“Bachelorette” recap: Rejection from the men force Gabby and Rachel on “two separate journeys” to find love

(If you haven’t seen the episode yet, stop reading now to prevent spoilers.)

Viewers of “The Bachelorette” knew they were getting two seasons for the price of one this summer with Denver’s Gabby Windey and Florida’s Rachel Recchia co-starring as the leads on a mission to find love. But until Monday night, they may not have realized just how messy it would be.

Well, actually, there is precedent.

In 2015, the show cast two women from a previous season of “The Bachelor” to welcome limos full of men in a night one premiere and then had the would-be suitors vote for who they wanted to date the most. The format was billed as an empowering moment for the women to be in charge together, but instead it forced them to compete for male affection and peppered the episode with some casual misogyny.

However naively, I hoped that this would be less spicy, but history repeated itself Monday night, as Gabby and Rachel attempted to navigate dating one group of guys simultaneously in hopes of finding two fiancees, simultaneously. It’s almost as though messy outcomes are baked into the formula here.

The episode started textbook, as host Jesse Palmer informed contestants and viewers that both bachelorettes would each get a single one-on-one date and the rest of the guys would be invited to a massive group date. Gabby took Erich, a real estate analyst whose hair boasts a little party in the back, out with her famously hilarious Grandpa John to experience the classic pairing of a zen sound-bath ceremony and then some bowling.

Rachel and Zach, a California-based tech executive, got glammed out by “Queer Eye” host Karamo Brown and enjoyed a private screening of home movies at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre. Both men got time alone with the bachelorettes, plenty of tongue action and, most importantly, a rose. So far, so good.

During the group date afterparty, however, things took a turn. The more Gabby tried to chat up guys, the more they told her they wanted to pursue dating Rachel. And look, it’s only natural that the contestants would want to feel out who they’re most attracted to, but having a choice shifts the decision making power. Suddenly, the women who were supposed to be in charge no longer had the final say.

Gabby didn’t give out a rose on the group date because everyone she spoke with felt the need to insult her. Among the most hurtful comments were being called “rough around the edges” and told that if it were just her as the bachelorette some guys would not stay in the competition.

So, in an effort to rebalance the scales of power, she and Rachel decided to embark on “two separate journeys” to find love. That meant handing out roses and asking specific people to commit exclusively to them going forward.

It was another well-meaning move that ended up humiliating the women. Not one, but three men said they could not accept Rachel’s rose because they were holding out for Gabby. I am not shocked to report that none of those contestants received a rose and they will not be moving on in the competition.

In the end, Gabby selected nine men and Rachel selected six – she didn’t get to re-hand out those three roses that got turned down – to continue on their now very separate journeys to a potential engagement. Still, the whole thing was painful to watch. Rejection has long been a central part of this reality TV show, and, let’s be real, it’s entertaining when dished out by the stars of the show.

But when the tables turned in Monday night’s episode, it felt incredibly gross. Perhaps the silver lining is that most of the offenders were shown the door to the Bachelor mansion. Of course, previews suggest that the mess has hardly been cleaned up, so you know what to do.

Refill the wine fridge and meet us back on the couch next Monday night at 7 p.m. MST to see how this plays out.

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