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

Kara: Wow. Man. Wow. I felt like I went through as many emotions as Eric this episode. I guess we have to begin with the long overdue exit of Lucas AKA WHABOOM and the other creepy guy who talked about his penis in the first episode.

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That fight between them was a masterclass in juvenility. It’s still not clear to me why Blake hates Lucas so much and neither dude is a sympathetic enough character for me to care. I’m just glad we got rid of two man-babies because the house is already teeming with too many.

Kate: What’s interesting to me about the Lucas-Blake fight isn’t anything to do with them, but the degree to which this franchise has become so inbred. Because I don’t care about them, I was barely paying attention, but from what I’ve gleaned, Lucas used to date Blake’s former roommate, and they were all on a reality TV show called Ex Island together before this (where Blake maybe dated her too?). Good lord. This, plus their now inevitable face-off on Bachelor in Paradise, or some other Bachelor-spin-off, sets them up for even more drama than two men who didn’t have any relationship before meeting on the show would. Casting people who love the reality TV world is something the producers seem to be more comfortable with in recent seasons (for but one small example, see Jamie from Ben Flajnik’s season, who went on to appear on Married at First Sight).

And just from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, I loved watching their fight because it all played out in the large courtyard in front of the house, with the camera panning back and forth between where Lucas and Blake were each getting interviewed. Producers were shown! Backdrops were revealed! Lighting equipment!!! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Kara: While entertaining, the tiff between Lucas and Blake confirmed for me that there’s almost no chance I’ll be able to continue watching this franchise after this season. The secondhand embarrassment I feel from this program is consuming and honestly, stressful. I’ve never screamed at my television so much in my life! At one point, I literally had to leave the room during this episode. I’m stressed!

Though there were many, the most upsetting scene was probably Anthony (who, by the way, I’m convinced the producers literally just flew in that day because I don’t remember seeing or hearing about him at all) and Rachel RODE HORSES DOWN RODEO DRIVE. I mean, I guess the pun of it all is cute but when they kept going into those stores WHILE RIDING HORSES, I had to take a step back and consider what I was doing by participating in this inanity.

Image via ABC.

Actually, I take back what I said. The most upsetting moment was when Rachel kicked poor Fred to the curb!!! Still, I support her extremely savage decision. I had grown to like Fred but when he said something about Rachel being in his soul, I wanted her to get as far away from him as possible. The entire process that led up to the kiss was deeply embarrassing, the kiss itself was rough and the when Rachel compared kissing Fred to KISSING A LITTLE BOY. My god. It’s hard to even know who to feel bad for at that point.

Kate: I also felt bad for Fred, though I appreciate Rachel just getting rid of whoever she wants when she wants to. We were spared numerous more episodes of Blake and Lucas’s fighting because of her quick trigger finger, which probably bummed the producers out but made me happy because I couldn’t tolerate even a second more of this attention-hogging bullshit.

Speaking of dramatic men, what did you think of Eric? I felt like some of the editing worked to make him look like he was more of a hot head then he might be. It seemed odd that all these men were talking to Rachel/her “girls” (who will most definitely be on Bachelor in Paradise this summer!) about Eric not being “here for the right reasons”; it happens even season, but it seemed producer-nudged to me.

Kara: Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure, I recently followed Eric on Instagram so my opinion of him is somewhat colored by that. More than anything, I think Eric has an odd communication style and isn’t particularly charismatic. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy but I do think it explains how he’s coming across. I went from really disliking him this episode to being on his side when the hens came out a-clucking after he expressed some extremely legitimate questions about this process.

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It’s funny now because we know Lee is an idiot racist who has a bit of Whaboom attention-seeking in his DNA. The other two guys, Iggy and the enormous jaw man, just struck me as deeply annoying. One of the biggest hangups I’m having with this show is the degree to which it is about both the dating and the personal relationships between everyone and the competition factor. Frankly, approaching this whole thing like too much of a competition makes these dudes look either unhinged or nosy as hell. Mind your own business, IGGY!!! Eric is off-putting and perhaps a bit short with people, but I would be too if I had this many custom fitted suits and wads of hair gel coming at me all day. For the first time, I felt like I could grasp how stressful and emotionally manipulative this entire experience can become. Poor Eric either fell right into it or was edited to look like he did.

Kate: Yeah, I agree with that. The way they’re going to handle next week’s episode—which has been teased as a discussion about race between Lee (who refers to Kenny, who is black, as “aggressive”) and Will—and their casting of him in the first place seems like it will play right into concerns we had about this season, which was that they were going to use race as a play for drama and not substantive discussion. There’s been a lot of back and forth about Lee’s tweet history—ABC wouldn’t comment on it, but Chris Harrison claims the show didn’t know about it, which it absolute bullshit, in my professional opinion.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview they published last night, Lee says a show scout reached out to him about being on the show, which is pretty typical. What I find interesting about this piece is that 1) He was allowed to do it by the show’s PR at all (which is notoriously tight about what press contestants can do on their own and when, per their contracts), but also that the interview was done before the season started airing and 2) This piece references and follows a piece THR did with the production company about their casting process, which focused on them casting a “diverse” season. This suggests to me that THR wasn’t planning on running the interview, but that it was done to support the original piece (or another piece) and got cut for some reason.

Anyway, for context, this is what Lee had to say about Rachel:

I watched Nick’s season, so I got to know the people from watching. I got a phone call from one of the casting directors right after Rachel had been announced, and she goes, “So Lee, did you hear about what happened?” I said, “Yes, ma’am.” She asked if I was still interested, and I said, “Absolutely!” They asked me what I thought and I said I had been watching and that Rachel was probably the classiest girl on the season, and it was somethin’ else. Then I started really paying attention to her and who she was and learning things about her. I got more excited as time went by. The final audition went through, we flew out to L.A., and they did the first cuts and everything. It’s wild.

Kara: I won’t get too deep into it now because if the previews of the next episode are any indication, discussion about race are going to take up a lot of screen time very soon. But I’ll say this: The story about Lee’s tweet is of course what we’ve all been expecting. The idea that someone—a man in particular—could be both attracted to a black woman and suggest that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization is nothing new to many people of color, particularly those who date white people.

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The encouraging thing is I have to believe Rachel is one of the most competent people to ever appear on this show. By that extension—I’m not surprised someone like Will is around to clearly articulate to an erratic white boy why what he’s saying is problematic. It’s a skill many code-switching black people know well. Still, I’ve always been worried that due to the nature of The Bachelorette, issues like this might not be confronted as honestly as I’d like, but seeing the way Rachel has been tossing dudes aside and generally not taking too much bullshit, I’m about as optimistic as I can be. I also hope most of it doesn’t fall on her shoulders and the other cast members are able to back her up if and when problems arise—although the clip from next week of her tearfully explaining that it’s all on her is maybe a different clue.

Of course, I can also imagine a world where everything Will tells Lee goes over his head, he stick around for many more weeks and it turns out Rachel was crying about something rose-related instead. With this show, I really, truly do not know.

Kate: Jaded as I am, my money’s on it being something totally unrelated to that fight. But that’s why we’ve gotta tune in!