Reality TV actually got real on Week 7 of “The Bachelorette.”
Unlike last week’s episode, which mostly focused on manufactured drama, the newest installment was shockingly authentic.
The show aired an emotional conversation between mixed-race cast members Tayshia and Ivan on the Black Lives Matter movement and the racism they’ve experienced. Even though they’re on a show like “The Bachelorette,” the two stars possessed the ability to have a difficult, substantial discussion. What was surprising was that ABC gave their Bachelorette, the second black lead in 16 seasons, the opportunity to have a conversation about something some viewers could’ve found controversial.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this season takes place in a bubble, hidden from the virus attacking the outside world. But in a way, every season of the franchise before this has too: It’s a fantasy land. Current events, no matter how destructive or personal, don’t exist on the show. But Tayshia made it clear that not everyone has the privilege to keep up the act.
The series and its male-led counterpart have been widely criticized for a lack of diversity. By airing Tuesday night’s prolific chat, the producers of the long-running series showed viewers that they can change.
Authenticity and honesty are crucial to falling in love. They need to be on a show about falling in love too.
Here’s what went down on Week 7.
The group date (part I)
The seven men who didn’t have the misfortune of being on the last group date (which, you may remember, involved cage fighting) didn’t get off scot-free. Bennett, Ivan, Blake, Riley, Demar, Zac C. and Kenny had to write and perform an original love song for Tayshia. Boy band manager Kenny did not perform an NSYNC style-dance, sorry to say. Bennett rapped. Demar sang about Tayshia’s “Bachelor in Paradise” ex, John Paul Jones, who I’m surprised hasn’t come up more so far. But karaoke king Ivan’s song won him a one-on-one.
The 30-year-old Bachelorette and her 28-year-old date had a rousing game of “the floor is lava,” a pillow fight and a Twister match.
But the real magic happened when they bonded over being biracial. Ivan opened up about helping to raise his niece when his younger brother went to jail. The couple broke down, crying while sharing how they’ve been affected by the Black Lives Matter movement and events, such as the death of George Floyd, that led to its eruption (the show filmed this summer).
It was a breathtakingly refreshing conversation, especially for “The Bachelorette.” Of course, Tayshia gave Ivan a rose.
The group date (part II)
The failed singers got a second chance for time with Tayshia, playing truth or dare in teams (sure) for love (why not). Bachelor Nation’s Becca Kufrin and Sydney Lotuaco came to supervise.
Dares included drinking a cow-intestine smoothie, getting Chris Harrison to autograph their asses and faking an orgasm over the loudspeaker. Bennett is not particularly skilled in this area, a real surprise to absolutely no one.
But the Harvard man opened up for the first time during the after-party, telling Tayshia about calling off a past engagement.
Zac C. also got time with our leading lady, telling her how nervous he gets around her. Tayshia was “intrigued” by their chemistry, and gave him the date’s rose.
Worried about not getting enough time with his love before the rose ceremony, Ben went to Tayshia’s room in the middle of the night. Ed had the same idea but ended up at Chris Harrison’s cabin instead. The guys got drunk, while Ben and Tayshia made up — last week, Tayshia was disappointed that Ben didn’t try hard enough to pull her aside. Over nightcaps, he vowed to not let it happen again.
The cocktail party
Mustache-less Noah asked Tayshia for help defending him from the other guys, who were mad he crashed a group date during the last episode. Noah told her that the other men thought she had given him a rose to stir up drama. She was livid, and couldn’t believe the guys would think she was inauthentic.
Defending her own honor, Tayshia canceled the drinks and gave a speech to her 16 men that she was nothing but intentional in her actions. The party was over, it was time to send some guys home.
The rose ceremony
Joe the Anesthesiologist (a Twitter favorite), Chasen, Kenny and Jordan C. all left the resort in SUVs.
Last week, I said that the show was flailing without the extra fluff of travel. Tonight it seemed to shine for that exact reason. I want more real-life conversations between Tayshia and her men. Unfortunately, it looks like Bennett and Noah will continue their petty fight instead.