Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor: It's Official, We Have a New Frontrunner!

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

Sharleen Joynt

For all my analyses and speculation, it sometimes feels like there’s little rhyme or reason to any of the developments on this show. On one end, we waited five weeks for frontrunner and First Impression Rose recipient Hannah G to get her highly anticipated 1-on-1 date. Yet, instead of feeling like we saw their relationship finally take leaps and bounds towards anything resembling a healthy, sustainable pairing, we were subjected almost exclusively to a montage of makeout seshes. (The only meaningful exchange shown was about both being children of divorce, but it was far too brief.) Conversely, we have Katie, who on the whole has had one of the more confusing and unresolved story arcs I can recall. Katie had plenty of 1-on-1 time shown during the premiere, complete with one of a select few Night One kisses. Her 1-on-1 conversations over the weeks have also been frequently shown—I would argue almost as much as Hannah G’s. On the whole, her airtime count suggested her own date would be coming any day. Instead, she was sent packing last night out of the blue, without any explanation, and without even with one of those courtesy pre-Rose Ceremony conversations. (You know, the “I don’t want to put you through a Rose Ceremony” talk.) What happened here that we missed? Finally, it was a pleasure to finally see more of Kirpa, who I confess I’ve already fallen in love with after seeing the deleted scene about her chin injury. But this is a woman who has very nearly been edited out of the show entirely. She’s the type of contestant we viewers might affectionately refer to as an “invisible girl”—the fact that her injury didn’t even make the show (despite being very watchable) is proof. Yet, despite no prior, shown conversations between her and Colton, she beat out Demi, Katie, and Sydney, all women we’ve actually gotten to know to some degree, for a 1-on-1 date. Where was the intel we’d need to see that coming, or to support our becoming invested in this couple? Episodes like this one make me feel very “what’s the point?” in my (admittedly too) methodical approach.

Colton, for his part, is increasingly resembling a chicken with its head cut off. As I said last week, Colton is a great empathizer and he does seem genuinely concerned with—and caring toward—his slew of women. But I’m torn between finding his insecurities (and his honesty about those insecurities) endearing, and feeling like he shouldn’t be quite so perturbed by every bump in the road, especially when those bumps are the women’s words of warning about one another.

First, if Colton were more confident and self-assured, all the Wrong Reasons warnings, the “there are girls who aren’t ready” warnings, none of them would matter. He would trust his gut, his intuition, his actual time spent with each actual woman. And I know it’s difficult being in his position, his bubble, and I know it’s something most of us don’t and will never fully comprehend. But many leads before him have managed it. They may have been horribly torn, or they may have broken off their engagement at some point, but they still managed to trust their own instincts, especially as early as episode 6. It is way too soon to be as freaked out as he is. It is in this way that Colton, to me, shows his youth. He may be ready for a relationship—I don’t question that. But he does appear to still possess the sort of insecurities, both in his confidence in reading people and in what he has to offer, that dissipate with age and experience.

Second, I can’t deny how rare and even charming it is to have a Bachelor admit, “Everyone expects me to have everything figured out, but I don’t!” But, his likability aside, I don’t think this is the case at all. What contestants who are taking things reasonably seriously expect is not so much a lead who knows what he’s doing, but a lead who will be honest with them when they ask it of him. There’s a difference between knowing what you’re doing in general, and knowing you don’t see a future with the person in front of you. Of course, there are some contestants who know very well they’re not going to the end, but the experience and friendships (and Instagram followers) are still worth sticking around for. They’re in no rush to receive any sort of brutal honesty with regards to where their relationships are going. That said, I do wish Colton would just cut the cord when it’s obvious that’s what a woman is clearly seeking. In Elyse’s case, she implored him to say he didn’t see a future with her. Instead, he withheld the gift of honesty (even though, later in the episode, his lack of sadness from losing her spoke for itself), making her decision only more difficult—unnecessarily difficult—for her. This week, Sydney straight-up said, “Is there something missing with me?” and, “Can you get there with me?” It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that. Yet, Colton seemed insistent on giving her the runaround, with generic responses to questions that weren’t asked: “I open up differently in different relationships,” and “Every relationship moves at a different pace.” Dude, if you don’t want a woman, and she’s asking you point-blank whether or not you do, SET HER FREE. Kindness under these circumstances wouldn’t be tiptoeing around egos, but rather, giving closure without the risk of what-ifs on her end. I give massive props to these women for having the strength and clarity to leave, even without that courtesy on his part.

Interestingly, Colton did the exact opposite with Demi. She approached him privately to tell him how she felt about him, yet he sent her packing in what seemed like a move heavily influenced by Sydney’s warning about women not being “ready.” (He practically admitted this in his conversation with a producer at the end of this episode.) It proved just how much stock he puts in those house whisperings. (The answer: Too much.) Colton certainly has a strong moral compass, but his confidence in his own instincts could probably use a few more years to ripen.

Sharleen Joynt’s Top 4 Following The Bachelor: Episode 6

A photo of Bachelor season 23 contestant Tayshia Adams in a peach romper (Photo: Courtesy City)

1. Tayshia Adams, 28: “There’s substance in their interactions”

Tayshia has proven to be the season’s official dark horse, and it’s becoming apparent that Colton relies on her for something he doesn’t get with any of the other women on this list: comfort. She has a really soothing, nurturing effect, and this week, particularly on the Group Date, it felt as though Colton sought her out almost to get a load off, just to relax. But what I particularly loved here was that Tayshia made clear that it was a two-way street—he’s got to show curiosity in her, too. This relationship feels more multi-faceted and mature than the others because it seems to be built on actual conversation and mutual respect, not chemistry alone. It feels as though, if Colton were to describe Tayshia, we’d get more than just “she’s beautiful.” Tayshia is, of course, very beautiful, but there’s substance in their interactions—a reprieve in a sea of endless makeouts. Tayshia got this week’s Group Date rose, which, considering the likes of Cassie, Caelynn, and Hannah B were all on that same date, is HUGE.

A photo of Bachelor season 23 contestant Cassie (Photo: Courtesy City)

2. Cassie Randolph, 23: “We don’t know much about the two of them together”

As is typical post 1-on-1 date, we didn’t see much of Cassie this week. That said, we didn’t get the substance we needed last week, and we weren’t shown any time between her and Colton this week, either. It’s increasingly feeling as though, IF Cassie does win (as I originally predicted), we don’t know much about the two of them together. And while their chemistry was a huge selling point last week, the fact that he appears to have similar chemistry with Hannah G blurs those lines.

(Photo: Courtesy City)

3. Hannah Godwin, 23: “It’s very obvious that Colton is SUPER into her”

What really bugged me about this date was how it felt like Hannah was nothing more than a piece of meat Colton wanted to devour. The close-ups of her in a bikini with him ogling her, followed by him describing her as a “sushi roll” he’d like to eat… Like, OK, we get it. He’s attracted to her. But I can’t recall one trait he described of hers, one quirk, one adjective that didn’t pertain to her looks. It was honestly bothersome, and it really didn’t do her, nor what I imagine they share, justice. As I said a few weeks ago, I see Hannah G more as Bachelorette material anyway, so I’m perfectly happy to see her sticking around, but it’d be nice to have been shown more actual words exchanged between these two. Regardless of what I think, it’s very obvious Colton is SUPER into Hannah G and that she’s going far.

A photo of Bachelor season 23 contestant Caelynn (Photo: Courtesy City)

4. Caelynn Miller-Keyes, 23: “I can’t see her not lasting to Hometowns”

Caelynn once again laid low this week but it’s still not out of the ordinary considering her 1-on-1 was only two weeks ago. That said, we haven’t seen enough (or any) 1-on-1 time between her and Colton for her to remain higher on this list. I can’t see Caelynn not lasting to Hometowns, but it’d still be nice to see bits of the time between her and Colton along the way.

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