“I Think Peter Might Simply Not Be Good at This”: Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Episode 5

Bach alum Sharleen Joynt shares her insider POV on episode 5 of Pilot Pete's season

(Photo: ABC)
(Photo: ABC)

This season is officially getting me down. It’s becoming hard to watch, not only because of how damn long it is (in no world should we be subjected to five hours of casual, mid-season The Bachelor in one week), but because this season is legitimately depressing. We all know The Bachelor viewing experience involves watching young, beautiful people saying and doing questionable things, but watching them behave so badly towards one another is icky and upsetting. Some of the behaviour we’re witnessing is becoming so impossibly poor that it almost feels like we’re watching a teen drama, not real life women. Whatever the opposite of a “Women Supporting Women” meme is, that’s what last night’s episode was.

Yes, these ladies are in the contestant pressure cooker and everything’s designed to keep tensions high. But whatever happened to taking a breath and counting to ten, to rising above superficial annoyances, to taking things in stride? These lessons we were taught as children don’t seem to exist anymore. When did it become OK to speak to each other with vitriol, to cavalierly throw others under the bus, to spark unfounded rumours about others, to scream at ANYONE to “shut the f— up”? Last season, I remember clutching my pearls when Caelynn said of Tayshia in an ITM, “F— that bitch“. That stood out to me as one of the season’s lowest points, which makes it truly disheartening that it would fit right in at any point this season. If you dare, compare that to earlier seasons; Courtney Robertson’s unabashed arrogance and Tiarra LiCausi’s infamous eyebrow now seem like the stuff of quaint nursery rhymes next to this fare. And it’s only Episode 5! We’re getting extra hours jammed into the week because there’s just that much of this to go around. It would seem we’re not watching season 24, but rather The Bachelor: Mean Girls Edition.

I said on the blog last week that if Alayah left, there’d be a new “villain” in town, a new woman to hate. I only wish I hadn’t been quite so right about that. When Tammy first uttered Kelsey’s name to Peter during her 1-on-1 time—time with him still being something of a novelty—my heart sank. I was already struggling to root for more than a select few women in this cast, but Tammy had been holding firm a place in my heart. She was the cool girl whose relationship with Peter probably wasn’t going anywhere, but whose witty quips and entertaining commentary made you want her to stick around. In terms of being uninvolved in house drama, she had a pristine record.

I believe Tammy’s undoing was holding others to the same standards of emotional vulnerability she apparently holds for herself. Just because you’re not much of a crier doesn’t mean others shouldn’t cry, even a lot. I get that Kelsey’s waterworks were on a different level, enough to be a topic of conversation and even concern. However, someone else’s emotions are simply one of those things you don’t have a right to criticize—particularly in this environment where each woman has a completely different experience on which those emotions are based. Remember, Kelsey had had a 1-on-1 date, so she was naturally going to feel more attached to Peter than someone who hadn’t, which is most of the other women there. (I too had an Episode 4 1-on-1 date and had a tough time the following week, and I don’t even think I felt that attached.) But more importantly, if a woman wants to spend her days filming this show crying incessantly, that’s her prerogative. Sure, it’s an unfortunate and sad choice, but it’s really not anyone else’s business. I get that it sucks from a coexistence perspective; it can put a major damper on the mood and sour the unique filming experience for others. But one must deal by either genuinely trying to help by comforting and supporting the crier, or simply turning a blind eye. Making assumptions about their drinking habits, drug habits and overall emotional stability—on national television!—no matter how annoying they may be is both not helpful and going way too far. Statements like this are drastic and dangerous; they can affect Kelsey’s real life, her personal relationships, her professional life. Once the seed about someone’s purported “drinking problem” is planted, it’s not easy to undo. We hardly know anything about Kelsey, yet millions of viewers might now suspect she drinks too much. Was Tammy’s fleeting irritation with her really deserving of that kind of defamation and potentially longterm damage? I liken filming The Bachelor to a Las Vegas commercial: What happens there should stay there. You can be annoyed with someone based on that environment, but don’t go bringing their real life habits into the equation, especially not while a camera’s on you. It is no one’s—especially not millions of Americans’—business what prescription drugs Kelsey takes.

That said, while I wish Tammy had taken better responsibility for some less-than-desirable actions this week, her clean record and popularity up to this point do make me trust her to some extent. I believed her when she said, “All the girls feel the same way but they don’t have the backbone to admit it.” I have no doubt that somewhere along the way, a gossip-y conversation about Kelsey’s habits was had, leading Tammy to feel supported in her aggravation with Kelsey. Those conversations likely involved the women Tammy later pointed specific fingers at. I am a firm believer in suspecting the common denominators in drama, and there have been a key few up to this point: Kelsey (in Champagne-gate), and Sydney and her friend group, namely Lexi and Victoria P (in the Alayah debacle). I strongly get the impression that Kelsey is the woman who isn’t afraid to be the wet blanket in others’ once-in-a-lifetime experience (believable based on Champagne-gate). That behaviour can be frustrating but it’s not malicious. Meanwhile, given how Sydney and Lexi have had their hand in many heated scenes so far this season, it’s not a stretch to assume this “posse” is not comprised of the most understanding or benevolent women. The way Tammy and Sydney’s confrontation culminated in a screaming match, with Sydney launching the first “Shut the f— up” made my stomach turn. (Truthfully, I wanted to turn off my TV at that point.) I do wish Tammy had owned her actions better in the Kelsey saga, but at least with her you more or less know what you’re getting. Sydney, with her under-the-radar, scathing judgments about other women, to her provokingly calling them “fake,” “psycho,” or “crazy” is downright terrifying—and particularly dismaying when you consider her own background with being bullied.

If this is The Bachelor: Mean Girls Edition, Gretchen Wieners is played by Peter, an unwitting but efficient stirrer of the pot. It’s becoming a bit pitiful how well-intentioned he is in relation to how royally he continues to mess up. He’s like a puppy who triumphantly wags its tail at you for pooping in only ONE of your shoes. I don’t say this often, but I think Peter might simply not be good at this. I don’t mean he’s a bad guy or even a bad Bachelor—in my mind, a bad Bachelor means not knowing what you want in a partner or being insincere in your quest. Rather, Peter’s bad at BEING the Bachelor. This role requires a certain inner compass, a strong reliance on and trust in your gut. Peter denied being “wishy-washy” but his actions for weeks have betrayed that. The man wants to “follow his heart” but only if the object of his affections’ reputation in the house is squeaky clean. He thought he was making a strong statement by sending Alayah home, but he was really just kowtowing to the latest wave of drama. When Tammy spoke ill of Kelsey, you could see a difference in the way he looked at Kelsey, just as he did with Alayah when Sydney brought up her name. He chronically puts too much stock in what others say, rather than trusting his own opinions and interactions with them. This week’s big mistake (because there is a weekly mistake at this point): giving Kelsey a rose when she came to speak with him. There was simply no reason to do this—she just wanted to nip the drinking rumour in the bud and had no intention or expectation of getting a rose. Kelsey even hesitated while receiving it, knowing full well its implications. While giving her that rose was sweet as a gesture, it was proof Peter doesn’t think a few steps ahead. Of course this rose would cause a domino effect of issues. Peter seems to live in the moment, in the “now,” with whomever he’s talking to at that time. It’s for this reason he gets so wrapped up in conflicting stories and runs back and forth between the women in question—the person he believes is merely the person he spoke to most recently. Finally, this could all be avoided if Peter could put on the authoritarian hat just once in awhile. The lead sets the tone of his or her season, no one else. This was one of Hannah Brown’s greatest strengths, stamping out drama by laying down the law (something frankly necessary with a group like this). After all, it’s not like producers are going to do that for him; they are fuelling that very drama, not snuffing it.

On that note, the real Regina George of The Bachelor: Mean Girls Edition is most definitely the producers. There have been so many subtle but strong indicators that nothing happens naturally on this show anymore. I swear there was once a time—a time not so long ago—when drama stemmed solely from clashing personalities. How sweet and simple that now seems. It seems every single thing is contrived nowadays: Of course the Rose Ceremony Cocktail Party would be cancelled after Kelsey had spoken to Peter and gotten a rose. Episode 5 Cocktail Parties are often cancelled, though, so of course Chris Harrison would reference Peter having found clarity “that afternoon” (precisely when Kelsey had visited him) in order for there to be a culprit in its cancellation. I have no doubt Mykenna, already an emotional wreck ready to crack, was coached and encouraged to tell Peter her “something big” at that very Cocktail Party. The conveniently placed decoy champagne bottle, the fact that Alayah could only return to “clear her name” during an already huge Group Date. Notice how in order for her to reach Peter she had to physically walk past the women. It feels like every move made is being puppeteered with shorter and shorter strings, when frankly, we don’t need it. I often liken being on this show to being “lab rats.” Well, it’s not entertainment (and certainly not reality TV) to watch lab rats toyed with like chess pieces. Just let the lab rats just LIVE in that environment! Their natural behaviour will be far more interesting than any poking or prodding could provoke.

My frontrunners based on this episode are…

Madison, 23

It’s a cruel twist that Madison, being such an obvious frontrunner, is shown so little because she’s just that uninvolved in any drama. I’m craving seeing a quality conversation between Madison and Peter, something more than another shot of their faces nuzzled together. Madison is definitely going very far, if not “winning” this whole thing, so her edit deserves something—anything!—that will do their eventual story justice.

Sydney, 24

I have to admit I underestimated the physical chemistry between Sydney and Peter. Her 1-on-1 date certainly showed Sydney’s softer side, something I think we all needed. Peter told Sydney some powerful things on their date, including that he sees in her the traits he wants in a wife, and that she’s the best kisser. The best kisser always goes VERY far (remember Luke P!), so hopefully Sydney can separate herself from the drama moving forward—I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

Hannah Ann, 23

Hannah Ann’s been on the quieter side lately, but she resurfaced to land the week’s sole Group Date rose. On a date with the likes of Madison, Kelsey, and both Victorias, this is no small feat. I continue to see Hannah Ann as finalist material, but still had to bump her due to Sydney’s Best Kisser crowning.

Victoria F, 26

I bumped Kelley and Victoria P from this list as it’s clear Peter has a major soft spot for Victoria F. He finds her both entertaining and adorable—a very powerful combination—and he can’t keep his hands off her. I’m not sure I see the same level of comfort and understanding that I see with Madison, or the physical chemistry he shares with Sydney, but at this point I’d be surprised if Victoria F doesn’t get at least a Hometown date.

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