Welcome back, friends. We begin Episode 2 with another meta moment as Rachel reflects on herself (literally, curling her hair in the mirror), but also on the events of last night. Joined by her dog Copper (with the yet to be acknowledged leg injury), she seems pleased with the results of last night’s 17-hour Dionysian Festival of Small-Talk and Face-Eating. And she is excited for Day Two. And why shouldn’t she be? She has 23 of the country’s most eligible bachelors all vying for her heart. Men competing for the opportunity to marry her- to enter into a lifelong commitment, pledging their love, respect, fidelity, and a whole lot more till death do they part. Just making sure we’re all clear on the rules here. (Cough, foreshadowing, cough.)
Cut to the men huddling together in the living room in their weirdly matching athleisure-wear, while Lee reads off the names for the first group date. Lee later mentions he’s happy he’s not on the group date because those men now have a “target on their back”. I’m not sure if Lee’s familiar with the basic premise of the show, but he’ll learn soon enough. He also tries out some weird, aggressive version of the Kristen Wiig character who’s always “just kidding” while talking to Will.
Annnnnd we’re on to our very first group date! One that will set the tone for the entire season. One that will give us great insight into Rachel’s priorities and larger world view. And.. it’s a shit show. Literally. We open on Rachel, fake grilling probably fake meats. The herd of guys descend upon her, and we’re back to that scary too-many-alphas feeling from last week. But wow, it is so cool to see Rachel grilling. Because, you know, guys love grilling. Grilling meats!
If this struck you as a little phony and dare I say reductive, then buckle up. Because while at a glance this date is silly and stupid- it’s actually meaningfully bad. But look who’s here to help! Why it’s “the most perfect couple in Hollywood”- Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis! They mention how they watch the show every Monday, (with a vodka tonic for AK, and a white wine for MK), and they love the show so much that they called the producers and asked if they could be on it. Celebs, they’re just like us! (If it’s not clear yet, I am unfathomably jealous.)
They take inventory of the guys- asking them hard-hitting questions like, “do you all have jobs?” and, “do you have health insurance?”. Ashton, everyone theoretically has health insurance. For now……..
Anyway, we’re onto the date- which is a competitive obstacle course all set up to determine who is “husband material”. The men are supposed to change a diaper, carry a baby in a baby bjorn, vacuum, dig hair out of a drain (PLEASE PLEASE I NEVER WANT TO SEE THAT ON TV AGAIN), dig a giant engagement ring out of a sink full of dishes(?), set a table, grab flowers, and give them to Rachel.
On the surface this is somehow a feminist moment, right? Like, to be husband material you need to be able to participate in important tasks that happen at home. But the “humor” of the date is to watch the guys fail so miserably. As in, “hahaha oh these clueless men don’t know how to look after the safety and well-being of their newborn child”. (HILARIOUS) Or, “hahahah these men can’t vacuum- bc why would they? They’re men! They grill meats!”
Can you for even a moment try to reverse this situation for The Bachelor? Nick wants to see who’s “wife material” so he sets up an obstacle course with what? You couldn’t have the women compete to do domestic tasks without coming off as some backwards Stepford-Wife-desiring nightmare. We've come that far, at least.
Or, ok, let’s flip it again. What’s the opposite of what the men were asked to do? Were the women on Nick’s season asked to see who can chop a tree the fastest? Use a power-saw? Hamfist cold-cuts like Chad?
(Never letting go of Chad/cold-cuts references btw)
What are we saying in 2017 about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman? I look forward to this show every week and a lot of it is for this very reason.* It exposes these incredibly weird gender dynamics that we’re still figuring out as a culture. And it feels especially bizarre each year on The Bachelorette. It happens every time- Jojo had a challenge where the guys had to save her from a BURNING BUILDING and pretend to be FIREMEN. Why? That’s what FIREMEN are for. Not every man should be held to some bizarre alpha standard of masculinity. And don't get me wrong, there's plenty of twisted, subliminal stuff that goes on during The Bachelor, it's just not quite this OBVIOUS. Not to mention the fact that Rachel is a strong, professional woman. She's a prosecutor! All of this macho stuff feels old-fashioned and weird. If you get to have the "man of your dreams", I would assume most women (who want children) wouldn't dream to have a man who can successfully change a diaper, they'd just assume they would. Because. Ya know. Parenting. Just saying.
*Also, abs. S/ns
So Waboom, despite the best efforts of Mila and Ashton who are clearly NOT Waboom fans, wins the challenge. Blake starts coming down with a low-grade fever, indicating early signs of Taylor-Itis. Everyone looks sad that Waboom won, but what can you do. Points to Jack Stone for having a film-noir detective name, but a noticeably tender touch with his fake baby.
The night portion of the date takes place somewhere I forgot to write down, but it’s cool enough that someone says, “man, this is a cool place to hang out with Rachel”, so it must be, in fact, cool.
Blake really wants to talk about an elephant in the room- meaning Waboom. I’m obsessed with Blake saying an elephant as opposed to the elephant. Can you imagine a room with more than one elephant in it, and people still aren’t talking about them?
Rachel says something about how the men “continue to surprise her”. It’s been a day, so I would just consider this in legal terms to be the “discovery phase”, but ok, be surprised. I still love you.
The events of the evening portion of this date can be boiled down to- Iggy needs a handkerchief, Dean and Rachel like each other a lot, and that my homie Chris Harrison needs to FIRE THE ENTIRE MAKEUP DEPARTMENT IMMEDIATELY. Why on EARTH is Rachel not wearing COLOR-STAY LIPSTICK??? WHAT ARE WE DOING?? WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE?
Also, Blake hates Waboom, tells Rachel, and also that he’s had to “hold his tongue” about it for a long time. Again, it’s been 2 days. But, at least Blake and Rachel have something in common- they both don’t understand the concept of time. Moving on…
And now Peter, the Great White Gap, gets to have the first one-on-one-date with Rachel. He drives Rachel in her Tesla to a private jet. (Why is he driving? see: gender roles.) Rachel asks if her best friend who recently got in a “horrible accident” can come along. Adorably, it’s revealed to be Copper, her dog. But when Peter asks what happened to him, she says “that’s a story for later”. WHAT HAPPENED TO COPPER??! I NEED TO KNOW!
It’s cute for Rachel to bring her dog on the date, it’s humanizing and fun. But like many things on this show, they take something subtle and sweet and blow it up until it makes no sense and if anything, becomes creepy. Cut to, they’re on a dog-date in Palm Springs with other dogs. I don’t get it, and I don’t care to figure it out.
At the dinner part of the date, Peter confides in Rachel that he went to a relationship therapist, and Rachel shares that she too has been seeing a therapist and and has found it really meaningful. THIS MOMENT ALMOST MAKES UP FOR THE GROUP DATE! I don't think anyone has EVER talked about therapy on this show, (minus the whole Taylor-debacle of last season). I think it’s awesome. I, too, think therapy is great, and I think even mentioning it on a this show that's watched by a huge/amazing/bizarre cross section of people can be really helpful.
Peter said his therapist helped him “be more calm in his thoughts", which could sound a little murder-y, but I don’t care. I also kinda love how they bonded over their teeth. But no more about it, please. Don’t let this be “their thing”.
And we're on to our final date of the episode, one more big group date where the guys play each other in basketball and are coached by legendary friendly giant and basketball superstar, Kareem Abdul-Jabar. He is awesome and smart and sooooooo tall and he almost immediately mentions that the men’s ability in basketball has literally nothing to do with making good partners in marriage. The men really take this message to heart. JUST KIDDING. They repeatedly make the case that by being good at basketball, they will impress Rachel and win her heart. The game ends up looking a lot like this.
And then, the unthinkable happens. The only guy with rumors of being “bad news” turns out to be… bad news. DeMario is busted by his ex-girlfriend, heretofore called, The Lady In Nude, and with swift prosecutorial justice, Rachel tells DeMario to “get the f*&^k out”. While we could spend a lot of time talking about this scene, “I swear on my Father’s grave, and on both of my kittens sleeping in my house right now…” etc., I think the most incredible moment is watching DeMario extemporaneously lie so badly. His entrance where he says, “oooh….” (happily acknowledging he knows The Lady In Nude) to, “who’s this?” within the same breath was really enjoyable. He’s a mess. She’s also a mess. (See: swearing on living kittens.) And to top it off, Josiah lost the best man at his wedding.
That night at the “Cabinet of Curiosities”(?)—file under, “better than The Museum of Broken Relationships”, the guys really rally for Rachel. She feels very supported by the men. Way to do the totally obvious thing you’re supposed to do in this situation, guys!
Odds and Ends- Diggy is wearing his third pair of glasses so far this season. Impressive. Will reads some inspirational Magic Card that makes Rachel feel good. Jayme sits as far away from Rachel on the couch as possible. Cool. Josiah is tender and "protective" with Rachel, she gives him the rose and his face is so sweet it kind of melted my cold, almost-dead heart.
We end the episode pre-rose ceremony which is everyone’s least favorite format. Chris Harrison, please, end this madness! But at least that meant we got to end the episode with Adam of Adam Jr. fame showing Rachel a DOLL HOUSE. I’d like to know simultaneously much more, and nothing else about the backstory for that.
One last thought- the word "Waboom" was said upwards of 20 times during this episode. Most impressive is that it can serve as a verb, noun, and adjective. Maybe there's something to it after all..
Till next time...