While the just-off-camera sexing of Kaitlyn Bristowe and Nick Viall may not turn out to be a pivotal moment in The Bachelorette’s feminist reckoning, something surprising happened on reality television Monday night. Following an Irish whiskey-fueled night of heavy petting and mic’d panting, Kaitlyn offered a sorry, but not totally sorry, and positioned herself as the slut who will not be shamed—not yet at least.
It wasn’t for lack of opportunity. This episode began where the last left off, with Ian, the self-described “Princeton graduate, former model that defied death and has been around the world a couple of times, deep person,” squeezing sour grapes all over our Bachelorette.
“It’s tough for me because I came here expecting to meet the girl that had her heart broken and was devastated by Chris Soules, not the girl who wanted to get her field plowed by Chris,” he said. “I feel like you’re here to make out with a bunch of dudes on TV.”
Ian may be a dick, but he’s not completely wrong to have expected this trope. Kaitlyn doesn’t have any major baggage like Bachelorettes past (like Emily, who lost the father of her unborn baby in a car crash, or Ashley, who was paralyzed with insecurity that her suitors didn’t really want her) and she seems to be just fine with kissing as many of these fellas as she wants, which means basically all of them.
It was meant to be a shaming, but Kaitlyn was having none of it. The 29-year-old dancer wouldn’t be broken for him or her television audience and refused to apologize for kissing everyone, telling the cameras she knew people would call her “the makeout bandit” but she just didn’t care. “This is marriage and part of that is intimacy,” she said. “If the physical part of the relationship isn’t there for me, that’s a deal breaker.”
Kaitlyn 1, Slut-Shamers 0.
Then the whole gang jetted to Dublin, Ireland, where the bracelet-lover and members-only club member got the one-on-one date. (“Looks like I just got lucky in Dublin,” he said knowingly.) While in the city where St. Valentine’s body is entombed, the pair walked along cobblestone streets, made out in a pub, and retired for dinner in an old church where they pawed at one another as cherubic statues and God looked on. And that might have been the end, had Kaitlyn not pushed forward.
“The chemistry’s there. The emotions are there. Everything I'm looking for is there,” she said in her confessional. “I’m ready to say, ‘Wanna go back to my suite and whatever happens, happens?’” And then she said just that.
More whiskey, more slurping kisses, and Kaitlyn purred “come with me” and led Nick to the bedroom. Then, God bless the ABC sound guys, we are treated to a long shot of a closed door and lots of what can only be classified as sex noises. “I want to know every part of you,” Nick told Kaitlyn as the porno-groove swelled.
This tryst was only the second time in Bachelor history that someone had televised sex outside the agreed upon confines of the Fantasy Suite—that prom night of Bachelor world where sex is expected by contestants, and accepted by primetime network television audiences. Because this is all framed as a fairy-tale journey to find love (one that relies on the total suspension of disbelief its abysmal success record demands), sex is generally frowned upon without a card from Chris Harrison inviting you into the ABC-paid-for hotel room, and an intern-drawn bubble bath or a rose petal-strewn bed in which to seal the deal. When cameras caught Juan Pablo’s coital ocean dip with Clare in Season 18, the Bachelor immediately backpedaled, heaping much of the blame onto his new lover and blaming her for breaking The Bachelor rules. “I should have said no, but maybe I would have hurt you,” he said.
The light of day brought no such shame to Kaitlyn. She didn’t make excuses for why she slept with Nick. Instead, as her new lover walked home in the clothes from their night together, her voice-over was happy and hopeful. It was “nice.” They “deserved” it, whatever that means.
But before Kaitlyn could say monogamy, she remembered that she’s effectively dating 10 other men who might just have a feeling about her night of passion. And her mood shifts. “Has this ever happened before? I do not want this to be an issue,” she said to the producer on her balcony. How, she wondered, would she feel had Chris Soules slept with Britt? “I don’t necessarily feel guilty about the act,” she explained. “It’s more just guilt from caring about other relationships that I have and I’ve never done this before. I’ve never dated this many guys and had to feel this guilt. And I do.”
Sobered by the thought and probably coffee, Kaitlyn also remembered what we all know to be true: Nick loves to sex and tell. After all, it was he, just one Bachelorette season ago, who cornered the woman who didn’t pick him to ask why, then, had she slept with him in the Fantasy Suite? One so eager to shame a woman who had sex with him within the holy walls of the Fantasy Suite will surely blab to the remaining guys about his and Kaitlyn’s impromptu lovemaking.
“I feel like it would ruin everything if he said anything...I will fucking lose it if he says anything,” Kaitlyn said with her head in her hands.
Based on Nick’s shit-eating grin and the code-worded description of his date to the guys back home—it was “intimate” and “personal”—she’s right to think their secret isn’t safe.
The front-runner, Ryan Gosling look-alike Shawn B., is already freaking about the sex that “will ruin it all”—the sex he doesn’t know has actually already happened. As the episode closed, Shawn, who won the first impression rose and to whom Kaitlyn confided that he was “the one,” cornered a producer and slowly unraveled. What happens, he asks, “when we get to the Fantasy Suite and she bangs two other dudes?”
Indeed. What happens when she doesn’t even wait that long?