This week’s episodes of The Bachelorette were particularly tough for fans of the reality dating franchise who had to watch Tayshia Adams cut what may have been the best overall pool of contestants in the show’s history down to four men. Fan favorite Ben Smith didn’t survive the last rose ceremony, and his departure brought weeping and gnashing of teeth to everyone who watched it go down. Well, almost everyone — Rachel Lindsay was more than ready to see Ben go, and she hopes his exit is final.
On the December 15 episode of The Bachelorette, Tayshia and her four boyfriends experienced a very strange version of the hometown dates at the La Quinta resort, with the show flying in the men’s respective families for some personal time. The dates were eventful, bringing almost all of the men that much closer to a sparkly Neil Diamond engagement ring. But for Ben, the quality time only strained what may have been one of the stronger relationships in the final four.
By the hometown dates, contestants usually know where they stand with the lead and are able to articulate those feelings, but Ben had a hard time sharing his heart with Tayshia. He didn’t know that he was in love with the Bachelorette until his sister made it plain to him, and even after a great date, something prevented him from saying the magic words. His struggle, though apparent to everyone watching from home — trauma can make opening up really hard — came off more like weird blasé energy to Tayshia, resulting in his swift elimination from the game.
If you ask Rachel, Tayshia made the right choice by giving Ben the boot. According to the former Bachelorette, the veteran was nowhere near ready to be anyone’s husband and didn’t have his heart in it — just like someone else she knows.
“[Ben] does just enough to stay by,” Rachel explained on a recent episode of the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast. “He reminds me of Peter Kraus. He reminds me of him in the way that he gives you just enough. But if you really break down what he’s saying, it doesn’t match up. So, it’s like, I don’t believe you. Like, I’m into you. I like you. I feel it, but there’s something that I can’t explain that’s not adding up here."
How exactly does Peter fit into this situation? Well, in what I personally consider to be one of the most devastating TV breakups I've ever experienced, he and Rachel ended their relationship during a Fantasy Suite date gone wrong after arguing about whether or not a proposal was in their near future. Rachel was ready to walk away from the show as someone’s fiancée, but Peter naturally had his reservations; he wanted to wait until they were out on the real world to see how they would work out before popping the question. They decided to end their relationship, and Rachel ultimately got engaged to rival contestant Bryan Abasolo, who she married in 2019.
It made sense at the time for Peter to become the Bachelor, but Rachel was strongly against it for the same reason that she would be pissed if Ben was given a shot to lead his own season: she doesn't think either contestant deserves it.
“Ben 1,000 percent wants to be the Bachelor,” Rachel explained on the podcast. “I beg producers, please don’t do it. We’ve been here before with the person who is so desperate to be the lead. It never works out. When they want it so badly, when they’ve been planning for it, calculating, made certain moves to get to that point and then you give it to them, it always messes up."
"There are so many great men from the Clare [Crawley]/Tayshia season," she added. "Don’t pick him. I don’t want to see it.”
Rachel’s obviously a trusted figure within the Bachelor universe, and people really care about what she thinks, but I don’t feel like she should have the final say when it comes to picking leads (especially if her thought process is biased). Yes, Ben made a mistake in not telling Tayshia how he felt about her, and it’s a mistake that he’ll be living with for a very long time. But identifying his misstep or lack of initiative as being “calculating” or “desperate” for a chance to be the Bachelor...that feels like a reach to me. Plus, no one can tell me that Peter didn't love that woman — y'all saw how he wept into his cashmere sweater!
Either way, it's a bit too early for anyone else to be throwing their hat in the ring to be the next Bachelor because we still have Matt James' season to look forward to. And given the seemingly random way that the leads have been chosen as of late, it might be better to simply let fate do its thing without trying to swing the vote in any direction. It's up to the universe (read: Bachelor executives) to make the final call.