"One of the More Substantial Episodes:" Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor: Episode 4

The former contestant shares her insider’s POV on last night’s episode

This episode was one of the more substantial, heavy-hitters I can remember in the entire franchise. (The last one I can recall was probably during Rachel Lindsay’s Bachelorette season, where she got emotional during a Hometown date and revealed the pressure she felt being the first Black lead.) Popular questions I’ve gotten asked over the years include, “Why are contestants friends with these producers?” and “Don’t you feel manipulated and used?” But it’s more complicated than that because there’s so much more to producers than manipulation. You talk to these people about everything—things even some close friends don’t know. You go deep, FAST. You get a really good feeling for them, too, what they’re about, what their beliefs are. So with that said, last night, I truly felt the presence of the producers I know and love. I felt them, their point of view, and their care in the episode. I felt them empathize with Caelynn in her experience of sexual assault, understand the gravity of her experience, and realize how powerful this message could be beyond a silly reality show. They handled it with the utmost care and respect. There was no minimizing, no stilted conversation, no sob story music, no inappropriate editing. I think this was the first time ever we didn’t see the Bachelor present his date with the rose—it was unnecessary and frankly would have been trite after what she’d shared.

Further, in a twist that I certainly wasn’t expecting, it was revealed to us that Colton’s first love is also a survivor of sexual assault, and that that fact may have played a role in why he’s still a virgin. If the matter at hand weren’t so heavy and his chemistry with Caelynn so palpable, I might have been suspicious as to what a perfect storyline arc this information made. But once again, I felt the producers’ presence here. And in a way, I felt it going way back to when they cast Colton. I can’t imagine Colton hadn’t mentioned this aspect of his past relationship before (as I said, you go deep), but it says something that his virginity has been public knowledge for a good six months now, but this puzzle piece hadn’t yet been revealed. It’s proof that the very same producers who do manipulate and do paint contestants unflatteringly also have a heart when it comes to the important stuff. On that note, it really felt like it was up to Colton to reveal what he revealed last night, and when he did it. It didn’t feel like something he’d planned on sharing, but that he did to show Caelynn that, in some small fraction of a way, he understood. Despite the subject matter and the fact that it took a great deal of pain for them to bond in this way, it was a beautiful moment that far transcends the fluff this show is known for.

I get advance episodes for the purpose of writing these recaps, so I saw this episode on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday night, my sister asked me if I’d read some new article discussing who was right and who was wrong in the ongoing Hannah B v. Caelynn feud. (Apparently the Miss USA makeup artist had something to dish about.) I found myself unable to read it. It’s all moot. Nothing puts things in perspective like hearing someone was drugged and sexually assaulted. Further, Hannah B and Caelynn had easily the most touching patch-up I’ve ever seen on The Bachelor. (Granted, we’re hardly ever SHOWN patch-ups on this show.) As Caelynn said, as women, they should support each other. They don’t have to be besties; being cordial and supportive is enough. There are bigger fish to fry in this world than trivial conflict. And even though this show is pretty much the poster child of milking and broadcasting trivial conflict, I give it credit where credit is due for recognizing when an issue is more important than entertainment.

But, um… that’s not to say there wasn’t any trivial conflict last night. The battle between Courtney and Demi really brought me back to my time on the show because I remember very clearly what it was like to live day in and day out with someone with a bad attitude. In real life, you can label someone as negative and simply choose to spend less time with them. But when filming this show, not only do you have to spend every day on top of each other, you are also experiencing something truly once in a lifetime that it’d be really nice to ENJOY. A great deal of my journal entries were actually about this very thing, how this one person’s negativity was able to infect and even ruin the enjoyment level of everyone around them. Sure, to call that person a “cancer” is too harsh and certainly unhelpful—not exactly productive language. But I could see Demi’s point of view on this.

My issue with Courtney is two-fold. First, yes, it’s strange having to be the move-maker and seek out time with the lead, and thus terrible to feel invisible if you don’t. I get that the lead’s not singling you and not making you feel special is not a good feeling. But it’s also INFORMATION. If you really are here to see if the two of you are a match (which is the supposed Right Reason, after all), the fact that he seems happy as a clam without talking to you all night (especially having spoken to 12 other women) is all you need to know. In other words, why would YOU want HIM? Second, I don’t have much patience for hypocrisy. Courtney is well within her right to find Demi’s behaviour irritating (a right she seemed to fully exercise), but it doesn’t really make sense how angry she was that Demi talked about her to Colton, given she did the exact same thing BEFORE knowing Demi had talked about her. To make matters worse, instead of simply admitting she’d spoken to Colton about Demi when arguing with her, she said, “Maybe I should have warned him about you,” an all-out lie. As though we wouldn’t all see on TV that she had. Courtney complained a lot about Demi’s maturity, but to me, playing holier than thou, particularly when you participated in identical behaviour, is too hypocritical to be considered mature either.

Look, I’m not saying Demi should have talked to Colton about Courtney—I NEVER think this is a good idea. But again, Courtney did the exact same thing, without knowing Demi had beat her to the punch. They’re both wrong, but at least Demi owned everything she did and said and didn’t pretend to be classier or more mature by, well, lying about it. I’ll take a wolf in wolf’s clothing over a sheep in wolf’s clothing any day of the week.

Sharleen Joynt’s Top 4 Following The Bachelor: Episode 4

A photo of Bachelor season 23 contestant Caelynn

(Photo: Courtesy City)

1. Caelynn Miller-Keyes, 23: “She’s the one to beat”

Colton gave her last week’s Group Date rose, even in the face of unsavory things Hannah B had to say about her, and he saved an amazing Singapore 1-on-1 for her this week. (I mean, who wouldn’t want the shopping date, and to have the Singapore Botanic Gardens to themselves?? EPIC.) We already knew Caelynn was sharp, sweet and poised, but her painful story really showed us her strength as well. None of this is lost on Colton, who looks at her like a heart-eyes emoji. While I still have my rear view on Cassie, Caelynn is the one to beat right now. 

A photo of Bachelor season 23 contestant Cassie

(Photo: Courtesy City)

2. Cassie Randolph, 23: “Their relationship feels light and fun”

Cassie’s finally climbing up again. She and Colton got some crucial private time and it had me back to the point of believing she could win this whole season. My favourite thing about these two together is that it’s clearly FUN. They seem capable of being serious and attracted to one another, but you really get the sense that Colton laughs more with Cassie than with anyone else. It feels light and fun and goofy, the way the early stages of dating should feel. I keep looking at my watch, waiting for Cassie’s 1-on-1…

A portrait of Bachelor season 23 contestant Elyse Delbom in an olive shirtdress

(Photo: Courtesy City)

3. Elyse Dehlbom, 31: “I don’t see her at the bitter end”

Almost zero screen time for Elyse this week but I suppose that isn’t surprising given how much we’ve gotten of her the last two weeks. We know Colton respects and is attracted to Elyse, but the fact that we didn’t even get a quick check-in with these two this week confirms that I don’t see Elyse at the bitter end of all this. I still think she’ll make the final four though.

(Photo: Courtesy City)

4. Hannah Godwin, 23: “I see her more as future Bachelorette material”

To be completely honest, I don’t really feel real chemistry between Hannah G and Colton. Their kisses seem a bit methodical to me—in a “we shall make out now” kind of way—and not driven by pheromones and passion. Regardless of what I think, Hannah G continues to get enough screen time for us to know a 1-on-1 with her name on it is in the pipeline. Until then, I see her being primed more for future Bachelorette material than fiancée to Colton material.

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