“Cam’s Actions Feel *Really* Familiar”: Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelorette Episode 2

The former contestant shares her insider’s POV on the second episode of 'The Bachelorette'

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I wanted to like this episode more than I did. I swear I wanted to. I still really like Hannah (she possesses surprising star power), but everything about this episode felt too recycled, too done to truly entertain me.

First, it seems like the show has officially exhausted its L.A. date locations since the repeats are becoming conspicuous. I’m 99.9% sure we’ve seen dinner at the rooftop of the Roosevelt Hotel not only before, but recently. While I appreciated the roller derby for its cheap entertainment value (does watching grown men fall on their asses ever get old?), that’s another carbon copy repeat. It must be really great to shoot at Daddy’s Antiques because we’ve now seen it used for numerous early Group Dates. In fact, Becca took her guys there last year, also after a competitive sport where someone also got injured (last year’s Clay was this year’s Dustin), and, like Hannah, Becca ALSO gave her injured contestant the rose.

But these aren’t serious offences. I’m sure it’s tough coming up with new locations and concepts season after season, just as it probably feels right to give someone who did themselves harm that day a little bit of encouragement. But where they lost me was in the blatant reusing of the exact same drama-causing formula over and over again.

On that front, Cam is clearly this season’s producer pet, either manipulated or willing to do whatever will win him airtime. My money’s on the latter, as Cam actually doesn’t seem stupid to me. (He seems super insecure but not stupid.) Everything about Cam and his actions feel familiar and strategized: he crashes the second Group Date date with producer-provided flowers. The rest of the date is spent focused on his 5-minute long conversation with Hannah. Tyler C, Garrett and Kevin take turns confronting him, but, hmm… where was Hannah during all this? Could those three men who hadn’t had 1-on-1 time not have squeezed it in during this debacle? Instead, they each got 1-on-1 time with Cam. Hannah would later apologize to those men for “running out of time,” but come on, did they really run out of time? There is no limit to how late these dates will go. “Running out of time” is code for “strategically withholding 1-on-1 time.” It’s example #801, 335 of how time with the lead is used as much as a tool for manipulation as it is two people getting to know each other. Build up the anticipation, withhold the reward, find someone else—in this case, Cam—to blame.

But where did this start? Where was the seed planted? It wasn’t Cam crashing that date, but rather, it was Cam’s name not being on a date card. At a glance, that’s how the Episode 2 Date Card cookie crumbled, but is was so much more manufactured than that. It wasn’t something he did, but rather something that was done to him. After all, it would be a waste to give a date to the guy who’s game to justify his questionable actions with Ye Olde “I’m the kind of guy who goes after what he wants” schtick. And that same tool has been so recycled it makes me truly wonder what would happen if seeds like this weren’t planted?

This episode left me with swirling what-ifs: What if Cam simply had gone on a date this week? What if Luke P. hadn’t been encouraged to tell Hannah he was “beginning to fall in love” with her on the first date of the season? What if the feuds between these men came from personalities naturally clashing, rather than from carefully planted mines? I realize the minefield is more reliable, but I would rather trade in reliability for variety.

Before we get to my frontrunners, I have to dedicate a paragraph to Luke P, with whom I’m becoming downright fascinated. Last week I felt Luke P. was a bad actor, in this to make it far and rack up Instagram followers. But while Cam is the type who’s susceptible to producer puppet stringing, Luke P. seems the type susceptible to producer fantasy weaving. At this point I think Luke P. might actually believe he’s starting to falling in love. (We have to add “beginning to fall in love” to my chronological timeline of love!) I now think he behaves the way he does because he’s been convinced of those feelings, less so because he just wants to make it far. I’ve mentioned before how being in the bubble (and trapped in a hotel room talking about nothing but Hannah for days) gives you major tunnel vision for the lead; trusting, gullible personalities can easily confuse that feeling of obsession with actual love.

We’re watching that unfold in the most black-and-white way possible, and it’s going to explode when Hannah discovers she also has great chemistry (the only thing she and Luke P. actually share) with other guys—hence why I’ve dropped Luke P. from my Top 4.

My Bachelorette frontrunners based on Episode 2 are…

1. Peter, 27: “I have high hopes for Peter”

Peter continues to get the perfect amount of the perfect kind of airtime. He’s not on our screens much, but when he is, it’s to show substance between him and Hannah. I really appreciated their 1-on-1 time on the roller derby Group Date; as with last week, it felt like natural, flirty getting-to-know-you conversation. Best of all, THEY STILL HAVEN’T KISSED. I’m no prude, and it’s not like I’m blindly applauding “taking things slow,” but I think it’s notable that in a sea of make outs that feel more methodical than passionate, they’re waiting for the right time. I have high hopes for Peter and look forward to his 1-on-1 date.

2. Jed, 25: “He proved to be as mature as he is talented”

Jed has skyrocketed up to my 2nd pick, even though he didn’t appear on this list last week. I’m a bit embarrassed that I didn’t see Jed as the frontrunner he clearly is, but I was thrown off by his night one 1-on-1 time: all we saw was him serenading Hannah, with not an ounce of conversation. (Can someone really win when we never even got a glimpse of their first chat?) Nonetheless, Jed got the first Group Date rose of the season, as well as some telling 1-on-1 time at the Rose Ceremony (where, in not holding a jealous grudge after walking in on Hannah and a shirtless Luke P., he proved to be as mature as he is talented). Hannah’s body language with him already feels familiar and intimate, so it’s hard to imagine Jed not going far.

(Photo: ABC)
(Photo: ABC)

Tyler C., 26: “It was a moment that stood out to me this week”

Tyler C. confuses me. I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that this guy is 26 years old. He looks and speaks and behaves a lot older than he is. (Save for the fact that he, like Luke P., seems unwilling to give his jacket to his chilly date.) I appreciated when Hannah said she likes how Tyler C. looks at her. First, this says a lot about him and his ability to truly engage his company. Second, it says a lot about Hannah, that this is something she could identify and point out. It was a special moment filled with sexual tension, one that stood out to me this week. I would love to see a 1-on-1 date with these two. There’s a lot to Tyler C. and I look forward to watching Hannah peel back the layers.

Connor S, 24: “He just seems so young”

Connor S. is the opposite of Tyler C., where I think he just seems so young. I’d believe you if you told me he was 18! And it’s not just his looks, but also his demeanour (and, I’ll admit it, his vocal fry). Connor S. and Hannah feel like high schoolers together, flirting at lunch break. It was sweet how Connor S. lit up when Hannah pointed out knowing there’s a connection there, and they’ve shared two kisses now. Connor S. was one of the no-date men this week so there wasn’t a lot of relationship development, but it’s safe to say there’s a 1-on-1 coming his way.

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