Image via ABC.

On Monday night, two women 3,000 miles apart, one deeply familiar with the franchise, the other much less so, watched Episode 4of Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette separately. This is their story.

Kate: I thought maybe I was alone in thinking that Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette felt like the first one we’d had in ages, but then literally as it came to me, Reality Steve tweeted the same thing. So it seems like the endless stream of Bachelor in Paradise news (which first broke only a little more than a week ago) is having a more profound effect on some of us who consume too many aspects of this franchise than we might realize.

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Kara: As Kate can attest, I almost forgot it was on last night. But thank god she reminded me. While I understand the interest in the all the drama around Bachelor in Paradise, I’m also a bit irritated that it’s stealing some of Rachel’s shine. As we saw last night, she is obviously acutely aware of all the pressures put upon her.

Kate: The scene of Rachel talking to her producer was really interesting, especially coupled with the tweet she sent in response to former contestant Leah Block’s idiotic comment about the episode. (Leah’s deleted her tweet, and apparently her whole account, but it obviously lives on infamy.)

I was never particularly moved by Dean before this episode, but his comments about Lee and Kenny’s fight, coupled with how much he opened up on his date with Rachel, impressed me. (“The only people that I’ve seen Lee pick fights with have been not the people that he’s used to seeing on a daily basis, from a cultural perspective,” he said during an interview. “What do you mean?” a producer asked him. “You know exactly what I mean when I say that,” Dean responded. “The longer Lee sticks around, the more everyone will become aware of his intolerance.”)

Kara: I too was pleasantly surprised by Dean and I’m happy we had a white contestant spelling out Lee’s racism for people. It was easy to see—particularly when the guys were all sitting on the stairs—that the black contestants obviously understood what was going on but for whatever reason, did not say anything pointed on camera (or perhaps it was cut).

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I found Rachel’s tears a bit confusing, if I’m being honest. It was hard to tell what exactly she was responding to. That response to Lee and Kenny’s fight strikes me as somewhat out of character for her unless there was more to it that we didn’t see.

Largely, I was most perplexed by how Rachel handled the dispute between Kenny and Lee. Kenny has not shown himself to be a particularly aggressive person outside the wrestling ring. He’s rather soft spoken, he gushes about his daughter and generally comes off as a rather chill guy. So when it seemed like Rachel was taking Lee’s word about Kenny’s so-called aggression, I struggled to understand how she was buying that. More so, I was baffled how, as a black woman, she wouldn’t further question or push back against Lee’s characterization of Kenny as “aggressive.” It’s such a dog whistle statement and I assumed Rachel was sharp enough to see through that.

Kate: I think it’s definitely fair to assume that there’s something from the conversation Rachel had with the producer that we didn’t see. And this is pure speculation, but I also wonder if she’s basically been told she has to keep Lee around even though she doesn’t want to (some evidence to support this theory: that Lee and Kenny will go on a 2-on-1 date next week with Rachel, where she has to pick one and send the other one home, sudden-death style). It also seems like, from the comments she’s made before about wanting people to treat her just like all the other bachelorettes, that she’s even more aware of how the romantic decisions she makes play into the perception of her than past leads have been.

There’s also just a degree to which this happens every season—that the Bachelor or Bachelorette gets caught in between two people in the house who are warring. Iggy is a great example of the tropes this show hits upon every season, given that he’s clearly stuck in the best friend, and always ends up talking about the other men with the girl he’s attracted to.

Kara: I cannot stand Iggy. Though I do understand what he’s doing, Iggy is annoying and a snitch and his jeans are too tight.

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Last night did help me understand something about this show. I, of course, am a Bachelorette virgin and am only really watching because I want to witness the first black Bachelorette. Therefore, I’m largely focused on watching Rachel navigate these waters and find someone who will be nice to her even if they don’t really deserve her. However, I also understand that there’s a lot of other drama that needs to go down to keep things entertaining for millions of people. But it’s the back and forth between those things that I’m struggling with.

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Obviously I’m not so naive that I don’t see that, yes, Lee probably is being kept around by the producers and of course the guys need to have drama amongst themselves to justifying airing this show for two damn hours every week. If I felt less invested in this particular Bachelorette then this likely wouldn’t bother me as much. As it is, I am very hostile to anyone or anything that is distracting or impeding Rachel’s success. Clearly things are only going to continue so I suppose I’ll have to come to terms with this at some point.

Kate: I feel you—Rachel is so charming and fun to watch I’m bored watching these non-charming, non-fun guys like Lee (who, sidenote, reminds me a lot of the horribly creepy brother from Get Out) do what this show always makes them do, even if I know they always make them do it.

Seems like next week’s episodes (yes, one on Monday, and then another one on Tuesday) will lead us to another Lee and Kenny faceoff, after which point I assume Lee will go home because he sucks and there’s no way Rachel is attracted to him regardless of the drama he’s stirring up. At that point, we’ll be at Episodes 5 and 6, which is when things really start to actually get serious with some of these dudes, and people like incredibly-square-jawed-man-in-the tan-suit who I saw last night and did not for a single second recognize, will be gone.

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In lighter news, I will say that the Spelling Bee date was super funny to watch and I’m surprised they hadn’t done it before, though (no offense to super-spellers) I don’t think being able to spell “champagne” proves once and for all that you’re intelligent or not.

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Kara: The Spelling Bee was great and I found the date as a whole to be rather fun even if I did have to fast forward during Peter’s freestyle because I can only handle so much secondhand embarrassment.

I’m not sure I’m mentally or physically prepared for back to back episodes of this madness but if it results in Lee finally getting booted, then fine.

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Can I also just say that I’m convinced the guy who got the other one on one date [insert name here because I really do not know that fool’s name] was a stray passenger from the flight to Hilton Head because there’s no way he’s been around this entire time. While I loved to see all the guys pouting about not getting a date (except Eric because he really seems to be struggling here and probably needs a hug), I understand their frustration that Rachel gave the date to a stray passenger they picked up on the plane. Seriously, there’s no way that guy has been here the whole time.

Kate: Wish I could say this doesn’t happen every season but... it happens every season.