I am not a woman of ritual. There’s very little in this world that I do because I’ve always done it, not a birthday tradition or a makeup routine or even a consistent time for breakfast. But this, I do. The Bachelor Scale, my yearly ranking of The Bachelorette‘s cavalcade of mediocre suitors, happens come hell or high water or global pandemic-related scheduling shifts. So, to borrow a phrase from 4000 years ago or 2018,  let’s do the damn thing.

For the most part (meaning until last night’s episode) Katie’s season of The Bachelorette and I have been in a blissful honeymoon period. After the truly painful tumult of the season from whence Katie came, the first few episodes of her “journey” brought with them the kind of peace that feels like love. For the most part (meaning until last night’s episode) I’ve been able to bask in the general likability and refreshing reasonableness of all the characters on my screen. For the first time in a very long time, it felt like the lead had a whole host of genuinely good options and the utter loveliness of some of her early connections was taking centre stage. Call me naive, but I honestly watch The Bachelorette for the love stories, not for the drama, and this season was actually showing me those connections (see below for more on which connections I’m particularly into).

I also trusted Katie and that makes all the difference. She doesn’t feel like a fame seeker or an immature hottie looking to play around (the latter seems to be the go-to casting type lately for the male leads and it never leads anywhere good). Katie is decently insightful, has a strong sense of self, and asks for what she wants. These are excellent, laudable qualities that strike me as obvious things the producers always should have been emphasizing in casting but somehow are being presented as revelatory as they appear in Katie. That’s obviously annoying but, still, Katie has what I’m looking for in a Bachelorette and that’s the foundation of a good season- someone I’m rooting for whom I genuinely believe is likely to pick the right person for her.

Which brings me to this week, the first time I haven’t had a good time watching The Bachelorette this season. The seeds were planted a week ago, and months ago, for this to become a tattle tale season and this week that all came to a head. I hate a tattle tale season and all the puffed chests and alpha male self satisfaction that comes with it. Luckily, Katie’s take-no-prisoners approach means that each dramatic arc only lasts a week. But, from what I’ve seen, the elimination of one “villain” simply leads to the pack searching out new prey. Who’s next? Will season-interrupter Blake be the Viall-style target of ire from easily threatened middle-of-the-pack-ers? Or will Andrew S be voted off the island for the crime of opting out of the mob? There are a couple niceguy frontrunners whom I could see getting under the skin of some of the more overlooked alphas- how annoyed do you think Aaron is that all the guys Katie likes more than him are like half his size?

I was no fan of Karl or Thomas and am glad they’re no longer around to suck up airtime, but I’m really not a fan of the “we took a vote and think you should cut the one we don’t like” precedent these last couple eliminations have set. The Bachelorette should not be played Survivor-style and it irks me that this group of men have taken it upon themselves to make democratic decisions on behalf of the female lead. This is the one show structure that hands 100% of the power to a woman, can we please for the love of god just let her wield it without telling her what to do? I get that Katie asked them to speak up if there was anything concerning happening in the house, but I don’t think it takes too much insight to understand where a comment like that might come from for Katie specifically. In her season of The Bachelor, she was the whistle blower and the girls all ganged up on her for it. Of course she wants to make it clear that the same will not fly on her Bachelorette season. But Katie’s whistle-blowing was not the self-serving faux-heroics we’re seeing here. It had nothing to do with “protecting”  Matt and she never claimed it did. She was trying to help another woman; Katie did not try to get another woman eliminated (even if it would have advanced her a week or two). She wanted Matt to speak up in defence of someone else who was being treated horribly. None of these men are being treated horribly by Thomas. Neither, by the way, is Katie. Maybe she likes a smooth talker who seems like a bit of a playboy; I don’t know why she would, but it’s certainly not Tre’s decision to make for her.

Sure, Thomas seems like a bit of a creep, but he committed no crime that everyone else in the house isn’t guilty of as well. Thomas’ main mistake was admitting to something instead of adhering to the unspoken rule of lying about what you actually want to get out of the experience. In my view, the only way someone is guilty of “wrong reasons” is if they’re genuinely not single (Justin “Rated R” is the only real example here that we know of; don’t come at me with your tired Jed takes) or are actively not interested in this particular Bachelorette (Bennett on Ashley’s season is the icon here though it’s definitely happened and gone unreported hundreds of times); I think neither of those things is true of Thomas. He’s just kind of an icky guy who was too honest about the icky side of the franchise. The other guys also definitely find him threatening and to overlook that is to be very naive about these self-serving heroics.

The case of Karl was different, he was unfairly disparaging the other men and therefore they had every right to defend themselves. Tre’s immature, producer-baited, self righteous, actively disruptive nonsense is distinguishable from Karl’s in only one way- the other guys were on his side. The Bachelor house is governed by mob mentality and if your white lies (and they were very white- did you or did you not tell her you love her?! *insert eye roll here*) and general vibe get you on the wrong side of general opinion, then you might as well pack your bags because you are officially the worst person on the planet and you have absolutely no redeeming qualities and deserve absolutely no empathy or credit for anything (even if you handle said attacks with incredible composure). We’re gonna tell mom, err, Katie on you! And if mom Katie doesn’t appropriately punish you, we’re not gonna say this part out loud but we’ll probably all turn on her or at least make her really worried that we will, thereby leaving her alone and unloved at the end of her season, which is the stated biggest fear of any and all leads at the end of their Bachelor/Bachelorette season. But, sure, yeah, whatever, Thomas seemed like a bit of a jerk.

*deep breath*

I do actually like this group of guys. I know it seems like I don’t because they made me really mad this week, but I really do. This is one of those Bachelor Scales that goes less from love to hate and more from “I would marry you in a heartbeat” to “you’re better than this, Tre”. Once Karl left, I think pretty much this whole cast is well-meaning, decently intelligent men (even if some of them definitely have some growing up to do). And I’m thrilled to see far fewer personal trainers than usual. This cast has multiple men I’d actually be attracted to, meaning they’ve got great smiles and normal sized biceps and seem like they’ve read at least one book this year. It’s a small cast, a surprisingly shy cast, an introspective cast. It’s hard to remember that when their chests are all puffed out, but it’s still true. I’m hoping I’ll be reminded next week. In the meantime, I’m gonna try to focus on what I like about them because I do like them, even when I’m mad at them.

For more man ranking action, check out my Bachelor Scales for JillianAliAshleyEmilyDesAndiKaitlynJojoRachelBeccaHannah, Clare/Tayshia, and Bachelorette Canada‘s Jasmine.

Ok, so, these guys (from best to worst)…

Be still my heart. And I just want the record to show that I was all-in on Michael from the moment he showed up, not just after he shared his story. I have no proof of this because I don’t live-tweet the show anymore, but I definitely said it out loud. Annoyingly, now the whole internet is all-in as well so you really don’t need me to tell you why Michael is the best. I shouldn’t be annoyed by that, I know. I should be happy he’s popular, not just for his sake but because it means that the internet’s got its head on straight about what qualities are actually attractive (down with the aggro alpha male! Long live self-aware sweethearts!) but I’ve got a bad habit of wanting to be the first/only person to see what’s so great about someone. I’m working on it, okay?! Anyway, Michael’s probably gonna win. He feels like a safe harbour for Katie, which is very telling, and their chemistry is off the charts.

Andrew S
This was more of a slow burn for me. I’m wary of a football player so it took me awhile to give Andrew the chance he deserves but last week he really broke through with his connection to Katie and the openness that begot really appeals to me. Andrew S seems to have his priorities really straight and he sees through the bullshit of the show beautifully. He’s only 26 but he’s easily one of the most mature guys there. He’s really tuned into Katie without moving too fast and he’s got a smile for days. Also, that sweater game is a fast pass to my heart.

Another one who snuck up on me, Mike was at the bottom of my list in week one mostly because the hyper-religious thing always throws me but his rise is a perfect illustration of a phenomenon that proves true time and again- he got hotter the more I liked him as a person. At first his face was of zero interest to me, but then he started saying all the right things all the time and proved to be this really open-minded, genuinely kind, self-aware person and, well, now I really like his face. I don’t know what else to tell ya.

Connor B
The exact opposite thing happened here. Throughout the first two episodes, I declared multiple times that Connor was the hottest guy on the season. He just really did it for me with his understated manner, self analysis, and willingness to embrace his nerdy side without making “I’m the quirky nerd guy!” his entire identity (you know who you are). It’s not that those things went away (I expect he’ll shoot back up my list when he finally gets his one on one) but lately I’m just kinda not into him. His kissing is atrocious, his fashion sense is, well, atrocious, and though he wasn’t central in any of the house drama I haven’t liked a single thing he’s had to say about it. He’s still pretty high up because it’s only the last week or so that I’ve been feeling this way but Connor’s starting to get on my nerves and I therefore no longer love his face.

Greg’s face is fine. He’s cute without that being one of his defining qualities, which is exactly the right amount of cute. He’s quiet, which is a nice change of pace, and he’s got great chemistry with Katie. I saw someone online describe him as having “written by a female author” energy, which I absolutely loved. I’m not sure why I’m so hesitant with Greg since he’s so obviously a frontrunner and also just seems generally lovely. I like him, and I really like him as a pace-setter for this particular house of guys. He just doesn’t excite me, maybe?

No idea. He never has any screen time. He’s very cute though.

Andrew M
See “Josh” but Andrew M’s even a little bit cuter, at least when he wears his glasses. His personality does the opposite of pop though and it’s tough to invest in that.

Seems nice, not my style.

Probably the most stylish contestant the show’s ever seen, I’m glad James is around just because I like to check out what he’s wearing each episode. He chirps into the drama a bit too much and I haven’t seen much between him and Katie yet but, man, can he dress (apologies to James for saying the exact same thing about him as everyone else; I’m sure he’s great).

Justin was heavily promoted in the episode one intros where I acquired my opinion that he’s a bit too intense and tries too hard, but he hasn’t said a word since and only appears on camera making funny facial expressions so I guess he’s moved up a bit?

There was a moment when I thought I maybe liked Aaron’s steadiness and his de facto leadership role among the men reminded me of Kevin Wendt’s first appearance on Bachelorette Canada where I said he wasn’t for me but I’d recommend him to any friend. Aaron seems like a good dude and, for a super alpha, I’ve actually been surprised how well he’s managed to keep his cool most of the time. But he’s always (always always always) involved in the house drama and you gotta be wary of the common denominator. I don’t love a crusader, even if he means well and I do think Aaron’s intentions are 100% pure (meaning he’s not driven by just wanting to beat Thomas, a motivation I suspect drives some of the others). I think he’s a natural protector (if he doesn’t have a younger sister, I’ll be shocked) and has a hard time tamping down those instincts even when he should (and, yes, he should; he’s looking to be Katie’s husband not her guardian). Great face, though.

No thank you. I like a Canadian and he’s done nothing wrong, but Brendan’s probably the least articulate guy in the house and he just does nothing for me.

I don’t know, I just think he seems kinda judgy. And that tattoo sleeve, what’s up with that?

The irony of Blake showing up in this particular episode appears to be lost on pretty much everyone but I cannot get past it. Of everyone from the Clare/Tayshia season, Blake is the only person whose stated affection always felt performative to me (I loved a lot of that cast and even the guys I didn’t like at least didn’t feel like they were faking it). He is the one guy who claimed to be head over heels for Clare who then swiftly shifted his feelings over when a new lead was introduced. I also hated that he felt slighted by Clare liking someone else more than him after he so gallantly read a book about Alzheimers (what a prince!). The most generous reading I have for Blake is that he’s a shallow guy who falls easily for any woman who is conventionally attractive (Clare, Tayshia, and Katie have little in common at all beyond all being hot; I refuse to believe you had genuine connections with all three). The less generous reading I have for Blake is that he’s exactly the self promotional asshole everyone was so shocked to suspect Thomas may have been. He didn’t hit in his previous season and isn’t on Paradise– cool, now he’s here for another shot at being popular (and, no, this is not what Nick Viall did; if you think this is what Nick Viall did, call me and I’ll lecture that view right out of you). I’m sure he’ll make final four because talking to Katie pre-season is an insurmountable advantage, but I just want the hypocrisy of his appearance noted on the record, especially in this particular episode.

Tre wasn’t really working for me even before this episode. He’s always so wound up and his hyper energy makes me anxious even when it’s not negative energy. In this episode, it was negative energy which he spun (yes, spun; Thomas doesn’t have a monopoly on manipulation) to make himself feel like the brave crusader. Tre feels like an overgrown kid to me, a forever Mario who thinks it’s his job to save Princess Peach. It’s really not.