Another season, another one of my favourite episodes, the Tell All. Oh, how I love to see the choices contestants make after watching themselves on television. I love spying the subtle and not-so-subtle changes to their appearances (hello, spray tans and suddenly hot “hipster” Brandon), which battles they choose to pick (or all of them, à la Alex), and who seems to get a disproportionate amount of airtime considering their showing on the actual season (not so Saintly Nick B).
As I’ve mentioned before, with the power and monetization of social media and the direct correlation between airtime and followers, Tell All episodes carry a whole different meaning. (I don’t like repeating myself, so in case you missed last season’s Tell All recap where I discuss this, it’s worth reading.) On the whole, how folks behave on their Tell All is so… telling.
In keeping with my tradition of singling out my top three most memorable people/moments:
3. Well-spoken Wells
I was already a Wells fan, but his showing last night made me a James S-calibre “superfan.” I don’t agree with guys always piping in with their two cents (especially when said guys aren’t directly involved in the conflict in question), but when your two cents are as sound and eloquently put as Wells’, it’s allowed. While the rest of the guys scoffed at Chad’s claims that he was “getting shit-talked 24/7, night and day, in front of 10 million people watching,” Wells didn’t deny it, which made his ultimate point more credible: “I’m the first to admit that we kind of Lord of the Flies’d you and Piggy’d you and we definitely went after you… But at the end of the day, it was justified. You said some really f-cked-up things, so it was really justified in the end.” (Extra points for the literary reference!)
When the focus was on Alex’s beef with Derek, Nick B came out of nowhere, guns blazing, calling Alex manipulative, an instigator, and having a Napoleon complex. Wells deftly intercepted the attack and maintained the critical point while wording it so beautifully, it almost sounded like a compliment: “When it comes down to Alex’s predicament, Alex and I are close… He’s a war hero, we should all honour him, but he’s lived the majority of his adult life in conflict. I think that he feels the most comfortable in conflict. [To Alex] I think that’s what happened, is that you vanquished this Neanderthal in the beginning and we praised you for it, and then it’s like, ‘What’s my role now?’”
Best of all, when Chad continued to act like the victim, Wells reminded Chad of how much is still in his power: “The one thing America loves more than tragedy in conflict is that they absolutely love to forgive and to give people a redemptive story. And for you, Chad, I know you get to go and you get to change your perception of everyone by going on Paradise, and I really hope you take that opportunity.” Exactly. If Chad really was so wronged and ganged up on and truly the victim in all this, let him prove it by telling a different tale (like JJ Lane did) on Bachelor in Paradise. Wells put the ball in Chad’s court and held him responsible for his actions from here on out.
2. Ceaseless Chad
While part of me doesn’t want to give Chad anymore attention than he’s already received, it’s impossible to discuss this episode without talking about him. Because, like with the entire first half of this season, we were shown little but Chad. When Chad wasn’t onstage, he and his security guard and his meat platter were being referenced. When he was onstage, it was for WAY too long considering his role on the season. And when he sat with the guys, we were sure to be shown his every smirk and eye roll.
First, the positives. I’m the first to admit Chad is entertaining. There’s no doubt about that. For someone like Andy, a non-avid viewer of this show (he wouldn’t watch if I didn’t rope him into it), Chad completely changed the appeal of the show and singlehandedly made it something Andy wanted to watch. Even for me, someone who takes the show semi-seriously and loves to dissect its ins and outs, Chad is indisputably entertaining. As for his claims that he was a victim, I don’t underrate the negative attention he seemed to have received as being some sort of provocation for him to act up. It’s a difficult environment in which to co-exist even when you do have friends.
Also, amidst his constant stream of insults, Chad does drop a serious truth bomb here and there. (I’ve mentioned my agreement over a few of his early statements.) Last night, he insinuated JoJo sent him home because she knew he was the “bad guy” and didn’t want to be that Bachelorette who keeps the “bad guy” around. While I don’t think this necessarily applies to JoJo (thanks to her glorious transparency, it was clear she was pretty repulsed by him in the end), there is definite truth to that statement. How many Bachelors and Bachelorettes have been vilified for keeping the Tierras and Courtneys and Bentleys and Wes(es?)? It would stand to reason that a lead would send the villain home just for fear of such judgment. For his blatant, brutally honest truths, Chad deserves a modicum of praise.
But that’s where the positives and my Chad praise ends. What was disturbing to me last night was how praising of Chad the audience was. I get finding him amusing, but having #Chadchelor shirts made and cheering at his every move is not an appropriate reaction for someone who was so consistently offensive and violent. It’s hard to imagine no audience member there had ever posted some Bully Awareness Month Instagram post, yet they all laughed at every insult Chad hurled. Chad isn’t a sitcom character; he’s a real person and those are real people he’s disrespecting and shaming. That shouldn’t earn him fans.
On the whole, whether or not Chad is as bad as he seemed and whether or not he deserved being “poked,” Grant said it best: “When 20 guys have a problem with you, you’re the one with the problem.”
1. Joelle of Arc
From what I understand, the Tell All episode can be pretty intimidating for the lead. While you may think you’ve left your guys on as good terms as possible, it’s hard to know how the past few months of sudden fame or less-than-flattering edits have changed things, or how producers might have fanned the flames of bitterness. But from beginning to end and top to bottom, JoJo was a class act. She was considerate but strong, remembered details about every guy (even Night One-r Jonathan), did her best to explain herself (without resorting to stock answers), and admitted she may not have done everything “right.” That kind of modest and self-aware hindsight is not to be underestimated; too many people, especially those in her highly-scrutinized position, would be too defensive and proud to admit that, frankly, they had no idea what they were doing. Last but not least, JoJo’s smackdown of Chad after he insulted both of her final two men was epic. After way too many minutes of the guys arguing with Chad, interrupting and being interrupted by Chad, and just generally getting huffy over Chad, JoJo mic-dropped Chad-gate in its entirety by not engaging with him. She summed him up (accurately!) with: “He loves this. This is what he wants. He loves the attention and we’re giving it to him. So he’s not even worth my breath.” Her guys, the audience, and all of us at home cheered.
For more on this season of The Bachelorette from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, All the Pretty Pandas.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on City. Catch up on past episodes at citytv.com.
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