By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Mar 02, 2021 at 6:56 AM

Ah, yes, the Women Tell All episode – when "The Bachelor" stretches things out an extra week and lets all the eliminated women try to talk over each other while revealing ... well, honestly revealing very little we didn't already know from the show. But this year's Women Tell All was VERY revealing – not for the women, but for the show itself as it hinted at a better season that could've been. Not a perfect season – the offscreen issues would've still needed confronting and Victoria was still there, so the level of toxicity at Nemacolin would still be high enough that some innocent bystander could've gotten superpowers from it. But it didn't need to be THIS bad, this relentlessly unpleasant or at the very least this boring – and we have the cut footage to prove it.

But first, Harrison re-introduces all of the returning women – minus Magi for some reason and Sarah, who maybe still wanted to be with her family during this hard time. Or maybe they both just wanted to be outside of a ten-mile radius of this group. NOT A POOR CHOICE! Fun fact: Apparently Heather was also there for the Women Tell All, but I guess the episode edited around her, pretending she didn't exist. GLAD THAT SUBPLOT WORKED OUT SO GREAT!

Meanwhile, a big note on the bottom of the screen makes it VERY clear that this episode was pre-recorded so please don't be distracted by all of the Harrison you're about to see, all hosting the show and not on leave learning about racism. 

We dive straight into discussing one of the later rivalries in the house: MJ versus Jessenia – and it seems very apparent that the producers received notes that people are tired of all the negativity ... or at least certainly all the yelling and meanness, because this was a surprisingly measured Women Tell All. Sure, people were still heated and had strong things to say – but the amount of shrill yelling on top of shrill yelling seemed down to a degree that felt purposeful. Anyways, MJ, Jessenia and some of the other ladies hash out what happened during that chapter of the past season, as MJ tries to explain that she interjects humor when she's uncomfortable and she admits it went too far in some cases. However, she notes, "I'm not here to tear people down" – a bold statement considering we just saw her grumblingly try to tear people down with the whole "varsity versus JV team" vibe of the mansion.

Harrison moves on to talk about that vibe as he changes the topic to the five new women who arrived mid-season and how the house reacted to that. Annoyingly, no one calls out Harrison or the producers for introducing more drama into an already splintered house. WHY AREN'T MORE OF YOU MAD AT YOUR CRUEL PUPPETMASTERS!? Why are you mad at the women who arrived instead of the show that brought them in now to juice the drama in the first place? These points are annoyingly not brought up – but people do start talking about Victoria's role in fumigating the house with bad vibes. In classic Victoria fashion, she tries to deflect the criticism by asking if maybe the other women are just sensitive – a bold choice when she's also trying to argue that she suffered from bullying because she ... was called a bully. Sounds like someone just being accurate, sorry! But again, the volume is kept at a reasonable level, so this has all been more watchable than usual. 

I shouldn't speak too soon, though, because some real nonsense is about to break out. You see, somehow the person who gets everyone riled up the most and gets the harshest cross-examination of the night ... is Katie. You know how I was afraid that the other women were going to find out she told Matt about the bulling and toxicity in the house, and therefore be jerks to her rather than realize the error of their ways? And thankfully we dodged that bullet? Welp, turns out that bullet was just being saved for the Women Tell All as Mari, Serena C., Chelsea and others try to argue that the house wasn't toxic until Katie brought it to people's attention that the house was toxic. Again, some real "we wouldn't have so many COVID cases if we didn't test" energy coming from these people.

That's right: Katie was apparently the problem in the house for speaking up for those being mistreated and trying to stop the bullying – and, in the case of Monday night, for pointing out that if you're getting backlash after the show, that's just "karma." Or, to put it in the delightful vernacular of the internet these days: Well, well, well, if it isn't the consequences of my actions. The karma comment sticks in some of their craws, in addition to the fact that Katie was harrumphy about Sarah during her uncomfortable and awkward final days on the show. Katie points out that, yeah, she wasn't happy with Sarah – but then she actually talked to her, learned her perspective, evolved her position, changed her behavior and grew. DID ANY OF YOU LADIES DO ANY OF THAT?! Judging by their Women Tell All attitude toward Katie, it would appear the answer is a big greasy nope.

Or maybe they're just mad because it seemed very clear during the night that the show might be grooming Katie as its next "Bachelorette." NO COMPLAINTS HERE! Give me that sex positive, anti-bullying, kinda goofy lead who hopefully wouldn't put up with melodramatic d-bags in the house!

There certainly wouldn't be an escort accusations subplot, one would hope. That's the next topic on deck as Harrison chats with Brittany about her terrible experience on the show – one that's effectively tarnished her name as she points out that she was so embarrassed coming home afterward that she didn't talk to her family or friends for a while and that, if you Google her name, "escort accusations" is one of the main results that follow. She legitimately experienced slander on this show – not that Harrison seems to be concerned or take any responsibility for this woman's life being irrevocably altered by that. WHOOPS, DID MY SHOW DO THAT!? Brittany handles the conversation with extensive grace, though, balancing the line of explaining why it hurt her to be accused of being a sex worker while also pointing out that "there's nothing wrong with that industry; it's just not me."

At some point, the conversation turns to the source of the rumor: Anna, who has to stop making cringe faces and power eyes to hex this conversation away and answer for herself. Unlike some other people on this season, she notes that she can't justify it and that it was wholly and shamefully wrong. Not that it makes it better – honestly, if I had to hear Matt say "it wasn't her character" again later in the night, I was gonna have a moment between me, my TV and a golf driver; ACTIONS AND WORDS CONTRIBUTE TO CHARACTER – but at least she didn't try too hard to rationalize it. When others on the panel want more answers about the origins of the rumor and the motives (which sounded more like the women wanting her to reveal more slander and less like them wanting an explanation), Anna pointed out that she was insecure about her relationship and time with Matt, leading to her terrible choice. And watching back, that's CLEARLY what happened: insecurity turning into cruelty. 

Anyways, let's detour away from that forever and instead talk about HOW THE EDITORS RUINED THIS SEASON. 

Again, there was little to be done to utterly save this season. But you know what would've gone a long way? More time spent on silly games, funny ridiculousness and charming personality instead of more time spent on catty, cruel mean girl drama – AND LO AND BEHOLD, WHAT DO WE FIND IN THE WOMEN TELL ALL BUT THREE DATES EDITED OUT OF THE WHOLE SHOW.

That's right: What appears like three group dates – and a whole bunch of fun personality and goofiness – got edited out of the show. Apparently there was a "Bache-Fear Factor" date featuring the women reaching into boxes of nasty insects in order to snatch a ring from their creepy, crawling domain, as well as an equally punishing eating contest where the women had to gulp down a pile of the world's thickest pancakes and chug a beer without hurling it back up. And in case you didn't dislike Victoria enough, she committed the ultimate sin in this contest: wasting beer. I can handle bullying and shrill name-calling – but SPILLING PRECIOUS HOPPY BEVERAGE!? Prison time.

In case that wasn't enough chugging, before punching each other up on the boxing date, the women had to throw down some raw eggs "Rocky" style. Because nothing says romance like salmonella. And speaking of horrifying things, apparently Kit got lost in the woods during some hide-and-seek and ending up living a one-woman "Blair Witch" reboot, meandering around the woods, losing her sense of time and missing out on sweet, sweet hot tub time with Matt in favor of talking to the trees. 

So yes, a lot of this is ridiculous and pointless and has nothing to do with romance or falling in love – but if you're going to torture these poor women with insects and forced eating challenges, the least you can do is air it. But most important: This stuff was fun! It showed the women being playful! Add that up with the bloopers at the end of the episode, and apparently there was a version of this season where every minute of every episode wasn't spent by goading and encouraging the women to be as toxic as possible to one another AND where Matt was actually a guy with a personality. But apparently that version was left on the cutting room floor in favor ... of what? To make time to bring Heather around for an useless episode and a half to get snarled at, then not even survive long enough to make it to a rose ceremony?! To air slanderous rumors about a woman that affect her life to this day?! To focus on the 87th bullying issue in the house?!

It's very clear that this season went all in on women being villainous to one another at the expense of anything else – of liking the contestants, of giving the audience more time to get to know Matt and bond with someone they'd never met. And boy, what an absolutely disastrous decision. Again, all the ugliness still would've been in the house and probably needed to be addressed – but at least we could've cut some of that with moments like these silly dates. AND WHY IS A REALITY SHOW SO TERRIFIED OF REALITY!? Let the bloopers and accidents stay in! They reveal personality and make these people feel more real instead of like bland romance novel cover models. The most memorable parts of falling in love are arguably not the things that go according to plan, but are the lovely and charming moments where things go sideways but something unexpectedly special and memorable happens in the process. Why would "The Bachelor" leave those kind of moments out? If anything, all of that is more enjoyable and entertaining than MJ and Jessenia yelling at each other for 10 minutes and going nowhere but up in volume. 

Add all of that up, and it seems more and more clear that change is needed on this show. Harrison's been with the show forever and a key cog in making the franchise the behemoth it's been – but even beyond the off-screen debacle, it's clear he and the producers' dramatic instincts are no longer in touch with what people want to see. Who wanted the Heather storyline over these dates? Who wanted less personality traded for more bullying? Who's deciding that all of the fun, playful footage of Matt, Michelle and more should be relegated to the ends of episodes instead of a part of the show, letting us know these people we're supposed to care about? The show is trapped in stagnant reality show narratives and outdated gender politics – and it's time for a shakeup. 

Anyways, rant over; time to stop thinking about the season that could've been and head back to the season that unfortunately was – though hey, it's time for people we like! Katie gets some hot seat time to talk about Matt dumping her – though the real story here feels like the show trying her out as the new "Bachelorette." Speaking of potential stars, Abigail also gets some time in the spotlight and is as lovely as she's been all season, talking with grace and emotional about losing Matt's connection after the first impression rose but most interestingly explaining the difference between the deaf and Deaf communities. Did I just ... genuinely learn something from "The Bachelor"? Both women were two of the rare lovely highlights this season – and would make excellent "Bachelorette" stars worth watching. 

After talking to Pieper – who was the season's requisite contestant who made it far this season despite not making an impact on the audience whatsoever – and Serena P. about their late-season departures, Harrison introduces Matt James and his shiny James Harden beard. Yeah, that man is single. He argues that the beard is because "I came out of this wiser" so he's deciding to look like Aristotle or something like that – but that's just a nice way of hauntedly saying, "I'VE SEEN THINGS!" That's not "I'm engaged" facial hair; that's "I'm dealing with some stuff" facial hair. Trust me; as someone with a few misguided No Shave Novembers under my belt, I speak fluent bad facial hair. 

Anyways, Matt talks a bit about the connections he had with some of the women and alleviates Serena C's guilt by saying that just because you did bad things on the show doesn't mean you're a bad person. Whatever helps ya'll sleep at night! But the most important thing to discuss is Matt is a grown man who still kisses with his eyes open. IS HE AFRAID THEY'RE GOING TO RUN AWAY ON HIM OR TRANSFORM INTO SOMEONE DIFFERENT!? First of all, it's creepy. Human beings are not made to make eye contact that close together. Second, it's a bad view! You're just staring straight into your partner's pores and cornea – not the sexiest angle! Unless you're an optometrist or skincare doctor, there's no reason to want that close of a look at someone's face and eyes. Plus, closing your eyes stimulates the other senses, making the experience more sensual. So close your eyes, Matt! AND WHERE WERE YOU, HARRISON!? That is romantic malpractice to let this man kiss like that on national television. 

Anyways, next week marks fantasy suites – aka the sleaziest episode of the season. SHOULD BE A BLAST! It looks like Rachael is having doubts about the process and about whether Matt's heart entirely belongs to her – but boy, that's got misdirection written all over it, trying to juke the audience into thinking she's out when really she's probably the winner. I can't confirm that's how the season will end for Matt James – but I can confirm that, for this Matt, it'll end with me still thinking about these deleted scenes and wondering about the better season that could've been. 

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.