By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Feb 16, 2021 at 7:46 AM

So things are obviously going really well with "The Bachelor." 

For those who haven't been keeping up, fans discovered that one of its current contestants – Rachael Kirkconnell – had a recent history of racist, or at best problematic, behavior including attending a plantation-themed frat event in 2018. Chris Harrison decided to go to the mat for Rachael on former "Bachelorette" Rachel Lindsay's podcast and did not come off great at all, to the degree that the longtime face of the show announced that he would step away from "The Bachelor" to hopefully learn more or at least not be a distraction. (Welp, too late for that!) Meanwhile, cast members past and present released statements disavowing racism, Kirkconnell posted an apology that didn't entirely fly and Lindsay, the show's first Black star, sounds like she's done with the show, likely cutting ties after her contract's up.

And who can blame her? After almost 20 years and 41 seasons, the show has had more controversies about racism than it's had Black stars, and not including Tayshia's odd half-season, both of its Black-led seasons have had to deal with racism (remember Lee?) during what's supposed to be a fun, light-hearted and romantic show. The show needs to be more diverse, in so many ways, and yet seemingly every time "The Bachelor' tries to do so, it proves itself woefully ill-equipped or inept at handling it. This was supposed to be the season that moved "The Bachelor" forward; instead it's only revealed how still backwards it still is. 

And that's all before we get to the show itself, which isn't going much better. Currently, we have a stiff and boring guy clearly uncomfortable with the process rushing through women who haven't been able to show their personalities at best and have been mean girls at worst, fighting through transparently fake and desperate drama that makes almost everyone involved look bad. Combine all of that together, and you have an episode that I admit I totally felt checked out of – despite being down now to the final bunch of women and a week away from meeting families. Wait, we're meeting families already?! Did I hallucinate that a bunch of women were still on this show? Or did Matt really eliminate almost a dozen contestants in two episodes? (It's the latter, though considering the amount of wine necessary this season, hallucinations might've been involved too.)

Last we checked, former Colton season contestant Heather had arrived to attempt some bizarre last-minute attempt to hop on the show mid-stream. You see, according to Heather, their mutual friend Hannah Brown was talking up Matt so much that Heather, despite supposedly never having met him before and only knowing him through Hannah B.'s stories, needed to date him – now. Why did Hannah Brown only get around to telling Heather about Matt until he was in the middle of a dating show? Or did Heather wait until NOW to make her move? And why was Matt so comfortable with Heather and quite clearly knew who she was when she entered if they've never actually met before? These are questions the show refuses to answer – mainly because the answer is "all of that is BS; we had a cattiness quota to hit." There were ways to make her entrance make sense and serve as a fun subplot; instead, the show chose the most convoluted, confusing and hole-filled approach that makes this all look transparently like Harrison just called her in for filler drama.

In the end, the contrived machinations make Heather unfortunately look like a lunatic, flying across the country, renting a van and showing up at a reality show set to MERELY MEET a man she's allegedly never actually known in the midst of a reality show (oh, and also during a pandemic). But it also makes most of the other contestants look bad, as they all come in hot against Heather, harshly interrogating her as soon as they get the chance. They berate her with questions, with the occasional insult spiced in as well to make sure they know she's not invited. Heather's eventually driven to tears, saying "I didn't expect them to treat me like this." Indeed, who could've predicted that cutting the line and dive-bombing the dating show midway through would be a move that the rest of the women wouldn't enjoy? But sure, Heather may come off hilariously naive, but the women also come off cruel (where's Katie when you need her!?) and the show comes off so carelessly desperate for drama that it threw a former contestant to the wolves. 

And for what? In the end, the subplot is over in 15 minutes as Matt – the only person who comes away clean from this drama – decides to send Heather home instead of bring her into the fold. They go their separate ways, and Heather gets an awfully tragic goodbye, sadly driving herself away in her rental van and probably vowing to never take dating advice from Hannah Brown ever again. (I mean, she did keep Luke P. around forever and ended up choosing the dog kibble jingle man who was dating someone else and literally only there to get a music career, so I would've already been dubious about her matchmaker skills.) In the end, that was predictably pointless, and just made me annoyed at just about everyone on the show – including the show itself! Success ... ?

With that weird Heather speedbump traversed, Matt returns to the women and commends them for handling the situation with grace. Ah, yes, that was a lot of grace I saw, women calling another woman a virus and bringing her to tears due to the producers' idiotically flailing attempts at drama. Such dignity. But anyways, Matt hands out his latest batch of roses, with Chelsea and Serena C. missing out on the carnations. Dammit, and I just finally stopped screwing up who was Serena P. and who was Serena C. Oh well – THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR COMING AT KATIE, SERENA C! Remember when she got mad at Katie for trying to stop the bullying, rather than the bullying itself? So many fun characters this season. 

But enough about mean Serena, let's move on to the Serena still on the show! She gets a solo date this week, getting to do tantric yoga with Matt. It starts off just looking like doing airplane poses like when you're six – but it eventually escalates to very sexual and intimate positions that Serena is not particularly comfortable with. In fairness, I don't know if I'd want to be on national television in sensual poses with a guy dating several other women at the same time. That's a lot of intimacy in front of America – and their yoga instructor.

This would all seem problematic for getting a date rose (not being "open": the ultimate "Bachelor" sin beyond not being there for the right reasons and daring to be kinda goofy) but Matt actually likes that Serena was open with him about her discomforts and her disagreements – something they'd have to deal with as a real couple in the real world – so she gets the rose. Then they go ice skating amid a storm of clumpy snow bubbles. They should've borrowed some of our real snow; we've got plenty we'd be willing to donate!

Meanwhile, poor sweet Abigail is sad back at the mansion, feeling bad that she missed out on every one-on-one date thus far – and considering next week would involve bringing in families, she doesn't know how she'd introduce Matt to her clan after they'd never had an actual date thus far. 

She plans to bring it up at the evening's group date, which involves ... nothing. No games. No fun locale. Did I miss something here? It's just a night of chatting – which, OK, is a good thing at this serious point of the show. But damn, they put all that effort into shipping Heather onto this show for no reason, but they couldn't come up with a group date concept? Anyways, at the group date, Abigail asks where Matt's at with her, and he admits that he assumed their connection was so strong on opening night that he felt OK putting her to the side and exploring his relationships with other women – which now all surpassed her. WELL THAT FULLY SUCKS! You almost get the impression that dating 30 people at once doesn't actually help foster the best romantic connections. Matt doesn't want to lead her on any further, and she gets an early exit, breaking America's heart. Like Katie, Abigail was too good for this world. 

Back on the group date, Bri tells Matt during their private time that she had to resign from her job in order to stay on the show. Well that, uh, is a commitment. Sure hope she ends up being selected! Feels like something you'd want to make sure you have ironed out before going on "The Bachelor." But what actually irritates me is Matt noting that he doesn't need to hear anymore from Bri and that he now knows that she's there for him. SO THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, LADIES! Just give up your career and now he feels confident that you're all in on him. I see a tense conversation on a couple's therapy couch happening in several months. Anyways, Rachael gets the group date rose, which, uh, good for her I guess. Certainly doesn't remind me that any off-screen drama going on! What fun escapism this silly romance show is this season!

Thankfully, Kit provides a much-needed distraction as she makes an unexpected stop at Matt's suite. She's feeling uncomfortable introducing him to her family if she's not feeling certain that he could be her future husband – and between not getting the rose and feeling wonky about their connection as well as feeling uncertain about making this next giant step, she's not. So she calls it a season and leaves. Congrats to Kit for being better than expected this season. Her introduction made us all think she was going to be some rich drama queen, and while yes, there was certainly some mean girl behavior, she ended up being much more down-to-earth, level-headed and emotionally intelligent than many expected. Congrats to her for escaping the show.

That leaves us with one final one-on-one date, this time with Jessenia and some guy from MotorTrend who's good at drifting cars. So he teaches Matt and Jessenia, who proceed to just ruin the poor guy's nice fancy car. The man came on "The Bachelor," saw his life flash before his eyes while these two tried to drift and then got a broken side mirror as his reward. At least Jessenia and Matt had a good time, with the former saying that "if this is a glimpse at what life will be like with Matt," she's thrilled. Yep, this is what normal life will be like: just reenacting a "Fast and the Furious" movie with nice cars on the regular. This is definitely what a relationship in the real world will resemble!

After making out on the car hood, the two have dinner where Jessenia says that she's falling in love with him. Matt responds with what every woman wants to hear after proclaiming her love: "Thanks for sharing that." So she's gone. And indeed, Matt says that he's not as far along with his emotions as she is, and he can't give her a rose. Sorry Jessenia – but thanks again for helping get rid of MJ! And hey, now she knows how to drift in case she's ever a part of a family-like crew of car enthusiasts, racers and super-spies trying to save the world. 

Matt's not done eliminating women, though. Yes, the show desperately needs to move things along at a blinding clip, so we get one final rose ceremony on the night with one more woman going home. And that woman is Pieper, who seemed nice but also seemed to complain a lot about not having enough time, et cetera. So, after starting the episode with ten contestants, that leaves us with our final four women: Bri, Rachael, Michelle and Serena. And if I had to guess, without knowing the spoilers, I'd say your final two would be Bri and Rachael, with hopefully Bri and Matt ending up together – if only for the sake of not getting another awkard Becca/Garrett rerun at the finale. 

But honestly, the happiest ending at this point is just this season coming to a close. From its haphazard origins – "oh by the way" announcing Matt James instead of somebody Bachelor Nation had an attachment to or trying to develop that connection – to its ugly and hacky drama-desperate season, and now the behind-the-scenes chaos, what was supposed to be an all-too-delayed groundbreaking season for "The Bachelor" might just be the season that breaks it. And maybe that's a good thing. The show's been begging to break free of its old predictable tropes and structure for a while now – more diverse and positive, more letting its characters breathe and be natural instead of saving that for blooper reels, more open to what a final "winning" relationship can be, more actual reality on this reality show. 

Hopefully a better version of "The Bachelor" comes out on the other side. I mean, as of right now, it can't get much worse. 

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.