OMG, yes, give me all the tea! Tonight is “The Men Tell All” and I am here for the good gossip. Most of these guys are nice, sane contestants who were here for the right reasons (or right-adjacent reasons). They’ll say passably-interesting things and express an undying respect for Rachel Lindsay, as if that’s hard to muster. But a couple of these dudes are messy kweens who live for drama and that’s what I’m tuning in to see.
Rachel had to sift through her share of attention-seekers and reality show regulars (cough, Whaboom) and they’re interesting, I guess. But I’m most excited to see which guys are ticking drama bombs. A secret Scaramucci, if you will. Did Iggy come with the tea? He’s every dude’s best friend on Instagram, but as it became clear he wasn’t in the running, he quickly turned into the ranch’s resident snake. Will we get some wild drama from Adam and Matt, the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Season 13? Will someone, anyone, punch Lee? Only time — and the men — will tell.
Chris Harrison opens by telling us that this was a unique season “with more conflict and angry fights than ever before. We even thought about beefing up security tonight.” This is clearly hyperbole but also highly problematic language to use to describe a season that features the first black Bachelorette and more contestants of color than ever before. So frustrating that this show continues to disrespect us (and Rachel) with these dog whistles. Can’t it be enough that an inherently dramatic show had drama?
Anyway, the men who have been sent home are all back. I legit do not remember some of these guys? Jamey? No clue. Dean gets the loudest applause, by far, because this audience has great taste.
DeMario, that fool, is called upon to explain his actions and immediately embarrasses himself. He says the woman who showed up on the basketball court was “some girl” and describes her as a side-chick. He demands “ocular facts.” DeMario is the Kellyanne Conway of this season.
Whaboom tries to be a character witness for DeMario. Let me just skip ahead and tell you that Whaboom is going to keep interjecting to give himself more airtime. Unless he spontaneously combusts (combooms?) I won’t be mentioning him again.
Chris then walks us into the Kenny & Lee drama, also known as Lee’s Personality Problems That He Refuses to Own. Kenny tells the audience, “If y’all were sick of seeing it, I was sick of living it.” Amen, Kenny.
Dean, bless his pure heart, lays it plain. “When you have 30 people on your side versus one person, it’s clear who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong… [Lee’s actions] took away from Eric’s experience, Kenny’s experience, Anthony’s experience.”
Meanwhile, DeMario, aka Boo Boo the Fool, comes to Lee’s defense, calling him a genuine guy. Whatever, bro.
Interestingly, Kenny says it was less racist than reactionary. “He was just out of his league.” Fascinating read. I’ll allow it.
Lee gives a mealy-mouthed “apology,” saying that Kenny actually didn’t pull him out of the van as he claimed to Rachel. (“Uh, duh,” says Kenny and all of America.) “I should have been a better friend,” Lee tells Kenny. Keep it, bruh.
Chris then surprises Kenny by bringing out his daughter, McKenzie. Finally, a return to humanity! McKenzie is radiant. She is composed and charming and I’m instantly obsessed with this family. Chris sends them to Disney for being decent people.
Lee is called up to the hot seat with Chris. Lee describes himself as “facetious. I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable and sometimes it comes off wrong.” This is, literally, the only funny thing he has ever said. Lee describes his behavior as if he was having an out-of-body experience. I would watch a show about people having out-of-body experiences, by the way. Anyway, Kenny calls him on it. He says that when his friends saw him on the show they said that Kenny was being genuinely himself. He asks Lee, “Was the person on the show who you are?”
Lee equivocates that there are “some things” about himself he knows he needs to fix. Anthony bursts forth from the back row “What things?! Speak it!” There’s a really odd edit where we cut to Diggy complaining that Lee was chosen over him. Finally, Dean, the most likable character in this community theater production of 12 Angry Men uses Lee’s self-promotion on social media against him. “Not once did you denounce your actions!” he says. “You didn’t apologize one damn time.”
Chris then takes us through some of Lee’s most disgusting tweets degrading feminists, the NAACP and women. What a prince. When asked for an explanation, Lee says, “I have a lot to learn in that area.” Chris let’s it go but not Kenny, my hero. “Everybody’s sorry when they get caught. If you hadn’t gotten caught, would you be sorry?”
Lee’s response: “I understand.” Chile, this dude has literally nothing to say for himself.
The guys all pounce and even Boo Boo the Fool gets in a good verbal jab. Chris keeps soft-balling Lee, asking, “How does this feel,” yet he just spent five minutes talking to Kenny about his “aggression.” No thanks. Racists gonna racist; microagressors gonna microaggress.
Next in the hot seat: tender-hearted, well-spoken, woke bae Dean. He is wearing a camo dinner jacket with a polka dot pocket square and normally I would be against this but I will give Dean all of the benefits of all of the doubts.
He says watching the show playback was challenging. “I was all torn up…But I was forced to move on.” Ugh, I’m crying so much right now. However! Dean reveals that he’ll be on Bachelor in Paradise, which will clearly be a misadvised trainwreck but now has a white-toothed bright spot in its cast. Ugh, Dean, you shiny-haired after-school snack. Je t’aime.
Last up, Chris welcomes Rachel to the stage. The camera cuts to Dean, who looks absolutely stricken. He is given me Deborah Kerr at the end of An Affair to Remember.
Dean joins Rachel on-stage and asks her why she told him she was falling in love with him and then sent him home four days later. Rachel defends herself by saying that she meant it, which, sorry, doesn’t help.
Chris asks Rachel about race and about “the Kenny and Lee situation.” Rachel says the show has given her the opportunity to be a spokesperson for African-Americans and women. She tells Lee, “Please know that you can exit stage left and I’d be happy to give you a Black History lesson.” This clapback feels a little “Ricki Lake Show” but I’ll take it.
“The world is so much bigger and greater and you were in the house with such great men. I hope that you take that wherever you go in life,” she tells him. I’m perplexed but not surprised that a full hour of this show has focused on Lee’s transformation journey. I’ll say this and I’ll be done: centering the redemption narratives of bigots diminishes us all and keeps real conversations from moving forward. No one needs a gold star for suddenly realizing that women are people.
Chris then turns to Adam and Matt. Adam is a little salty about being sent home; Matt says he gets it. Rachel says, “I have a message for all the people who are like, ‘Who is Matt? Who is Adam?’” and I feel very attacked right now.
We turn to Fred, who gives a rehearsed monologue about his hurt feelings and his well-wishes for Rachel. Poor Fred.
We end with bloopers, the highlight of which is a scene where Dean puts a piece of gum behind his ear, grins mischievously, and then pops it back in his mouth and swallows it. Oh Dean. Near, far, wherever you are: my heart will go on. See you in Paradise!