It’s an interesting dilemma. Not 24 hours after Hollywood stages its largest scale protest on a toppling patriarchy—expressed through the solidarity of black ball gowns and the rhetoric of a dawning, new day—ABC must air its episodic ode to one, single man.
So how do those stealthy Bachelor producers, intentional or not, navigate brand-new waters, when women across the entertainment industry are now calling “Time’s Up” on the anachronisms of a male-centric world?
If we’re to believe the implicit theme of last night’s episode, it’s by showing us these contestants understand the beauty in roses but also know the power of the thorn.
A not-so-subtle tip of the bedazzled hat: On Arie’s first one-on-one date, he swoops Becca K. to the Los Angeles home of fashion mogul, Rachel Zoe, an icon of self-made success. Champagne flute and chocolate in hand, Becca tries on exclusive Zoe designs, selecting a tea-length, silver look for dinner later that night.
After twirling her way through about six or seven stunning dresses—my notes about this date just say “OMG SPARKLES”—Arie tells Becca to keep every glittery creation on the rack. Then he hands her a pair of bedazzled, red-bottomed Christian Louboutin pumps, a prince delivering glass slippers to his would-be bride. The moment wasn’t lost on this viewer that the shoes were adorned with both sparkles and spikes.
But our column isn’t about Becca—it’s called Seinne Scenes, remember?—and luckily, Seinne received much more airtime than she did in Episode 1. About halfway through the two-hour show, she’s selected among 15 contestants for the first group date where they’re all brought to some race track filled with dirt, given beater cars and tasked with playing demolition derby until a victor is declared.
The next few minutes are standard Bachelor group-date fare. In off-camera asides, the women declare their determination to win, one breaks down in tears, warbling from the pain of childhood “bumper car trauma”—awesomely portrayed in a grainy, murder-mystery style flashback of a child in a bumper car upset because the cars go bump—and then they all kind of smash into each other. Sorry, I’m not an action writer. That’s just how it went.
Skip past the sounds of crushing metal and the groans of half-broken engines to Seinne winning the whole thing, mostly because hers is the last car standing. She’s elated, victorious and as she stands on a pedestal, Arie gives her a trophy and a glass of milk. (The milk is apparently a racing tradition, according to Google. In a real race like the Indy 500, there’s an actual security guard who protects this glass of winner’s milk during the race and I kind of want that job because it might be fun to sit somewhere quiet and watch a glass of milk for a while.)
So, OK. Seinne’s there, on a pedestal like our true queen, trophy raised high in the air. She’s hugging Arie, looking way more put together than she should for someone who just crashed cars for the better part of an hour, and we all love it. He loves, it too. It’s the first time she emerges from the pack as the winner we already knew she was.
For whatever reason, her No. 1 status does not grant her alone time with Arie and instead, she’s back with the other girls from the group date, at some undisclosed garden or something, waiting for her turn to speak with our Bachelor du jour.
Finally, they have their few minutes together, viewers let out a collective sigh of relief. He looks visibly impressed, not only because of her earlier racing prowess but also because she’s impressive. He asks her a vague question about life and she answers with “Yale.” As she should. Arie needs to know Seinne is a smart, educated woman. And if that’s too much for him to handle, well then let’s find her a confident man who can stand it, k?
His shoulders raise when she describes her time spent in New Haven and during a b-roll interview, Arie mumbles, “I barely graduated high school and worked at a Pizza Hut.”
Still, Arie doesn’t cower, he seems even more taken by Seinne after learning about her background, as he should be. But there’s a palpable shift, a visible flip-of-the-script happening in which we discern that Seinne is almost sizing up her suitor instead of the other way around. When time’s up on their brief date, she holds the rose.
What follows in the final hour of the episode is patterned out of the same cloth: Girls standing up for themselves, displaying confidence, finding their voice.
There’s the chick who doesn’t get a rose and leaves without saying goodbye to Arie. (He follows her out of the Bachelor Mansion to console her. “I’m not sad about you,” she tells him. ‘I’m sad about leaving my friends.'”)
Then there’s Bibiana. And while this is not a column called Bibiana Banters, she is undeniably, after Seinne’s racing triumph, the next-most memorable scene-stealer of the night. Search #Bibiana and you’ll find notes of unflagging praise. The support comes after Bibiana confronted Krystal, upset she interrupted Bibiana’s alone time with Arie. Krystal already has a rose, Bibiana has none.
Yes, Bibiana is dramatic in her delivery of this censure but she’s also right. Krystal spoke with Arie, spent an entire day with him and got a rose that meant she was moving on to the next week no matter what.
In the end, Bibiana stays, Seinne gets her due Demolition Derby-winning spotlight—”I’m in the game now,” she says during an interview—and an episode that could have sunk into the hollow depths of pop-culture discord, instead soars with notes of female bad-assery and women unafraid to speak their truth.
— West Oceanfront Magazine (@westoceanfront) January 9, 2018