It feels like we’re getting into the swing of things now, so let the games begin.
We start with a flashback of champagne-gate, and then a cut to the morning after. Everyone is tired of talking about champagne. Kelsey doesn’t even LIKE champagne. Both women take the L. Moving on.
Victoria P. and the Role of Trauma
Victoria P. has her first one-on-one date and we quickly see that she is too good for this show. In the first episode we got a little back story, which previewed her challenging upbringing. Her dad passed away when she was young and her mom struggled with addiction. In that promo package, we saw Victoria P. with her mom and her sister, so it seems like her mom has recovered (at least enough to participate), but we got a lot more details last night.
Victoria P.’s story is chilling. She was tasked with taking care of her sister as they shuffled through shelters, dealing with extreme food insecurity. Victoria P. detailed how she would cut up a raw potato, season it with salt and pepper, and give it to her sister just to ensure her sister would have food that day.
The trauma Victoria P. experienced is not fodder for a reality show. It’s not something that should appear on a first date, complete with a close-up and touching music at the end of a segment. Victoria P. should never feel like she needs to expose herself to the world to “get a rose.”
This is known on the show as the “trauma pitch” (although I liken it to trauma porn). A contestant is encouraged to share their deepest trauma with a relative stranger (on national television, no less) as soon as possible. The producers couch the advice to share in terms of “vulnerability,” being “open” to the process, and using your time with the lead in a world where time is the most valuable currency you have.
An article in Psychology Today says it better than I can:
“Due to limited and unpredictable access to the bachelor or bachelorette, there is intense pressure to ‘make a pitch’—that is, to form a sound bite about how one’s deepest trauma has taught them some valuable life lesson, usually some variant of one of these three or four themes.
The experience of [insert horrible trauma that the bachelor/bachelorette and audience have no right to know] has taught me to….’never take life for granted/make the most out of every day/tell the people I care about that I love them more often/make the most out of the chances I’m given.'”
Victoria P.’s “lesson” is that she has never felt deserving of someone like Peter, and it has impacted her past relationships. Victoria P. shares that she is grateful to Peter (a stranger!!) for showing her what she deserves, and she wants Peter to know who she is.
This franchise and this universe is not the place for someone like Victoria P. to unpack this trauma and its impact on her interpersonal relationships. The producers extricate these deep-seated emotions but are not there to help the contestant work through any of it after it’s shared. The producers are there to make a story, and any alleged benefit a contestant has in unburdening herself is tangential to the overall goal of making a profitable show. The costs far outweigh the benefits, yet we continue to see it season after season.
I worry this will not work out well for Victoria P. She says repeatedly that she’s falling in love with Peter, and that she’ll do what she has to do to protect her relationship. She seems to be conflating her worth with the idea of a “man like Peter” (who seems like a nice enough guy but fairly normal). And Peter seems to be more into the idea of her than her. He loves that she’s a caregiver, that she leads with her heart, and is drawn in by her background, but I don’t see a lot of chemistry between the two. I am very nervous to see where this goes, for her sake.
Dethroning of Alayah
Is the era of beauty queens officially over on this franchise??? In the past few seasons the pageant queens have done fairly well (Hannah B., Caelynn) but now it seems like the tides are turning, and the fact that you are a pageant queen means you have the burden of showing you are actually authentic (let’s just ignore how that same description could apply to models, influencers, and half the contestants).
I have to admit I did not see this coming.In the past two episodes Alayah has been portrayed as a sweet friend. She talked Kelsey up after Kelsey had a meltdown at Mykenna, even fixing her makeup. So I was a little confused when we saw footage of the women at the house, with Alayah on a coffee table saying she’s “not like all those other beauty queens.”
This seems to be the impetus of Sydney’s takedown, but we later see that many of the women share Sydney’s thoughts on this.
I see two issues at play. The first is Alayah’s profession(s) and her comments about how she’s “very good at putting on a face” when she needs to. The second is Alayah’s actions, both before filming and in the house. I think the women conflate the two, and use Alayah’s comments that seem to be made in jest against her, but they likely do so because Alayah’s actions in front of the camera don’t match who she is around the house.
I don’t really see an issue with Alayah’s comments. Sydney, who has already decided that Alayah is fake, conducts a vicious cross-examination of Alayah in the night portion of the group date (seriously Sydney, consider litigation because that was masterful).
She starts off with a question that Alayah should have known was pointed, but Alayah just responds normally, “oh yeah girl I have like three jobs.” And it just goes downhill from there. Sydney traps Alayah into saying that it’s easy for her to say the right things as to not offend people.
Sydney then shares this with Peter, and he takes it super seriously. This is either a testament to Peter’s feelings for Sydney, or his fear of a Jed-repeat (probably a bit of both). Peter is so scared that someone on the show is going to pull the wool over his eyes, he ends up doing a full house inquisition into Alayah’s actions.
And here’s where I really do see why Sydney raised this with Peter. Because in every conversation (at least those we’re shown), the women Peter talks to say that Alayah is fake for the cameras. That she acts one way and then as soon as the cameras are present she “turns it on.” That her voice goes up an octave as soon as Peter shows up.
And most damning of all, apparently Alayah told Victoria P. (a fellow pageant queen) to not share with producers that they knew each other before the show. Alayah explained that she made that decision because she was scared that both women would be “disqualified” if producers knew they had a prior friendship (see, however, Caelynn and Hannah B. from last season, producers LOVE this stuff). But it was the final nail in the coffin for Alayah.
I guess she comes back next episode, but I can’t imagine it’s for a long time. Peter was really thrown by Sydney’s accusations, and it makes me wonder what the men on Hannah’s season knew about Jed (or Luke P.) and how they acted around Hannah versus in the house. Peter said multiple times that he can’t let what happened last season happen again.
A few other thoughts:
Women and lingerie and pillow fighting? Can we not, ABC? Sometimes it feels like this show is too problematic to ever recover, but I guess that’s a conversation for another day.
Word slip-ups. We had a few. Case in point:
These made me giggle.
- Madison. Can anyone beat Madison at this point? Peter was so happy to see her, and their chemistry is palpable. It’s hers to lose, but there’s still a lot of time so we shall see.
- Kelley. I was glad to see Kelley back on our screens this week. She had a nice one-on-one time with Peter, and I really liked how she characterized herself. Instead of saying something like how she’s not like all the other women, she kept the focus on herself, sharing that she was really far outside of her comfort zone, but was sticking around for him. These two seem like a normal couple, which is refreshing. I also loved that Kelley bit her tongue during the drama.
- Sydney. Somehow during all this mess, Sydney managed to position herself as Peter’s confidante. It shows that Peter trusts her and is willing to take her side, even at this early stage.
Tammy! I am loving Tammy. She’s hilarious and seems so normal. Maybe getting a Bachelorette edit?? She and Peter finally shared a kiss. I don’t see her getting to hometowns but I hope she sticks around awhile because she’s a breath of fresh air.
Until next week!