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Rachel Lindsay, the first African-American lead in the franchise’s history, is here to save us from Nick Viall.

One week removed from the most brutal “Red Wedding”-eque week in recent Bachelor history, Nick Viall continued his bumbling, tortured journey to find love this week—by tearfully sharing with the remaining contestants that he wasn’t sure if he loved any of them, and might just walk away altogether. This was, of course, an absurd premise. Nick is a 36-year-old Internet celebrity who has twice had marriage proposals rejected, yet has somehow convinced multiple women that they would be the luckiest human beings in the world if they were to receive the final rose at the conclusion of this journey. You’re not fooling anyone, Nick. This setup right now is as good as it’s going to get for you.

After miraculously recovering from this definitely-real, not-at-all-manufactured-for-the-cameras moment of crisis, we saw Nick go on three dates this week, eventually sending home neonatal nurse and low-key country music video star Danielle M. and, later, dental hygienist and effortlessly charming Russian accent-haver Kristina. As usual, Nick’s hilarious dating missteps are here to provide you with critical guidance, particularly if you’re diligently preparing right now to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a certain special lady.

If you think you have a super-cool date idea, think really hard first.

Listen, I’m all about Valentine’s Day dates that don’t require sitting in an overcrowded, prix-fixe restaurant and straining to hear what the other person is saying as you both pick halfheartedly at a mediocre tuna tartar appetizer. But whatever fun, creative alternative you dream up is going to have limitations, too. This week, Nick took Vanessa on a snorkeling trip in a picturesque Caribbean island, which was a great idea until he decided to try making out with her mid-dive. This did not go well! Both participants were forced to gingerly tilt their heads upward so that the unmasked portions of their faces could touch, and they insisted on maintaining this contact despite repeatedly submerging below and re-emerging above the water mid-kiss, a process that miraculously resulted in neither one of them breaking out into a seawater-laden coughing fit and/or drowning.

Did it work out? Yes, thankfully. Could Nick have probably figured out a time to kiss Vanessa that didn’t make them look like a pair of Minions performing ungainly underwater mouth-to-mouth resuscitation ? Also yes!

If you can’t figure out the problem, it’s you.

The once-promising Bachelor tenure of Danielle M. came to an abrupt end this week when, after sharing what appeared to be an entirely enjoyable date together, Nick inexplicably began their dinner by clamming all the way up, fumbling through a few lame inquiries about her hometown and showing zero interest in asking follow-up questions or engaging in any kind of back-and-forth. This happens on dates sometimes, but Nick’s assessment of the situation, as captured in a one-on-one interview, was the wrong response:

Whether it’s nerves or chemistry, right now Danielle and I seem to be struggling with having a more natural conversation.

No. Listen, man, it’s not her fault that you kept responding to her with the dinner conversation-equivalent of “I plead the Fifth.” Awkward silences happen, but deciding that a brief lull in your your witty banter is indicative of some kind of deeper relationship problem is a great way to ensure that you end up single more often than not. Relax.

Know when to shut the hell up.

Nick may have the conversational skills of a lampshade, but even in situations where this shouldn’t matter, he still manages to make life more complicated than it needs to be. When Corinne stormed into his hotel room in a fruitless effort to seduce him, here is the verbatim dialogue that ensued:

NICK: What do you have in mind?

CORINNE: Let’s dive into bed. You have to have two hands on at all times. Never jiggle. Lightly massage.

NICK: Yet again you surprise me.

CORINNE: There’s no beating around the bush with me.

NICK: You’re very attractive.

CORINNE: You’re very attractive.

Ugh. Nick’s idea of sexy talk sounds like a romance novel penned by fifth graders who aren’t allowed to see PG-13 movies yet.

Really, the only good part about last night was the dramatic post-show reveal that Rachel Lindsay, the 31-year-old Dallas attorney who is so far out of The Bachelor‘s league that it makes your head spin—seriously, I’d love to know how the producers blackmailed her into appearing on this stupid show—will be the first African-American lead in Bachelor/Bachelorette history next season. Look at how charming!

This franchise has never been great about addressing its embarrassing diversity problem—that nightmarish Kaitlyn-Kupah exchange from two years ago still makes me cringe—but Rachel showed last night that she’s well-equipped to deal with adding this dynamic to the show’s already-emotionally-fraught environment. As Nick danced around the subject, gingerly asking if he is “like other guys” she has introduced to her family before, Rachel recognized his real question and went for it, freely sharing that although she has dated white men before, she’s never brought one home to her parents. After thirty-some seasons, it was jarring to see the show’s treatment of race swing so quickly from “wildly inept” to “frank and honest,” but she seemed perfectly comfortable in that moment. I’m already more excited about Rachel’s Bachelorette season than I am about never having to see Nick again after next month’s season finale. And that’s saying something.

Watch now: The most Bruce Wayne way to break up with someone

February 14, 2017
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