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A Review of Clayton’s Season of “The Bachelor”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the season finale of The Bachelor.

Where to begin? This season of The Bachelor has been nothing short of a wild ride. In order to try and accurately score it as a whole, I’m going to break the season down into a few categories; the lead, the women, the drama, and the ending. So, let’s get into it!

Clayton, Clayton, Clayton…

I’m going to start off by saying that I was not thrilled when it was announced that Clayton was picked to be The Bachelor. The choice to announce Clayton as The Bachelor before Michelle’s season even aired was the beginning of the end for him. Bachelor franchise higher-ups tried to defend their decision by claiming that Clayton had this amazing story that would be revealed throughout Michelle’s season. Throughout Michelle’s season, fans were waiting and waiting for Clayton’s great story arc that made him a qualified pick for Bachelor, but it never seemed to come. Clayton didn’t even make it to hometowns! To this day it makes no sense to me why Clayton was chosen for Bachelor, when we have had leads like him time and time again on the show. Case in point: Clayton is basically a carbon copy of the show’s new host, Jesse Palmer, also a past Bachelor. But, moving on to his actions in his own season…

Up until fantasy suite week, I didn’t have a huge issue with Clayton as the lead. Was he boring? Yes. Was I rooting for him? No, not really. I found myself rooting for some of the girls to get far enough to be considered for Bachelorette, but I didn’t find myself cheering on his love story. But, regardless, I don’t think he did anything particularly damning throughout the majority of the season. Yes, he could have handled the Shanae situation better, but Bachelors being a little oblivious is something we’ve seen plenty of times in this franchise. After hometowns, I listened to an interview he did with Chicks in the Office and actually found myself liking Clayton. It seemed like production left a lot of his personality on the cutting room floor, and I was coming around on him. Then the two fantasy suite episodes aired. Any warm feelings that I had for Clayton went out the window. Clayton’s complete lack of empathy shown towards his final 3 women was upsetting to watch. Not only did he say almost the exact same thing to each of the women when telling them he was ‘in love’ with them, but the way he spoke to Susie as she was leaving was hard to watch. His actions only got worse in the pair of finale episodes. His double breakup with Rachel and Gabby was shocking given that a few days prior he was telling each of them individually that he could see a future with them. The fact that he begged Gabby to stay and meet his family after he broke the news about the triple “I love you’s,” only for him to send her home two days later, proves that Clayton was not emotionally mature enough to be cast as the Bachelor. The way he treated Rachel, Susie, and Gabby was unacceptable, and most Bachelor fans can agree that Clayton was a crummy Bachelor overall.

The ladies!

Despite my disappointment with the choice of lead, I was pleasantly surprised by the group of women this season. I found myself with a lot of favorites, and went back and forth on who I wanted to be the Bachelorette. The dynamic between the main group of women seemed very supportive (other than the obvious drama) and there wasn’t an air of toxicity present, like seasons in the past. The group of women towards the end of the season was also very strong. It was easy to root for them and connect with their stories. If I’m going to credit Clayton for anything, it’s picking a great top 5. Teddi, Serene, Susie, Gabby, and Rachel may be the most likable top 5 that I have seen in a while on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Usually, there’s one or two favorites in the top handful of women, but it was extremely hard to see each of these women go home. The women this season was easily able to outshine Clayton. Their personalities kept this season from being a complete waste of our time, but made it harder to watch when Clayton treated them terribly during the last two weeks. But, at least we got 2 fantastic Bachelorettes out of it!

The shrimp of it all

As much as I loved the majority of the women this season, there was one contestant who wreaked havoc for 6 whole weeks of the show. The infamous Shanae (and her shrimp) was unfortunately was the source of most of the drama this season. And while some may see villains like Shanae as a necessary evil of shows like The Bachelor, I have to respectfully disagree. I actually would have preferred Cassidy as the main villain of the season, but she was sent home quickly at the beginning of the season. She was a contestant who just enjoyed stirring the pot, but all in all was harmless- nothing more than annoying. On the other hand, Shanae found a way to take everything too far. Her mocking of Elizabeth’s ADHD was the exact moment I was over Shanae. Her actions constantly put a bad taste in my mouth and I dreaded having to watch hours of her drama every Tuesday. I wish production would have kept Cassidy around a little longer and gotten Shanae eliminated quicker. I also didn’t mind the Sarah drama at the end, I just wished they would have focused on what Teddi and Rachel experienced with Sarah, rather than trying to push the Sarah vs. Mara narrative which just seemed like a weird fight about age. Overall, the drama wasn’t something that improved the season for me. However, if Shanae’s screen time had been significantly reduced, then maybe my answer would be different.

Happily ever after (i guess?)

Bachelor producers and alumni alike made a huge deal of how this seasons’s finale was un-spoilable. As I mentioned earlier, Clayton decided to dump both Gabby and Rachel (at the same time) and chase after Susie because she was the one he loved the most. He then made Susie meet his parents with seemingly no warning when she met with him to talk about the status of the relationship. After that one conversation, Clayton decided to bring an engagement ring to the final rose ceremony with Susie. Also, it is important to note that while Clayton had told Susie (as well as Rachel and Gabby) that he was in love with her, Susie had yet to express anything other than the fact that she was falling in love with him (which is a very important distinction in The Bachelor franchise). At the final rose ceremony, Clayton tells Susie how much he loves her, and how he wants to give their relationship another try, etc. Clayton also shows her the ring to communicate to her how serious he was but doesn’t actually propose. This was probably for the best, because after Clayton’s speech, Susie promptly dumps Clayton. Bachelor fans around the world are thrilled! Clayton is not getting rewarded for his childish behavior over the past several weeks! Or, so we thought. It is revealed that Susie reached out to Clayton, and they are happily dating after taking time apart after the show.

I don’t want to criticize Susie for her decision to reach out to Clayton, because she was on the receiving end of his actions as well as Rachel and Gabby. If she feels confident that he won’t act like that in their future relationship, then so be it. But, watching the two of them celebrate their love on After the Final Rose while Rachel and Gabby’s families sat in the audience was just a little uncomfortable. While I wish them the best, I just don’t understand how Susie can watch that last week back and think yeah, that’s boyfriend material.

Final thoughts

As I’m sure you can deduce, this season wasn’t my favorite. But then again, I didn’t expect it to be. I knew from the beginning that Clayton was going to be a weak lead. Maybe it was his strange resemblance to Colton Underwood or the fact that 3 women self-eliminated before the first rose ceremony. But, regardless, it’s not like I was completely let down this season. Between Clayton, the women, the drama, and the end result, I’m going to give this season a C-. Part of me feels like this may be too high, but the fact that we get Gabby and Rachel as co-Bachelorette’s for the next season bumped my grade up a little bit. When life gives you lemons, I guess.

Make sure to tune in on July 11th to watch Gabby and Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette on ABC!

Riley Hines

U Conn '24

Riley is a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in English with a minor in Communications. She spends her time reading, spending time with friends and family, and cuddling with her dog. You can always find her in the campus Starbucks getting another coffee!