Uh-oh, y’all, I think I actually like The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart now! Surely my brain has broken in my seventh week of self-isolation, because I genuinely enjoyed watching last night’s episode. Everything about this spin-off still confuses and enrages me (the rules change week to week, the contestants are delusional, and the very idea that musicians should date other musicians is questionable at best). But now that couples are performing and there is an actual artistic product for me to judge, I’m entertained as heck! Also, Toni Braxton was there!
But let’s get back to the reason my editor is letting me write this post in the first place: Texans. At the start of the episode, only two of the original six Texan contestants remained. There’s Rudi, an R&B singer from San Antonio, and Austin’s own Sheridan Reed, a soul/R&B/pop singer and all-around nice guy. If you recall from last week’s episode, both Rudi and Sheridan were in “committed” partnerships with other contestants. Rudi had hooked up with a buff country singer named Matt, who she seems really into despite the fact that he has a faux hawk. Sheridan was seeing real potential with Julia, a pop singer from Pennsylvania with whom he connected right off the bat, though she remained extremely hung up on fellow pop singer Brandon, a mediocre lothario with a long list of obvious flaws, like “is a liar” and “doesn’t like Pat Benatar.”
Speaking of liars, though Chris Harrison said last week that only committed couples could move forward in the competition, he went back on his word last night by forcing contestants to go on dates with other people. Rudi went on a picnic with Chris (a soul singer from California who was all hung up on Bri, a pop singer from Utah), and Jamie (Nashville country girl) did a spa day with Ryan (Michigander whose bio says he specializes in jazz, funk, pop, and R&B), even though she’s falling for Trevor (country pop singer from California) and Ryan is in it to win it with Natascha (a pop singer who said on the show that she was from New York but whose bio says she’s from L.A.). Nothing really came of those two “dates” other than renewed commitment in their already established relationships, but that didn’t matter because the obvious reason for this curveball was to get Julia and Brandon together so they could make a bad decision that would create drama. Which they did, by kissing and then ditching their other partners, Sheridan and Savannah (acoustic pop singer from Nashville—man, everybody sings pop, don’t they?).
I’ll get into the specific details of that shit show below, but for now just know that once the situation resolved itself the episode was actually pretty fun. The performances were mostly great, featuring two songs I really like (“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton, and “We Belong” by Pat Benatar), one song I don’t mind that much (“Lover” by Taylor Swift), and two others that at least made me nostalgic for the muzak I used to hear in the elevators of Texas Monthly‘s office building (“You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne and “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor). Guest judges were former Bachelorette and Dallas native Rachel Lindsay, pop star Andy Grammer, and absolute legend Toni Michelle Braxton, whose feedback was mostly “I want to feel uncomfortable.”
So I guess let’s get back to power rankings, even though that seems fairly pointless because there are only two contestants left. But “fairly pointless” is a descriptor that applies to just about anything that happens in the Bachelor universe, so who cares!
Location: San Antonio
OK, obviously in a very literal sense Rudi has the most “power” because she’s the sole Texan contestant remaining on this ridiculous show. Of the four couples moving on to episode five (which previews indicate will put their relationships to the test by throwing travel and tour buses into the mix—don’t worry, it was filmed pre-quarantine), Rudi and Matt are definitely my favorite. They sang the best song last night, “Tennessee Whiskey,” and when Rudi did a run on the word “warm,” Toni Braxton made a face! A good face. This face: 😳! Or at least that’s how the show edited it, which is good enough for me. They didn’t get the highest marks from the judges last night, but they were up there. The only feedback Braxton had for them was that they needed to play up onstage sexual tension until the audience felt uncomfortable, which means there is enough sexual chemistry between them for that to even be a possibility.
Their sexual tension was palpable in the less performative moments of the episode. If they were sitting on a couch, they were touching, and their interest in each other felt as close to sincere as any relationship within the walls of the Bachelor Mansion can be. They won’t be the last couple standing. Chris and Bri have already said “I love you,” and they fact that they told this to each other after killing their performance of “Lover” means their relationships has a Swiftian purity to it, which is the ideal dynamic sanctioned by ABC and the Bachelor powers that be.
But Rudi and Matt seem like they’re having fun, and I found myself jealous of that as I sat alone in my house for the millionth day in a row. It was when they took the stage that I realized I was actually enjoying the show, and looking forward to future episodes. That’s some kind of power, isn’t it?
Oh Sheridan, my sweet, sincere, thoughtful boi. I’m so proud of you. Like Matt pointed out in last night’s episode, your principled decision to bail from the moment Julia said she “didn’t know” if she could do this with you after kissing Brandon was honorable. Her breakup conversation strategy was evasive and weak. She kept saying “I can’t,” to which you replied “You can’t what?” until she had to say something of actual substance. You didn’t take her bait, you didn’t argue it, you just packed up your stuff, said goodbye to your friends, and then took off. For the past three episodes I have been wanting to see you stand up for yourself, and you finally did. Though a bittersweet moment, it was the highlight of the episode. Julia ended up going home anyway (to no one’s surprise, since she and Brandon had zero onstage chemistry and absolutely butchered their Pat Benatar assignment) so it’s not like she’ll make a bigger impression on the audience than you have. She even closed out the episode by expressing regret for having dumped you in the first place, which just made her seem even more flaky and selfish than she has so far. I don’t know if it’s healthy and mature to think of breakups as being something either party can win, but the Bachelor Nation views love and relationships the same way high school freshman do, and in this case, Sheridan, you absolutely won this breakup. You may have come off as the nice guy who always finishes last, but that’s better than coming off as someone who acts only in their own self-interest, with complete disregard for the feelings of others, and still embarrasses themselves in front of Toni Braxton and has to go home.
Bottom line: you’re doing amazing, sweetie.