[Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.]
Early on in this season of The Bachelorette, the guys, in their copious downtime together, put together a little ceremony. To celebrate the departure of Chad, the show’s resident villain and the contestant who was as literal a meathead as you can get (the show’s camera crew managed to get several shots of him, at various times, threateningly chomping on cold cuts), the remaining dudetestants threw him a mock funeral. “Gentlemen,” said Wells (Radio DJ), solemnly, “we are gathered here today to celebrate arguably the worst person anyone has ever met. Tonight, we say farewell to quite literally the [expletive] person who has ever been on either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Chad: farewell, sweet prince. Death to tyrants.”
This was, to be clear, absurd. (The guys would proceed to find one of the Costco-sized tubs of protein powder that Chad had brought with him onto the show, each take a handful of the stuff, and then scatter the powder, mock-ceremonially, to the wind.) But the faux-funeral was a perfect sendoff for a villain whose particular brand of villainy reveled in the ridiculous. The Bachelorette, following the practice of its brother show, tends to reduce its human participants to characters, and often to chyrons. The show lists, as a matter of chyronic course, only four things about each contestant: First name, age, current place of residence, and profession. (The professions of the current season included “Hipster,” “Erectile Dysfunction Specialist,” and “Canadian.”) Chad is, officially, a “Luxury Real Estate Agent,” but it was clear from the beginning what he more meaningfully was to this season of The Bachelorette, as it engaged in its ad-absurdum reductions: the show’s villain. But Chad wasn’t just any villain: He was a uniquely ridiculous villain. He turned that classic trope of reality TV—the stuff of Omarosa and “Nasty Nick” and Angelina—inside-out, highlighting the absurdity of its demands. Chad was a reality TV villain who used his villainy to mock reality TV itself. He was performance art, with protein powder.