Have you seen UnReal? Last summer, Lifetime debuted a pitch-black comedy series about the behind-the-scenes on a reality show called Everlasting, a reality show where women compete for the affections of one alleged Prince Charming. Sound familiar? It's based on co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro's experiences as a producer on The Bachelor. It's a scripted series, but some of it feels uncomfortably true. The manipulation and deception the producers of UnReal inflict on the contestants (and each other) is rooted in reality. If The Bachelor is anything like UnReal, it makes watching the reality show a little less fun. I got caught up on UnReal over the weekend, and it colored my experience of watching The Women Tell All. The women could not really have been telling all. There are surely all kinds of off-camera machinations they are forbidden from talking about.
But they managed to hit the big elephants in the room that we know about -- Olivia's antisocial behavior, Lace's instability, Caila's broken heart -- while introducing a new one in the racial conflict between Jubilee and Amber and Jami.
A lot of the stuff I presumed would be very awkward coming in turned out not to be so bad. Olivia's apology to Amanda over the infamous Teen Mom comment seemed sincere, and Amanda accepted it. Caila and Ben's reunion was pretty mellow, because Caila isn't dramatic like that. The only person who seemed unwilling and unable to admit their part in any wrongdoing was Leah, who came off very poorly. The less said about Leah the better, because just watching her on TV is draining to me. I don't find her awkward, because awkward implies something at least mildly endearing, but she just seems like a pain. Sorry, Leah. Just not feeling it.
Besides, there were plenty of other awkward moments to talk about.
6. Where's Mandi?
There were other women missing, but they all matter much less than weird dentist Mandi, who had the most memorable entrance this season -- she was the one with the big rose on her head. Even Izzy was there, who when she spoke I noted "whoa whoa whoa who is this?" She was the break bread girl, I think. I really wanted to hear about what Mandi the weird dentist has been up to, especially since she lives in Portland, the same city where our presumptive winner is from. They could have run into her at Voodoo Doughnuts on their hometown date! Mandi is truly keeping Portland weird.
5. The Mrs. Higgins baby onesie
When Chris Harrison and Ben Higgins were going around crashing Bachelor viewing parties at the beginning of the episode, some lady put her baby in a onesie that said "Mrs. Higgins," which creeped me out. I know it was a joke, but it's weird! One day, she's going to marry her baby off to Ben? Or she thinks Ben is into children? She didn't think this through all the way.
4. Sheila the disruptive chicken
Tiara the chicken enthusiast brought her favorite chicken with her, and it's a good thing she did, because no one would know who she is otherwise. The chicken's name is Sheila. Sheila the Chicken (of course somebody made a Twitter account for her). Sheila was very disruptive. First she jumped from Tiara to Lace, interrupting Emily while she was berating Olivia (go back and look at Caila's face in that moment. She didn't think it was funny at all, which is hilarious to me). Then she clucked when Leah was doubling down on her lie about not saying bad things about Lauren B. "She doesn't like liars," Tiara said. Chicken-burnt.
3. Some dude got a Lace tattoo
When Lace was in the hot seat, some dude faux-interrupted saying "you are crazy -- crazy beautiful." He then came down to the stage and took off his shirt to show that he had Lace's face tattooed on his ribs. "Don't actually touch her," says Chris Harrison while he's taking a photo, which is a pretty Bachelor thing to say -- acting protective when the wolf is already inside. Anyway, that guy will have a Bachelor washout's face tattooed on his body forever. I hope it's worth it.
2. Olivia is just not good at communicating
This episode did a lot to humanize Olivia in my eyes. She's probably not a bad person, just one who has trouble relating to others for reasons possibly beyond her control. She blames her oddness on being introverted, which is pretty odd in itself. Generally people who cling to a diagnosis as a justification for their behavior are suspicious and not good at taking responsibility for their actions. But Olivia's apology to Amanda seemed heartfelt. Amanda accepted her apology, but not before she got in the night's sickest burn, when she said "motherhood is my jam," a reference to Olivia's statement earlier this season that books and intellectual stuff is her jam. I felt for Olivia when she talked about bullying, though. She surely did give her social media accounts to her sister to shield herself from the hate coming her way. She admits that she used to watch the show and judge the girls, but now that it's happened to her, and she was presented in a way that shows her as a villain, not a complete person, she's hurt. Olivia makes me a little sad. I hope she gets a job as a sports reporter and people forget about her mouth stuff. That night isn't tonight, though!
When Olivia said "The mouth stuff is funny -- some of it, at least," she had to have been talking about this video, the best thing to come out of Season 20.
1. Jubilee is problematic
During the airing of grievances before individual women went into the hot seat, Jubilee got it with both barrels from all the women for what was perceived as her rude, standoffish behavior. Amber and Jami brought up something that, if it was true, didn't make the show. Allegedly, Jubilee made racially charged comments to the effect that she was the only "real black girl" there. Amber and Jami are both biracial, and they were offended by Jubilee's comments about them not being black enough or not being "full black" like her. Jubilee denied it, but Shushanna backed Amber and Jami up, saying she was there when Jubilee made a comment to Jami. Jubilee did admit to saying she's fully black. If Amber and Jami's claims are true, that would explain why Amber had such beef with Jubilee. The way the show was edited when Amber confronted Jubilee earlier in the season made her anger seem disproportionate to the offenses at hand. But if Jubilee was impugning her identity, her anger makes more sense. On the other hand, Jubilee's misunderstood, dry sense of humor is well-established, so Jubilee could very well have been making an ironic joke about her role on the show and it was misinterpreted. The Bachelor's problem with race is well-documented. There's a subplot on UnReal about a black producer taking the two black contestants aside and determining which of them is going to be that season's Angry Black Lady. It's a role on the show, like the Villain (Olivia) or the Wifey (Lauren B.). Jubilee knew that that was her role, and since she's smart and funny, she was joking about it. In any case, it was incredibly uncomfortable and forced the show to a place it didn't want to go.
Whew. I'm glad that's over with. Next week is our last episode of the season, when the winner will finally be revealed.