This Women Tell All differed from most. If you were to scroll back over my years worth of recaps for Tell Alls, my opening paragraphs have usually been about my love for them and how that “hot seat” is an opportunity for self-reflection after contestants have seen and watched themselves on TV. This was still and always is the case, but on the whole with this WTA, I found the tone to be very aggressive and on the offensive side given the makeup of well-educated, grounded and high-calibre women.
An example is the glam-shaming drama between Marikh and Chelsea. Their argument was all about whether or not Chelsea judged and shamed Marikh which really wasn’t the point; it was the malice in Chelsea disclosing that to Arie, whether in good humour or not. Doing so, of course, subtly paints herself as down-to-earth and outdoorsy (given that it was a hiking date), while not-so-subtly painting Marikh as potentially looks-obsessed and superficial. My humble opinion is that Chelsea should’ve just sincerely apologized for mentioning Marikh’s hair-brushing/”glamming” to Arie (this was her crime, after all, as Seinne rightly pointed out), and I hope (and believe) Marikh would’ve graciously accepted that apology and the compact mirror for the sake of harmony.
Another lightning rod was Bekah’s age. I can absolutely understand the frustration of thousands of people projecting what THEY think 22 years old looks like onto you. But within this experience, you simply can’t blame a 36-year old for worrying that you, a 22-year old, might not be ready for marriage. If a 22-year-old IS ready for marriage and kids, she has to realize she’s the exception, not the rule. To me, one of the most telltale signs of getting older and more mature is growing more mellow. Myself and almost everyone I know have become more patient, more empathetic, more aware and more understanding of the other side of every coin, of the shoes others walk in. I agree Bekah may be that exception—she possesses the insightfulness and confidence of someone WELL beyond her years—but I think letting the perceptions of others about her age roll off her back a bit more, instead of having her fists up about it, would go a lot further in showing that.
Of course, I’m all too aware of the producer push (and Paradise incentive) to stand out and make one’s opinions known. I just suppose that, overall, I was expecting more of an effort to see eye to eye with one another and less feuding and defensiveness months after the fact. Oftentimes, while those issues from filming are addressed and further debated at the Tell All, they at the very least close with a resolution. We didn’t really get any of that this time around.
As is now my Tell All tradition, I’ll single out my top 3 moments…
3. Bekah vs. Tia
This is the best example of a feud that, in my opinion, should have resolved at least somewhat. Bekah held a grudge that, back in episode 7, Tia had taken it upon herself—without first mentioning it to Bekah—to express doubt to Arie regarding Bekah’s readiness for marriage and children. Again, as I said above, I do agree that it would be incredibly frustrating to have so many people project what they see as “ready” onto you and proceed to hold that standard against you. (Bekah argued that just because she wasn’t in Tia’s exact place of commitment to Arie, it didn’t make her not as viable a candidate, and this was an excellent and accurate point.) Unfortunately, in response, Bekah doubled down on Tia. She said that Tia didn’t know her and that she didn’t know Tia, which is valid, yet proceeded to make a sweeping statement about how Tia had said her former boyfriends were all assholes (using Tia’s words—humble words—against her) while differentiating that her boyfriends had always treated her like a queen. Whether or not this is true, this hit below the belt and was inconsistent with (and ultimately negated) her argument that they didn’t know each other and therefore didn’t have a right to an opinion about each other’s experiences. I agree that Tia probably shouldn’t have said anything to Arie in the first place (you guys know by now this one of my golden rules—it’s almost never a good look), but in the grand scheme of backstabbing and shit-talking on this show, it really was on the mild side and didn’t appear to be carried out with any malice or disrespect. Overall, I wish Tia had shown a bit more remorse for talking to Arie about it, and that Bekah had met her halfway and let it roll off her back the way I wish she would’ve let the age thing roll off her back, and that the two might’ve hugged it out. Sigh.
2. Same ol’, same ol’
Unsurprisingly, in a display of the very lack of self-awareness that got her into this mess in the first place, Krystal proved completely incapable of reflecting on her experience, her reception or the feedback of others, and was, in short, the same ol’ Krystal. As she did on the show, she played victim every chance she got by saying how hard the process was for her and what a toll it took on her. She continued to speak in mostly stock statements; to Jacqueline’s astute comment that Krystal’s condescension didn’t take into account the other women’s feelings or their own relationships with Arie, Krystal pulled out old faithful for the millionth time: “I was just focused on my relationship with Arie.” And that was when she DID respond. Bekah wisely pointed out, “At the end of the day, the easiest way to deal with it is just to go, ‘Yeah, I was a bitch. I’m sorry.’” Krystal’s response to this was the same speechlessness she had for Kendall on their 2-on-1 date; she fake-laughed, clearly didn’t have an applicable stock response and finally copped out with, “I’ll just bite my tongue”, as though she was intentionally taking the high road (yeah, right). Finally, as she did at every turn while filming, she simply could not accept blame and had to point it elsewhere. Case in point, when Caroline berated her for calling the other women the c-word, Krystal somehow thought this was the right time to scream, “ARE YOU F—ING KIDDING ME?!” She proceeded to attack Caroline for mocking her during the season, as though Krystal herself hadn’t mocked or talked shit about anyone.
I guess, in conclusion, if you can’t take blame and apologize for calling women the c-word—especially when you’re a woman who claims to love and support other women and speaks in inspirational quotes—you’re a lost cause. In a way, Krystal remains deliciously maddening to watch. But last night, watching her also inched toward sad. She is both helpless and clueless, is only either sickeningly fake or a complete loose cannon and, as Bekah aptly put it, has “a lot to learn about conflict resolution and interpersonal skills.” She knows not what she does, yet thinks she knows. She thinks she’s in on things and has us all outsmarted. And she remains one of the best villains ever.
1. Lighter fare
Perhaps because of how much conflict there was throughout this episode, in addition to some of the most shameless advertising I’ve ever witnessed (I might make a point of NOT seeing Blockers based on how severely my intelligence felt challenged by that inane “Blocked moments from The Bachelor” segment), the lighter, funnier moments were SO appreciated. Obviously bloopers are always a highlight (I don’t understand why they don’t triple the length of that blooper reel!), but my absolute favourite moment was during the closing credits when we got to see Arie’s affinity for food, and especially for eating the normally-ignored 1-on-1 date meals. I know all my readers are in the same boat, but as someone who has long noticed that no one ever seems to touch their dinner date “dinners” (when I finally went on the show, I realized why; you’ve already eaten while getting ready for the evening, plus the food is completely cold), this felt like a wink in our direction. I loved when Arie, on his various dates, said things like, “Don’t be afraid to eat” and “I actually really want to try this thing.” I happen to think some men, whether intentionally or not, can make women feel self-conscious eating in front of them (especially when the man himself doesn’t eat). I loved Arie’s comfort with food, in focusing on it and in sharing that comfort with the women, and the montage of mouth-filled “mmms” was a much needed reprieve from an otherwise conflict-laden and exhausting Women Tell All.
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