The Bachelor universe is rife with bad break-ups. In 2018, Arie Luyendyk Jr. ambushed Becca Kufrin with a camera crew to end things after he gave her his final rose. Two years prior, Ben Higgins told JoJo Fletcher that he loved her, typically a sentiment reserved for just the recipient of the final rose, only to break things off the next day. And there have been too many dramatic outbursts and tears shed on the beaches of Bachelor in Paradise to count. But the rose ceremony that ended Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor will go down in history as one of the worst break-ups of all time.
Bachelor Zach Shallcross and the 11 women he’s still dating start the episode off in London. These international destination dates are typically a highlight for everyone involved, and things begin in the usual grandiose manner. Gabi Elnicki is the lucky woman to score the first one-on-one date, a royal-themed outing complete with a butler, a princess-style ball gown, and an attempt at a waltz.
But when the next group date rolls around, Shallcross has to excuse himself for being under the weather. By the time the next one-on-one is supposed to happen, it’s revealed that he tested positive for COVID. In lieu of the typical cocktail hour, all the women instead step orderly into a room one-by-one to have some “quality time” with the bachelor over Zoom. When it comes time for the rose ceremony, a giant screen with Shalcross’ face on it is rolled out. As he calls out names, the women struggle to hear whether or not they’ve been called, awkwardly grabbing their own roses and staring up into his increasingly dead eyes. The final two women are left to wave goodbye to their shared ex-boyfriend with the same energy of an employee signing off a staff meeting with their boss.
In and of itself, a virtual break-up is a less than ideal way to end a relationship, but when it happens on The Bachelor, it only highlights some of the biggest problems with the show. At the final rose ceremony, many of the women hadn’t seen Shallcross in person in over a week. Already their limited interactions make it seem impossible for any sort of meaningful relationship to form, and when that interaction is reduced to a video chat it makes it seem even more ridiculous that in just one month Shallcross is expected to propose to one of these women.
The episode also shows how enjoyable it can be to watch the women have a great time without their suitor. While there are always some clear bonds formed between the contestants, the edit the audience sees focuses on the conflict as producers push for the next “most dramatic episode of The Bachelor ever.” But when the group date, a tour around London, continues without Shallcross, the women get to experience being in this new place together, throwing back pints at the pub and enjoying each other’s company without the pressure of competing for a man’s attention.
It appears that Shallcross gets over COVID just in time for next week’s dates and the show will carry on as usual. And while that means there are many more opportunities for cringey break-ups to come, at least no more women (fingers crossed) will get dumped over Zoom.
The Bachelor airs on ABC on Mondays at 8:00 PM ET. 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, Zach Shallcross