Villains are as engrained in The Bachelor tradition as roses, drama and helicopter rides. We know they’re coming every season, yet for some reason, over and over, they—with the help of their edits—succeed in grinding our gears in ways no character in any series or movie can. As a viewer, it’s hard not to get involved and feel like we somehow know these women personally, it’s hard not to take sides and it’s very hard not to develop strong opinions. Often those strong opinions involve jumping to the conclusion that we somehow “hate” this person. Yet, villains are a necessary evil; this fairly one-note show about love and feelings would be seriously boring without them.
I touched on this in last week’s recap, but I’ve got to emphasize: I think Krystal is one of the best villains this show has ever seen. I don’t enjoy watching a villain who seems completely undeserving of their edit, and while I don’t think Krystal is quite as bad as her edit suggests, she definitely isn’t without fault. It’s as though she possesses a perfect cocktail of traits formerly seen in the best villains of seasons past. She’s got the frontrunner status and corresponding arrogance that Courtney Robertson—the queen bee of villains—had on Ben Flajnik’s season. She has that pinch of superiority and condescension that Kelsey (from Chris Soules’s season) had. She shares Tierra’s (from Sean Lowe’s season) inability to reflect and take responsibility for rubbing others wrong, incorrectly chalking the friction up to jealousy. In a way similar to Olivia from Ben Higgins’s season, she (within that environment) lacks a certain awareness to pick up on social cues. Like all of these women, she undoubtedly bonded with her producer more than she did the women in the house, which is always dangerous. Further, Krystal has a slightly affected, overly “on” way about her that is reminiscent of Britt (also from Chris’s season, and not really a full-blown villain, but she was somewhat controversial), yet, unlike legendary villains Corinne and Chad, I don’t get the sense that this is a performance piece. And then there’s an aspect to Krystal that is unlike any other former contestant, in that it feels like, with that aforementioned affect, she thinks she’s fooling everyone—something about which makes watching her downright delicious.
Perhaps most interestingly, Krystal has a heartbreaking backstory, the airtime for which is usually reserved only for contestants you’re meant to sympathize with and adore, giving her automatic complexity. I oscillate between feeling for her and being put off by her, which is way more a mix of emotions than I usually have for a villain.
One thing that’s all too easy to forget: These traits live within the Bachelor bubble, where they’re carefully fostered by seasoned professionals. I’ve said before, when I myself was in that bubble, I felt myself become… well, not myself. Even with friends in the house, I started feeling out of place and insecure because of it. As time wore on, I became increasingly moody and reclusive. The slightest personality clash grated on me WAY more than it would in the real world because there was no escape from it, both in terms of proximity and lack of distraction. The traits of Krystal’s that I listed above—as unflattering as they may seem (although I truly don’t mean them harshly because I really do believe she’s AWESOME television)—likely don’t represent Krystal in the real world, when she’s not dating the same man as a dozen other women, or in an environment where one’s friction with others is a flame that a whole team of people are paid to fan.
As many of you know, I do a relationship podcast, called He Said She Said, with spoiler king Reality Steve. For the most part we avoid talking Bachelor; the podcast isn’t about the show (if you have a relationship qualm, drop us a line!), I’m extremely careful about the privacy of my friends within the franchise, and I try my darnedest to avoid spoilers. (Not only do I enjoy the spoiler-free viewing experience, it’s about 300 percent harder to write about the show when I know details I shouldn’t.) While recording Sunday night, Steve mentioned that Krystal’s been receiving some next-level hate online. I objectively knew she probably wasn’t having the best response, but when he read me actual comments from her Instagram, they made me feel slightly sick. It reminded me of when I met Olivia Caridi’s (lovely) mother and sister, and they described to me just how hard those many months following the show were for her. What bewilders me is how anyone could think it’s somehow warranted (or even appropriate) to seek out this ACTUAL HUMAN BEING online and take precious time to tell her how much you hate her (again, on the hatee’s platform). Sure, Krystal is this round’s villain, that girl we love to “hate,” but what we’re seeing is a caricature. I’m not defending her actions this season—way too many women have an issue with her for her to be without fault—but rather suggesting they don’t represent her actions in the real world.
Unsurprisingly, I no longer have Krystal in my Top 4. I don’t think Arie’s lost interest quite yet, but his giving Tia the Group Date rose this week was a HUGE sign that he’s beginning to see through Krystal’s schtick, possibly taking stock of what others have said about her, and that other relationships are catching up.
My frontrunners are as follows…
1. Seinne, 27: Seinne really stands out to me. She’s the epitome of that classy, eloquent, educated woman who, in previous seasons (when, as I said last week, the show was seen more as being about “crazy” girls than it is today) we would’ve wondered what the hell she was doing there. Seinne manages to be obviously confident yet not the slightest bit arrogant. (I love how in her ITM leading into her 1-on-1, she mentioned being confident in herself and who she is as a person, meaning regardless of whether or not that date went well, she was good.) She’s cautiously into Arie but isn’t picking out baby names, and overall their conversation just flows so effortlessly. You get the sense that Arie’s a bit in awe of her, and the fact that her specialness isn’t remotely lost on him makes me like him even more.
2. Bekah M, 22: After the recent Bachelor Canada season, I am so sick of picking apart the substantial age difference between the lead and a frontrunner in her early 20s. I covered this pretty thoroughly in this week’s Morning After video, but I do think Bekah M’s age is absolutely a concern (it’s their current ages, not the 14-year gap) and Arie was right to call her a “risk.” You could tell he knew he was probably making a mistake by keeping her, but the fact that he did anyway screams how into her he is. One thing I do love about this relationship: Bekah M really seems to be the one in control. I love it when the power is shifted to a contestant rather than the (all-powerful) lead, so I for one am not complaining about watching more of them together.
3. Becca K, 27: I’m a bit distraught that Becca K got so little airtime this week! I had her pegged as my number one the last two weeks in a row, but the fact that her 1-on-1 time during this week’s Group Date wasn’t shown AT ALL (not even a sentence or two!) is a concern. She’s still a definite frontrunner based on her airtime thus far and their great connection (no question is she making final 4), but I’m proceeding with caution now…
4. Tia, 26: I love watching Tia and suspect she’s going to become a major player in Bachelor Nation. Her razor-sharp commentary (especially when paired with Caroline’s) combined with the fact that she is obviously sincerely into Arie (#rightreasons) makes her story one I’m keen to watch. As I said above, her getting this week’s Group Date rose was particularly momentous; it signalled not only the fact that the feelings are mutual, but also a changing of the tides.