Well my, that escalated quickly! In just one episode our hero becomes the villain, Vibrator Girl steps up as the beacon of empathy and kindness, and I discover that Chris Harrison published a grocery store romance novel five years ago and I’m just hearing about it now. So much to unpack. And then repack when I decide I’m going home. And then unpack after Matt bear hugs me in my sad girl puffy jacket. And then repack when the other women morph into a pitchfork wielding mob. No wonder Sarah is so exhausted with this process – packing is a bitch, girl.
We pick up the episode on the rose ceremony, where the women are upset because they didn’t come up with the idea of fake fainting for attention before Sarah did. The biggest issue in cutting the episodes this way is that I’m now (basically) sober and haven’t been rage watching Victoria for two hours, so it’s not nearly as impactful to me when Marylynn goes home as it would’ve been at the end of last week. I thought poor Marylynn had a chance of staying in the game, if only for the drama, but I suppose she is all too rational and emotionally stable to be of much use to the producers. And it isn’t as if they need to keep any particular contestant around to ensure drama from Victoria. As Marylynn so eloquently puts it on her way out, “She’s just…the worst.” I get the feeling that this is the most insulting phrase the “manipulative” and “toxic” Marylynn can muster.
Before the first group date, Chris Harrison enters and announces that the women should really be up for anything. You know, unlike the very easygoing and chill dates from other seasons, where contestants just have to ski almost naked, drive tractors almost naked, play dodgeball almost naked, wrestle almost naked, and be photographed actually naked. This time, however, they will be baring their souls, while simultaneously horrifying all of their religious family members watching at home. Win win! The women enter a dark room where a voice reads aloud Chris Harrison’s ghostwritten erotica. I’m ashamed to admit that I’d recognize that voice anywhere. It’s Ashley I., who, whilst unable to lose the last initial, has finally shed her virgin label, so much so that she is now authorized to coach the women in writing their own porn. I feel pretty confident she was writing fanfic about herself and Jared before they got together, so I’ll bite.
I respect any lead that does the embarrassing thing before making the contestants do the embarrassing thing. That’s about all of the nice things I have to say about Matt’s performance. Guys…after this segment I am not convinced that this man has ever been intimate with a woman. His cadence, particularly his fondness for dramatically pausing every other word, really had me thinking he was about to let it fly. But then it turned out he was just hyping up a word like “soft.” But shout out for shouting out chocolate cake.
Real talk though I think Matt expected these women to be reading cutesy, tame, PG-13 stories, and acted accordingly. But he truly underestimated their willingness to go there, and the long lasting effect of the Cosmo erotic one pagers they read growing up. I give props to the women who truly went for it, even, begrudgingly, Victoria. After all, if you’re going to participate in this kind of group date, it’s best to just go balls to the wall. Or to the kitchen counter, steamed shower door glass, floor of a rustic barn, etc. Most of the women had a few bleep outs here and there, but you could still understand what they were saying. Victoria, however, ever the wordsmith, unleashed a mostly NSFTV onslaught that I’m honestly dying to get a transcript of. As the Supreme Court said of hardcore pornography in 1964, “I know it when I see it.”
After the group date, Sarah embarks on a pretty epic downward spiral of self-sabotage. Or should we say, Sarah-toge. (Sorry, this joke originates from taking notes on my phone and misspelling sabotage so badly that it kept auto-correcting to Saratoga. Which I thought was really funny after three drinks but am now less confident in.) Sarah makes the fatal misstep of barging in on a group date she’s not on and taking time from the other women, creating a 22-headed monster out for her blood.
Matt, perhaps because he hasn’t been on the show before, doesn’t seem to fully grasp the gravity of Time With Him. And so, as always, all the anger is entirely directed on the contestant, Sarah, for taking the lead’s time, rather than the lead for allowing it. Matt can read a room though, and asks a producer later if something went wrong or if these bitches just all synced up. When he arrives to take Serena P. for her one-on-one, he apologizes to the women for taking time with Sarah, and then demonstrates how sorry he is by taking more time with Sarah. In Matt’s defense, he seems to genuinely care about Sarah’s mental wellbeing, and states that he’d do the same for any of the other women who were feeling this way. Justice for Marylynn, who was defamed as toxic and sent home with zero evidence.
On Serena P.’s date, I kept thinking how young she seemed, and was fully prepared to roast them for like a 14-year age difference. But then I googled and learned that Matt is only 28 years old, six years older than Serena. This dude is my age and he’s a whole ass man with a real estate career. Fuck. Anyway, Serena doesn’t strike me as immature necessarily, she just seems to have a youthful energy. And while their date was cute and fine, I didn’t get deep connection vibes like I saw with Bri and Sarah. But maybe this show has indeed made me a trauma fiend. Matt talks about taking a different path than people expected to follow his dreams. Serena makes fun of him for having had a pet turtle which is not a weird thing.
In the dinner portion, Matt tells Serena that his last relationship lasted four months, and ended when they tried to title it. Hmm, do we call this a relationship? If so, that’s a relief, because it means I haven’t been single for a whole 5+ years. Serena asks if he’s been in love and Matt says that he thought he had…and then struggles not to finish the thought with “when he was Serena’s age.” Instead he says he thinks he has a different definition of love than he did “in college and after college.” And damn if I’m not reevaluating some things myself. College me was really walking around thinking she was in love with a dude whose favorite song was “Thrift Shop.” Serena and Matt make out in a hot tub and Matt wears turtle shorts in honor of his second favorite animal.
Back at the house, the monster is rearing its
ugly very attractive heads. Before this point, Sarah’s wishy-washiness about going home and selfishness towards the other women had us firmly in their camp, but now it turns into a bullying pile up and it’s not a good look. When you’re siding with a 27-year-old who struggles to string together a basic sentence, it’s time to reevaluate your choices. And then a hero comes along…Katie!! Who has elevated herself from gimmick-name-level to real-name-level. This was an especially proud moment because Katie was the one who was perhaps most justified in her anger with Sarah (it was her time that was cut off) but still recognized on a human level that this was not okay. Then Sarah opened up about her father’s health, and Katie talked about her deceased father and it was all very sad and they’re both beautiful angels who deserve all the happiness.
Sarah eventually decides to leave, and we’re treated to an extremely extra departure scene with Matt, considering this is episode two and they have been on one fucking date. Is it reasonable to cry over a guy you went on one date with? Because I was told it wasn’t, but please let me know if I’m mistaken. I am also not forgetting that at the beginning of this episode, Victoria set her eyes on Sarah. Sarah certainly seemed to be responsible for her own demise, but is Victoria more powerful than I thought? Is she actually an incredibly cunning and conniving gaslighter who just claimed another victim? Nah, I jest. Guest?