By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Mar 15, 2023 at 5:56 PM

The drama going into Tuesday night's Women Tell All was ... is there going to BE any drama, period? The whole point of the reunion special is to reignite some petty shouting matches and villainy – but Zach's season specifically and purposefully had none of that. So, unless the producers brought out that magician from Budapest for everyone to yell at and howl "DON'T ACT ALL INNOCENT! YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID," what were we going to do for two hours? 

Well, one thing the Women Tell All did was politely forget about this season and preemptively look ahead to the next one, breaking the news about the new "Bachelorette." If there's not enough villainy and shenanigans this round, welp, hope (and drama) springs eternal! But thankfully, as the producers know all too well, drama is undefeated – so even though this season put in a concerted effort to avoid toxicity and fights, we still got a Women Tell All with moments of cast members howling over one another to a degree that my mute button put in its two weeks notice. Not many, but enough to make the Women Tell All a little feistier – and a little more entertaining – than expected while also maintaining the pleasant, well-meaning vibes that've made this season so blandly enjoyable. 

Things didn't exactly get off to a promising start, however. After welcoming everybody to the studio – featuring nowhere near enough fake "handmade" fan signs in the crowd – Palmer doesn't pivot immediately to the women telling. Instead he introduces one of those "we went to some over-the-top watch parties" segments, otherwise known as filler. "Oh no, you don't have enough drama, do you," I muttered to myself, in between "highlights" of Zach getting mauled by an entire sorority and a little dog shivering in fear of a piñata. What, they don't want to drop by MY watch party – aka, me watching alone on a couch, drinking too many Coors, heckling the show and my own poor life decisions? But yeah, other than setting the television record for the most studio cutaway shots of two friends sharing a glance with one another, we were off to a rough start.


Thankfully, after that nice self-promotion, we re-meet the women – or, in the case of contestants like Olivia and Victoria, meet them for essentially the first time. Every Women Tell All has an anonymous contestant who got booted on night one but shows up to the reunion with THOUGHTS, interjecting as much as possible and getting more screentime than during the actual damn show. Olivia was happy to take that mantle on Tuesday night, hopping in immediately to defend Christina Mandrell as the kind of person who says what everyone else is too afraid to say out loud. (Oh, so a jerk?) Then, when the rest of the contestants explain why Christina was a problem and why Olivia wouldn't know because GIRL YOU WERE BARELY THERE, she sasses that's fine because Zach actually got to know their personalities – and rejected them, so what's that say about YOU, HUH!? Interesting approach: "Oh, all friends actually hate me? Joke's on you because I DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS!"

Throughout this all, everyone's talking about Christina Mandrell as though she's not there – which she very much is! She's (perhaps smartly) staying quiet and letting everyone else talk for her. Either that or she decided her boldly fake tanned hands were already loud enough.

Boy, that's quite the statement – and that statement is "I've just strangled the orange M&M."

Anyways, when Christina Hand, pardon me, Mandrell does finally decide to speak up, she explains that she's not used to people telling her that she's annoying and making them uncomfortable, and so oops? Maybe she should've stuck with the silence – but she does get everyone on her side by agreeing that she could've "shut the f*ck up a little bit more" and that she appreciates the criticism so she can improve. Fair enough! A strikingly mature response, by the end!

Unfortunately, things did not get more mature from there as we move onto the Anastasia drama, aka Dramastasia, aka that nonsense I'd totally forgotten because it was a big ol' basket of ridiculousness. For those who've also already pushed this out of mind, Anastasia got into it with Kylee when the former stole Zach away on the beach group date, only for Kylee to try and steal him back. When Anastasia didn't comply, Kylee said she didn't want to fight about it – which Anastasia somehow took as a LITERAL VIOLENT THREAT and gossiped about it to everyone. No one bought it, though, and when Kylee brought Anastasia's previous comments about getting Instagram clout to Zach's attention, that was the end of Dramastasia. 

OR WAS IT!? Because Cat – who'd spent most of the night thus far silent but giving the cutaway reaction shot cam a workout – decides to speak up and A LOT, accusing Anastasia of not only chasing clout but also having a boyfriend who was watching her dog while she was on the show. AND SHE HAS RECEIPTS! Receipts she doesn't bother ever showing during the program ... BUT RECEIPTS! Even without the actual receipts, Cat's not alone, though, as other women chime in saying that Anastasia came on the show for a business opportunity, not for Zach. Things are testy with these allegations, but Genevie – who'd already played peace officer during the Christina debate on Tuesday – takes up the job one more time, explaining clearly and calmly to Anastasia why Kylee and other women may have taken offense to labelling her as "aggressive" or "violent." Everyone noddlingly understands as Genevie extinguishes yet another fire and as the "Bachelor" producers agree to never cast such a rational drama-killer ever again. 

Palmer then brings up the Kat-nundrum, when Kat stole Zach away right before Charity's date and stole her moment – but those two are actually fine and talked things out already. And while Kat's still not about Brooklyn and how she stepped into the kerfuffle and dragged it out for days, they're able to move forward as well (at least until they're both inevitably on the "Paradise" beach). 

And that's it for the drama litigation portion of the night! No really – there's no other in-fights for Palmer to pester about. Welp, that just leaves ... 90 more minutes then, I guess?

Instead of decibel-decimating scream matches, the show pivots into the teary heartbreaks of which Zach has left behind many – starting with Jess, who JUST WANTED A DAMN ONE-ON-ONE DATE! In a whole season of attempting to do right, that was one of Zach's more wrong moments, as the two clearly didn't understand the feelings the other was trying to convey. She's moved on, though, telling the audience that she's proud that she didn't beg and to "never let anyone dull your sparkle." A bunch of inspiration boards just got their new mantra!

We move on to Greer to talk about her not-so-grand Budapest hotel stay – but mainly to talk about her bad tweets. Indeed, as has become "Bachelor" tradition, Greer is the cast member who got some bad tweets through the show's sieve-like vetting system – ones that defended a classmate in blackface. The ensuing conversation is ... an actual reckoning of sorts? Greer goes beyond her initial apology post, noting that blackface is racist and that defending it was racist as well, while Jesse Palmer straight-up says that the "Bachelor" franchise has done a crappy job of handling these kinds of controversies and conversations in the past. (Somewhere, Chris Harrison just rage-quit this episode.) The segment ends with Dr. Kira Banks discussing that racism can't be defeated by being coy and nice, that people have to call it out and call it what it is. Huh, what an strikingly serious and thoughtful conversation! Probably the best one this show's had on the topic – though, in fairness, that bar is set so low it's somewhere near the earth's core. 

The Women Tell All gets to its final two hot-seat contestant conversations: Kat and Charity. Despite getting her heart broken – and hearing Palmer say that he thought she was going to be the one at the end of the show, which THOSE WORDS DON'T MAKE ANYONE FEEL BETTER ABOUT ANYTHING, MY GUY! – Kat says that she's actually happy and doing well, because in the process, she's become much closer with her family and particularly her mother. So that's nice! Charity's doing well, too. She's learned good lessons from her time on the show – to which Palmer responds, "You must feel SO READY to meet your person!" He's right! Thanks to this experience, she's EVEN MORE EAGER AND READY TO HER PERSON THAN EVER BEFORE! Hmmm, I wonder who might be the new "Bachelorette!" HMMMMMM!

Before I sprain my brain on that difficult question, we arrive at the bloopers – which, as I always argue, should just be included in the regular episodes. It's reality television: LEAVE THE REALITY IN! Plus, in a season so desperate for seasoning, these clips could've really helped. Maybe I would've remembered Mercedes more if I'd seen her try to teach Kaity and company how to twerk – complete with Kaity asking if she'd ever farted while twerking! And maybe a boring episode would've been redeemed by watching the women slap one another with tortillas because ... I don't know, the mansion must get pretty boring. Either that or it's a TikTok thing. I assume all stupid and bad ideas are TikTok inventions. 

After that vigorous round of tortilla slaps, the Women Tell All brings out Zach to face the music – which I'd say ends up anticlimactic, but it's always anticlimactic. The stars always apologize and explains themselves rationally, and the brokenhearted party always nods their head and accepts any apology. This year is unsurprisingly no different, especially considering the pains Zach put into trying to do things The Right Way. Even Jess, the most testy of all the breakups, agrees that their split was simply two frustrated people incapable of getting their actual feelings across in the moment, nothing personal. And certainly not the sparkles' fault. SPARKLES: INNOCENT! For all the "ooooh hot seat!" lead-up, the most memorable part is a sweet moment: Zach giving Kylee and Mercedes their proper goodbyes since he broke up with them via Zoom call thanks to COVID.

In fact, Zach's most embarrassing and apology-worthy moment comes after the confrontation portion of the show and during its second round of bloopers. In between sweating out his body weight, having to use a production assistant's arm as a mop at one point, Zach also apparently didn't know what mulled wine was. No, his eyes bug out of his damn skull as the producers break the news that it's mulled wine, not MOLD wine ... whatever THAT might be. I've been on his side for most of the season, but ... have we considered that Zach may not be very smart? Somehow this feels like the mustard pancakes' fault. 

These culinary conniptions, however, are NOTHING compared to what's coming for him during fantasy suites, aka Sex Week. Despite his efforts, it sure looks like this dude's about to Clayton this ish up – though he also spent most of the Women Tell All special looking pretty chipper and spirited, so I'm betting he still gets a happy ending out of this season.

Speaking of happy endings, one of the eliminated women is supposed to get one of those tonight as well, with Palmer saying earlier in the night that he's going to change a woman's life FOREVER during the episode. But cut to 8:55 p.m. CST, and Palmer and Zach are waving goodbye and wandering off the studio stage to call things a night. HEY PALMER! GET BACK HERE! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO DO SOMETHING HYPERBOLIC!

Indeed, Palmer heads backstage to fill the audience in on his secret plan: He's going to surprise one of the women with the reveal that they're going to be their next star – and after scampering around the set, he knocks on a mystery woman's door and comes in to greet ... CHARITY! Who could've guessed!? But is she feeling eager and ready to finally meet her person!? All jokes aside, it's actually quite a charming reveal, with Palmer telling Charity they're doing a "this-or-that" style quiz for social media, slipping in the question: "Paradise or Bachelorette?" She picks the latter, and Palmer lingers on that response until she realizes what's ACTUALLY happening and has a little party. IT'S NICE – and hopefully her season is nice as well because she seems like a good and compelling person, and it's nice to see the franchise continue to commit to diverse leads, as opposed to its previous ... pretty much entire prior existence. 

But before we get to Charity's season, we've got to wrap up Zach's – and that means it's Sex Week time. Or more like Trainwrecks Week, it would seem ... 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.