Historically speaking, the stretch from the second to the fourth episodes marks the sweet spot in a The Bachelorette season, where the self-styled villains of the cast establish themselves as antagonistic forces before their inevitable elimination. But the role of Bachelorette villain is actually kind of a noble one. Villains are routinely exposed for being on the show for the “wrong reasons,” an ethical breach that really grinds the gears of a peer jury of aspiring Instagram models, failed professional athletes, and the singer-songwriter equivalent of struggle rappers, all of whom are just here for love, man. Villains are labeled as opponents of “the process.” (The process of meeting your spouse through a series of televised day-camp activities.) But in refusing to play by the show’s rules, the villain serves as a sly meta-critique of the whole phenomenon, chipping away at the franchise’s veneer of “reality” from the inside.
Anyway, literally nothing worth talking about happened in last night’s episode that was outside the creatine-crazed orbit of Chad, a luxury real estate agent from Tulsa, and the show’s best villain in forever. (A quick rundown: Cowboy war veteran Luke captures the true spirit of Memorial Day by throwing a temper tantrum over losing a pretend-to-save-JoJo-from-a-tragic-fire competition to an actual firefighter. JoJo makes a creepy reference to Ben and Lauren’s relationship, because she’s totally over it and everything’s definitely fine, emotionally speaking. Singer-songwriter James Taylor (yeah, dude) recites a poem to JoJo that is so sincerely moving that we must gloss over it because when these moments of genuine humanity pierce through the fog of total bullshit, you realize that a purely cynical approach to this show is emotionally dishonest, if we’re being really real, and it’s confusing, so, pass.)
But Chad, though! We first see Chad merrily preparing for a morning pull-up sesh by stuffing his suitcase with tubs of protein powder to use as a free weight, whistling a happy tune like Roidy, the lost dwarf. The other men gawk as he chains the luggage to his waist and dangles from various mansion patio furniture. Not only is it a quintessential villain move, it’s a perfect visual metaphor for the constant tension between being enough of a dick to make great TV and being too much of a dick for JoJo to tolerate. It’s fucking masterful. James S., a 27-year-old whose job title is literally “Bachelor Superfan” because nothing matters, is nearly brought to tears, acutely aware that he is basically watching Chad’s face being chiseled into the Bachelor villain Mount Rushmore in real time. That night, the camera crew sleeps peacefully, for once spared the disembodied howls of Chris Harrison that echo through their nightmares. Meanwhile, Chad hears acoustic guitars, and he is not fucking having it.
Oh yeah — the mansion has basically devolved into a 24-hour YouTube star think tank, and these guys love nothing more than to sit around Wonderwallin’ it up, as 80 percent of the cast seem to have brought their acoustic guitar along for this crazy ride we call love. Hey, I’m sure Luke’s fledgling country music career (by the way, I skimmed to a random place in his “Tungsten Steel” video and the first thing I heard was “American-born”) has nothing to do with his obvious positioning as the next Bachelor! These guys, god bless ‘em, have written a song for JoJo. It goes: “JoJo, where’d you go? You’ve been on a date, we’ve been missing you at home,” and then you repeat that once more with feeling and then it goes “Jo, jo, jo, jo, jo, jo, jo,” etc.
Chad, quite reasonably, thinks this is all mortifying. “Every guy here seems to be obsessed with JoJo already, and really we don’t anything about her yet,” he says, dropping the first of many truth bombs. Chad and Daniel, last week’s Canadian meme specialist, who recognizes in Chad a far superior villain than he could ever be and immediately clings to his coattails, conspire in the shadows. “I always warn girls, stay away from the nice guys,” Chad says, his eyes flashing with what is either a fiery passion or the early signs of testosterone overdose. “I totally agree,” Daniel gushes. Chad’s on his Mark Antony–addressing-the-Roman-forum shit. “If you were making a protein shake made up of this group of dudes here, and then, you know, blended it up, half of that dude-protein shake would, like, have zero chance.” Daniel hasn’t been so enraptured since Joe Rogan’s last podcast.
Group date: They’re at ESPN, doing a competition specifically engineered for Jordan to succeed in, and Chad’s over it. He doesn’t want to fake-propose to JoJo after spinning his head on a baseball bat in front of five other dudes, for some weird reason. He calls JoJo “a little naggy,” which actually goes over way better than might reasonably be expected because nothing matters. “It’s almost like a talent show for these guys,” he says, slicing through the bullshit like a plastic knife through a room-temperature stick of butter. “Y’all don’t know her yet. You can’t be in love with her. And if you are, that’s weird.” Cue outrage! Among the men, that is. JoJo don’t give a fuck.
But here’s where Chad proved truly revolutionary, earning his spot among the canon of Bachelor disruptors, whose disregard of the franchise’s time-tested, time-failed rules have gradually turned the show in a personal-brand-centric free-for-all. For the entirety of the episode’s final cocktail party and rose ceremony, Chad goes all the way in on the cast and crew’s catered buffet. Now, to my knowledge, Bachelor Nation has never before been given a glimpse of the mansion’s food situation (excluding the no-fucks-given Bachelor in Paradise). Notice all the untouched steaks and desserts on a given one-on-one date? The cast is notoriously barred from eating on camera — it gets in the way of recording audible conversation. But because everyone else in the mansion has the personality of an Olive Garden breadstick, the producers are forced to show us Chad shoveling platters of cold cuts into his face. There is literally turkey falling out of his mouth. You can hear his mouth noises during the rose ceremony. “Y’all should really be eating food,” he shrugs when confronted by Alex, the pocket-size Marine. He offers a heaving plate of roast beef and wings to his castmates like he's the snake in the Garden of Eden. They know the rules, but they timidly accept. This is a lawless land!
Chad and Daniel reconvene in the shadows, by the fruit tray, while JoJo and James Taylor whimsically teepee their own house because spontaneity is important. “It gives me a headache just looking around,” Chad mutters. “It seems like everyone’s taking it more as a sport.” Daniel nods in agreement: “They don’t want to go back to real life.” “Then I’d miss out on this tasty fruit,” Chad muses, spearing a pineapple chunk with a toothpick. There should be no doubt in your mind as to whether he receives a rose; next week, in a two-night Bachelorette spectacular, we are promised a “double dose of Chad.”