Being a contestant on The Bachelor is not for the faint of heart (or, if you’re feeling pessimistic, the deeply naive). But Monday night’s episode of America’s most popular quest for love showed some very bad sides of contestants acting out against members of their cohort who had only done one thing wrong: they’d gotten Bachelor Ben to like them.
The first woman attacked was Olivia—who is, truthfully, difficult to like or feel bad for, largely because of some combination of the fact that she’s “aggressive,” opens her mouth very widely like a bird of prey, and already refers to herself as Ben’s future wife. She has been cast as this season’s villain, and she seems to know it. That being said, the hive mind behind the insults about everything from her weird toes to her alleged halitosis was bizarre and too much; as always, this show offers the rare scenario in which a contestant can actually respond with “they’re just jealous” and be right.
Jubilee, on the other hand, was someone to sympathize with. From the get-go, her profile was outside that of your typical Bachelor contestant: she’s black, as well as an adopted Haitian immigrant and military veteran. Jubilee revealed last night that she feels a great deal of guilt because she’s the only living member of her biological family (how exactly they died in Haiti’s ecologically impoverished country is unclear). On a show that often uses sob stories as a method to play up a bachelor-contestant dynamic, Jubilee’s quirkiness and tough background stood out: her conversation about her past came up organically with Ben, and he seemed genuinely touched by her sharing with him about why she is shyer than some of the other women. “You are a strong woman,” he said to her. “There’s a lot of depth to you. I want to get to know those layers.” It was a moment that even the show’s greatest cynic declared “real.”
“Jubilee’s willing to talk about the stuff in life most people aren’t willing to talk about,” Ben said later. “I know who she is, and I like the person I know.”
The other women, of course, hated Jubilee, and blamed her for not getting along with them. During the cocktail party before the Rose Ceremony, one contestant said that Jubilee wasn’t right for Ben because “Ben wants a wife that will be friends with all the other soccer moms,” which was hard to interpret as something other than some barely veiled class and race shit; another walked away as Jubilee approached a group of them, using an unconvincing excuse (“I’m going to go put on some lip gloss or something”). Spearheaded by Amber—a contestant who has now been on two seasons of The Bachelor and one season of Bachelor in Paradise, so she should really know better about how this show works—the women tried to bring Jubilee to them to basically lay into her about why they didn’t like her. She, of course, was not having it, and hid out in the bathroom until Ben and Amber came to talk to her. Amber came across like a bullying idiot; Ben, naturally, played the knight in shining armor.
The interesting part of all this in-fighting was Ben. The day was a big one for him; he had just found out that two “pillars of his community” back home had died in a plane crash. The self-involved Olivia apparently thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss with him how the girls were ganging up on her for her cankles, while Jubilee decided to give Ben a massage and let him relax (“I hope this makes you feel better,” she told him).
Both women were—as always—penalized by the group for trying to get “too much time” with Ben. The underlying rules of “appropriate behavior” on this show always bite contestants in the ass. None of the women seemed to care that Jubilee couldn’t have set up a massage table for Ben without the help of the producers; she was labeled as someone to attack anyway (behavior that, again, was likely provoked by producers).
As a contestant on a reality show, Jubilee doesn’t need our protection, but on a show where people who are even slightly “different” are rarely allowed to survive past the premiere, it was difficult to not feel defensive for her last night. I can’t imagine she’ll get whatever it is she wants out of this experience.
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