Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor: Women Tell All

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

Sharleen Joynt

Yesterday, after recording Huffington Post’s Here To Make Friends podcast, one of the hosts bemoaned having to get through the upcoming Women Tell All episode. I declared it my favourite episode of any given season, which tends to surprise people. (Indeed, both Claire and Emma exclaimed, “Really?!”) But it’s entirely true: Even long before I ever became involved with the show, I anticipated the Tell All the most. It’s the precious few hours where contestants have more control over how they’re perceived than they have for the entire season, and where we viewers can witness what they choose to do with that newfound control.

For the past several years, with social media fame translating into the ability to quit your day job (and probably move to L.A.)—and airtime on any show within the franchise automatically building that social media fame—these Tell Alls tend to become breeding grounds for drama you never knew existed. After all, a contestant’s willingness and ability to deliver drama naturally ups her desirability for Paradise.

However, last night, instead of conflicts seeming to appear out of nowhere, we were instead subjected to sequels of the same ones we watched throughout the season. Even the arguments were the same, except louder and, unfortunately, simultaneous. Throughout the evening, there were many moments where, for straight seconds (and while a bemused Chris Harrison made no efforts to mediate), several voices shouting over one another produced a wall of sound. We literally couldn’t understand a single word, so loud and endless was the shouting. Don’t get me wrong, from a garbage-TV perspective, my brain was happy to shut off and let me consume the drama as I would empty calories. But from a where-are-they-now perspective, it was pretty unsatisfying. We didn’t get a single hug-it-out, water-under-the-bridge moment of resolution.

As is my tradition with Tell All episodes, I’ll touch on my Top 3 Most Memorable Moments…

Where There’s Smoke…

I’ve been a Caelynn supporter all season and I wouldn’t flip on a dime because some women didn’t get along her. That said, there are enough allegations stacked against her that collectively become impossible to ignore. First, given that we know a conversation between her and Cassie did occur (Katie’s long awaited side of this story confirms it was on the bus ride from the Singapore airport to their hotel), it would have been better for both her and Cassie to have admitted to that conversation when they were first confronted about it. If words really were misconstrued, the only clarification needed would be what they remembered saying (or at the very least, what they meant), not simply denying it ever happened. Basically, what Caelynn said in response to Katie’s version of that bus conversation was something she should have said weeks ago when shit first hit the fan.

The thing is, Singapore was only episode 4. Neither Caelynn or Cassie had had their first 1-on-1 dates yet. Katie was right when she said Caelynn would have been within her right to say it was an innocent conversation to be having at the time. To me, this shows a reasonableness on Katie’s part, and it became clear her frustrations were (understandably) more about the deception than the actual crime.

Another thing to note is that, in terms of the rumours (hilariously coined by Chris Harrison as a “grenade” Katie rolled into the room as she departed), the bit about Cassie not being “ready” turned out to be entirely true. It’s hard to imagine a portion of this story being 100 percent true and the other portion complete and utter fabrication. Again, I’ve been an avid Caelynn supporter and am not suddenly anti-Caelynn. I just sorely wish, for her own cause, she’d simply owned having had the conversation and shrugged it off as being early in the season, before she became as invested as she became. That is both believable and understandable. Denying it ever took place, then scrambling to rewrite the transcript only makes you look more guilty, not less. Even if you’re NOT guilty

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Who’s the Mature-ist of Them All?

I do think some of Demi’s words are too venomous and she generally retaliates too harshly. She tends to double down instead of taking the high road. I also imagine she could have been very challenging for quieter, shier personalities to live with. In the Demi vs. Courtney saga, a debate over which 23-year-old was more mature, I do think the ultimate in maturity would have been a resolution. However, it became very clear very quickly that that was not going to happen.

That said, here are things I have no patience for:

  • Talking without listening: Demi actually let Courtney finish her points before launching her counterattacks. Courtney never returned that courtesy.
  • Deflecting responsibility: Courtney never took responsibility for her actual beef on the show, which was never getting to spend actual quality time with Colton. But that was no one’s fault but her own.
  • Getting physical: NO MATTER what Demi said or did, walking up to another adult and shoving something in their mouth is not acceptable. Period.

Courtney may not be as loud or as bold, and she may not curse as much or do many of the things Demi does that she deems immature. But those are aspects of personality, not maturity. However, behavioural aspects, like those listed above, are aspects of maturity. Just saying.

Will You Accept This Crown?

Interestingly, while this felt like a cattier, louder, and more juvenile Women Tell All than usual, it somehow didn’t feel like the typical Paradise audition. (Well, except for Jane who surfaced from obscurity to have opinions on events she wasn’t present for.) It almost felt like a Bachelorette audition to me, with the two pageant ladies, Caelynn and Hannah B, once again competing for a title.

Caelynn took the more traditional, still-heartbroken approach, shedding a LOT of tears, a surefire way to garner sympathy and have viewers root for you. However, while I’m not saying she shouldn’t have still been sad over Colton, I do wish she had moved on better. Considering, at the WTA taping, it had been 3+ months since the breakup (considerably longer than the relationship itself) and he had kept THREE women over her, it felt like her heartache was at about a 9 out of 10 when a 6.5 or 7 would have been more appropriate. Her state of turmoil didn’t feel congruous with this strong, powerful woman we’d gotten to know all season. It’s no one’s place (certainly not mine) to dictate how someone else should feel, especially when it comes to heartbreak, but I couldn’t help but wonder if her producer had encouraged this angle from her, eyeing a prize far more substantial than sympathy. That would make more sense to me than her still crying about a man who’d completely (and rather unapologetically) deceived her.

Meanwhile, Hannah B took the riskier but very compelling dust-yourself-off approach. She didn’t have any questions for Colton (certainly not the dreaded “when did you know?”) and emphasized having moved on. And remember, Hannah B left only ONE WEEK before Caelynn. Both women fell “in love” with Colton and told him such. I know a Hometown is a big deal, but compare Caelynn’s distress last night to Hannah B’s considering it was a one week difference.

Hannah focused more on her own personal journey of self discovery and self love and learning to not “settle”. Given her painfully obvious insecurities early in the season, this was shining feel-good moment in an episode full of shouting and tears. This, too, felt like a producer-encouraged approach, but a kinder one. Even if Hannah B is not crowned Bachelorette (something I have a hard time picturing after last night), her lasting impression on this season is one of self-assuredness and confidence, not one of heartbreak.

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