I’ve just come from taping Huffington Post’s Here to Make Friends podcast. I love the morning-after dissections with Emma Gray and Claire Fallon as both ladies are, like myself, huge fans of the show while still being critical viewers. A major theme in our discussion today was of course Chad, this season’s token villain.
Chad’s obvious unpopularity amongst the other men in the house got me wondering. This show has been around for a long time. Everyone knows there’s one major villain every season, and Chad’s perfect storm of scathing ITMs, superiority complex, textbook meathead-ery and blatant misogyny has the skeptic in me wondering just how “in on it” Chad may be. Or is he really that un-self aware and 100 percent the buffoon he appears to be?
First, the pros. Yes, there are pros! Chad does speak truths that I appreciate. When some men were
prompted to pout pouting over not having gotten a date this first week, Chad pointed out that those men had managed to live their lives this long without ever having known JoJo at all, so surely they could survive a few more days. Part of me loved this sentiment, because as a former contestant, it always bothers me how viewers assume every contestant on this show is a needy, batshit crazy loon who falls in love with the lead immediately upon meeting them. Also, when James Taylor’s singalong dedicated to JoJo was underway, Chad made the correct observation that the men had known her a mere few days. So, in that sense, I liked his breaking of the fourth wall. It’s refreshing to have these facts pointed out, even if we’re already objectively aware of them, because they’re being pointed out by someone while he’s on the show.
Part of me also wonders if the genders were reversed and this were a Bachelor season… If it were women grousing over not having gotten a date and were singing songs about the lead within days of meeting him… Viewers would no doubt call those women crazy and desperate, and I can’t help but think Chad’s observations—the observations themselves, not how he delivered those observations—might be welcomed by this show’s (mostly female) audience.
But the cons! Chad completely negates his astute observations by being a hypocritical bigot. He regularly mocks and belittles the other men but can’t endure any criticism or laugh at himself to save his life. (On his group date he lashed out at anyone who dared criticize him, after he provoked them at every turn.) Next, under no circumstances does it make sense to claim he doesn’t know JoJo well enough to pay her compliments, only to turn around and presume to know what she, being a “beautiful girl,” wants and needs. (Because all women—only the beautiful ones, of course—are somehow exactly the same in their needs?) Worst of all is the sort of man—man or woman, really—who seems to think kind words and compliments aren’t meant to be shared; as though it costs him something to tell the woman he’s interested in what he likes about her. It reeks of manipulative, sexist frat boys who live by the rules in The Game (if you’re a woman and haven’t read it, you must). Chad emphatically separates himself from the other men, labelling them boys and himself a man. But a real man is quietly confident enough to show and tell a woman he cares about her—without forcing her to become self-conscious and defensive by labeling her “naggy,” a manipulative and knee-jerk retaliation. UGH.
Enough about Chad! My frontrunners after last night are…
1. Jordan, 27: I’m the first to admit that with The Bachelorette, I normally don’t take to the usual obvious frontrunner jocks. However, there’s something refined about Jordan that I really like. He’s no goodie two shoes (a good thing) in his ITMs, which are frank but never mean, and if he’s arrogant, he hides it very well. It speaks volumes that as the First Impression Rose recipient, he seems to be universally well-liked (except perhaps by Chad, which means nothing). Beyond all that, he was ahead of the pack by such a lead last week that, despite not a ton of airtime this week, he remains firmly planted at the top of my list.
2. Luke, 31: Emma, Claire, and I all agreed that we warmed to Luke this week. I like that despite losing the group date fire-fighting challenge to Grant and then the group date rose to Wells, he never resorted to becoming petulant. Nor should he have, because he did win a solid make-out sesh. Luke remains strong and steady in this race and if he were to leave anytime soon I would be shocked.
3. James Taylor, 29: I know all the singing in the mansion might seem like a bit much, but the lack of internet, phones, books, and music make for a VERY boring Bachelor mansion. In other words, I would’ve loved to have had a James Taylor on my season. I’m still waiting for a real spark between he and JoJo—I liked what he wrote and read to her on the group date but would have preferred to have seen some natural getting-to-know-you conversation—but he’s too prominent a contender to ignore.
4. Derek, 29: I like Derek. A lot. He’s so self-deprecating and just has a great attitude. Above all, I get an endearing “I have no idea what I’m doing here” vibe from him which I can really relate to. His 1-on-1 was a little skimmed over and I didn’t understand the emphasis on “making choices” together (choosing between sea and air and then between two private jets do not real choices make) but I don’t blame him for that. No first 1-on-1 date recipient ever goes home early and JoJo definitely seems to like him, so Derek rounds out this week’s Top 4.
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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