It’s my favorite time of the sports year: the week where the men of The Bachelorette must prove they are worthy of love by pummeling each other in some made-up game while the woman dating them watches, dressed in perfectly matching athleisure and offering the most useless commentary possible. It is truly America’s pastime.
Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette featured nearly all of the remaining men vying for Katie’s attention in high-school wrestling uniforms playing Bash Ball Battle, a game that appeared to be a mix of basketball and football but with unclear rules and no safety padding. In other words, it was the perfect opportunity to prove their manhood—not to Katie, but to each other. Hunter, who I am convinced is being handed tiny packets of cocaine from one of his friends hiding out in the hotel, was most excited about this opportunity to show the men his aggressive side. For some reason, he thought this high aggression would attract Katie because, you know, women really want a man who can deliver a dirty tackle to the knees at any given moment.
After Hunter activated his own personal beast mode on the field, all of the men took this as a signal to absolutely take each other down, which was incredibly stupid because none of them were wearing protective gear. The fact that not a single person thought to give any of these men some kind of padding—at the very least a helmet—blows my mind.
Naturally, one of the men let his animal intuition run a little too free and tackled Dead Wife Guy Michael A. from behind taking him all the way down. Michael A. is one of smaller men on the cast so this hit could have paralyzed or even killed him had Justin been running faster. Luckily, Michael A survived and Justin, who was near tears, embraced him and apologized profusely. It was a beautifully tender moment. Katie was there too.
During the group date, Michael A. had another tender moment with the other men when he shared with them for the first time that he is a widower, and the day before the group date was his wife’s birthday. He also had this conversation with Katie, but it went pretty quickly and without much more than a quick kiss. But when Michael A. shared his personal story with the group, the energy visibly shifted. The men cried in front of each other, without restraint, and allowed space for one of the first genuine displays of emotion that has taken place all season. Michael A. didn’t just talk about his wife, but about what it was like to truly love someone and to then watch that person die. “You learn to find any positive that you can when your life is falling apart”, he told the men.
It was actually beautiful to watch these guys who had just been ready to kill each other, cry and hug and support their competitor. But absolutely none of it translated to their interactions with Katie. Greg attempted to capitalize on his newfound emotional maturity by trying to tell Katie how he felt but instantly reverted to his base jealous self when he didn’t win the group date rose. It’s clear Greg will be the one to crack first as the person who can’t abide the Bachelorette dating multiple people which is... the entire premise of the show.
It struck me as odd that the vulnerability the men willingly have with each other couldn’t be reproduced with Katie. But then I watched Katie’s solo date with Andrew S. and realized that she is the one getting in her own way. During a particularly awkward conversation about race, Andrew S., who is Black, admitted that he had been with a white woman who voiced concern about having mixed-race children with him. Instead of having a genuine conversation about what it would mean to be in an interracial relationship and potentially have biracial children, Katie fell back on her Funny Cool Girl persona and said, “I don’t give a flying fuck what anyone would say about our beautiful children.” She also repeatedly mentioned that she’d never thought about what it would mean to be in an interracial relationship because she never had to think about it as a “naive white woman.”
Girl. Girl? If we all turn our history books to chapter Just a Few Months Ago, we’ll see that Katie was in an extremely public interracial relationship with Matt James on his season of The Bachelor. Did the thought that if she made it to home towns she would be bringing a Black man to meet her parents never cross her mind? Has she never heard of Rachel Kirkconnell?
Andrew S. didn’t push any further on the topic, but with two Black men still competing for Katie’s hand, she needs to start having a few more thoughts than she has been lately. At the very least she’s got to figure out how to navigate certain conversations better than simply laughing them off and kissing a man into submission.