With Ben Higgins down to his final two women — who, unbeknownst to each other, have each received a declaration of love — it’s time for that bi-annual rite of passage where the Bachelor or Bachelorette (I initially wrote groom- or bride-to-be … and then I laughed) must face the wrath of lovers scorned.
Ben has sent 26 women packing thus far, and while it remains to be seen who will show their faces on TV again, it’s clear that most of them don’t matter.
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I mean, what do you really remember about fourth-Lauren “LB,” Canadian Kaitlyn acquaintance Jami, jobless Rachel on a hoverboard, dad-in-spirit attorney Samantha, save-the-date gerontologist Jackie, red velvet Laura, second-Lauren stalker Lauren R., bread-breaking Breanne, onesie pajama Izzy, cock lover Tiara (she had chickens) or apparently-unluckiest-girl-in-the-world Jessica? There was a Jessica?
I don’t even remember what most of those nicknames refer to, which is a reflection of this collection of potential Mrs. Higginses. Even not-so-first-impression-rose-hat Mandi barely made it out of night one, and she would have at least brought a sense of intrigue to the dudmuffin’s season.
Flashback, Err … Monday
Since the 20th season of The Bachelor has been rather mundane (yet infinitely more likable) compared to other years, I took a look back at how I approached Chris Soules’ trial by fire at “The Women Tell All.” Here’s an excerpt of how I started that recap:
“The only way to counter the most unassuming and genuinely nice Bachelor in more than a decade of not trying to find one is with the craziest bunch of bitches this side of a rabies-infected animal shelter.
“We’ve got ’em all! Drunk bitches! Virgin bitches! Widow bitches! Upside-down twerking bitches! Scheming cruise ship bitches! Onion/pomegranate whispering bitches! Buff bitches with permanent black boxes over their privates! Nude-posing bitches! If you fear it, we’ve got it!
“We have collected them all in one location for your viewing pleasure, and the only entity I fear may not survive the evening is the venue. On to the head-on collision! There will be tears! Anger! Drama! Emotions! Animosity! Just try to look away, I dare you.”
Well, I certainly can’t write any of that this time, right? Even with half the “virgin bitches” category back for another go, the mansion was basically a bitch-free zone. And that’s considering that Ben is exponentially more unassuming and nicer than Prince Farming, so you’d think producers would have upped their game to compensate.
On a side note, isn’t it amazing how the sentiment toward the Soules Man has changed over the past year? Now he simply comes across like a lady-hunting D-bag.
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Where’s the Beef?
While Jubilee, Lace, Olivia and Caila are all expected to spend time in the hot seat, the only real animosity exists between Emily and Olivia. (Considering the source, there’s no way Amanda is legitimately still pissed about the Teen Mom thing.)
And let’s be honest, as much as you may have disliked Olivia, complaints coming from a 23-year-old Las Vegas cocktail waitress who is seemingly made of plastic and dreams of becoming a Denver Broncos cheerleader generally don’t garner much sympathy.
There was no true villain this time around (though I am incredibly interested to hear Leah explain her dastardly plan to discredit Lauren B.), and Ben’s ability to diffuse stressful situations while still appearing to be a good person is likely to short out any fireworks before the fuses can even be lit.
It’s the only explanation for how a woman can say yes to a proposal, then find out her fiance dropped an L-bomb on another woman before spending an intimate night with her and still want to stay together. But that’s The Bachelor, folks.
The tension will be mostly manufactured, but the real drama will come when Ben pulls his 3/4 of a Mesnick, whatever that means. But, hey, at least he’s engaged and happy, and he only put his fiance “through hell and back.” You know, normal pre-wedding stuff. Happy wife, happy life…
On with the shit show!
Entering the Ring
After Chris Harrison and Ben crash a few fan parties, including a literal 40-adult slumber party, it’s time to welcomes the ladies. In attendance are: Lace, Tiara (with chicken Sheila), Amber, Jami, Izzy, Rachel, Jubilee, Jennifer, Shushanna, Lauren H., Olivia, Leah, Becca, Haley, Emily, Amanda and Caila.
They kick things off with a montage of the women swooning over Ben, followed by reminders that everyone hates Lace, Jubliee, Leah and Olivia (who visibly cringes at the replay of the Teen Mom line).
Ben-and-Jen Jennifer tosses the first stone, calling out Olivia for being selfish and always stealing Ben. Then Emily chimes in that Olivia was the cause of all the drama, but she is interrupted by Sheila bugging out. (“She hates liars,” Tiara chides.)
Attention then turns to Leah, who justifies her bold-faced lies by inventing a story that Lauren B. once called the rest of the girls losers. Then she claims it was not her intention to outright lie, which is, of course, another lie.
They bash Jubes for avoiding conflict, even though she feels like she went out of her way to address confrontation, and bi-racial Jami plays the race card in pointing out that Jubilee considered herself the “real” black girl. Bi-racial Amber accuses her of using the N-word and telling both of them they weren’t black enough and that Jubilee’s goal was to be “the black girl who goes the furthest.”
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Women in Black II
As if the abuse wasn’t enough, it’s time for the Jubes to hit the hot seat so that the women can direct their hate in a unified direction. She apologizes to Jami and Amber for being unintentionally offensive before heading to center stage.
She understands that she’s a controversial person who needs layers peeled back (cue eye roll) before you can get to know her, and it was a big deal for her to open up to Ben about her family. Then as the other women got attention, she got in her own head and pulled back. And that prompted Ben to send her packing.
Even if you’re sympathetic to her plight, I have a hard time feeling sorry for her when she sabotaged herself. And she stole Ben’s line about being unlovable.
In reality, she doesn’t see herself that way, but rather hard to love, which seems pretty accurate. Still, she never thought someone like her would have a chance at winning Ben, but she appreciated how he handled her baggage. It worked, but she didn’t work, and she realizes that watching it back. Going forward, she vows not to overthink a situation to the point where she’s self-destructive.
Arsenic and Old Lace
Now it’s Lace’s turn, and we journey through her nine circles of crazy from the stolen kiss out of the limo and drunken attempts at mouth rape to eye contact accusations and her self-elimination to “work on herself.” It’s all tough for her to watch because that’s not her, and this process made her aware of how awful she can be in such situations.
She’s dabbled a bit in the dating pool since she left the show, and she’s making a concerted effort to avoid using the word ‘crazy’ and be aware of her facial expressions. Then some dude in the audience tells her she is crazy … crazy beautiful, that is. And then he takes off his shirt to reveal a kidney-area tattoo of Lace’s face, and they snap a selfie.
Chris makes a quip about needing better security (that’s why the guy had a microphone) before offering Lace a spot on Bachelor in Paradise, an invitation she hesitantly accepts.
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Olivia Newton Yawn
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, as Olivia heads to the hot seat. She stole Ben’s heart right out of the limo, and things were so good until they weren’t. There were sniffs, pre-ceremony roses, lots of kisses and talk of being the self-proclaimed frontrunner before Emily, Amanda and Jen spilled the beans about her true nature. It all ended with her alone on a windy and rainy beach, cankle deep in sand, while Emily gloated at her slightly elongated stay.
Watching it back has not been fun for her, as Ben is the man of her dreams who “got” her right away. She was smitten, but her lows stemmed from all the behind-the-back talk, which she wasn’t even aware of until the show started airing. She takes responsibility for her part in the drama and apologizes for the Teen Mom comment, but she takes exception to the fact that no one ever came to her and instead resorted to gossip.
She points out that Emily talked to her once, which infuriates the Stepford Swift who actually approached her twice. The nerve! It turns out that Amanda is more peeved over the comment that Ben should run from her kids, and Haley claims Olivia insinuated that she looked slutty and bullied the others.
Leah points out that Haley and Emily gave it right back to Olivia, including insults about her appearance, which one of the twins claims is “beyond the point.”
Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
Olivia never thought she was actively trying to make anyone’s life miserable or sabotage their relationships, only that she was prioritizing hers and trying to stay afloat in her comfort zone, which is being alone.
Stealing him at the beginning of cocktail parties was her way of being there for him, but it ended up hurting her because it made the others want to grab him even sooner. So it wasn’t about her getting more time; it was about them getting less. It’s why I wrote all along that they needed to stop bitching about Olivia and instead match her game.
For Jennifer, Olivia’s comments in Mexico summed up the story because if she had gotten off her high horse and taken the time to bond with them, she’d have known that they too enjoy books and talking about smart things. Emily and Haley clap, but I’m still not sure they can read.
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Two is More Angry than One
The Doublemint Twins tag team her over how disrespectful she continued to be, even after they told her she sucked, but the whole experience — from the silence when she entered a room to the comments about ugly toes and bad breath — brought Olivia back to the days of being bullied in elementary school.
Shushanna chimes in that it was like that because Olivia made it that way, always wanting everyone to be jealous of her. Izzy, who spent all of five minutes on the show, doubts that Olivia was actually bullied as a child because then she would have learned something and altered her behavior. But it’s been rough for Olivia, to the point where she had to turn her social media accounts to her sister to avoid awful comments from trolls.
She ends her segment by tearfully apologizing to Amanda and all the mothers she may have offended with her stupid, insensitive comments. Love her or hate her, she seems sincere. And I will choose her over the twins any day of the week and twice on Bachelor Mondays.
The bronze medal winner is up next, and there’s a lot of Caila love in the house. She came into this unsure if she could be vulnerable and love someone, and Ben was instantly attracted to her sex panther-like aggressiveness.
The downfall began when he tried to dig under the happy exterior, and she responded that she was pretty sure she was going to hurt him. It ended when she expressed her love and he was unable to reciprocate, even though he said those three little words to both her competitors.
Caila relives her departure, watching for the first time as Ben shocks her by sending her home, and in a way, she still loves him because her heart has never trusted anyone in that way before. It’s actually been positive for her to see what Ben has with JoJo and Lauren B. because the way he looks at them is how she wants someone to see her. But she misses him.
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Closing a Window and Opening a Door
Ben joins the party in hopes of offering closure to the jilted, and after asking, “Is that a chicken?” he reminds the potential Bachelorette of all their memories and assures her that he would never discount their relationship.
She wants to know if her hesitation played a role in stalling their progress, and he assures her that they didn’t stall but that others just progressed faster and further — which, in fact, makes “stall” an appropriate word.
Leah jumps in to ask why, if he kept each relationship compartmentalized, he threw her under the bus by running right to Lauren B. after she threw Lauren B. under the bus. He responds that her comments altered a relationship and forced him to confront the situation, and it was up to her whether she owned up to what she said or saved the conversation for later.
Leah says she has cleared the air with Lauren B. and that they’re good now.
Facing the Firing Squad
Jubilee asks why Ben was more patient with Caila and JoJo regarding their difficulties opening up, yet he let her go the moment he felt her pulling back. He pins it on her coldness relative to those struggles, in that she didn’t even want to talk to him after he gave her chance after chance. But instead of progress, she showed regression.
Olivia gets it now watching it back, but it still would’ve been nice to get a true one-on-one date. For Ben, there was something that wasn’t right, and there was no need to drag it out.
Amanda is sick and lost her voice, and while she has no questions, seeing Ben’s emotional reaction at her departure meant a lot. Additionally, she thinks every girl in America died a bit inside watching him chase her kids around the beach in those tiny board shorts, and she’s sure he’ll be an amazing dad someday.
Becca loves to see his face again, and he gives all women a sense of comfort that no matter how relationships work out, guys like him do exist.
Lauren H. hopes their sacrifice at the altar of love is worth the while and leads to a successful marriage, and man, what a snoozefest of compliments this is turning into.
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Tall, Dark and Happy
Ben is happy, more in love than he’s ever been, and he’d marry her tomorrow if he could, prompting Chris Harrison to threaten to hold him to that. Then he asks if Ben can correctly identify Haley and Emily without the finger cast, and he’s up to the task. Then it’s time for bloopers:
A cameraman falls in a pool during a date, but another guy manages to save the camera.
Jubliee and Ben drink wine in the pool, but the bottom of their glasses keep clinking together.
Amanda spills her drink all over Ben while they’re making out.
Ben’s drink jumps out of his glass and hits him in the face.
JoJo spills her drink on her boob and wonders if her nipple will get hard as she rubs her shirt with a towel.
Ben and Lauren B. are making out in the hot tub when someone breaks wind.
JoJo and Jubilee burp.
Chris Harrison feeds cake to the mini-horse.
Ben gets hit with a light filter.
There’s a blackout while Olivia is in the confession room.
The girls work out with tiny hand weights while drinking (three reps and a sip … you earned it).
The mini-horse steps on Amanda’s dress.
Becca gets confused and starts talking about Chris’ season.
JoJo has a bug in her nose, which kicks off a montage of folks being terrified by bugs and bats.
Then there’s jumping on the bed, getting mauled by pigs, balloons popping, champagne bubble baths, exploding corks, people falling into hot tubs and up stairs, and Ben dancing around in JoJo’s unicorn mask. Really, it’s more fun to watch than it is to recap, if it’s actually fun at all.
All That’s Left to Do is Choose
The “Women Tell All” caps off with Chris Harrison putting Ben on the Mount Rushmore of Bachelors, and then it’s time for a preview of the finale.
Ben is in love with two women and dropping L-bombs left and right, giving them both a sense of security they shouldn’t have. His mom finds it disturbing that such nonsense could even be possible, and the fear starts to affect everyone involved.
It includes a confession on a bathroom floor, in which Ben admits to JoJo that he is also in love with Lauren, and the revelation leads to more tears. But, ultimately, a lost Ben must make a decision, and in order to love one, he must let the other go.
So who will it be? JoJo or Lauren B?
The Bachelor season 20 finale airs Monday, March 14, at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order