Like millions of Bachelor fans, I suspend my disbelief every episode. Are we really supposed to accept that legions of 21 and 22-year-olds are so desperate to find a spouse that they've decided a nationally broadcast reality competition is the necessary route? Please. It's a form of entertainment like any other, which is to say it's heavily produced for maximum intrigue. Still, every Monday I shelve my cynicism, pour myself a generous glass of wine, and root for my preferred contestant — in the name of true love, of course.
Matt James's Bachelor season is still in its infancy, but it's already a bona fide dumpster fire of back-stabbing and bodycon dresses. And the bedlam is seemingly all thanks to one particularly deluded contestant: "Queen Victoria" Larson. The 27-year-old businesswoman and likely Trump supporter is a rare breed of Bachelor villain. There's absolutely no gray area when it comes to an adult woman who insists that her peers address her like royalty and wears a black bra that is highly visible with every single outfit she wears. She wants one thing: Attention.
Unfortunately, Larson's involvement in season 25 is more than an end-credits bit. In addition to her ratings-making flamboyance, Larson has sown discord in the mansion. She told James that her roommate, Marylynn, is "toxic" and implied that she'd been bullying her. From what we've seen (and take this with a supersized grain of salt), the only obvious bully is Larson herself. While millions groaned in frustration at home, James articulated some version of "I don't know who to believe."
There seems to be a pattern when it comes to the franchise's assigned agents of chaos. They're all white (not a stretch when the franchise itself is almost all white), outwardly wealthy, and entitled as hell. But the preoccupation with naming a villain has often overshadowed the season's true object of Bachelor Nation's eventual ire. When we look back at past seasons, it's not the contestant who set a world record for the number of times "Can I steal you for a second?" was repeated in an evening who stands out, it's the radar-ducking xenophobe or vocal insurrectionist.
Think of the hours we spent bemoaning Jordan Kimball's screentime on Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette when Blue Lives Matter supporter Garrett Yrigoyen was there all along, liking transphobic, sexist, and racist Instagram posts, and ultimately bagging the final rose from Kufrin.
Or think back to the manufactured drama (#ChampagneGate) that transpired between Kelsey Weier and Hannah Ann Sluss during Peter Weber's season. While the contestants were busy arguing about champagne bottle possession rights, Victoria Fuller and her past (read: modeling "White Lives Matter" merch) was sneaking under the radar.
Just days ago, former Bachelorette contestant James Taylor tweeted about his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Taylor, who appeared on JoJo Fletcher's season, implied that his "conservative producers" on the show had supported his insurrection. Producer and Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss tweeted that Taylor (aka "that jerkoff"), was "officially exiled from #BachelorNation." That's nice, but why was he ever allowed through the mansion's doors in the first place? Naturally, Taylor was not his season's villain — that honor was bestowed upon Chad Johnson, a "Luxury Real Estate Agent" whose net worth at the time reportedly hovered around $800,000.
See, too, Tayshia Adams's quasi-villain Bennett Jordan (let's be real — Clare Crawley was the true villain from day one), a Clark Kent-esque wealth management consultant whose main personality trait proved to be "went to Harvard." Kimball, lest he allow you to forget, was a successful male model. Model and pageant queen appear to be among the most desirable professions for a Bachelor villain — add Weier, Sluss, and villain-turned-Bachelorette Hannah Brown to the list.
If the rich, white, and entitled theory holds up, we can expect that contestant Kit Keenan (daughter of designer Cynthia Rowley) will fill Larson's role after her inevitable elimination.
Still, Larson sets herself apart by being … the worst? It's like she's the bad guy in a kid's show. She's so over the top and unapologetically cruel that it feels (as many have hyphothesized) that she's a figment of the producers' super-villain-spawning imaginations, a "plant," if you will. It's hard to suspend your disbelief when you see a 27-year-old earnestly wearing a tiara.
And if the Trump flag resting on a chair in the back of Larson's since-deleted Instagram post holds any weight, perhaps the producers are finally learning from their decades-long oversight. The most grating villains are those that are unwilling to consider things from a different perspective (remember how Victoria refused to hear Marylynn out?), oppose basic human rights, and chafe against, um, facts. And we have seen just how bad those villains can get. But do we really want to spend two hours a week listening to the same unconscionable bullshit 74 million Americans would gladly give us for free (no television or wifi connection needed)? No rose from me.
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