Bachelor Nation

Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelorette: Episode 5

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider’s POV on last night’s episode of The Bachelorette

Rather incredibly, my days of getting “recognized” are still not behind me. Women (and the occasional man!) still stop me by name, or at the very least ask if I’m “that opera singer from The Bachelor,” and it always delights me to have a conversation about the current season. This happened on Saturday night, and the lovely young woman in question made a very honest remark that I’ve found is also a popular opinion: She said that she’s always rooting for the next lead to become the lead in the first place, and that when they’re contestants she loves them. However, when they inevitably do become the Bachelor or Bachelorette, over time she grows to dislike them. They become either boring and/or annoying, and their decision-making becomes unrelatable.

Spending five minutes with #TheBachelorette hashtag on Twitter proves she’s not alone. Remember when the world wanted to cut Ben Flajnik’s hair, as though he wasn’t sporting the exact same shag during all those weeks on Ashley Hebert’s season? Or when everyone decided they weren’t cool with Andi’s “frown” smile, as though she’d developed some new way of closed-mouth smiling upon being crowned Bachelorette? The complaints are nothing short of brutal. However, when I asked this girl on Saturday night if she felt the same way about Rachel, she enthusiastically said, “No, she’s great!”

I too have been adoring Rachel as the lead, and amazingly, even more with each passing episode. Her reactions to all scenarios are perfection. She’s got excellent manners, showing grace and appreciation when guys give her any compliment or gift (even if the gift is a creepy piece of wood with a barely-legible adjective carved into it). She doesn’t take any shit, though, like how she clams up and refuses to talk when she’s angry with production (as with the DeMario/Lexi saga), or how she called out Josiah for complimenting her endlessly yet never asking her any questions. She’s no fool; whenever any guy rats about another guy, she listens, though you can see her taking it in with a grain of salt. She’s also wonderfully transparent. Watching her uncomfortably shift in her seat across from Jack, and visibly recoil as he leaned in for a kiss, was reality TV at its finest. Aside from finding her repulsion kind of funny, I loved it because I felt I could relate; that’s how I imagine many of us would be in her situation. She doesn’t—cannot!—hide when she’s into (or not into) someone and that, to me, has breathed new life into an old, rickety formula of a show. Best of all, I love how she knows what she’s looking for. Her description of looking for that “X-factor” was so accurate and I truly believe a lot of people lose sight of that in a sea of pretty faces.

Despite all of last night’s #mandrama (most of which was too predictable to spend time writing about), I found myself caring only about how beautifully Rachel handled everything, even the moments that became excruciatingly awkward. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, since filming she’s returned back to work. Yes, her regular, non-LA, non-showbiz job! ’Nuff said. Rachel Lovefest concluded.

My top 4 based on this episode are…

1. Bryan, 37: As a woman in her 30s, I LOVE watching Rachel and Bryan together. Their interactions are sexy and playful, yet mature and without the BS. Rachel doesn’t hide the fact that Bryan’s a frontrunner (she’s keeps saying she’s suspicious of him being too good to be true, a giveaway of how into him she is). There’s something about Bryan that reminded me of Andy when we started dating. He’d been around the block, he’d dodged past girlfriends’ pressure to get more serious, but it wasn’t a fear of commitment; it was waiting for “right.” And when “right” did come around, he didn’t play games. Instead, he made sure to tell me how excited he was about me at every opportunity. I truly see that in Bryan with Rachel. The way he described loving how easygoing she is (I do think this is something men appreciate more as they get older), how he didn’t want any regrets, how timing is everything. He’s plenty effusive but that’s not all he is, à la Josiah; he’s both confident and curious about her. Have I mentioned I love #Brachel?

2. Peter, 31: I’m asked all the time whether I think Peter’s as into Rachel as she seems into him. I have to agree with the questioning; there is indeed a coolness to him. But I do feel like he’s stepping up his game in the passion department—that hot tub scene was pretty steamy. While Bryan has surpassed Peter on this list this week, Peter is still giving him a run for his money.

3. Dean, 26: No new developments here, but Dean’s strong 1-on-1 is still fresh on my mind. I can’t help but still not take him super seriously as a candidate for Rachel based on his age and the fact that she specifically said she loved Bryan’s age on Night One. Nonetheless, young Dean is a frontrunner and isn’t going anywhere.

4. Will, 28: I like Will a lot. The way he handled Lee this week really put him on my radar. While he was respectful, he really put Lee in his place without lowering himself to Lee’s level. Later, after shining on the handball Group Date, he got both the rose and a makeout sesh. I can see him getting a 1-on-1 in the coming weeks, but based on how little of his conversations with Rachel have been shown up to this point, I don’t really see him being a major final 4 contender. I love a good dark horse story, though…

Scheduling note: ABC is airing Episode 6 of The Bachelorette tonight (June 27) at 8:00 p.m. EST; City will air Episode 6 next Monday (July 3) at 8:00 p.m. EST. However, we’ll have Sharleen’s Episode 6 recap plus our full roster of Episode 6 content tomorrow on after

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