In Defense of ‘The Bachelorette’ Terrorist Clare Crawley
Clare has become the most divisive Bachelorette in years—but she’s the perfect mascot for these confused, confusing times.
This post contains spoilers for The Bachelorette Season 16, Episode 4.
You know things are serious when Chris Harrison pulls you aside and says, “We need to talk.”
Clare Crawley has officially left The Bachelorette weeks ahead of the finale—a long-awaited implosion, given her obvious fixation on former pro football player Dale Moss. By Thursday night, the other dudes in her quarantine harem have had enough! And so, Bachelor Nation’s crisply-starched ringleader found himself breaking a lot of bad news to several sad-faced beefcakes.
This week Harrison finally pulled Clare aside for a “no bullshit” talk—and by the end of the episode, Dale proposed, whisking his 12-day fiancée out of that La Quinta like it was completely normal.
“He’s doin’ it!” Clare chirped as Dale got down on one knee. “Oh my God!”
“I’m doin’ it,” her completely unreadable beau replied. “Clare, will you marry me?”
“Oh my God,” Clare gushed again as she ran her hands over her fiancé’s pecs. “Like, look at you, though! I mean, what?!”
Obviously, the other guys were not happy about this—but never fear, Tayshia Adams is finally here! To...make the best of Clare’s sloppy seconds? Honestly, she deserved better. But before we run off into the sunset with Tayshia, I’d like for a moment, if I may, to defend the Bachelorette who “blew up The Bachelorette.”
At first, casting Clare as this year’s Bachelorette seemed like a no-brainer; ever since she stood up to Juan Pablo Galavis during his Bachelor season in 2014, she’s been a stalwart for the franchise, appearing in two seasons of Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Winter Games. But after just a few weeks, Clare has managed to become a major lightning rod among fans, many of whom just can’t understand how a supposedly mature woman could “fall” “in” “love” so quickly, forsaking all other buff himbos. The election-themed memes were inescapable.
Clare and Dale, for the record, both swear that contrary to any cynic’s suspicions, they never spoke before this season—although they did stalk each other on social media. (Clare even swore on her father’s grave.)
But honestly, either way? Good for Clare! In these trying times, when so many of us are struggling to string two sentences together in casual conversation, do we not deserve a patron saint of stilted social interactions? Don’t we yearn for such an inspiringly brazen example of COVID cuffing? (Seriously—the two rushed to the “fantasy suite” in the same amount of time it often takes me to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy!)
And anyway, really, do we not ache for such splendidly stupid drama? Why should Clare waste her time pretending to be interested in Patrick Bateman lookalikes when she can snag herself a bona fide quarantine cuddle buddy right now? As our devil-may-care Bachelorette put it, “It seriously is true. You know when you know. And I know.” You know what? Sold.
And as strange as it is to process these two getting COVIDgaged, I will also say this: Dale and Clare both speak in platitudes reminiscent of something one might have found on Tumblr in 2014 after searching the tag “#empath.” Perhaps that means they’re somehow on the same wavelength? What can I say? I’m very curious to see where this journey takes them!
But as funny as all of this has been, it’s hard to discern what Clare could have done to appease the show’s fans—or her chiseled dudebros, for that matter. The show’s production has done her no favors, cutting the background sound at awkward moments to play up every pause, failed joke, and chilling silence. And when Clare did, as she’d promised Harrison, tell her guys that she was running off into the sunset with Dale, their reactions left a lot to be desired.
Granted, no one is at their most graceful when dumped on national television. But nonetheless, the entitlement jumped out.
“You should apologize to the group,” boy band manager Kenny huffed. “You should apologize for faking it. You should have admitted you were in love with Dale from the first night, ’cause that’s kind of what it looks like.” Another contestant, Blake, complained that he’d gone so far as to buy a book on Alzheimer’s so that he could better understand Clare’s mother’s condition. “Why did I invest so much and not get anything in return?” he lamented.
But the guys’ gripes, shared by many fans, are irreconcilable. Should Clare have waited longer to decide whether or not she’s really in love with Dale—or should she have left earlier to avoid “leading anyone on?” It can’t be both.
Clare was not having it. As she told Kenny, “I’ll apologize if I wasted your time. I’ll apologize if I hurt you. But I’m not gonna apologize for love.”
None of Clare’s big speeches really landed with the gravity she seemed to want this week—largely because the production was not behind her, and therefore the usual musical swells and supportive flourishes were nowhere to be found. After all, Tayshia still has to date all of these guys—so the show can’t make them look like total losers.
So, what can we say? Clare Crawley was an appropriately strange Bachelorette for unbearably strange times. And after a week spent waiting to find out if a certain president is ever going to leave the White House, it was kind of refreshing to watch a rogue Bachelorette flee the La Quinta with an unprecedented quickness. Now let’s see how her successor fares.