Brace yourselves, rose lovers. This week's episode of The Bachelorette is not for the faint of heart and will take you through the ringer.
If 2020 gave us anything, it was definitely a star-studded cast for season 16. Let’s just be blunt: this is the best group of guys that has ever blessed Bachelor Nation. They’re funny; they’re romantic; they’re bold; they’re confident; they’re mature; they’re unproblematic. What more could we want?
Although Clare Crawley left prematurely, it’s refreshing to see the contestants finally opening themselves to Tayshia Adams. Crawley not only left a bad taste in our mouths, but also completely overlooked every single contestant and never allowed their personalities to be shown during her few weeks leading the show.
With Adams in the driver’s seat and eager to know the deepest parts of every single man, we can finally admire the cast and all the amazing personalities involved and commend their ability to vocalize their past struggles. In only two weeks, the Bachelor franchise is making history once again — finally having its first honest conversations about addiction, recovery, race and eating disorders.
Adams is obviously attracted to vulnerability, and thankfully, the guys are not only stepping up, but opening up as well. Here’s a highlight reel of the most important and raw moments during episode eight of The Bachelorette:
Zac opens up about his past with addiction
Out of all the contestants remaining, Zac has certainly had the least amount of screen time. It was shocking he received the first one-on-one, but it included a moment that established the tone for the rest of the episode.
“I want her to understand who I really am,” he tells the camera. “I’m trusting Tayshia that she’s going to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to take a risk.”
The two spend the day with style icon Franco Lacosta doing a beautiful, fantasy wedding photoshoot. Adams went through an unsuccessful marriage in the past, so it was easy to see why she was so on edge during the shoot. Thankfully, Zac encourages her with laughter and jokes — doing everything in his power to make her comfortable.
Before we know it, the couple reemerges for the dinner portion of the date, when everything gets real and raw. Zac begins to detail his past with “amazing family,” only to discover one day in college that he had a brain tumor. After being introduced to pain meds following his surgery, his struggle with drug and eventual alcohol addiction began a downward spiral.
“I was hanging out with some sketchy people,” he admitted. “I got arrested, got a DUI and my wife left me ... I was hopeless.”
After spending four-and-a-half months in rehab, Zac is sober and serving on the board of his rehab facility. My only snub is to The Bachelorette producers, who placed a glass full of wine in front of him at dinner. Read the room!
The highlights of the date were certainly Adam’s accepting reaction and the makeouts on their own personal Ferris Wheel thereafter.
Ben shares some naked truths
During the “express yourself” group date, the contestants are challenged with a self-portrait for the final exercise. When it’s Ben’s turn, he decides to ditch the portrait and strip down entirely in front of everyone.
“I talk a big game, but it’s hard for me to express my emotions,” he says. “So figuratively and literally, I’m going to let my guard down. This is me showing up for you.”
Admirable? Yes. However, it seemed awkward after Blake opened up about his rough childhood and Riley talks about his estrangement from his mother.
Everything began to make sense later in the evening, when Ben finally gets deep about his past struggles. He reveals the real reason why he is so involved with fitness and nutrition now is because of an eating disorder he had for 15 years.
“I stopped eating, started working out all the time and had bulimia for 10 years when I was in my 20s,” he tells Adams. Ben says the only person that knew was his sister, whom he credits for saving his life.
His naked gesture during the date gained a lot more importance after his raw moment with Tayshia — symbolizing his recovery and acceptance of himself after struggling with body image for so many years.
Rightfully so, he gets the group date rose from Tayshia.
Here’s how fans reacted on Twitter:
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or an eating disorder to a point help is needed, contact any of the below resources.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-4357
National Eating Disorders Association: 1-800-931-2237
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255