This may or may not surprise you, but I have often wondered to myself what makes a “fake” person annoying. Trust me, I am no stranger to finding people fake and being annoyed by it. I’ve asked myself: At the core, what is it that is so bothersome? In the case of The Bachelor, take away the TV show scenario, the exposure, the love story—the outside bells and whistles that can inspire putting on a show in the first place—and distill it down to what precisely is so upsetting about it. After reflecting on this at length (much of which I did while filming my own season), I’ve come to realize that—for me, at least—what’s so irksome is feeling like THEY (the fake person) think they’re pulling the wool over my eyes. I can’t help but imagine they subconsciously think they’re outsmarting me and the other people around them, like they think I can’t see through it. In a sense, to me, it feels insulting to my intelligence. That annoys the hell out of me.
On last night’s episode, as Sydney described to Peter how “some girls” acted when the cameras turned on, it brought me back to feeling the same way about some women on my season. I dusted off my Bachelor journal and found my entry from the third day, describing this exact feeling. I wrote:
“Certain girls’ faces contort beyond what looks natural, splitting into too-wide, too-white grins, every word and reaction elevated because a camera is on them, when moments before they seemed relatively normal.”
So, trust me when I say I UNDERSTAND where Sydney is coming from. The depth of how grating it can be to live with someone you see as fake is deeply difficult, tiring and—you guessed it—downright annoying.
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To make matters worse is the unique aspect these early stages of a reality TV season bring, which is living in a house with people yet still remaining essentially strangers with several of them. It’s the perfect recipe for an eventual storm: enough exposure that you come to find someone’s quirks deeply irritating, but the lifestyle and sheer number of contestants keep things spread out enough (at least in these early weeks) that you may also never get to know them. Living in a house with someone means feeling entitled to an opinion on who they are based on their day-to-day behaviour. Yet, if you don’t really know them on a deeper level than basic coexistence, that opinion is only half-baked. It’s like having a roommate you never actually hang out with or get to know—you get a taste of their sometimes annoying traits or living habits, but the rest of the picture doesn’t come into focus until you just HANG. Perhaps getting to know them will only lower your opinion of them, but more likely than not, your mutual interest in connecting and just spending time with one another results in, at best, a true friendship and, at worst, a functional one. But without ever getting to know the person you’re living with, they will only remain an incomplete jigsaw puzzle of assumptions and perceived annoying habits.
I’m focusing so much on irritation and annoyance because that is exactly what I think Sydney feels towards Alayah. I understand feeling like you just want to speak with someone you relate to, someone who communicates the way you do, someone who feels more like a kindred spirit than an alien. This desire for connection and relatability is only heightened by all means of communication with your actual friends and family having been stripped away. It adds to the jarring (and often very patience-testing) everyday aspects of being on this show: the elusive 1-on-1 time, the very late nights yet early mornings, being told to talk ad nauseam about a bottle of Dom Perignon. Basically, you are perfectly primed to be annoyed to the max by a housemate. But here’s the thing: There is a difference between telling the Bachelor about a “fake” person because you’re genuinely concerned he’s going to pick her (IN SEVEN WEEKS), and… well, just being annoyed with another girl in the house.
I very rarely condone tattling on this show and this week’s drama is no exception. I realize Sydney was put on the spot (I can’t BELIEVE Peter did that to her) and she likely didn’t plan on giving names, but the same effect happened in the end. It may have been under the guise of it being a “tough week” for her, but ultimately, Sydney used her 1-on-1 time with Peter to vent about someone. Sydney might think she’s the superior one here, but she’s the one who couldn’t coexist. And as most Bachelors do, Peter became a chicken with its head cut off about it and it ended up causing half-an-episode’s worth of drama.
First, if a man can’t tell if a woman is being fake with him, that’s his bad and his business. Deciphering these things is a key part to being the Bachelor and an adult. The more Peter polled each woman he spoke with about Alayah, the less confidence I had in him and his ability to read people. The more is made out about who’s fake or who’s there for the Wrong Reasons, the more of a game of Dating Musical Chairs this process resembles, which I simply don’t agree with. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When it comes down to the relationships themselves, there is only so much chance. Pheromones, wavelength, sense of humour, past dating experiences… these are things that are either sympatico or not, and the lead is going to be drawn to who he’s drawn to. A girl being seen as a phony, if Peter otherwise likes her and has not felt that phoniness himself, isn’t remotely helpful to him. Further, the whole POINT of this show is for the lead to choose a partner based on an otherworldly, over-the-top televised experience. The mansion, helicopter rides, five-star villas in foreign countries, rose ceremonies, extravagant dates and private concerts… you’re telling me those represent “real life” any more than the fact Alayah turns up the charm when a camera is on her? Are none of us culling, Facetuning or filtering the photos and videos we put out into the world to represent us? It’s Season 24, the year 2020, and simply appearing on this show can completely alter what you do for a living; are we really surprised that a contestant might put on her very best smile and tell a fellow beauty queen to keep their history private?
On that note, there’s a huge difference between “manipulating” another woman to lie on your behalf versus encouraging her to keep your relationship from producers (whose jobs, by the way, are to exploit details about you that could be used to humiliate you). This is WAY more innocent than a man and woman talking and even dating before going on Paradise, which happens on the regular. Just last season, we saw Miss Alabama and Miss North Carolina’s history rehashed and used to fuel drama between them. Can you really blame Alayah for attempting to prevent a reboot? It’d be different if she was telling Victoria P one thing and then doing another, but she was (naively) trying to keep incriminating information about BOTH of them from production.
Alayah told Peter she didn’t want the two of them to not get cast because they already knew each other, which is a great peek behind the curtain: During casting weekend, from the second you arrive at the hotel, you are whisked by a handler to some designated corner of the lobby (in my case, it was the hotel’s coffee shop)—simply so you don’t end up meeting another potential contestant. The entire casting process was a choreographed schedule of women being escorted to and from appointments (with the show’s psychologist, the doctor, the gym, the producers) throughout the hotel without ever encountering each other. One time I was held back in a hallway for a few minutes because there was the risk of another potential contestant exiting the same elevator I was meant to enter. On Night One, my four gown-clad limo-mates and I were brought separately to the lobby and literally made to face a wall or a corner until all of us were present, and only then could proceed to our limo where we would meet for the first time. In short, even considering how things have surely changed in the last six years, it’s safe to say existing friendships between contestants are frowned upon to say the least. (Rivalries, as we’ve seen, are A-OK.)
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A fake person does not a bad person make. This is fact (unlike Sydney’s opinion). The fact that Alayah has developed certain personas for certain scenarios does not mean she isn’t a good person or, in her heart, a genuine person. To me, the biggest red flag about Alayah isn’t her “fakeness” or how she was in cahoots with Victoria P, but the fact that a handful of other women—when expressly asked about her—were willing to talk (albeit light) smack. Now, it’s possible we’ll see other behaviors from Alayah that do suggest she isn’t authentic or has questionable morals, but hamming it up because she’s talking to the Bachelor with a camera is on her isn’t one of them.
In my experience, with the people I’ve thought were fake, I rarely ended up feeling that way if I had the opportunity to get to know them. Note how I said my journal entry was from the third day. There were two women in particular I was describing in that journal entry, one of whom ended up leaving shortly thereafter. The other woman I did end up getting to know, and quite well. I would later write about her: “I was doubtful someone so faithfully optimistic could exist but I’m getting to know her fairly well and she really does seem that way. She’s a lovely person.” She became a dear friend and truly one of my favourite people from the experience. I was erroneously judging her based on how I would choose to behave, on what I considered authenticity to be. Needless to say, I’m glad I kept my thoughts limited to my journal and never told my Bachelor. How wrong I would have been.
My frontrunners based on this week are…
I can’t get over the level of comfort and familiarity between these two when they’re together. Peter referred to their 1-on-1 as “the greatest first date ever.” Madison continues to be the one to beat.
Hannah Ann, 23
Peter seems insanely attracted to Hannah Ann and they have a good, easy rapport. We didn’t see much of Hannah Ann last night beyond her still stuck defending herself over Champagne-gate, but I still don’t think she’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Victoria P, 27
We knew Victoria P would get her moment and last night it finally came. Her 1-on-1 date proved she’s as sweet and kind as we suspected. There is great chemistry between her and Peter.
I’m finally giving up on Alayah in my Top 4 and giving Kelley the spot she deserves. She’s level-headed and deliciously normal, and I love how you don’t get the sense she plans on quitting her career in pursuit of “influencing” anytime soon. Peter really likes Kelley and, I swear, you can see him excited to chat with her, to just be himself and not the Bachelor for a bit.