Every year on “The Bachelorette,” the “Men Tell All” episode — the one that airs the week before the finale — is always the wackiest. All of the eliminated contestants gather in front of a studio audience to hash out the drama that happened during the season, and the “Bachelorette” is forced to show up and answer questions. There are always fights and sometimes tears. It’s tradition.
This year, there was all of that, plus lots of the usual ingredients that make “Men Tell All” a special brand of reality TV. Host Chris Harrison barely contained his delight as several men had to re-watch footage of “Bachelorette” Andi breaking up with them; a random audience member made things awkward as she confessed she had a crush on one of the contestants; and Harrison read some scandalous results of lie detector tests from earlier in the season.
But things took a couple odd turns — on, honestly, what is already a really unsettling season – when producers featured a former “Bachelorette” couple undergo a live ultrasound to find out the sex of their unborn child. Then, there was a rather heated fight about alleged racist comments by a contestant earlier in the season.
First, the ultrasound: Team Bachelor likes to parade out its successful couples (four out of 28 seasons so far) to prove that the show really can help find love. So Ashley and J.P. dutifully appeared to be adorable and chat about their baby and upcoming move to Miami. Then a surprise: Greg the Ultrasound Technician — not a regular character on the show — showed up to help the couple find out if Ashley was expecting a boy or a girl.
“Let’s do this!” Harrison cheered, explaining that this medical procedure was a first for the “Bachelorette” franchise. “We’re going to find out the sex of this baby.”
Dramatic music played. Ashley and J.P. stared at the screen. Harrison cracked bad jokes. Greg the Ultrasound Technician took his sweet time. The studio audience waited in breathless anticipation. (The viewing audience, not so much, if you follow Ashley on Twitter; she revealed the news weeks ago.)
To everyone else, it was very tense — we half expected Harrison to pull a Ryan Seacrest and promise the results after the break. But no, Greg finally told them the good news: It’s a boy!
J.P.’s eyes welled up with tears at the thought of his son, and millions of viewers felt wildly uncomfortable as they intruded on a very private family moment.
Later, things got serious. “I want to go to the most sensitive issue of the entire season,” Harrison said sternly. That would be back in Episode 5: One contestant, J.J., claimed that another, Andrew, allegedly made a racist comment after Andi gave roses during the first rose ceremony to Ron and Marquel, the two black men on the show. Andrew adamantly denied from the beginning that he ever made such a statement.
Harrison wanted to make sure to get everything out in the open. Marquel said he was caught off guard when J.J. told him what Andrew said, and it has yet to be resolved. Andrew jumped in to defend himself, but immediately got off to a bad start when he accidentally referred to Marquel as “Ron” as soon as he started talking. Cue the camera panning to a shocked audience member, mouth wide open.
Andrew started trying to defend himself, saying J.J. had an “agenda,” until Harrison cut in to get back to the matter at hand. “We do have it on camera,” Harrison said.
“Have what?” Andrew asked, looking startled.
“The moment in question,” Harrison said. “I’ll show you what we have.”
“I’m not worried about it,” Andrew replied, still looking confused.
Producers showed archive footage in question: After Andi gave Ron the rose in the premiere, you could see that Andrew briefly leaned over and whispered something to J.J. Only no one could hear what he actually said, so it was completely pointless.
“That leaves a lot open to interpretation,” Andrew pointed out, the understatement of the night.
“I’ll be honest,” Harrison admitted. “We don’t have the audio.” Some other contestants jumped in to confirm that there was muttering at that moment — they have no idea what he said, but there were definitely noises that sounded like Andrew saying words.
Okay then. Harrison demands Andrew explain what he really said.
“I believe I said something to the effect of, ‘It’s been a long night,’ and ‘When is this going to be over with?’” Andrew recalled.
“That was not what was said,” snapped J.J., the one who told Marquel about Andrew’s alleged words in the first place.
The two started bickering and Harrison turned to J.J.: “This is an incredibly sensitive and controversial claim to make against somebody — so just to be clear, do you still stand behind it?”
J.J. confirmed he 100 percent stood behind it. He and Andrew started fighting yet again as Andrew claimed the allegations have already hurt his personal life. All the men started arguing about who said what and when, and finally Harrison brought it back to Marquel.
“Do I have proof that you said it? Absolutely not,” Marquel said to Andrew. “I’m not attacking you, Andrew…but at the same time, I will never forgive the ignorance that is racism.”
“I’m on board with you,” Andrew agreed with the sentiment, as the audience also applauded.
Marquel went on for awhile about Andrew just seemed being worried about potentially losing his job over the matter, and never acknowledged that Marquel felt offended by the whole incident, no matter what happened.
Ron chimed in and called Andrew ignorant, while Andrew again denied saying anything offensive — Harrison decided to solve the matter by asking Marquel to speculate on what he think really happened.
Marquel went on for awhile, but essentially boiled down to: He believes his friend J.J. was telling the truth about what Andrew said.
Realizing this wasn’t going to end until he said he was sorry, Andrew apologized. Again, he said, he could understand why Marquel was offended, and reminds him again that these allegations are affecting his life — and hopes he and Marquel can be friends after all of this.
And that, in a nutshell, is how serious problems are solved on “The Bachelorette.” This is pretty much how Twitter reacted:
Ultrasounds, racism, speed dates, and lie detector test results… Am I watching #TheBachelorette or Maury?
— Valerie Train (@VTrain612) July 22, 2014