There’s something especially horrifying about The Bachelor‘s “Women Tell All” episode. It’s like watching an hour of Oprah‘s “Favorite Things,” only with Chris Harrison as the ringleader, and instead of getting excited about free merchandise, the audience roars its approval as a small group of women turn on one of their own, pulling the verbal equivalent of stoning her in the public square.
On Monday night’s episode, it was single mom Michelle who spent the most time in the “hot seat” (aka The Bachelor equivalent of the stocks). But a funny thing happened as hardened bartender Stacey, “artist” Jackie, and some random woman named Sarah P (blonde, can revoltingly sip from a wine glass while holding it with her toes) started taking Michelle to task for being a bad mother, for being too aggressive with Bachelor Brad, for making dozens of vicious confessional comments about her rival bachelorettes: The live audience began to sympathize with the “victim,” who clutched a single, hard-used tissue and alternated between mild and moderate sobbing. “Do I really want monkeys to attack Chantal?” Michelle asked. “No, I don’t!” (Don’t you, Michelle? Don’t you?)
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the Michelle-focused portions of the episode. Her fellow bachelorettes were so eager to attack, they began their poorly choreographed dance of outrage and indignation during Chris Harrison’s opening introductions — in a moment of quiet triumph for irony, sports publicist Marissa whined that it was “hurtful” when Michelle said she and the other bachelorettes were a bunch of little girls — and then went in for Round Two when our host called the Utah-based hair stylist off the bachelorette bleachers for a one-on-one interview.
Michelle definitely got the “misunderstood” edit, as Chris himself reasoned “the bigger the smart alec,” the more “vulnerable” the bachelorette. And Michelle grabbed ahold of that “vulnerable” label with the enthusiasm of Chantal O clutching the “overnight fantasy suite” card, crying that she came to the show “for the right reasons,” that all she wanted to do was find love for herself and a father figure for her daughter, that she was using sarcasm as a way to survive the pressure-cooker environment of the show. Stacey dove right into the gutter by implying Michelle was a lousy mother, then trying to pretend she hadn’t really gone there after receiving a time-out from Chris. (Not that there isn’t, perhaps, a larger point to be made about abandoning your child for six weeks to go tape a reality dating show. But I digress…)
Personally, I’d have preferred Michelle to own her “head bitch” title without apology: It would’ve been more honest, and it probably would’ve made Sarah P, Stacey and Jackie’s heads explode with blind fury. Because at the end of the day, what makes those eye-rolling skeezers truly angry is that, by virtue of her scathing confessional clips, Michelle got more screen time than the three of ’em combined. As Chris so plainly told Michelle, “Your narration of the show was hysterical.” Or, in the words of Meghan, “Monday nights wouldn’t have been the same without you.” And I’ll give Michelle this much: With the gift of hindsight, she was at least able to look back at her relationship with Brad and realize something was missing. “I don’t think it was as unique and special as I thought it was.” Thank you, Michelle, for not perpetuating “there’s never been another man like Brad Womack” myth that’s pervaded this entire Bachelor season.
Other observations from the “Women Tell All” extravaganza:
* Did Shawntel N have laryngitis during the taping? Otherwise, I’m not sure why the season’s third runner-up wasn’t shown speaking a single significant word during the episode. Once again, Chris and Brad poked fun at Shawntel’s work as a funeral director, with the former man calling her hometown date the strangest he’s ever seen. Oh, come on, Chris: It’s not like her parents used the occasion to bury a dead bird in the yard!
* Chris insisted it was “time to settle that infamous feud” between Raichel and Melissa, a pair of women who occupy a distant place in my memory bank alongside high-school trigonometry and what I ate for breakfast exactly a year ago today. Melissa spent the segment insisting she’s not an insane drama queen — although by crying and squawking on a reality show, she proved the exact opposite point — while Raichel the Manscaper pulled more ugly faces than a mangy pug in a house of mirrors. (Careful, girl! Didn’t your mama tell you your face could freeze like that?) The winner of the battle? Michelle, by virtue of this sound bite about Melissa: “The cougar needs to get back in the cage ’cause she is digging her own grave!” Loser: The Dentist, who tried too hard to paint herself as a sweet, likeable future star of The Bachelorette franchise by telling Melissa and Raichel that she “loved” them both equally.
* The Nanny spent her entire segment mewling about how she’s always getting cast aside by the men she loves, and how she’s still haunted by Brad’s parting remarks: “I don’t think you would make an extraordinary wife for me.” If any woman aside from The Dentist was attempting to score a gig as the next Bachelorette, it was The Nanny. I just wish Chris Harrison had told her, “You’ll make an extraordinary bachelorette some day, but I don’t think you would make an extraordinary Bachelorette for ABC.” Side note: Is anyone else flabbergasted that The Nanny is the same age as The Denitst?
* The Dentist (now in brunette!) was the subject of a very long and very dull segment about how her insecurities ruined her chances with Brad. “I hate to break it to you, but you were in love,” said Chris, who apparently got his psychology degree over his winter vacation. But don’t cry for Ashley H, ABC viewers! “Brad primed me for what is yet to come,” she said, flashing her perfect teeth and all but confirming that ABC is preparing the way for her to star in The Bachelorette: Have You Flossed Today?. Seriously? I’d have gone with Shawntel (The Bachelorette: On the Wings of Death) or Madison (The Bachelorette: Love Bites) or even Sarah P (The Bachelorette: Behold Her Chimpanzee Toes). Then again, who cares about The Dentist’s quest for love when Women Tell All also primed us for…
* the return of Bachelor Pad! Yes, folks, the 500+ graduates of The Bachelor STD Academy are still meeting in bars in major urban centers to massage each others gums with their tongues, declare themselves “sexual creatures” (they got the “creatures” part right!), listen to Wes give a one-song concert of “Love Don’t Come Easy,” and race to the nearest emergency room to get their stomachs pumped/pick up emergency supplies of penicillin. Might as well gather them up in a house this summer and let them compete for love and cash and everything in between. Based on last night’s segment, we’ll be seeing Vienna, Rozlyn, Gia, and other people you’d like to forget, as well as formerly handsome/funny Craig (from Alli’s Bachelorette season) who has morphed from a lawyer into something resembling a Girls Gone Wild camera operator. Watch as he makes out with an “Ashleigh,” then declares her to be “the biggest Playboy bunny on Bachelor Pad. Talk about hoppin’ around! That’s what she does.” Welcome to the Bachelor Pad family, Craig! Should be a fun, sexy time for you!
What did you think of the “Women Tell All” episode? Did you feel any sympathy for Michelle? Are you excited or grossed out by the idea of The Dentist as the next Bachelorette? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!