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 18th 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 Michelle Young’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.
New “Bachelorette” drinking game (for my 21+ crowd): drink every time someone mentions Minnesota. This week, Michelle and her suitors travel to her home state of Minnesota, and we quickly learn that the Land of 10,000 Lakes is one of her main personality traits. She pays a quick visit to her parents, declaring, “I’m not going to settle until I have a love as powerful as theirs.” Homegirl might have her standards just a bit too high for a dating show, but I wish her well.
One-on-one with Joe
Joe is from Minneapolis, so it’s like Christmas came early for him—except instead of Christmas, it’s hometowns. First, Michelle and Joe head to the Twins’ stadium, and it’s all very cute and Minnesotan. Next on the hometown tour is Michelle’s high school, where they visit her former locker and the gym. Obviously, they shoot some hoops before chatting in the bleachers about how much Joe reminds Michelle of her dad. Freud would have a lot to say about this conversation.
At dinner, Michelle asks him to “Tell me about Joe.” He begins by detailing a bad foot injury he endured, which derailed his college career as a star basketball player (the star of the date, on the other hand, is Michelle’s gauzy black top and leather pants). Joe explains that this caused him a lot of mental health problems, since he was never again as good at the sport that was so central to his identity. As he succinctly puts it, “Ball was life.” As usual, Michelle listens attentively and appreciates him opening up.
Viking group date
The only group date card of the week reads, “Meet me at the stadium,” so naturally, Clayton, Brandon, Olu, Rodney, Rick, Casey, Leroy, Martin and Chris S. assume that they’ll be meeting some Minnesota Vikings players. Turns out, they’re kind of right—they do, in fact, go to the Vikings’ stadium, but instead of palling around with NFL players, they’re met by Michelle and two actors dressed up like actual Vikings (so as to prevent Michelle from being tempted to find her new man on the Minnesota Vikings, presumably). The guys do a decent job masking their disappointment and gamely face the Vikings’ tests of “bravery” and “heart.”
After donning Viking-esque costumes—Chris S. is appropriately put in the bottom half of a horse costume, because he’s a total ass—they’re served Nordic delicacies, including fermented herring and a blend of cow brain, tongue and cheek (I immediately put down my popcorn while watching this scene). They then arm wrestle to be the “Ultimate Viking,” giving champion Clayton his first five minutes of airtime all season. As the guys leave the stadium to change, Brandon kisses Michelle on the lips with fish breath, and I lost all desire to finish the rest of my Skinny Pop.
At the afterparty, Michelle rocks a sparkly, green, long-sleeve dress and the guys can barely contain themselves. She rewards Brandon for being a good sport with the gross foods by giving him another type of Nordic fish: Swedish fish. He tells her that “I’m truly, like, investing myself,” which is sweet, but also reveals that he has the emotional maturity of one of Michelle’s fifth graders. Clayton is … there, per usual, and all we learn is that he loves his family. (Someone please let me know how this dud was chosen to be the next Bachelor.) Michelle gives Clayton the group date rose while the camera pans to horse’s ass Chris S. pissily mouthing “wow” to himself, despite making no effort to talk to Michelle the whole night.
One-on-one with Nayte
Add these two phrases to your “Bachelorette” bingo card: “The short end of the stick” and “fell on deaf ears.” By the end of this episode, you’re never going to want to hear them again. When it’s revealed that Nayte will be getting the second one-on-one of the week, Chris S. whines that he feels like he “got the short end of the stick” because Michelle didn’t reward him for tattling last week.
Michelle takes Nayte on a cute boating trip on Lake Minnetonka. They’re joined by two of Michelle’s friends, Allie and Tia, who are there to assess the couple’s connection. Michelle’s BFFs are dubious at first—Michelle has a history of having high standards like the queen she is—but they notice the couple’s chemistry and get on board (both literally and figuratively).
Nayte and Michelle begin to have a lovely dinner, discussing Michelle’s former “toxic, anxious relationship” that ended up making her physically ill for months, only to have her boyfriend dump her when she was at her sickest. I’m kind of amazed that Michelle was able to heal enough from that experience to star on a reality dating show, but I’m more than ready to throw hands should I ever come across that guy (although I’ll leave the sparring to six-foot-eight Nayte, who would be glad to step in).
There can never be peace on this show, can there? Wimpy Chris S. and his trusty short end of the stick interrupt and kill the vibe. Chris S. asks Michelle to chat, and I was fully expecting her to say no, but she begrudgingly acquiesces. He tells her, “I felt played by the whole situation,” with the “situation” being the nonsensical drama that he created himself. Welcome to Gaslighting Central! Like the knight in shining armor that he is, he informs her that “I came to say that I warned you” and that he’s disappointed his warnings about Nayte “fell on deaf ears.” She heard you, dude—she just knows you’re full of sh*t. I’m pretty sure that Chris S.’s entire beef stems from the fact that he’s a good foot shorter than six-foot-eight Nayte, because everything he says screams “Little Dick Energy.” You can just tell that he grew up in a Connecticut suburb and was never told “no” as a child.
Michelle has no need for Chris S.’s theatrics and roasts him: “I want a man who is going to stand and support me when I speak, and not a man who is going to speak for me.” Pop off, Michelle! She then sends him home, taking down the third villain of her season before things get out of hand. We won’t be missing you, weird little gnome boy. This season might be lacking in drama as a result, but we love a woman who knows what she wants.
At the cocktail party, Michelle makes an effort to chat with her remaining guys. She invites Rick on a little city stroll and asks him to do a model strut, commenting on his “intense eye contact.” (Yeah, that’s because he’s got crazy eyes, hon.) Next, she gives Brandon a cake to celebrate his birthday, before taking self-proclaimed “underdog” Rodney onto the hotel roof to gaze out at the city and scream “We love Minnesota!” (We know you do, Michelle.)
When she sits down to chat with Martin, the moment is far less wholesome and even more cringey. Martin says that all girls in his hometown of Miami are “high-maintenance,” prompting Michelle to ask him to elaborate. “Usually a man doesn’t go into a relationship saying, ‘Hey, you’re gonna take care of me,’” he says, backing himself into a misogynist corner. He attempts to save face by saying this dynamic “also takes away from the power that females have,” but Michelle is over the conversation. If it weren’t for his Y2K frosted tips, I’d tell Martin to take his outmoded gender roles back to the 19th century where he belongs.
You’d think that Martin’s little moment of misogyny (second of sexism?) would easily get him sent home during the rose ceremony, but you’d be wrong. Instead, Michelle sends home Leroy and Casey, two bland but generally unproblematic suitors. Martin’s rose was obviously producer-mandated, but a little disappointing. Nothing spices up a drama-free season like gender norms!
This episode really was like the hometown dates came early—Michelle was practically foaming at the mouth having the guys on her home turf, and she made sure to invite her two favorites on her hometown one-on-ones. They’ll be staying in Minneapolis for the next week … I’m calling it now: the next two guys to get one-on-ones will make it to *actual* hometowns with Joe and Nayte.
Bachelor Nation news
Sorry to all of the Zayshia fans out there, but Tayshia Adams and Zac Clark are “on a break” after nearly one year together, according to Life&Style. I never was a huge fan of the two, as evidenced by my recap of the finale of Tayshia’s season (quotes include, “I expected more for Tayshia than bland Zac C., but here we are (I hate it here)” and “Tayshia and Zac are happy—for now”). Long distance had to be hard, with Tayshia co-hosting Michelle and Katie’s seasons and Zac staying behind in NYC, but I was actually beginning to think they had a chance at lasting. Of course, they could reconcile, but I’m not too optimistic.