanted to hang out with his friends over doing things as a family. Then she got pregnant again and things went downhill, culminating in her finding an old cell phone with texts from exes and other girls he was meeting online.
She wanted the perfect family so bad and felt like a failure that she couldn’t make it work, but the point of it all is that she’s worried Ben will think marriage isn’t special to her anymore. But if anything, all that she’s gone through makes her appreciate it more. And he appreciates her more for that, rewarding her with a rose and more normal-looking adult kisses, which she appreciates.
A Rosetta Stone of Love
Jubilee is struggling with her feelings of jealousy when the date card — “Como se dice: This way to a man’s heart” — arrives for still-a-virgin Becca, Ben’s personal unicorn JoJo, Jubes, Caila, Emily, super single flight attendant Lauren B., Ben-and-Jen Jennifer, football-hiking Leah and Olivia. That means kindergarten teacher Lauren H. and her retainer have nabbed the other one on one.
They meet Ben for private lessons in Spanish, which Caila apparently already speaks. And that’s a good thing because the others all sound like my dad when he just adds an ‘O’ to every word and calls it Spanish. They each get a moment to drop a romantic line on Ben, an opportunity Jubes takes to give him attitude over speaking words to other humans with lady parts.
Olivia nails her “Yo soy la mujer para ti,” but she seems to think there was literally a visible electricity between them. Then she “woos!” because she’s back, baby!
A Shopping List Para Dos
Little do the ladies know they’ll immediately be putting their newfound bilinguality to the test, thanks to the brother and sister chef tandem of Lula Martin Del Campo and Nicolas Martin Del Campo at their restaurant Carbon (imagine a tilde over the ‘O’, because it’s not pronounced like the element).
They divide into teams of two and are given ingredients lists and recipes by the owners, which they’ll then have to collect in the market before cooking. But because there are only nine girls on this date, one lucky lady will be paired up with Ben. Olivia picks up on this first and claims him, much to the dismay of the others.
Emily discusses her desire to literally regurgitate and punch Olivia in the face before making stabby motions with a large knife, and she surmises that Ben has an ulterior motive for sharing fresh mint with her. (Apparently, dragon breath is not a morning thing. Or Emily’s just being catty.)
Meanwhile, Olivia has turned into a full-blown woo girl.
The pairs are Jubes and Lauren B., Caila and Leah, Emily and Jennifer, Ben and Olivia, and Becca and JoJo, but all eyes are on the happy couple as they flirt and feed each other crickets while the rest shop for ingredients.
They all gather in the kitchen, where Ben dubs himself “the spachelor” to express his love of meal making. Despite the jellies no one is using to cook, everyone seems to be having fun, with the exception of Lauren and Jubes. But they have the last laugh, as their food wins best in show.
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Listen All Y’all, It’s Self-Sabotage
Jubes is feeling needy heading into the night part of the date, and while she hopes to beat Olivia to the punch, she makes the mistake of waiting for Ben to finish his introductory speech. But by that point, Olivia already has him alone with a tongue shoved down his throat. And as he cycles through the women, including an outside excursion with Lauren B., Jubes sits in the corner and sulks.
When her turn finally arrives, she’s got nothing but pent-up frustration and refuses to hold his hand, and that’s just not going to fly. She remains standoffish, talking about how she feels overshadowed on group dates and wonders if she stands out from the others (which is kind of silly, no?).
He flips the script, saying he felt like they had something they could build upon, but now that she’s pulling back and refusing the hand that so many other nubile young woman would love to caress, he’s not sure they have a future. She quickly goes from offense to defense, begging him not to give up on her.
Look, she’s probably a great girl and a better girlfriend, but this process brings out the worst in her idiosyncrasies. He decides it’s best if they part ways, and it’s a shame because she did this to herself. For her part, it’s tears upon tears, and she mutters, “I’m, like, the most unlovable person in the world right now.” Yeah, except that’s Ben’s thing. Find your own words of self-loathing, Jubes.
Ben breaks the sad news to the others, which secretly makes them all happy because there is less of a chance they’re going home now. JoJo quickly steals and comforts him, but he still gives the date rose to Olivia. Aww, hell no, the gaggle squawks.
On the Catwalk, Yeah
High fashion takes center stage on Lauren H.’s first one-on-one date — let’s design a life together — as they pay a visit to famed Mexican fashion designer Pineda Covalin for Mexico City’s Fashion Week. After a behind-the-scenes look, he invites Ben and Lauren to walk the runway with the models.
The director schools them on footwork, eye contact and Blue Steel, and while Lauren is certainly no pro and way out of her comfort zone, Ben appreciates the laid-back and fun-loving way she approaches the challenge. And him telling her that she’s the most beautiful girl in a room full of models certainly doesn’t hurt her confidence.
They both manage to stay on their feet, and she has nothing but praise for Ben’s looks despite the fact that his right-side white, left-side crazy patterned shirt looks like a Halloween costume where you’re half one thing and half another — or, as Pitbull calls it, wearable.
Over dinner, she opens up about her boyfriend (who she was with for four years) that ended in multiple instances of him cheating. Afterwards, she decided to choose happiness over despair, which shows Ben that she has a deeper side and erases some of his doubts that other relationships are advancing faster. And so a rose means she’ll be sticking around for another week.
The Teen Mom Heard ‘Round the World
As the cocktail hour approaches, Emily (or Haley) takes the lead on the anti-Olivia movement. She’s been plotting because Ben’s connection with the villain threatens everyone, and he needs to know that Olivia makes her uncomfortable in order to get her negative energy out of the picture. Or, you know, seal her own fate as not Ben’s wife.
After JoJo whispers sweet nothings and gets a terrible high five and Lauren B. talks about like-liking him and potentially having a “life-life,” it’s time for the much-alluded-to offensive line of the year. As Amanda describes her custody arrangement and how her ex doesn’t take the kids half the time like he’s supposed to, Olivia drops the “It’s just like an episode of Teen Mom.”
Amanda is taken aback because she had her kids at 22 and 24, with her shit together, and she resents the implication that she’s some sort of sideshow. In reality, Olivia is 23 and simply trying to relate in any way she possibly can, and knowing no single parents, it’s the only comparable thing she can come up with. I’m not defending her, but it’s not that bad. At least not the expletive-laden level that Emily takes it to.
In response, Amanda compares Olivia to Snooki, which prompts tears, and promises to try harder. See, what Amanda doesn’t realize is that she herself has now insulted teen moms and Snooki. No one ever thinks that Snooki has feelings, but Oompa Loompas are people too.
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On and Under the Bus
Emily is outraged over Olivia’s rude, selfish and bullying behavior, and Ben needs to know. So immediately after calling out her arch-enemy’s crocodile tears, she drops some of her own.
“I didn’t think I’d be emotional,” she gushes to Ben with the waterworks turned on, saying Olivia is being disrespectful and that everyone is feeling it. He starts to have some second thoughts about his seemingly rock-solid connection, and Olivia tries to squash the drama by continuing her lurking ways.
She gives him a ring and denies that there’s any conflict between her and the other women, instead focusing on their relationship. But he’s starting to suspect that the Olivia he knows is different from the one the other ladies experience, and so he conducts an informal poll.
Amanda claims that she has always felt targeted by Olivia, while Jennifer points out that she doesn’t click with anyone. Meanwhile, Emily calls Haley and whines with an ugly cry face that gives Ashley I. a run for her money. “This experience makes you realize who you are, in a good way,” she wails. And you, lady, are a weepy insecure mess.
As the rose ceremony approaches, Ben pulls Olivia aside. The girls think she’s done and about to have her rose revoked, and Emily is absolutely giddy at the prospect. I saw that wry smile, girl. Devious.
To Be Continued…
Oh c’mon! What, they couldn’t stand to have Jubilee and Olivia sent home in the same episode? Because after they leave, there’s literally no controversy left, and all we have is Emily’s whiny personality and a bunch of potential wives.
But like Hogwarts, drama will always be given to those who ask for it, and it appears that unlovabenitis might be spreading as the journey continues. Several women will be questioning why they’re still around, and Ben might be the one to get blindsided.
Unlovabenitis … it’s like the Zika virus, only real.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)