"The fact that somebody in the house thinks that they’re going to be able to bully their way into my heart? That’s not how it works."
For the second season in a row, we got an injection of new blood into the Bachelor franchise midway through a series. In the case of the most recent "Bachelorette," it was because the Bachelorette bailed -- there were no such problems here.
Honestly, we've no idea why Chris Harrison and company decided to add new ladies to the mix three weeks in, though we suspect it might have something to do with exactly what happened.
When new men joined the group alongside new Bachelorette Tayshia Adams after Clare Crawley ditched the show for Dale Moss, there was an instant rivalry established between the "OG" suitors and the newcomers.
For Tayshia, she was essentially meeting all of them at roughly the same time, so that dynamic was different than this one from both sides. In this case, Matt James has been getting to know his 18 remaining suitors all along, so it seems unecessary to throw five more at him.
Especially as he was already dealing with more women than any Bachelor before him. But if it was drama Chris and the other producers were wanting, they may have gotten more than they bargained for.
Bullies, Bullies Everywhere
There've always been factions and bullying to some extent on this show, but the ugly divide between the original ladies and the five newcomers was brutal and immediate ... and it showed no signs of abating as the week progressed.
In fact, thanks to them riling one another up, the rift actually appeared to be deepening. By the time we got to the week's second group date, which involved girls boxing one another, the OG crew was wishing could be in there with newcomers so they could literally take swings at them.
In a way, it feels like they started uniting as a bullying front against Sarah last week, though admittedly how Sarah handled her deepening insecurities and uncertainty was extremely problematic. But it did serve to unite the other girls against her, and they seemed to just shift their outrage to these new women.
On top of that, there was the vicious rumor that Anna started about Brittany, alleging that she does work as an escort back in Chicago. Now, Anna's basis for this is that she heard a rumor because Anna apparently partied with all the rich guys there.
Then, after spilling the beans to "Queen" Victoria -- the OG mean girl in the house -- she decided to confront Brittany about it directly ... and in front of the other girls.
If you want to get to the bottom of a nasty rumor, you might pull someone aside and confront them. If you want to stir up drama and create a mob against someone, you might do it in front of a bunch of people looking for a reason to dislike this other person.
And can we just take a moment to chew on this morsel from Anna earlier in the night. "I think we all saw how much us getting at each other for dumb things affected Matt last week and I think we're all ready to, like, not repeat that," she said before the new arrivals.
Add to this Victoria literally taking a crown off a former Miss Universe Puerto Rico pageant queen seconds after meeting her (again in front of all the girls) and putting it on her own head, and there is such an entitlement here among these women, it's disturbing.
The only consolation we have is that the conversation between Anna and Victoria about Brittany allegedly being an escort sounded so fake as to be scripted. There are already rumors that Victoria is an actress or producer plant, but are there two? Is this really who these women are?
By the end of the night, they were definitely not alone in showing their nastier side, with dark commentary coming from the likes of MJ, Pieper, Serena C and more. And through it all, every other lady was either complicit in words or in their silence. Every woman except one.
After being the only one to show a heart as Sarah was falling apart last week, before she ultimately quit the show, Katie tried more than once to get the other "OG" girls to stop trashing the newcomers.
Every time she was shut down and hard (it doesn't help that she and Victoria already have beef over Victoria being a mean girl in general and all the time). So finally, she took it to Matt -- and it looks like all hell is going to break loose next week because of it.
"I don't want to mess up part of your night, but it would probably be a good time to address some of the bullying that's kind of been happening in the house," Katie told Matt outside after failing again to quell the nasty comments. "It's hard for me to keep trying to stand up for these women when we have this, like, mob mentality."
"The house just needs to be better. It's just a toxic environment," she continued. "And there's some pretty bad rumors that are starting about the new girls that literally could ruin their lives, not even exaggerating. I just figured, tomorrow, everyone's together in one room. You could address it. And coming from you, I think it would just mean a lot more to them."
Honestly, this moment spoke so much to Katie's character and further cemented her as one of our favorites; though Matt isn't seeing a lot of the things viewers are seeing at home. But even her standing up like that and coming to him (not even on her own behalf) should show him more about who she is than any group date chat or even a one-on-one.
It's been quite a while since the franchise took a moment to acknowledge the significance of Matt being its first Black Bachelor. We don't need every conversation to be about him being Black or Black issues, but with a cast more diverse than ever before, we do need to see moments and conversations about their experiences.
This week, we got two such conversations, and they were both so important for different reasons. Michelle, one of the newcomers, opened up about the challenges of teaching remotely amid the pandemic, as well as the killing of George Floyd.
Hailing from Minnesota, his death resonates even deeper with her and her students, and she talked about the challenges of talking about that with her students, and especially connecting with her students of color on such a current and important issue as Black Lives Matter emerged.
Earlier in the show, Chelsea brought Matt into a world even he doesn't fully understand as a Black man, sharing with him how sensitive the topic of hair is for Black women.
In a society that still defines beauty by and large by white standards, Chelsea admits she'd been chemically straightening her hair since the age of two to better fit in with her white friends and community, and in order to try and feel comfortable in her own skin.
Now, she shaves her head and owns her beauty, but it was absolutely essential for viewers of all colors to see and hear the realness of her relationship with her own hair as a Black woman in this society.
It's almost never discussed and probably even less understood outside of Black women -- remember what a big deal was made when "This Is Us" revealed Beth sleeping with a head wrap just a few years back? It's good to see "The Bachelor" sharing these real, misunderstood and important conversations.
The Rose Ceremony was a net gain for Matt this week, thanks to the addition of new girls, which is probably another first for the franchise. He went from 18 ladies to 20 by the end of the night.
Of the five newcomers, four of them advanced as Matt clearly picked up enough morsels from them in their first chats to want to know more. Poor Kimberly Li was not one of them. But the rejection had to sting even more for Kaili and Khaylah, who'd both been around since Day 1, losing out to four women who just showed up.
By the end of the week, Matt had only advanced two of his 20 into guaranteed safety. Bri picked up a rose in the extremely truncated first group date of the night (to make room for all the dra-a-a-a-a-ma!), while newcomer Michelle scored one for their very genuine one-on-one.
Not only did she and Matt both drop that they wanted three kids at the same time, but the dude recognized her Maya Angelou quote. If that wasn't a big moment -- it was clear that they are on the same wavelength in many ways, even in such a short span of time.
But while this week saw Matt pick up two ladies total, it looks like things are going to hit the fan in a very real way next week. Here's hoping that the nastiest of the ladies are held accountable for their behavior.
With as many as who piled on, we imagine lots of apologies, lots of tears and if there is any justice in the world, lots of limos pulling out filled with those tears. Is there that much justice in a reality TV show? Time will tell.
"What if there are gonna be more women that don't want to be a part of my journey? That's a really scary feeling." --Matt (after Sarah left)
"The trash took itself out." --Victoria (after Sarah left)
"Can you stop, seriously? She's gone. There's no point to keep talking about her or saying negative things." --Katie (to Victoria)
"No I won't stop, Katie. I'll do whatever the f--- I want." --Victoria
"I don't think people realize how emotional hair can be, especially for Black women. I literally have been chemically straightening my hair since I was two years old. All my friends are white, my school was white, And I didn't even feel comfortable leaving my house without my hair being straight. Like, there were times I had so much anxiety and stress about what people were gonna think. It's definitely a unique experience that Black women have with their hair. So when I finally decided to shave it, it was such an emotionally freeing experience." --Chelsea (to Matt)
"What are you trying to accomplish with this conversation? What's the point?" --Katie (to Victora after the latter demanded an apology)
"I think it's rude the way you speak to me." --Victoria (to Katie)
"If you're being a bitch, I'm gonna tell you you're being a bitch. Always." --Katie (to Victoria)
"If you try to shut me down again-- I probably wouldn't." --Victoria (to Katie)
"I'm used to, like, knowing if a guy's interested in me, so it's scary." --Victoria (this is her being vulnerable with Matt)
"Thank you, Chris Harrison, I was in the middle of a sentence. I don't wanna be this annoyed, but I am!" --Victoria (after Chris interrupts her time with Matt)
"What's up Matt? It is so great to finally meet you. My name is Brittany, I am from Chicago. But enough of all that, i want to make up for lost time." --Brittany (first impression kiss)
"Nice to meet you." --Matt (after kiss)
"So you're, like, a backup?" --Victoria (to Brittany)
"No, they just wanted to save the best for last." --Brittany
"Brittany interrupted me to make out with Matt. Slore: slut/whore." --Victoria
"I'm Victoria, like the queen, so I think I should have that crown." --Victoria (taking Catalina's Miss Universe Puerto Rico crown and putting it on)
"There is 100 percent chance there'll be hostility, there's 100 percent chance there's gonna be drama and ... I'm in trouble." --Matt (after new girls arrive)
"I feel like we'd breed well." --Michelle (to Matt)
"I almost wanna be like, 'Yo girl, I know some dirt on you. Don't mess with me. Please.'" --Anna (after Brittany steals Matt from her)
"There is a rumor because she knows all the rich men in Chicago that Brittany may be an escort." --Anna (to Victoria)
"Making a conclusion like that before you even know me ... that's s---." --Brittany (after Anna throws "escort" out in front of all the girls)
"I'm constantly thinking about my students, and what kind of year it is with the pandemic and everything with George Floyd in Minnesota this past spring -- that was very close to home -- and so it's been a really difficult year for my student, especially my students of color,and wanting to make sure that I can be there for them." --Michelle (to Matt)
"I don't want to just pass the time, I want to make a change so that when I'm not here anymore, I impacted people." --Michelle (to Matt)
"He just keeps getting hotter. Like yum... daddy." --Serena C (seeing Matt boxing)
"This is for all the other girls you're dating ... and getting no time!" --Serena C (training, punching Matt in stomach)
"I think he'd be pretty shocked to hear the things that they're saying, and I'm gonna let him know." --Katie (about the other girls bullying the newcomers)
"The fact that somebody in the house thinks that they're going to be able to bully their way into my heart? That's not how it works." --Matt