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The Bachelor's Zach Shallcross Let the Women of Season 27 Suffer Needlessly

The March 27 finale highlighted the painful outcomes of his failed attempts at nobility.
  • Zach Shallcross on The Bachelor finale (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)
    Zach Shallcross on The Bachelor finale (Photo: ABC/Christopher Willard)

    Zach Shallcross had 26 seasons of The Bachelor to consult before taking the lead in Season 27. That’s 26 seasons of worthwhile lessons learned from mistakes made by other contestants and acts of nobility performed by others. Across those 26 seasons, there were plenty of bachelors who left each rejected woman’s dignity intact. Shallcross even received frequent visits and advice from Season 17 bachelor Sean Lowe, arguably one of the most beloved (and successful) bachelors in the franchise’s history. And still, Shallcross managed to follow all the wrong rules, leaving the women he dumped (both in person and via Zoom) to suffer more than they should have for his mistakes.

    The March 27 finale proved that Shallcross will be remembered most for his botched sex ban during fantasy weeks, which loomed large over the three-hour-long live event. Before entering the fantasy suites, he made a rule to take sex off the table for the overnight dates, forcefully telling each woman that was that. But when he inevitably did break his own rule with Gabi Elnicki, he added another one: complete honesty. He wanted to make sure there were no secrets between him and the women — and all of America — about what the two of them did. Shallcross established these rules as ways to protect his relationships and make sure he started off on the best foot possible with his future wife, whoever she may be. But really, he made these rules for himself without considering the consequences felt by the women he was dating.

    At the live finale, Ariel Frenkel was the first to tell Shallcross that to his face. His decision to not have sex in the fantasy suites was presented as an ultimatum, not a conversation — he offered none of the women a fair chance to either agree with his values or explain why sex would be an important part of deciding on a life partner. Frenkel in particular said that had he asked, he would have learned that their values aligned, but instead he took away her agency in the decision and made it for her.

    But his most villainous act was revealed when runner-up Elnicki came to the stage. After showing her breakup with Shallcross in real-time with a live studio audience, a sadistic act on the show’s part on its own, she told him that she had no idea he would be naming her as the woman he had sex with when he decided to be honest with the other women about breaking his own rule. In fact, she said he promised her behind closed doors that the entire night would stay just between them — it wasn’t until the episode aired on March 20 that she knew she was being put at the center of what she called a “sex sells” narrative. And until the very end, Shallcross, after making a weak apology, defended his actions in the name of "honesty."

    There are unwritten rules of The Bachelor that could have saved everyone the heartache, and throughout the final two episodes of Season 27, all the women involved showed that they understood what those rules were. There’s no reason why Shallcross needed to impose a blanket sex ban if he thought he would be tempted — in their own talking head interviews Frenkel, Elnicki, and Shallcross’ eventual fiancée Kaity Biggar all expressed that while it upset them to think about it, they expected him to be intimate with the other women.

    Biggar did take issue, however, with having to hear about the intimate experience on her date. When it got down to the final two, Shallcross was all too willing to spend his final moments before a potential proposal with each woman, Elnicki and Biggar, talking about how deep his feelings were for the other woman as well. These women knew what show they were on, they knew there was another woman in the picture — it’s OK to not want to be a liar, but this form of brutal honesty is not what anyone wants to hear. If Shallcross really wanted to be honest with himself and make things easier on the women, he would have cut things off with Elnicki before making her march through the mud in stilettos to be dumped.

    All of Shallcross’ failures overshadowed what is typically the centerpiece of the finale night: the proposal. By the time Shallcross and Biggar stepped on stage as a couple for the first time in public, the biggest shock was that she stuck with him. Their happy ending needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Even though Shallcross ended up with a fiancée, he left many unnecessarily scorned women behind. Future contestants, take note — while there isn’t a strict rulebook to follow, Shallcross’ season is an example of the wrong way to be the bachelor.

    The Bachelor finale is streaming on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: The Bachelor, ABC, Ariel Frenkel, Gabi Elnicki, Kaity Biggar, Sean Lowe, Zach Shallcross