This Women Tell All had me torn between enjoying the redemptive storylines and present-day lessons learned, versus taking deep breaths to calm my racing heart as all-too-real drama played out. Without further ado, in keeping with my Tell All tradition, my top three most memorable moments…
1. Redemption is sweet
Liz’s time in the hot seat ended up getting a bit lost in all the ample airtime dedicated to Corinne (shocking), but it made a great impression on me. Not because it turned into a motivational speech of sorts (though not a bad one), but rather that I felt her time was a fantastic example of Women Tell All being handed over like a gift from the show’s producers to a contestant they’d wronged. I mean, let’s be clear: There are usually three, maybe four hot-seat contestants, and they’re usually reserved for far more prominent contestants than Liz was on this season. I saw the producers giving her that airtime as something of an apology, perhaps a “We’re sorry we exploited your one-night stand with Nick and put words in your mouth and in general made you look pretty terrible” card from Hallmark’s “Apology” aisle. Liz truly used her time purposefully and effectively. Never once did she play victim, even when she—out of all the women with questionable edits—was probably most entitled to do so. She owned her actions, justified them without any defensiveness (a feat unto itself), and turned her experience on the show into a message of positivity, about what she’d overcome and learned. She was evidently very well-liked by the other women—always a good sign—and on the whole came off, for the first time since we’ve known her, as being in control. There’s usually a contestant who wields the Tell All like a tool for redemption, and this go-around that award goes to Liz.
2. She said, she said: Corinne vs. Taylor
After being so frustrated watching the WTA audience members—one even sporting a terrifying “Make America Corinne Again” hat—cheer for just about every word out of Corinne’s mouth, it was cathartic to talk about this with Emma and Claire this morning on “Here To Make Friends.” None of us denied Corinne’s entertainment value, nor her artful comedic timing, and we all agreed that we’d been coming around to Corinne the last few episodes. But there were two things that made this (horribly dragged out) segment painful and anxiety-inducing to watch.
First, the producers had clearly chosen a side and it wasn’t Taylor‘s. In Taylor’s hot-seat time, the traditional recap of her time on the show featured every questionable thing Taylor ever said, from the one time she said “she’s a manipulative bitch,” to having “emotional intelligence” on repeat, to prominently featuring the two mentions (in the four-to-six weeks of filming) of her master’s degree. There wasn’t a single nasty quote of Corinne’s, despite there being many more examples of those. When Taylor finally gave Corinne a sincere apology, Corinne answered with nothing more than a smug and self-satisfied “Thank you.” That was when Chris Harrison should have pushed Corinne to offer an apology of her own, or at least sought closure of sorts. But instead he chose that moment to move on to Raquel—glossing over Corinne’s incredible inability to self-reflect. All of the above, combined with the cheesy pasta distribution, showed just how intent the producers were on rewarding Corinne for her job well done all season. Their (both Corinne’s and the producers’) lack of empathy for the impact this has had on Taylor’s profession is really disgraceful; Emma and Claire, who recently interviewed Taylor, informed me that she has had to close her counseling practice. Look, I get that Taylor wasn’t popular either. That was made abundantly clear last night. But Taylor was evidently not aware of the extent to which she wasn’t liked and was quick to apologize. She realized that she was the common denominator there, that where there’s smoke there’s fire, and that she must have done something wrong. She didn’t “own” being condescending, impolite or unlikable, chalking it up to some bullshit “you do you, I’ll do me” adage, but instead clearly felt remorse and immediately sought to make things right. These are traits we should want in our fellow human beings.
Corinne, on the other hand, while a fantastic television character, does not—or at least last night, did not—behave admirably. Nearly everything out of her mouth was a contradiction. First, she dismissed Taylor’s assessment that criticizing each other within the parameters of the show is different than criticizing each other as human beings. Yet, she admitted that the situation made her feel the need to rise above 30 other girls, an obvious indicator that those parameters did indeed bring out a different side of her. She interrupted others freely, yet when she herself was in the hot seat, she dismissed those who interrupted her with, “Why is someone talking?” She defended her questionable behaviour by saying it was all about Nick, standing out to Nick, getting Nick’s attention. Yet, especially for someone who made Final Four, there was nary a mention of Nick or their relationship in her entire (DOUBLE length) hot-seat time. She opened fire on Taylor for judging her and treating her “like a piece of trash” without first getting to know her, yet her claim that Taylor said she didn’t want to be Corinne’s friend because she wasn’t intelligent enough was such a blatant lie—or, as we said on “Here To Make Friends,” such an alternative fact—that it instantly dilutes the credibility of every claim she makes. Corinne’s two modes are going on the offensive and playing victim with no in-between. She takes no fault, never apologizes and doubles down on everyone and everything else. When Taylor opened the door to compromise with her own apology, Corinne really blew it in my eyes. Corinne thinks she won, but she came off as painfully juvenile. Unfortunately, at 24, if she doesn’t realize it by now she probably never will.
3. Class isn’t dead
The rays of hope on the tail end of so much stubborn conflict were Kristina and Rachel. Kristina was elegant, modest and sincere, and I appreciated that her hot-seat time was actually about her relationship with Nick, the reason we all got to know her in the first place. (Compare that with how Corinne lasted longer yet how she hardly addressed Nick.) Above all, Kristina seems to have a palpable appreciation for what she has that is nothing short of inspiring. In my eyes, especially coming from an immigrant who really was given a second chance at a life “in colour,” that message could not be better timed. There was a mic-drop moment when Liz contrasted that message with pointing out how privileged they all are, yet how some (not all) of them were up there arguing with each other over such petty things. That was a meaningful and memorable moment, and easily my favourite of last night’s entire three-hour extravaganza.
Rachel, too, was a vision of grace and class. She and Nick still had good chemistry—they even appeared to share an inside joke or two up there—yet it seemed to have morphed into something platonic but every bit as worthwhile. Rachel has such a quiet but strong sense of self worth that, if I had a daughter, I might actually her allow to watch this show to witness. Rachel knows what she has going for her, yet without a hint of arrogance or entitlement. At 31, you get the real sense she’s going into this with very clear needs and wants, and I for one am SO excited to watch her on her own season.
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