Tuesday was the Season 3 premiere of Bachelor in Paradise, and as was the case during JoJo Fletcher's recently-concluded season of The Bachelorette, the most interesting part was protein-addled bad guy Chad Johnson, who hit a new behavioral low that somehow made him both more and less likable at the same time.
Chad's tyrannical behavior dominated The Bachelorette's early episodes. He was verbally abusive, refused to play along with the unwritten rules of the show, and made the other guys worried that he was going to physically injure them. He was despicable.
But, after he was eliminated, public opinion about Chad shifted a bit. We started to miss him. Without him, the show suffered, because the remaining contestants were mostly dull and/or annoying. His absence gave his main nemeses Alex and Evan nothing to do except turn their own obnoxious behavior on less deserving targets and make themselves look terrible in the process. It became clear that Chad had been goaded by the other contestants into reacting aggressively. He would not have struck back so hard if he had not been so relentlessly antagonized. The Men Tell All proved it, when we saw smoking gun footage of Evan shoving Chad first. Chad overreacted by ripping Evan's shirt, but Evan started it. And Evan had the audacity to push Chad after insulting him from onstage. Chad's anger was justified.
So going into Bachelor in Paradise, Chad was almost a sympathetic figure. Going on BIP was an opportunity for him to do some image rehab. He could prove that he was really here to find love, squash the beef with Evan, and show America that he's not such a bad guy after all.
But that's not what happened.
It started well, with Chad apologizing to Evan and acting like a relatively normal, polite person. He didn't totally co-sign Daniel the Canadian's lunkheaded misogyny (he did a little bit, to be sure). But then he started drinking, and then he started hanging out with Lace.
Lace was the early villain on Ben Higgins' season of The Bachelor. She drank too heavily and acted crazy, as reinforced by the montage of her saying "I'm not crazy." She said she's worked on herself, but that work seems to be switching from liquor to white wine as a way to regulate how drunk she gets (while still getting very drunk).
On Bachelor in Paradise, she quickly abandons this approach and starts doing shots. As Grant notes, she's a mess. (SPOILER: Grant's terrible. He and Lace get engaged at the end of the season, and it's going to be a nightmare.)
Chad and Lace quickly bond, much to the dismay of everyone, since they're both ticking time bombs of toxicity. Almost immediately, Hurricane Chace is in full effect. They're making out, then bickering, then hitting each other, then making out even heavier. It's cartoonishly insane behavior. All the while, they're getting absolutely blitzed. But the fun ends when Chad called Lace a sexist slur and she immediately shut down. It's over. And Chad's mad. And by this time, he's maybe the drunkest anyone has ever been on TV outside of Intervention.
He completely goes off — taking swings at Daniel, his only friend; telling everyone to perform a certain sex act on him; insulting Sarah for having one arm. Then he passes out on the ground next to the pool, and then? The fudgy icing on the cake: He poops his pants.
The next day — we're treated to Chad waking up and realizing that he blacked out and moved his bowels — Daddy Chris Harrison calls a house meeting and tells Chad that he has to go.
"You told everybody at this hotel last night to suck a d---," Harrison says.
Chad doesn't take this well. He swears at Harrison and says that he has nothing in his life except this show. "I can't believe it happened again," he says with a mix of disappointment and self-loathing. The episode ends with a "will Chad actually go?" cliff-hanger, just like the episode when he was eliminated from The Bachelorette.
Obviously, this episode was the absolute worst and best Chad has ever been. The thing about Chad is that he's so committed to not playing along that he becomes self-destructive. He was handed the opportunity to redeem himself, and he essentially said, "Eff that. You can't control me. Not only am I not going to redeem myself, I'm going to take being the worst even further than I did before."
Chad's understanding of the rules of reality TV and deftness at breaking them makes him an extraordinary and complex villain. During his drunken stupor (and during his Men Tell All appearance, and during his run on The Bachelorette), he called everyone out for being fake and fame-driven and dishonest in specific, demonstrable ways, and he was not wrong. Even on Bachelor in Paradise, he was never wrong. He was just a jerk about it. Chad's the only honest man in Bachelor Nation, and that makes him too dangerous to have around. To be fair, he has yet to be honest about his own famequesting appearance on The Bachelorette, but I have a feeling he'll get real about his true intentions soon enough.
The other thing about Chad is that he's genuinely hilarious. His insults are accurate and clever, his non sequiturs are memorable ("drink a glass of milk!"), and he has a subtle sense of humor about his sweet potizzle-chomping self. There's something about his smile, like he's just playing when he says these rude things. Like he knows his role and enjoys it. And he's so good at it.
The thing that has done more than anything else to humanize Chad to me is his Snapchat, REALCHADJOHNSON. On Snapchat, he's a hilarious goofball. He dances to Fifth Harmony, he flings hunks of meat at his George Foreman grill from across his kitchen, he plays with his adorable dog Pumpkin. He doesn't seem like a normal guy on Snapchat; he seems like a c0median whose life is committed to this character.
Chad is charming and repellent at the same time. I hate that he makes me laugh, but he does. I hate that I find such a toxically masculine Donald Trump surrogate so interesting and complicated, but I do. And Chad probably loves that I do. The Bachelorette definitely loves that I do, and Chad still hasn't worn out his welcome with the franchise. He was at the After the Final Rose live special, and according to his Snapchat, after the show, rather than stay out and party with the rest of the cast, he went back to the hotel, took some protein supplements and ate three room service entrees. Chad knows exactly what he's doing. He has crafted himself to be the perfect person you love to hate.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.