Much like hometowns, the Women Tell All episode always sounds like more fun than it really is.
You expect two hours of the contestants spilling behind-the-scenes secrets from the show, challenging the bachelor on his choices throughout the season and rekindling rivalries. Instead, you get Chris Harrison throwing delicate whiffleball questions to the stars, everyone yelling at the same time to the point of muting the television and maybe one person asking a good question throughout the entire night – and that person is always some random contestant who you forgot was on the show in the first place. And also there's bloopers, which I will always argue should be included in the show proper. IT'S REALITY TELEVISION; KEEP THE REALITY IN! Sure, things are less romantic and swoon if Peter accidentally slams a person's head into a kitchen cabinet or there's a random fly putzing around someone's head – but that stuff makes these people a lot more interesting, funny and relatable than anything that made the final cut. #JusticeForBloopers!
Before we talk bloopers and the Women Tell All, though, we have a sex week rose ceremony to wrap up. Peter is sad in a forest because he's not sure he's gone about things the right way this week, though he is in love with Hannannannannanne and his time with Victoria F. was "the most perfect date it could've been." SERIOUSLY!? Peter, we all saw that date and watched as you two were on the border of another fight about miscommunication ... while attempting to move past a fight about a miscommunication. TRULY A WONDERFUL NIGHT OF ROMANCE! While Peter stands in his forest of shame and sadness, Hannah Ann Duran Duran and Victoria are waiting for him on top of a windy hill, looking very cold and uncomfortable. Someone get these poor women some coats.
As for Madison? Last we checked, she walked away from her fantasy suite week date with Peter because he slept with the other two women despite her voicing her reservations about that – and now she's a no-show to the rose ceremony. At the last minute, though, she returns. Maybe she saw how chilled the other two were, and figured she'd spend as little time as possible shivering on the Australian mountain top waiting for Peter to emerge from his Forest of Solitude And Also Horses. But really, it's because she's still hurt, noting to Harrison before the ceremony that she WAS falling in love with Peter, but now she doesn't know.
Peter still needs to decide, though, so after Madison takes her place – and Victoria and Hannah Bananarama have almost certainly caught colds – he climbs the hill to deliver some roses. The first goes to Hannah Ann, because obviously. I feel bad for Hannah Ann because she's definitely not who wins this season ... and also I keep forgetting she's on this show. She's nice and pleasant, but her name has been the most interesting thing about her.
After he hands Hannah Ann her rose, Peter puts on his saddest, puppy-est face to give his final rose ... to Madison, who looks decidedly un-pumped about it. But she still accepts the rose – even when Peter asks her a second time if she's sure she wants it. And with that, our national Victoria nightmare is over as her gaslighting, whining, whiplash-inducing ways have been sent home. In fairness, though, on her way out, she does her best "The Irishman" impression and says, "It is what it is." I applaud a fellow Scorsese stan.
So after what Harrison calls one of the most emotional rose ceremonies he's ever witnessed (at least since last week), we're left with Madison and Hannah Ann in next week's finale. And we all have to feel pretty good about predicting that Peter will pick Madison because there's no way his mom is that sobbingly up-in-arms about a random model she's never even met. Crying over your son's girlfriend who you met for all of two hours a few months ago and demanding her return, on the other hand? Totally reasonable.
Before all of that drama, it's Women Tell All time – and according to Harrison, "all your favorite women are here." THAT'S WEIRD, BECAUSE I DON'T SEE KELLEY OR NATASHA! Indeed, two of the only contestants audiences enjoyed spending time with are no-shows – Natasha because she just couldn't make it and Kelley allegedly because she wasn't even invited because the producers didn't like her. OF COURSE THE PRODUCERS DON'T LIKE THE ONE NORMAL, DRAMA-FREE PERSON THIS SEASON. It's a bummer because those two ladies' perspectives are the ones I'd most like to see on the Women Tell All – Natasha because we trust her to tell the truth about what all went down and Kelley because she's just one of us, and I'd love to get a rational person's take on the experience. But CUE SAD TRUMPET SOUNDS because they're watching the show just like me. At least we've got Katrina and Maurissa, two people who definitely existed this season! Apparently! Can't wait to find out which one will be surprisingly sassy tonight in the hopes of earning a "Paradise" invitation!
After a brief conversation about Madison's "ultimatum" (Lexi thinks it was a bad move, while Sydney appreciates that she stuck to her beliefs and just laid out what she expects from a partner), we get a montage of the entire season's drama – and it does not do this season favors. I forgot (or at least successfully drank out of my brain) how much annoying, petty, forced drama there was this year! Like remember the Alayah drama? I wish I hadn't! That's the first topic, with Sydney saying that she always thought something was off about her, like she was putting on a show for the cameras, while Alayah explains that she's obnoxious and fake off-camera as well. "No, I'm annoying in reality too" is not the self-defense I would've gone with.
The conversation then detours to Alayah's fight with Victoria P. – who gets called out by Savannah, a person who was technically on this show this season, for being fake and wiping away Alayah's tears while pretending she didn't really know her. And that statement starts THE APOCALYPSE. All of the women – and I mean, ALL OF THE WOMEN – start talking and yelling and name-calling at once, creating a wall of impenetrable sound. It's nightmare audio chaos that made "Uncut Gems" sound like Enya. Harrison looks scared. My eardrums started bleeding. For 10-15 seconds, "The Bachelor" was truly unwatchable television.
Thankfully, Kelsey takes over the show and brings in a sense of calm – and you know things went bonkers this season when the woman who splattered champagne all over her face is a beacon of sanity. She talks about #ChampagneGate and totally owns the fact that she overreacted to the whole ordeal. Harrison, not exactly a terrific interviewer, then asks one of the other contestants if Kelsey overreacted that night. KELSEY JUST ADMITTED THAT SHE DID; NOT SURE WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO DIG UP HERE, BUDDY!
You know who's a much better interviewer? Maurissa, another person who was allegedly on "The Bachelor" this season, who smartly asks Victoria P. a follow-up question about if she was the one who started the pill-popping rumors surrounding Kelsey. Unfortunately, Maurissa oversteps and eventually gets in a micro-tiff with Mykenna, who – in a rare moment of not seemingly like she's memorized inspirational Instagram quotes – quickly reminds her that she went home on night one. Welp, I guess you're deceased now, Maurissa. Sorry, them's the rules. No "Paradise" for you.
You know who I hope isn't going to "Paradise" either? Tammy. She took an incredible physics-defying U-turn this season, going from a fun and aggressive fan favorite to a genuinely mean and cruel person – which didn't stop at the Women Tell All. Eventually, her various fights with Kelsey (which, you may recall, involved Tammy claiming she was a pill-popping alcoholic) and Mykenna come up, and Tammy is just mean about it, assuming that showing emotion makes you a lesser person and, at one point, accusing Mykenna of "spreading her legs" any time the camera was around. It's such an ugly and frankly just plain strange insult that I'll politely forget Mykenna's odd "come to Canada" retort to it all. Listen, Mykenna may speak like a sentient Pinterest board, but at least she's not full-stop mean like Tammy.
Interestingly enough, Kelsey's the total opposite of Tammy. Early on in the season, she was considered a problem – but now she's one of the favorites of the season, even getting the star treatment from Monday's Women Tell All episode. She got at least two or three segments as the focus, delivered a solid rant about how being emotional is not vulnerability or weakness, received a massive Nebuchadnezzar-sized bottle of champagne to hopefully not accidentally wash her face with again AND got a visit from fellow infamously "unstable" contestant Ashley I., who tells Kelsey and the audience that there's no room in the world for "emotional shamers." And whoever immediately smash-cut to Tammy looking sulky as hell deserves a promotion and a massive bottle of champs as well. By the end, if I didn't know any better, I'd say they were prepping Kelsey to be the next "Bachelorette" – but I guess that'll have to be another season.
After a long advertisement for the awful "Bachelor" singing spin-off – which appears to be made entirely of wannabe Jeds and Lady Jeds falling in "love" and singing bad karaoke versions of "Shallow" from "A Star is Born"; do none of them know how that movie ends?! – it's Victoria F.'s time in the hot seat. Harrison starts by saying the chemistry she and Peter had was "undeniable." I CAN DENY IT! QUITE EASILY, ACTUALLY! She does admit, though, that she couldn't get out her own way and that she didn't love how she acted throughout the show. She also denies that she broke up marriages and claims that Peter's ex just said that to get on TV and get some time in the spotlight – never mind that her face was blurred. But still, it's kind of BS to ask her if she's "broken up marriages," as if the guy in any of those situations had no control over his own actions. Anyways, the segment is arguably the most likable Victoria's been this entire season, and I wish we saw more of this toned-down person during the show.
Because we've got two hours to fill, the Women Tell All then takes a quick detour to show Peter, Harrison and his parents (for ... some reason?) dropping in on fans' "Bachelor" viewing parties. Congrats to the producers of the show for finding the three groups of people who wouldn't boo Peter out of their house after his decision-making skills this season! Also: I cannot imagine anything more awkward than watching "The Bachelor" with Peter ... and his parents. Imagine if this was during fantasy suite week. "Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Propellors, let's watch your son have sex with multiple women! Want a cookie? It's shaped like that time he had a lot of sex in a windmill! I sure do know a lot about what your son's penis has been up to!" And yet somehow that wasn't the most awkward part. That would be when, in a totally scripted moment, Peter and Harrison walk in on his parents making out in the back of their van – complete with their microphones on so we can hear them talking about how "I love it when you do that." LET'S NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, PLEASE! Excuse me while I Bota Box this scene out of my memory ...
After The Scene That We Don't Speak Of, the Women Tell All finally reaches its peak – or its supposed peak, at least. Peter arrives on the show, but instead of confronting him, everyone keeps ... thanking him? WHY ARE YOU THANKING HIM!? He was very bad at this! Is nobody going to challenge him on any of his decisions – like bringing back Alayah and giving her a group date rose that she wasn't even on? Or giving Kelsey a rose before the ceremony after visiting him? Nope, instead, Kelsey thanks him for teaching her a lot about herself. Yeah, maybe she learned to NEVER DATE SOMEBODY LIKE PETER AGAIN. Even when Mykenna asks why she was saved in the two-on-one date only to be sent home right afterwards, it comes cushioned with "Chicken Soup for the Soul" calendar quotes. YOU SHOULD ALL HAVE MORE QUESTIONS!
Eventually, Savannah thankfully gets around to being a decent interviewer, asking Peter if he regrets "rewarding the drama" and those invested more in sparking problems than romance. Peter gives a boring answer, but props to Savannah for doing Harrison's job better than him.
And ... that's it? Peter leaves, the show cues the bloopers (again, #JusticeForBloopers) and we've still got 15 minutes of show left. It's not going to be time with Clare, the new Bachelorette, who oddly wasn't at the Women Tell All to be introduced and instead was only present as a still image on an ad for "Bachelorette" auditions. So how're we killing these last few minutes? More bloopers? Drinking that Nebuchadnezzar-sized bubbly? Apologizing to the audience for that uncomfortable mom-and-dad makeout session?
No, the show brings out former "Bachelorette" Rachel Lindsay for a very important public service announcement about online harassment – because as much as we have fun criticizing cast members and poking fun at bad decisions or weird behavior, many go too far. And while "don't feed the trolls" used to be the motto about online comments, that's proven to be ineffective at stopping the racist, sexist, misogynistic and hateful messages, the silence condoning the slander made safely from behind a screen. So instead Rachel tearfully reads off some of the ugly messages they've received since appearing on the show, forcing a light on some of the internet's darkest behavior. It's an important conversation, well delivered ... but boy, it rings a bit hollow following two hours of women literally shouting and shaming one another on television, not to mention two months of the producers overtly contriving ways to sic these women on each another and behave cruelly on an unprecedented and galling degree.
#TheBachelor addressing online bullying and the hate/racism/threats they receive is so important BUT maybe not after a two-hour Women Tell All where they all treated each other so awfully. — Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook) March 3, 2020
But while the messenger may be flawed, the message is no less crucial – and it was really nice to see, for seemingly the first time this season, the women lifting each other up and praising one another. Let's mix more of that into the rest of the show next season, please.
And as for this season, here's to a smooth landing next week – or at least an entertainingly turbulent one. (What, after surviving this whole season, I'm finally allowed ONE bad plane pun, right?!)
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.