“Peter Is Giving Victoria F Way Too Much Credit”: Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Episode 8

Bach alum Sharleen Joynt shares her insider POV on episode 8 of Pilot Pete's season

I’ve been suspecting this for awhile, but after last night’s episode, it’s official: Victoria F is this season’s Luke P. She’s the contestant we just cannot get rid of, the season’s cat with nine lives. Peter won’t send this girl home, no matter how many alarming red flags she waves. And although her frustrating behaviour is of a slightly different breed than Luke P’s, a lot of the basics are the same: the perpetual victim mentality, the deflection of responsibility and blame, the manipulative gaslighting. Last night, Victoria F said (totally sincerely, by the way) that she “can’t walk away” from Peter, despite literally walking away on every date they’ve been on. She “disagreed” with Peter that she doesn’t fight for their relationship, yet in the same breath shouted, “I’m so done with this conversation!” Earlier this season, she had the gall to call Alayah the manipulative one. If watching Victoria F didn’t make my blood boil past what must be an unhealthy point, I might have been finding her antics cartoonish and hilarious at this point.

Victoria F’s showing—both in her behaviour and that of Peter’s handling of her behaviour—is proof that this show has been steering too young. (At least in terms of a successful engagement being the “goal”). Just imagine how different a season this would be with a lead and contestants in their 30s! I’m not kidding when I say I sometimes fantasize about the conversation that might take place, what the conflict would entail, how it would get resolved. (It’s a worthy fantasy; don’t judge me.) Trust me, I’m not giving Victoria F a free pass, blaming her awfulness on her age—if anything, she’s a very, very immature 26-year old. (There are PLENTY of 26-year olds who can have a cordial conversation when confronted with an unsavoury rumour.) It just seems to me like Victoria F hasn’t learned life’s crucial lessons yet. She hasn’t learned how to suppress her rage, how to respond to confrontation without automatic, knee-jerk retaliation. She hasn’t learned how to care about someone nearly as much as she cares for herself, nor has she considered how her destructive behaviour affects and hurts others. She has clearly never learned what it is to compromise. Her willingness to quite literally flee the scene every time a remotely deep or difficult conversation is in order says it all; She would rather lose Peter than be wrong. That is NOT love, and this woman is years away from the humility and confidence required for a sustainable, healthy relationship.

It takes two to tango, and Victoria F wouldn’t be occupying our screens the way she has been if it weren’t for Peter. I swear, I wanted to love Peter’s actions this week. I promise, I did! Despite my critical tone week after week, I am rooting for him to make the right choices towards making his own season more palatable. (OK, so my rooting might be self-serving, but it still counts.) In fact, after Peter left Victoria F’s “Hometown” during their fight in her driveway, I wrote in my notes: “Peter leaving here is the single best decision he’s made all season!” Needless to say, my heart sank when Victoria F appeared at his hotel room door the next day. (Seriously though, how great would it have been if he’d just peaced out on this relationship right then and there?! He would have righted all his wrongs in one fell swoop!) At least with Luke P, Hannah Brown routinely gave him the tongue lashing he deserved; she kept him because she had faith in the person he could be, but she didn’t put up with his bullshit along the way. Meanwhile, Peter’s faith in Victoria F continues to prove our faith in him as the Bachelor wrong. As much as Peter’s words suggest he’s ready for a life with someone, his patience for Victoria F tells us a different story. He’s far too easily manipulated, too easily distracted by her teary professions of “love” instead of holding her accountable for her appalling behaviour. Not only do these two not talk about anything (we’ve listened to so many words yet actually heard zero substance), Victoria F is actually kind of mean to Peter. She’s sweet and vulnerable only on her terms, and the second he inadvertently steps on the wrong eggshell, she treats him like he’s a monster.

The truth is, Peter is giving Victoria F WAY too much credit, associating her difficulties with what must be feelings of unworthiness. He considers her physically leaving the situation as her “pushing away” his love. Let’s be clear: Victoria F’s walking away from difficult conversations is base-level defensiveness, nothing more. People who really struggle with feeling unworthy sabotage their relationships in all sorts of ways, but especially when things are GOOD. Notice how Victoria F has no issue with Peter or their romance when things are going her way. When she gets dates, roses and general validation, she’s happy as a clam. Basically, as long as Peter validates her and doesn’t confront her about anything, she’s A-OK. It’s this woman’s way or the highway.

I’m not saying Victoria F doesn’t struggle with some degree of insecurity, as it’s obvious she would behave very differently if she had the deep-seated contentment that comes with feeling self-assured and confident. However, insecurity is simply no excuse for this behaviour. You can be insecure and treat others with respect. You can be insecure and still have empathy for others (I’ll never forget how needlessly she ridiculed Mykenna). You can be insecure and accept responsibility. You can be insecure yet able to hold a basic conversation. You can be insecure and be a nice person! No, what Victoria F is, more so than insecure, is immature. Immature and, as far as being in the Bachelor bubble goes, downright mean. It actually concerns me that someone like her is likely racking up Instagram followers and building a sizeable army of supporters; that kind of support for bad behaviour will only delay (if not entirely cancel) the much needed personal growth that was formerly on the horizon for her.

Finally, I have to address Peter’s ex’s claim that Victoria F is a bad person who has a reputation for being a “home wrecker”. None of us were there and know specifics, but we do know this: If the truth is on your side, there’s nothing to hide. We know by now Victoria F relies heavily on a pattern of defensiveness, playing victim, fleeing the scene, and then apologizing weepily (in that order), all while never actually addressing the original claim. (This routine is VERY Luke P-esque.) This reactivity to Peter’s simple (and reasonable) concern over his ex’s warning told us more than the warning itself ever could. The innocent don’t rely on such smoke and mirrors; they want to talk, to explain themselves and lay bare that innocence. So while Victoria F probably thinks she dodged the bullet that was Peter’s ex’s accusation, it was she who added credence to it by reacting the way she did. Victoria F might not have ever technically answered Peter’s question, but through her teary song and dance, she absolutely did.

My predictions based on Episode 8 are…

Madison, 23

We seem to be barreling towards a major hurdle in this relationship—the fact that Madison is deeply religious and plans on remaining a virgin until marriage. This might’ve been a non-issue except for the fact that the previews show Madison saying, “I wouldn’t be able to move forward if you have slept with the other women.” Now, it’s possible this statement was frankenbitten and this doesn’t end up being the ultimatum it appears to be. However, this hiccup would make sense from a storyline arc considering how (too) easy and breezy this relationship has felt since day one. I don’t think I can speak to this until we see things play out, but for now, Madison is the only woman Peter has declared he officially “loves,” despite her not returning the sentiment. In terms of our Bachelor choosing a woman, at this point, all signs point to Madison.

Hannah Ann, 23

Hannah Ann made a huge stride forward this week, simply because Peter told Hannah Ann he was falling in love with her, even after being warned by Hannah Ann’s father not to use the L-word unless he really meant it. We have to assume Peter probably really did mean it (either that or he’s unnecessarily cruel, which I don’t believe he is). In my books, this L-word moment made Hannah Ann go from being Madison’s second to her close second. The exchange of “Things I Love About You” letters has been very sweet, and the vibe between these two is calm and easy, a welcome respite from Victoria F’s brutal (and seemingly endless) screen time.

Who’s going home next week

Victoria F, 26

Basically, as long as Victoria F is in the running on this season, she’ll be in my “going home next week” column. Not only because Peter has to realize by now that this relationship is going nowhere, but because my blood pressure can’t handle watching her anymore. Peter, the health of your viewers is at stake! Do it for us!

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