After watching Bachelors and Bachelorettes find love... or not find love... or find it and lose it for 13 seasons, I pretty much know the formula of the show. Night one begins with a bunch of attention-seekers, but also features a couple of real connections. After that, the first few weeks balance getting to know those there for "the right reasons" with in-house drama. Then, once the dramatic contestants are cast aside (usually long before hometowns or other similarly important dates), the star narrows the field down to their One True Love and they live happily ever after (for a few months, at least). This season of The Bachelorette with JoJo followed the same rules, but for some reason it felt so different. I didn't really understand why, until JoJo's ex-suitor Wells Adams perfectly explained why this season of The Bachelorette has been so frustrating to watch... and it's all thanks to Chad.
While we were busy watching him do suitcase pull-ups and eating sweet potatoes, weeks of the show flashed by without the audience getting to know the suitors. I have never felt more disconnected from a top four in my whole life than when JoJo had Luke, Robby, Jordan, and Chase left. WHO IS CHASE, THOUGH. WHO? And, it's something Wells, having been on the show, picked up on too.
"I hate that Chad was a part of our show, and I feel bad," he tells Bustle in an interview. "I don't feel bad for Chad, and I don't feel bad for us guys for having to deal with Chad. I don't even feel bad for JoJo for having to kind of, I don't know, weather that storm." He continues, "I feel bad for the people who watch the show because all the Chad saga did to all the people who watched the show was deprive everyone of the good parts of us and showcased the bad, and I hate that because there were some really, really, really cool guys there."
I'm not even mad that the top two suitors both have the ex-girlfriend drama of a week three-eliminated contestant, or that it's been hella clear since night one that JoJo is definitely picking Jordan and no one else stood a chance. No, I'm mad that the show and, by extension, the viewers focused so much on Chad. The meat-loving contestant will make his grand return Tuesday for the Men Tell All, and previews are already showing that it's gonna be the Chad Show. So far it seems like everyone is still really mad at him and Chad's refusing to apologize. You know, the same stuff we already watched for far too long, including a two-night back-to-back episode Chadvaganza.
And, hey, I'm not even necessarily blaming the producers. They know viewers like drama and boy was Chad full of it. It was entertaining for a little while, until it became clear that Chad was really just gaming us all. As Bustle's Lia Beck pointed out, "Chad is not eating deli meats because he’s comfortable with his true self; Chad is eating deli meats because people who eat deli meats get screen time." And, he ended up stealing the show away from what it should have been focused on: JoJo getting to know the men.
I mean, Chase made it to the top three but we didn't really even know anything about him until Fantasy Suites. And contestants like Christian, Ali, and Grant never really got a chance to shine for the cool guys they are. Do you remember any of them? They made it pretty far but they barely got any screen time. Other men like Alex and Evan will forever be defined by their interactions with Chad rather than their time with JoJo.
Viewers lost out this season because Chad, who knew he was doing it, stole the show away and made it his own. This isn't like when Olivia claimed camera time on Ben Higgins' season or even when Courtney Robertson won her season as the resident villain. Those women were both genuinely there for love. They let their emotions and behavior get away from them at times, but they were there for the process and they cared about the outcome.
Chad trolled us all, and still is. He bought the other contestants' domain names and re-routed them to his Instagram. He made out with Robby's ex-girlfriend. He has been stealing the attention away from the people who deserved it, and we all let him. What a shame that we'll never really get to know Christian, the guy helping raise his younger brothers, or James Taylor as anything other than a goofy musician, or even Alex as more than the-guy-who-fought-with-Chad.
When one contestant gets in the way of us and the suitor giving all the men a chance, that's a problem. After this season, I'm sure there will be another Chad-type in casting calls to come, but it's our job to not play into it... at least for more than a couple of weeks.
Images: Rick Rowell/ABC; Giphy (3)