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On Monday night, two women 3,000 miles apart, one deeply familiar with the franchise, the other much less so, watched Episode 2 of Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette separately. This is their story.
Kate: I found last night’s episode impressively exciting, a response I’ll attribute to Rachel’s natural effervescence, but also because they featured celebrity cameos with people who actually watch and love the show (apparently the way to be relatable these days is to be a celebrity who likes to gush about The Bachelor universe) and some really good drama!
Kara: Of the two cameos, I was most shocked and thrilled by Kareem Abdul Jabbar. When Rachel started introducing the person who would clearly be some basketball player, he was easily one of the last people I expected. I thought he gave very good advice and in general was a calming presence for a group of dudes who were trying to out-testosterone each other in front of Rachel. Also, I now realize how much he and I have in common considering we’ve both been past skeptics who have been won over by non-scripted television programs!
Kate: Yeah, those who haven’t should check out Kareem’s post for The Hollywood Reporter, in which he explains how, after writing a piece for THR in January titled “The Bachelor’ Is Killing Romance in America,” the producers invited him to come on the show. What I found notable about his new piece is that in it, he says that the producers knew soon after it was published that their Bachelorette would likely be Rachel.
After my article appeared — and while Viall’s Bachelor season was being broadcast with Rachel still in the mix — the producers of The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise called me up to tell me that the upcoming Bachelorette would feature a black woman. There were three black women among the remaining contestants, and though the producers wouldn’t reveal whom it would be, clearly Rachel had been a standout. They then asked me if I would like to come on the show and run the men through some basketball drills that would reveal some of their character traits to Rachel. As a fan of the shows, I naturally agreed.
Timing-wise, his comments suggest that their decision came relatively early in the season airing (this would have been before Week 5, when Jami King was eliminated), which is pretty interesting!
Athletes have appeared on this show before, usually to facilitate physical challenges like this one—who can forget the poor decision during JoJo’s season to feature Ben Roethlisberger—but none that I remember have been as thoughtful a presence as Kareem. He wiped the memory of Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher right out of my mind.
It also didn’t hurt that the date he was on was a doozy.
Kara: Let me just say, I did not appreciate Ashton and Mila’s continued, wooden insistence that they have lots of sex. We get it, guys! You have babies! We know how they got there!
I can’t say this on any authority because this is of course, for all intents and purposes, my first season of The Bachelorette, but I get the sense that everyone involved really wants this to work out for Rachel. She’s obviously so damn delightful; with Mila and Ashton, for example, they seemed rather invested in her having a good time and not ending up with a guy who sucks. With Kareem, obviously he also finds her likable, but I’d also guess he’d love for this to go well relationship and ratings-wise for the first black woman on this program. Maybe I’m reading too much into it or maybe people seem this invested every season but it was an observation.
Of course, one person who clearly doesn’t give a shit about her happiness is wack-ass DeMario. Watching him walk out, clearly realize he’s screwed (“OOOHHH”) but then have the foresight to exclaim, “WHO IS THIS?” was truly incredible. Also, his girlfriend looks like what I imagine Scheana Marie looked like six years ago.
Kate: No I agree, there’s definitely a quality to Rachel that has people around her particularly excited.
I had a lot of thoughts about the big reveal that DeMario has a girlfriend back home. Firstly, though his change in mood from thinking he was going to get some one-on-one time with Rachel to seeing his ex Lexi was hilarious, both he and Rachel seemed genuinely surprised by Lexi’s appearance, who played her part as the scorned, slightly nutty former paramour perfectly. But secondly (and more interesting to me), was how confusing the breakdown of what happened between him and Lexi was, and also how Rachel responded to it. She put on her lawyer hat, basically backing DeMario into a proverbial corner until she declared that “you don’t make sense.” I got the sense at moments that it wasn’t as though she was particularly interested in siding with Lexi, but she was aware of the fact that she has a couple dozen men who hopefully don’t have girls with whom they have complicated pasts waiting in the wings, and if she can let one go, it’ll be a lot easier for her later on with guys she actually is committed to and likes.
That being said, she was clearly really pissed at the producers, which couldn’t quite be edited around. The scene where she walks off and says she wants to be alone and goes into the bathroom by herself, completely ignoring Chris Harrison, who is standing in the middle of the gym—at one point you see at least one producer she’s talking to, but for the most part, they make it look as though she’s nonsensically complaining about how pissed she is, which could be at the men.
I think a closer watch suggests that she’s pissed at the producers, for saddling her with DeMario and blindsiding her with the drama. (“This is not the shit that I signed up for,” we hear Rachel say. “You know how I feel about being played. You know I’m really pissed right now. I’m so annoyed, I want to go home. Like I don’t even want to do this anymore. I don’t wanna talk about it.”) Sure, that’s the name of this game, but maybe Rachel thought she was going to have less of that to deal with, or hadn’t quite realized yet what lengths they’ll go to to make good TV.
Kara: Rachel’s whole angle thus far has largely been that she’s a skeptic who really, really wants to give this an honest shot. I felt for her when she was expressing her disappoint not just at DeMario being an idiot, but mostly that she might have sent home a good guy by allowing DeMario to stay (aka hot Blake).
After all the drama, I loved how the guys saw a perfect opportunity to get all sensitive and deep with her. It felt like a revolving door of serious stares and “I just hate that you had to go through that.” Most of them really used DeMario’s screwup to their advantage. I don’t love when the guys start treating this whole thing like too much of a competition (it takes me out of the ROMANCE) but in this instance, I enjoyed it. I also like to think one of the guys didn’t take that approach and was sitting home watching the show and kicking himself.
Also, even though neither of their stories made since and homegirl was rocking a scrunchie around her wrist like it’s 1999, I somehow still believed her version of events more than DeMario’s.
Kate: I was always predisposed to not like DeMario because it’s so weird to go into meeting someone and say you wanna “wife” them, but I suppose, given that that’s the premise of this show, I should let it go.
My last thought to share is that the biggest issue of the night that was not resolved—what on earth was going on with Rachel’s dog Copper’s leg????—is still sort of unresolved!
Rachel… what is the something???
Kara: Wow, that is very secretive for what I have to assume is not a particularly good reason. Unless Rachel did it herself, who cares how he broke his leg? RELEASE THE TAPES, RACHEL.
A final thought I’d like to leave everyone with this week is an idea that popped into my head while watching: How funny would it be if just once, just to fuck with everyone, they segregated a group date? I think that would be hilarious and if ABC is looking for a consulting producer, please hit me up. I’ve got more ideas like this.
Also, good lord there is a lot of kissing on this program.
Kate: Yes, cc ABC… your next producer is here, and her name is Kara Brown.