By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Aug 30, 2022 at 1:31 PM

Oh, the Tell-All episodes. Two hours of a host immediately losing control, the worst people doubling down on being The Worst and a dozen axed contestants screeching over one another to the point that the closed captioning stops bothering and just turns into the shrug emoji. They're terrible. They're punishingly loud. They're borderline intolerable. 

And god, how I missed them Monday night.

I can't believe I'm defending the glory of shriek-a-thons past, but the Men Tell All episode on Monday night was a mess – and not in the fun way. The drama never showed up – literally, two of the few drama-inducing characters on the season RSVPed "hard pass." Nobody said anything shocking, much less entertaining. Hell, basic plot points of the actual show were hand-fanned away to instead sell me a champagne delivery app exclusive to cruise ships, an innovation that could only be more useless and irrelevant if it only worked at 4:30 a.m. on days that begin with Q. Apparently we know what the producers have been doing this season instead of producing a television show and giving this unique season any sense of structure or dramatic coherence: booking product placement for this episode!

Bah! Enough lead-up: Let's dive into this ad episode. (After a sip of this refreshing, delicious and unexpectedly low-calorie Simply Spiked Blueberry Lemonade, on sale now at retailers nationwide!)

Anyways, our primetime QVC informercial with occasional "Bachelor" clips begins with Palmer teasing a dramatic and dare he say shocking (dare, dare!) Men Tell All special to the live audience members, including a person dressed as Rambo – not the dog, the Sylvester Stallone action hero. I'd make fun of the guy – what am I saying, I WILL make fun of the guy, who is WITHOUT A DOUBT an ABC-hired extra – but at least he bothered to show up and face the consequences for his actions unlike Rambo the dog's owner. But before we DON'T get to that exciting drama, oops, turns out we still have to finish last week's hometown date episode! Whoopsie! Two hours was enough for "Citizen Kane" to track the entire life, rise and fall of one of history's most iconic Americans – but sorry, that's just not enough time to capture the nuances and complexities of hometown dates week on "The Bachelorette." I kid – but actually, that they wedged Aven's date into the Men Tell All should've been the first clue that this episode didn't have the tea. 

About Aven's date: It's nice! Or at least as nice as a date in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the infamous witch trials, can be. But all that historic murderous misogyny in the air isn't what's pressing Rachel. No, she's still hung up on her hometown date with Tino's family, who were less than welcoming and less than fans of the show's process – which Rachel's decided to interpret as them hating her. I'VE decided to interpret it as the show trying to put up a smokescreen and make it less obvious that she's ending up with Tino – but tomato, tomahto. By the way, according to that fountain of totally accurate information called Wikipedia, Aven's actually from Beverly, Massachusetts – 12 minutes away from Salem – so this locale was a bit of A Choice by producers. You just KNOW they wanted Rachel to say something about how she too was persecuted by Tino's family.

Oh, one more thing, ABC: You got a spooky date in Salem, and you didn't play an ad for "Hocus Pocus 2" coming out next month on your parent company's streaming service? YOU CRAMMED SO MUCH PRODUCT PLACEMENT INTO THIS EPISODE – BUT NOT THE MOST LOGICAL ONE?! Mickey will be displeased ... 

Back to poor Rachel, though. Aven tries to settle her nerves by telling her that his parents are great and understanding – never mind that they've never OKed one of his girlfriends before and that today's meeting will be the first time they've been in the same room since his college days. WHAT, NONE OF THIS IS RELAXING YOU!? Well, we've got just the cure: WITCHCRAFT! Indeed, the couple pops into a shop run by a love witch whose Bawston accent is thicker than Legal Sea Foods' clam chowdah. Kinda breaks the mystical, supernatural vibe when your host sounds like a Sam Adams beer ad – but she does perform a love spell to give Rachel and Aven good vibes. Good vibes that DIE A PAINFUL DEATH because immediately after casting the spell, they knock over the poor woman's table, breaking glass and making a mess. "Is that bad?" asks Rachel, unaware she's about to be in the real-life sequel to "Drag Me To Hell."

While she receives none of the lady's supernatural wrath, it's now time for Rachel to face Aven's family's wrath – or lack thereof because they seem great! Sure, they're concerned (as any normal human should) about the process and about the two falling in love in ABC's fantasy world with no thoughts about reality. However, Aven's dad does a good job of asking stern and serious questions but being fair and actually listening to Rachel's answers. TAKE NOTES, TINO'S PARENTS! In the end, they approve – and, better yet, Aven seems just as ready to take the dive, talking to his mom about how he's feeling like he's emotionally getting there with Rachel too. He confirms it by telling Rachel that he's falling in love with her, and she returns the affection.

Oh boy, with hometowns over, it seems like some tough decisions are ahead for Rachel and Gabby at the impending rose cerem ... oh, we're not doing that? Oh, you DID a rose ceremony and decided IT WASN'T WORTH AIRING!? You decided an integral part of this season's "Bachelorette" storyline wasn't worth putting on "The Bachelorette"?! Jesse Palmer's just gonna be like, "btw no one ended up getting sent home but enough of that – have you heard about this dope champagne app?" And if I do actually want to watch scenes from "The Bachelorette," I have to go to ABC's website!? WHY DO YOU THINK I'M ALREADY HERE WATCHING THE SHOW?! It's sure not to learn about cruise ship apps!

Sure, not eliminating anyone would be a letdown – but it would certainly be more dramatic and engaging than the host just half-heartedly telling us what happened. And again, this is critical storytelling information the show is just ... not doing! They haphazardly brought Meatball back from the dead off-screen, they chucked Logan off the show without a proper send-off or explanation and now they sprint through a rose ceremony without even the time or dignity of a end credits blooper. I know this season's been a bunch of learning on the spot for everyone – but you still need to, you know, SHOW US WHAT'S HAPPENING AND TRY, JUST ATTEMPT, TO MAKE US CARE!

But that's OK; surely the rose ceremony got shunted away into background noise because there's so many other VERY important and EXTREMELY valuable things to do during this episode. It's not like the producers would do this just so they could, I don't know, show me an extended preview of "The Kardashians." THAT WOULD JUST BE RIDICULOUS!

After finally wrapping up the hometown dates, we can finally proceed with the Men Tell All. Or more like the Most Of The Men Tell All, because neither Chris (the "already thinking about fantasy suites on day two" guy) nor Hayden decided to show up. So the two guys who actually caused drama in the house are no-shows, leaving nothing much to talk about except for Logan ... and Roby the magician's new jet-blonde hair. That's right: The Men Tell All was so devoid of drama and intrigue that a new hairdo on an opening night rejectee qualified as one of the most dynamic conversation points. 

In fairness, it wasn't just Roby's hair that was making a loud statement on Monday night. Every year, somebody who barely got three minutes of screentime shows up with THOUGHTS, ready to spill the tea and drop some snappy quips and hopefully earn their way into a "Bachelor in Paradise" cameo. The new Ryan Gosling in "Barbie" hairdo should've been the first clue Roby was going to be that guy in this Men Tell All – and indeed, he comes in snappy, roasting Dollar Store Fabio (aka Jacob) for his terrible breakup with Gabby and grumbling about the guys who rejected Rachel's roses at that disastrous mid-season ceremony. One zinger: fine. But after that, the guys are tired of hearing from Who?-dini – most notably Ethan, who very aggressively shuts him down for the rest of the night. (Between this and the "baby back b*tch" comment, Ethan sure seems to have a short fuse for a nice guy. In fairness, though, Tino was being a baby back b*tch and Roby is a magician.)

Speaking of disappearing acts: Logan! He's alive! Yes, after mysteriously getting COVID and then even more mysteriously vanishing from the show without a proper exit – or even dramatic return, attempting to get back in the running – Logan is one of the few divisive contestants to attend Monday's episode. Will the show explain what happened with the test and why Logan just got chucked off the ship without a real goodbye? WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS, A COMPETENT SEASON OF TELEVISION!? We don't have time for that "storytelling" nonsense – we've got "Bros" to sell.

Logan does answer a few questions at least – or more like dodges them, as Palmer and the fellas ask when he realized that he was actually interested in Gabby, not Rachel, and why he thought it was OK to take Rachel's rose when he was emotionally out on her. I'll say this about Logan, though: He's slick. He comes up with a great answer for the latter question, explaining that if taking Rachel's rose under false pretenses resulted in him getting more time with the woman he loves and finding his partner for life, who wouldn't do it? Logan is a player, no doubt, but he plays damn well. We'll see how well that goes in "Paradise" – which, oh, by the way, he's on the next season of "Paradise," which gets more screentime than Rachel and Gabby's rose ceremony. Great episode, expert storytelling, no notes. 

After everyone gets their pre-prepared zings in on the absent Chris and Hayden, we come to the part of the Men Tell All everyone was waiting for: a champagne delivery app exclusive for cruise ships. Yes, Palmer does his best impression of teens over Thanksgiving break talking their parents through setting up their email, taking his sweet time demonstrating how you can get champagne delivered via app on your next cruise. VERY USEFUL! He then breaks some SHOCKING and LIFE-CHANGING news to the audience. Do we have the new "Bachelor" already? Is the show going down to an hour each Monday? IS PALMER MOVING TO FRANCE TO SPEAK HIS NATIVE TONGUE!? Nope, it turns out the studio audience is getting a cruise. How thrilling for them – they'll have to let us know how well the app works. 

We'll return you to your regularly scheduled product placement in a moment – but first the Men Tell All chats with Nate about his heartbreaking split with Gabby, all the while Nate keeps sounding like the greatest person ever. Palmer does ask some questions about some pesky internet rumors – one that says he hid his daughter from a year-long relationship, another that says he was dating two women at once – but Nate effectively explains and apologizes those away as the communication mistakes of a younger, dumber guy. In general, everyone leaves the interview thinking, "JUST MAKE HIM THE BACHELOR ALREADY!" 

Sorry for all that pesky talk about "The Bachelorette" – BACK TO THE ADS! This time, we're selling the next season of "Bachelor in Paradise," with Andrew, Serene, Victoria and Genevieve – aka a bunch of people who I forgot about completely. They're on stage to answer questions about how CrAzY the new season will be – or at least three of them are. Poor Genevieve isn't asked a gosh darn thing, totally skipped over and given only a token "Yeah!" as a speaking part. WHY DID YOU HAVE FOUR PEOPLE ON STAGE IF YOU ONLY HAD ENOUGH AIR TIME AND QUESTIONS FOR THREE?! I swear if one of the ads looking for "Bachelor" auditions was Palmer saying, "We're looking for someone to produce the next season of 'The Bachelor'," I would not be shocked. 

Anyways, they show the preview – which I refuse to acknowledge because Shanae is in the footage, and my brain just simply will not accept that information. CAN'T IMAGINE ANY SOCIOPATHY WILL BREAK OUT ON THAT BEACH, NO SIR! Somehow things get worse, though, as Palmer then introduces a teaser for the new season of "The Kardashians" – at which point I missed what happened next because I grabbed a golf club and used the television screen to practice my 5-iron. Glad we had time for this but not a rose ceremony! Real "the Oscars don't have time for the actual Oscars but do have time for fake Twitter polls" energy radiating from this production. 

So after cleaning up the remnants of my television and buying a new one, Gabby and Rachel pop on to take questions and hopefully bring some excitement or intrigue to the proceedings. They do not. Much like the laws of physics say energy can't be created out of nothing ... or something (I didn't pay attention in school and also I've had a lot of this tasty, irresistible Simply Spiked Blueberry Lemonade©) Men Tell All drama can't be created out of nothing. The closest thing we get is Mario feeling like he got done dirty after earning Gabby's first impression rose – but that gets tidied up with a brief chat about how Gabby just eventually found better connections while Mario seemed like he wasn't all in. Even Logan's discussion with Rachel is a damp squib, the two just pleasantly moving on. Listen, I love that we're not doing toxicity and cruelty this season ... but did we have to render this season utterly toothless in the process? WHAT'S ALL THIS MATURITY DOING ON MY SILLY OVERDRAMATIC DATING SHOW!?

At least it's ACTUALLY my silly overdramatic dating show, though. It's the last we'll see of it for a bit as, for the final 15 minutes, the Men Tell All turns into a press junket for the new rom-com "Bros." How did a season with not one but TWO leads not have enough worthwhile material for a standard Men Tell All, requiring Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane to fill time with awkwardly organized dating game questions?

Thankfully, there's nothing a little tomato sauce can't fix – so after meandering around for an eighth of the show, the episode wraps things up by having Meatball dump a jumbo jar of Prego all over himself again and potentially blinding himself with delicious Italian gravy. I know Jesse Palmer was definitely blinded by it. Any fashion fans were likely, too, seeing Eichner's nice pink Power Rangers-esque sweater die a tomato-y death via a hug with Meatball. 

It's a fun, explosive final note in a generally not-very-fun, exceptionally not explosive episode – though Meatball, I'm sorry to say that this is your life now. You won't be able to attend a "Bachelor" event or convention or podcast now without dousing yourself in Ragu. Sure, it seems fun now – but call me when you're 57 years old and standing under a tomato sauce waterfall for a "Bachelor" reunion special. Decisions have long-term consequences – just ask the guy who years ago volunteered, on a lark, to recap a season of "The Bachelor" just for fun. THEY. HAVE. CONSEQUENCES.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.