“This Struck Me As a Red Flag:” Sharleen Joynt on Episode 9 of The Bachelorette

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider POV on the ninth episode of Becca Kufrin’s season

I really, really wish that, this far in, I were more captivated by this season than I find myself. Instead of nodding along when Chris Harrison asks Becca things like, “Can you believe we are down to two men?”, I find myself declaring (or writing in my notes, rather): YES. YES, I CAN. Seriously, is anyone remotely surprised that we’re finally down to two, or that those final two are Garrett and Blake? I know a huge part of my writing about this show involves analyzing edits and making predictions based on those analyses, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like a blindside now and again. Is a mild curveball too much to ask for?! I feel like we’ve known it’d be down to these two since Night One, and if and when it’s so obvious that we’re right, the storylines themselves had better be pretty darn compelling.

That textbook predictability can be negated by a real, moving romance. Watching two humans go from being total strangers to being in love can truly be a beautiful sight (if not a social experiment) to behold. But this is where I find myself frustrated this season, and brace yourself, I’m about to rant about it. With different people, I expect different love stories. I objectively know that what Becca shares with Garrett and with Blake are different than, say, what JoJo shared with Robby and with Jordan. So why the hell do these storylines feel so, well, the same?? We all know there’s a formula, not only in terms of airtime and edits, but with the dates themselves, the props, the soundtrack. But nonetheless, this deep into the season, it shouldn’t feel as familiar, as tired, as DONE as it does.

I often credit this show when I think it makes an effort to evolve with the times and to keep one step ahead of its ever wise-growing, curious viewers. But in this regard, I think it’s time for another step up. Even Jason’s return, with his walk down the hotel hallway to the tune of dramatic music, felt so mundane. We saw previews for it and were subjected to the uneventful scene itself. And then, 10 precious minutes later, we were right back where we started, with Becca calling Jason one of the best guys she’s ever met (exactly what she said right after she sent him packing). Don’t get me wrong, I sympathize with Jason’s hard time and the fact that he wanted closure. But not only was what Jason sought the same thing most second runners-up seek (and receive) at Men Tell All, with how it was previewed, edited and inserted into the episode, it just felt like something we’ve seen before. Many, many times over. And it left me wondering if I’d have still watched the episode to the end if it weren’t for the fact that I had to recap it. Because my intelligence felt as insulted as my time felt wasted.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s only the show to blame here. As someone who values words and their power to clearly and concisely describe one’s feelings, I can recognize maybe I’m just the wrong audience for this show. But I for one am getting deeply annoyed at the lack of specificity in every “in love” person’s professions of said love. There’s a surplus of “special”s, “amazing”s and an overall generic hyperbole, yet there are so few distinct statements to set relationships not only apart from each other within in the same season, but across ALL seasons. This week, when asked by Chris Harrison how he felt about Becca, Blake responded with: “I’m in love with her. A lot. Very in love with her. I absolutely do see me getting down on one knee and seeing a future with Becca.” Like, we get it, he loves her. But why? Why should we see what he and Becca have as any different than the next relationship??

So starved have I been for words to give the relationships individuality that I eagerly took note when Jason said he loved how “charismatic” and “strong” Becca is. My pathetic excitement over these simple words show just how rare they are. But they’re SO important: they not only give us some insight into what the two share, they also show that man’s ability to identify key traits about their potential future fiancée. What about Becca draws each of these guys to her and they can recognize complements them?? Garrett was my early favourite in this department since he, on Night One, called Becca “witty” and as having a “quick rapport.” But it’s like being on this show gradually turns you in a vocabulary-challenged clone, as Garrett’s descriptions of his love for Becca have grown more and more broad and have increasingly sounded less and less different than Blake’s.

I’ve never met Becca in person but I can still use words to describe her based on what we’ve seen: she’s empathetic and sensitive to others’ feelings. She’s perceptive. She’s curious. She’s a good listener. She’s quick-witted and goofy. She’s very confident and self-assured but quietly so. I’ve already used more words to describe her personality than we’ve shown all of the men have COMBINED. Now, I of course realize a) it’s possible (though unlikely) those words are on the editing room floor, and b) these aren’t necessarily the key traits that make one fall in romantic love with someone. And I realize things like pheromones and chemistry aren’t things words can’t necessarily capture. But, for the audience’s sake (and interest), I still feel like people on this show should TRY to verbalize those feelings. Or their producers should TRY to get that out of them. Because right now I’m reaching a point where the final few relationships blur into one another. It’s a general wash of “I’m in love with her,” “I can see a future with her” and “I can see myself proposing,” regardless of who’s saying it. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard as hell to become invested in what feels like just one of several versions of the same relationship.

Alright, rant over!

Sharleen Joynt’s Prediction for Becca’s Final Rose

Bachelorette season 14 episode 2: A photo of contestant Garrett in a Blue suit jacket and white shirt

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

Becca will choose…. Garrett: What I like about this relationship is that their time spent together doesn’t feel like it’s ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP. They appear to spend as much time (if not more) laughing and goofing around as they do talking about their feelings. It feels fun, carefree, yet substantial at the same time. Because I have so few of Garrett’s words to go off, I’m betting on him based on Becca’s: She has repeatedly said Garrett reminds her of her father and that he seems like someone her father would have liked. She’s said he makes her think of “home” and that he’d fit in really well. All season long I’ve put major stock in those statements and I’m not about to stop now. Just last night, she said, “When I look at Garrett I see my heart’s equal. I see someone who would make a great father, a great loving husband, he makes me feel like I could really rely on him no matter what.” (Thank god for Becca’s use of words!) I think Becca’s had her sights set on Garrett since Night One, as evidenced by that First Impression Rose, and we know from the history of The Bachelorette that that shouldn’t be overlooked.

A photo of Bachelorette season 14 contestant Blake in a maroon short-sleeved shirt and grey pants

(Photograph: Courtesy City)

Becca will send home… Blake: This relationship strikes me as more SERIOUS and I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. It feels like these two talk about their “connection” as much as they actually spend the time enjoying or building it. (I know this is part and parcel with being on this show but I’d still love a bit more lightheartedness here.) And despite the fact that Becca appears very into Blake, I get the sense she is more infatuated with his unwavering dedication to her more so than him as an individual. This week, when Blake told Becca that he’s the sort of person who looks for a reason to stay rather than a reason to leave, there was a voiceover of Becca saying something that really stood out to me: “I’m so used to guys leaving. And so when Blake tells me that he’s the type of person who looks for a reason to stay and not a reason to go, it means everything. And it gives me the chills and it melts my heart because that’s all I want in a partner and in a man.” This struck me as a red flag in their relationship because there are undoubtedly so many more things she wants and needs than just a man’s constancy. I think in another world, the romance these two share could work, but I’m not seeing the same long-term potential and fun factor I see with Garrett.

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