The Guy Who Fights For His Time - Bachelorette Recap Ep 5
By: Kim Coates
This week the gang was in Las Vegas, a place which appropriately brought out some bad behavior. Jordan and David were both sent home on a two-on-one date that had them talking more about each other than Becca, and Chris threatened to leave the show after feeling slighted by Becca. In each case, the culprit of all of the unsavory behavior was the competitive drive to win the show over an authentic connection with the lead. Of course this is why we all hate-watch but love this show - the competition element makes it oh-so-addicting!
But all of this has me asking, in the immortal words of the Black-Eyed Peas, where is the love?!
Let me explicate by way of example:
Chris R. - whose look was accurately dubbed "80's movie villain" by the fabulous podcast Here to Make Friends - hardcore spun-out this episode. Likely because he had an early one-on-one date, he had some, shall we say, overconfidence, in his connection with Becca.
This week, Chris went on the group date where the men had to perform live songs for Becca, and he was confident his performance sealed his connection with her so absolutely that he didn't need to seek her attention later that evening at the cocktail party. Instead he sat back, sipping his cocktail, and saying he was "definitely not concerned about where these [other] guys stood" with Becca. When Becca ended the date because she was tired (who can blame her? This shit is exhausting for all of us), Chris was suddenly shaken to his core that he hadn't had time with her. He thought she was going to seek him out.
As Becca left, Chris spiraled into a monologue to the other men, blaming Becca for not making time for him, declaring that he might just leave [the entire show] at this slight.
What a baby.
By the time the elimination rose ceremony cocktail party occurred later in the episode, Chris was beside himself with anxiety about Becca not validating him or their connection. I was struck by Chris's use of the fateful Bachelor phrase "right reasons" when he defended himself by exclaiming to her, way too loudly and desperately:
"You have a guy right now who is showing you he is here for the right reasons, and wanting to commit to the idea of being with you. It's frustrating."
Do you hear the warning bells? I do.
All Chris could actually articulate about his connection with Becca was that he was there for the right reasons. This, apparently, only means that he wants to commit to the idea of being with...someone, someday. But, I wondered, am I going crazy, or isn’t that a basic component of any dating scenario - be it a dating app, a dating show, or just dating in general?!
What was the missing piece, I found myself asking, that had Chris so passionately and whole-heartedly making the logical leap that him wanting to commit in general meant he was right for Becca, or, a.k.a., there for the "right reasons"?
It is the deeply imbedded patriarchal assumption that the most a woman could want or need, or worse, deserve from a relationship is a partner who wants her and is "committed" to the idea of a relationship. This is a disturbing logic that put on full display not only how little Chris actually knew or felt for Becca as a person but also his assumptions about what women need, and that he is in a position to enforce those patriarchal assumptions, on her behalf.
I get that the show is extremely taxing psychologically on participants and Chris was certainly not at his best, but it is precisely these tiny glimpses of someone's behavior and into his thought process (or lack thereof) that are so revealing. And, ultimately, this is precisely where Chris lost Becca. The entire time he was beseeching her based on the “right reasons,” her body language screamed “distance” and “get away from me.”
The truth is, a romantic connection with another person cannot be forced, and a lot of the times, just isn’t there...even if that person is a high-profile Bachelorette. And, perhaps most importantly, that’s not a flaw on the part of either person. With so much pressure in our culture to find a partner and pair up, obviously especially on this show, the idea that you’re just not into her, or vice versa, is likely a very hard thing to internalize. One exception was last week’s exiting of Christon, who left comfortably, noting that he and Becca were just on "different paths". Chris, and all suitors and daters out there, must embrace the fact that if it doesn't work out with someone, it’s often simply a case of being on different paths.
Now for the last and best part of the episode: Wills. When Wills - clad in an eye-catching checkered suit - was talking to Becca during the final cocktail party, Chris appeared and demanded time alone with her again even though he had just had said time. Becca responded, "We just sat down." Not heeding Becca's subtle hint to leave, Chris then turned to Wills and pleaded for more time. Wills finally replied, "Okay, I’ll give you two minutes but I’m coming back." The camera followed Wills and his checkered suit pacing around the hallway as he waited, crosscutting with Chris repeating his obsessive need to stay for the “right reasons” to Becca. Wills returned a short while later, but Chris refused to get up as he had promised.
Wills said, "Do me a favor, respect me. You’ve had your time tonight. I’d like to have my time."
Chris replied he was "100% respecting" him but needed more time because what he was discussing was "serious." Wills then, in a calm but measured way said, "I'm going to ask you politely to please get up." Chris, after some scoffing and huffing and puffing, finally conceded to the steadfast Wills, got up and left. As soon as Wills and Becca were next to each other again they started giggling like schoolchildren.
Side note: Women get such a bad rap for being dramatic, particularly in relationships. But I’d say at minimum, the Bachelorette levels the playing field in that regard (*insert eyeroll emoji*).
I’m not one to condone fighting over a love interest, but there is a time and a place for standing your ground and speaking up for yourself. Wills judged and executed this well: with poise and class; he gracefully refused to be bullied by Chris. Wills was driven by a desire to spend time with Becca that was authentic, whereas Chris was driven by an aggressive and misogynistic impulse.
Let it be known, Chris, that while those are most definitely the wrong reasons, you made it through to the next week by the skin of your teeth (or by the direction of a producer)...but we’ll be watching you.