Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 16th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Tayshia Adams’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.
As usual, Tayshia delivers A+ content. This week, she gave us a garden variety of dates: fun, sexy, deep and dramatic all at the same time. I continue to be impressed by her ability to inject just a liiiiitle bit of depth into a fairly vapid show. Not, like, that much profundity, but hey, it’s there. Here’s the rundown of this week’s episode:
Love song group date
For the first group date, the guys compete against each other to win a one-on-one with Tayshia. Instead of a sports game involving nudity—like the rest of the dates so far this season—the guys have to write and perform an original love song for Tayshia. Honestly, Bachelorette producers, if we wanted to hear mediocre singing, we would have watched “The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart” (news flash: we didn’t). As cringe-inducing as the guys’ ballads were, this date was pretty entertaining, albeit kind of a ripoff of John Paul Jones reciting a monologue from “Romeo and Juliet” to Tayshia on “Paradise.” You’d think that Kenny the boy band manager would be familiar with cheesy lyrics, but he bombs pretty badly. We also learn that Bennett from Harvard absolutely cannot rap, to no one’s surprise. Blake breaks out all kinds of instruments—including an accordion—to distract from his nails-on-a-chalkboard voice, and Demar writes a tune called “Mocha Latte,” an ode to Tayshia’s skin tone.
One piece of advice, Demar: when writing a love song for your crush, maybe don’t include a lyric about her ex-boyfriend? IDK, just a thought. It’s Ivan who steals the show—and cinches the one-on-one date with Tayshia—by bringing her onstage with him for that extra ~connection~.
One-on-one with Ivan
This date is going to go down as one of the best in Bachelor history. Not only is Ivan a total sweetheart, he like, has substance? That’s unprecedented for this show. The evening starts off like the date of my fifth-grade dreams: they play “the floor is lava,” have a pillow fight and eat the most gigantic mountain of ice cream ever made. Usually, when a contestant “opens up,” they’re admitting to having distant parents or revealing a childhood fear of bumper cars, but Ivan actually has a legitimately touching and tragic story. He talks about his brother being incarcerated and how he had to step up to take care of his baby niece, and it takes every ounce of determination not to fall for him right then and there. Ivan then talks about George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement and how they have affected him as a Black man (he and Tayshia are both mixed-race).
Normally, this show dodges anything political or news-related, and it is so refreshing to hear an actual substantive conversation for once. Not only does Ivan touch upon systemic racism, he actually asks Tayshia for her opinion on it…the bar is low, sure, but Ivan pole-vaulted over it. These two have such a great connection—feel free to punch me for using that phrase—and let’s hope that Ivan’s date rose takes him far.
Truth-or-dare group date
You didn’t think that the Bachelorette producers would let one adorable, meaningful date steal the episode, did you? Think again. They make up for the lost cringe factor with their truth-or-dare antics. There to greet Zac, Bennett, Kenny, Riley, Blake and Eazy are former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin and former contestant Sydney Lotuaco. Becca trots out her classic line, telling the guys to “Do the damn dare!” Personally, I would not do those damn dares…the first is a smoothie-tasting competition, with delicious ingredients including fruits, veggies and you know, water scorpion and cow intestines. The worst part of this episode, though, is what I hesitate to title the ~sexy time~ competition. This is not a drill: the guys are seriously forced to fake an orgasm into a hotel phone. I’m not sure where to go with the snark on this one, and Becca said it best: “At this point, I don’t think I’d take any of them to the fantasy suites.” Amen.
Onto the “truth” portion of the date. Bennett reveals that he was engaged before, then promptly deflects any more questions on the subject. Kenny tells Tayshia that he wants five kids (yikes), and Kenny’s distressed t-shirt looks like it belongs in that Downy U-Neck commercial. Zac and Tayshia have a little hot tub moment in which he admits that he is “in the feels” and gets nervous around her, which is totally fair. The woman is perfect; it would be hard not to buckle in her presence. He gets the group date rose, which is fine by me, because so far he is entirely unproblematic. Please don’t prove me wrong, Zac.
I really wanted to like alien-faced Ben, but all he does is whine. He decides he needs to prove his dedication to Tayshia and goes to visit her under the cover of darkness. They chat, and she forgives him for…something? Who knows. The room service champagne that Ben ordered definitely helped.
It seems as though Forehead Ed had the same idea as Ben, but unfortunately for him, he is directionally challenged or just plain dumb. Instead of arriving at Tayshia’s suite, he knocks on Chris Harrison’s door at around 2:30 am. This is the weirdest booty call known to man. Ever the host, Chris Harrison invites Ed in for a nightcap—they opt for red wine over whiskey or beer, if that indicates how awkward this interaction is going to be—and they have absolutely nothing to talk about, not even football or, you know, Tayshia, the girl Ed is supposedly crushing on. Is it just me or is Ed serving major Alex B. from JoJo’s season vibes? Maybe it’s just that they’re short, obnoxious and like to stir the pot. Anyway, props to Ben for great execution, and R.I.P. to Ed.
Teenage boy angst
No episode is complete without a completely arbitrary and unnecessary bit of drama. Noah, now mustache-less, and Bennett, our resident Harvard man, faced off last night. Apparently, most of the guys in the house are still upset that Noah crashed last week’s wrestling date, and Bennett has taken on the role of their spokesperson. He has some great one-liners attacking Noah’s immaturity, including “I’m here for love, not for breastfeeding Noah,” and, “I’m not on ‘the Babysitter.’ I’m on the Bachelorette.” While these lines killed, it’s a little sad to see 36-year-old Bennett stooping to Noah’s level of pettiness, but what can I say? Boys never grow up. During the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party, Noah goes to Tayshia to tattle on the other guys for allegedly bullying him, telling her that the other guys are questioning her integrity about who she gives roses to. Literally nobody is questioning Tayshia’s integrity, Noah.
The episode concludes with a rose ceremony. Tayshia looks stunning, of course, but she might need to take a hard look at her priorities. She chooses—spoiler alert—Forehead Ed over sweet, sweet anesthesiologist Joe (Joe for Bachelor 2022!) and also gives Blake (the walking red flag) a rose. Tayshia, WYD girl? Despite these missteps, I’m still loving Tayshia as the Bachelorette. I really like how she singles out multiple men when handing out a date rose, giving them specific, intentional compliments about their conversations from that night. You can tell she’s taking this seriously (unlike *cough* Clare *cough*) and even the most juvenile guys clearly care about impressing her and always bring their A-game when she’s around.
The promo for next week teases a two-on-one with Bennett and Noah, and every member of Bachelor Nation is already on the edge of their seat. Until next week.