Bachelor Canada improves on its American counterpart in many ways. I’ve mentioned most of these before: It wisely cuts the length of each episode (usually leaving us wanting more), it tends to be more humane towards its contestants, and even though the budget probably isn’t close to the U.S. version’s, the artistic value is at the very least on par, if not superior. The choice to bring three contestants to Hometowns and two to Overnights is a logical and welcome one. (Seriously, the lead does not need to meet FOUR families and ostensibly get kinky with THREE in order to make his or her final decision.) Bachelor Canada even seems less afraid to show friendships between the contestants, which goes a long way in humanizing them. But one area they should rethink touching is the franchise’s tried and true chronology. I was expecting Women Tell All last night. I wanted Women Tell All last night. Catie’s epic departure was still fresh and I wanted to see her confront Chris. I wanted to see the women defend their actions and each other, or admit fault, while appropriately dolled up and in (somewhat) real time. I wanted relief, comedic or otherwise, from all the intense feelings, from the “hard questions” (more on that in a bit), from Lyndsey being—duh, duh, duh—23, from Chris’ hemming and hawing. I just needed a vacay, you guys. Women Tell All was supposed to be that vacay.
Adding insult to the injury of not being Women Tell All, this was a slog of an episode. It felt very all over the place, which I think can result in two reactions from us, the viewers: Either we’re invested past the point returning, the tears hit close to home, and we gloss over red flags in anticipation of a romantic happy ending. Or the distractions get to us, we take a step back, and we don’t really care all that much. I am sorry to report I fall into the latter category here. (Let me know on Twitter if you agree or disagree!) Let me explain my gripes. First, Chris sees an excited, confident Mikaela and proceeds to strip her of her confidence by being generally unsure himself. Naturally, as any person would, she questions her own feelings and takes a step back. But then, he’s quick to dispel her qualms with a pathetic “I’m just a guy who questions things” and leaves her more confident than ever before. But let’s analyze what was really solved here. There was a long conversation about “hard questions” (how Chris should’ve asked them sooner, how he’s finally doing it now, how she’s happy he’s finally doing it now) but we never got to hear what any of these “hard questions” actually were. It was dramatic music galore, with uncertain “she’s going to get up and leave any second” voiceovers, and then suddenly it skipped to romantic music like whatever problems they had were solved. This entire conversation felt skipped over and, frankly, it was insulting.
Another beef I have is with the overtly unequal edit between the women. I touched on this last week, with Chris being shown saying he was in love with Lyndsey and that he wanted to ask for her father’s permission to propose. This week, Chris was shown saying that with Lyndsey, there’s the “X factor,” and that’s what’s missing with Mikaela. Things are obviously leaning towards Lyndsey, but too obviously. What ever happened to edits that equalize? Maybe I’m overthinking things (it wouldn’t be my first time), but it makes me suspicious. And to be clear: the uneven race is not something harping on Lyndsey’s age can level out. And harp on her age, they did. I was on board for several episodes because I do think 23 is too young to settle down (especially when the 23-year old in question is ambitious and curious and has evident wanderlust) but at this point it’s getting absurd. If Chris wants her, a 10-year age gap sure as hell isn’t going to be what stops him from choosing her. She’s 23. WE GET IT.
Finally, and most importantly, it is becoming increasingly clear that Chris not only doesn’t seem to know what it is he wants, he may not have the emotional maturity to get there. In his defence, Chris is obviously sincere and seems to have his heart in the right place. But the conversation with his (beyond lovely) parents at Final 2 should be debating between the two women, or defending his favourite, or generally agonizing over who he’s more capable of living without. It should not be a conversation about his inability to be in touch with or discuss his feelings. His “tendency to withdraw” was the main talking point between Mikaela and his mom, Marian. Upon telling his parents Lyndsey’s age and they, suppressing their obvious concern, asked what he saw in her, his answer was a disappointing and unspecific, “She’s funny, she’s fun, she’s beautiful.” (Eerily similar to his description of Mikaela: “She’s a sweet person, she’s funny, she’s beautiful.”) When talking to his mother about his feelings, Chris sounded like a little boy being quizzed: “[The experience] has taught me… that I do need to be… more open (his mother nods encouragingly)… with, you know… how I’m feeling.” Later, Marian asks, “Is that what scares you off in relationships, then? Just talking about your feelings?” Chris, with the most stock answer imaginable: “Being vulnerable?”
The entire time with his parents became about Chris attempting to dig deep and wrestling with expressing himself rather than actually considering which woman to choose. It was more about how he left home at 18 and has been surrounded by guys and in a culture of repressed feelings. All this information—and the overwhelming focus on it—has me thinking Chris is not in a mental place to be getting engaged in a week. When Marian pushed him on the importance of not being afraid to fall in love, in a moment that was more tedious than moving, he promptly began to cry. And lest you think I’m heartless, let me be clear: if those tears were at the prospect of losing either Mikaela or Lyndsey, it would be heart-wrenching, captivating television. But when the tears are because a 33-year-old man can’t seem to identify his needs, can’t for the life of him communicate his feelings, and is, according to his own mother, terrified to fall in love, why is he even there? A man’s emotional maturity, capacity, and clarity make a good Bachelor, not his resume.
Watch The Bachelor Canada Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. EST on W Network. Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter for Sharleen Joynt’s always on-point recaps.