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Is Clayton the Real Villain of Season 26?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Spoilers!

I have been an avid watcher of The Bachelor franchise for many years now and with a new season kicking off, I can already tell this will be one of the best yet. Clayton Echard was officially announced the bachelor of season 26 in November and was greeted with criticism from many fans. He first appeared on our television screens during Michelle Young’s season and was dragged along until finally being eliminated in week six. His departure was no surprise to fans, as there was no chemistry between the two. It seemed as if Clayton had almost no personality. I watched him for two hours every Monday for six weeks, and all I could tell you about the man was that he played football and liked kids. 

Many fans hoped for a return from goofy and down-to-earth, fan-favorite Rodney or shy and quiet basketball star Joe, but received bland and boring Clayton. This poor decision from the producers was highlighted on the “After the Final Rose” episode of Michelle’s season when Clayton was brought out on live television and was forced to read angry tweets written by fans about himself. Now don’t get me wrong, I was one of the people hating on Clayton, but this segment made me feel bad for the guy. He was somehow able to laugh with the audience and brush off the jokes. This sense of humor we had not yet seen almost made me excited to watch his season. ALMOST, as this was immediately followed by his train-wreck of a promo. At this point, the line, “I was intimate with both of you,” was a staple for this season.

The season began on January 3 and is currently on its fourth episode. If you have not watched it yet I suggest checking it out on Hulu, YouTube TV, or HBO Max before reading the rest because spoilers are on the way! 

Okay, now on to the actual season! Clayton started off strong with three women choosing to leave before the first rose ceremony and honestly, I don’t blame them. After being turned down on his first attempt, he gave the “first impression” rose to Teddy, who quickly became a frontrunner. Clayton ended the night by breaking a bachelor record and sticking his tongue down the throats of five women in one night.

The week two episode may have been one of the most drama-filled I have ever seen. We began with our two bestie villains, Cassidy and Shanae scheming to get time with Clayton. Cassidy was chosen for the first group date, where she refused to help set up a kid’s birthday party and sneaks to the pool with Clayton to make out. She then ruined the child’s birthday cake by dropping it on the ground. She also spends a good amount of time gossiping to special guest star and childhood icon Hillary Duff. Why Clayton did not see the red flags is beyond me, but he ended up giving her the “group date” rose. This was frustrating to not only all the other women in the house but to all of America. Luckily, we did not see much more of Cassidy, as she was sent home before the next rose ceremony because Clayton was informed by another woman in the house that she had a boyfriend back home.   

Speaking of red flags, this was the theme of the next group date, which was quickly ruined by Cassidy-wanna-be Shanae. We saw the beginning of the feud between her and Elizabeth, which continued until week four when Elizabeth was sent home. This shocked fans and created an even greater hatred for Clayton, as he clearly solved nothing since this event just caused more drama between Shanae and the other women in the house. Although Clayton did tweet out an apology to Elizabeth, which I thought was nice since we rarely see people apologize for their actions while on the show. 

Of all the hate Clayton is receiving, I have honestly seen worse men in his position. He already has some great connections with some of the women in the house. For every Cassidy and Shanae we see, we also get a group of women who seem to be there for the right reasons. If you are not a fan of The Bachelor franchise, I highly suggest giving it a try because the season will only get more intense and drama-filled from here.  

Hi, I'm Delaney! I'm a freshman at St. Bonaventure and a Sports Media major. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, playing sports, and reading.
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