'The Bachelor's MJ Is Leading By Example — But What Example Is That?

- The Bachelor -
'The Bachelor's MJ Is Leading By Example — But What Example Is That?

Don’t you dare call The Bachelor star MJ a bully. On the latest episode of the ABC show, the TV contestant made it clear that she’s no antagonist in the house. In fact, you might not know this, because she’s actually super humble and shy about it, but she “leads by example,” always striving to be a model citizen for those around her.

But just what does that mean exactly? In light of the on-going bullying problem in Bachelor Nation, I decided to take a look back at just what kind of example MJ is setting. We could go through the whole show so far and unpack all of that JV-Varsity squad talk, but, frankly, this single episode was damning enough. Check it out.

Example #1: Refuse to Acknowledge Or Address Any Problems

When Matt opened the rose ceremony’s cocktail party by condemning the toxic culture that has been thriving in the house, MJ took the opportunity to address it on her own. She did so by pulling Anna aside and pretending that there were absolutely no problems of which to speak.

“I have no idea what’s going on right now,” MJ insisted. “Like, I don’t get it. And for him to walk in there and be that concerned tonight was, like, scary. I have not talked to Brittany, but, like, he pulled her. Clearly, there’s something wrong with Matt, and we need to make him feel better right now, because, like, there’s not a toxic environment in the house.”

Example #2: Be Ready to Steal the Spotlight

When the group date rolled around, the majority of the girls were brought to a farm where they had the opportunity to muck out the stables (where is Corinne to complain about poop when you need her?), milk the goats, and collect the eggs. MJ knows that if you want to stand out, you need to step up, so she put herself front and center when it came to every single task.

“This is my fourth group date, and let me tell you, I’m not thrilled,” the contestant revealed in a confessional. “One good things about these group dates is, like, you can decide to either sit in the back, or you can shine through.” When given the opportunity to volunteer to show Matt what a good little farm wife she can be, she seized it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly go well. Frenchie the goat didn’t want to be milked by her. She couldn’t find any eggs in the chicken coop. The chickens in the coop clucked threateningly at her, no matter how sweetly the farmer leading the day offered to help her carry one of the birds around in her basket. So MJ found a different way to stand out instead.

“I’m not afraid that everyone else is here, like, I’m here, and you’re going to notice me,” she said in another confessional. On the date itself, she shouted that she needed help being protected from the animals — and quickly found herself all wrapped up in Matt’s arms. That fact didn’t escape the other women’s notice.

“I mean, it’s not scary. The chickens are not gonna hurt you. It’s just, I do question if it’s authentic,” Jessenia noted. “The whole purpose of these group dates is to really try new things and be bold, be brave,” Katie commented. “MJ’s just not really doing that today. … But it’s also getting her attention, ‘cause Matt’s still supporting her in that, so it’s working.”

Example #3: Always Tattle On Your Pals

The farm shenanigans continued when MJ tried to catch an egg in her hands, it cracked, and she chased after Matt to jokingly wipe the yolk on him. But after he ran away, she stumbled upon him kissing Pieper instead. Seeing your boyfriend kiss another girl is unfortunately just a fact of life on this show, and it’ll always be awkward, but there are ways to play it off, like when Kevin playfully teased Jed on Hannah B.’s season of The Bachelorette.

MJ chose a different strategy. “Pieper’s making out with him over there,” she announced immediately to the rest of the group. “Yikes.”

Example #4: Deny All Bad Behavior

During the evening portion of the date, Matt and MJ were able to have a few minutes just to themselves without everyone else around. The lead tried to use that time to tie up a few loose ends — namely the fact that he suspected MJ had been involved with the bullying he was seeking to root out — but the contestant wasn’t game. As Matt tried to mention the tension, she insisted that everything “really is” cool in the house and that she’d been “shocked” to hear that people felt the environment had turned toxic.

When the Bachelor directly confronted her about the fact that someone had said she was one of the antagonists and that she’d contribute to a culture that made some girls feel like outsiders, she deflected and denied everything instead of taking responsibility. “That hurts because, like, at the end of the day, like, I lead by example,” she said. “If I see something, I’m gonna make peace and harmony. … You can trust me.”

Example #5: Immediately Go On the Attack

Much like when Katie called Victoria out last episode, MJ declined to take the opportunity to reflect on her own actions. Instead, she decided that she, too, must be the real bullying victim. After coming to that conclusion, she revealed in a confessional that she was owed an apology from whoever talked about her to Matt, and she walked back into the other room determined to get one.

“So, ladies, not everyone’s here but there’s something that, you know, I got out of my time with Matt and he said to me and I don’t like it. My character was put in question tonight. I was called an antagonist in the house, which is a really strong accusation,” she said as soon as she sat down. “Anyone here would ever like to talk to me, if we want to get this out of the way, because this does not need to fester, especially when my character’s put in question, because I think I lead by example. So the floor’s open for a conversation.”

When Jessenia copped to the fact that she spilled by beans about all of the JV and Varsity talk, MJ brushed it all off as just another “joke” and went on the offensive. “I think my actions speak for themself,” she said. “I haven’t been involved in anything, and I don’t need to constantly explain to you my relationship with him and why I’m here. … I know that I’m honest. I lead by example.”

Instead of acknowledging the moments in the past where she had attacked other people’s actions or character, she instead focused on how she felt like she was currently the person under attack. “This is some childish bullshit that’s going on,” she continued in a confessional. “I’m just not gonna put up with this kind of behavior.”

Example #6: Always Shut Down Your Opponents

Round two came when Matt invited both MJ and Jessenia to show up early for the rose ceremony cocktail party so they could hash the issue out. Of course, producers also made sure the two of them had enough time before the Bachelor showed up that they could get into it on their own, and MJ was ready to rumble from moment one. “Y’all wanna see me fight? Get your popcorn,” she said in a confessional.

Once again, she refused to consider whether it was her own actions that had put her in this situation, instead pointing the finger of blame at Jessenia and insisting that she and Matt would’ve been golden if the other girl hadn’t gotten involved. “You know what I stand for. I preach harmony, peace. You put my character in question with Matt. You put my relationship in jeopardy based off an accusation that you made about my character. I have never been more hurt in my life. I am furious right now,” she ranted while Jessenia patiently heard her out. “You should be embarrassed, ‘cause we are here because of your actions right now.”

When Jessenia tried to have her say, MJ made faces and kept interrupting. “Jessenia, you’re done. This is just done,” she said. “You continue to tear down other people, and I’m just done.” Jessenia continued to try and get a word in edgewise, but MJ demanded that she “stop talking over her” and insisted once again that all she’s done is “preached harmony.”

When a lull fell in the conversation, MJ waited for Jessenia to start talking so she could interrupt her once again. “No, Jessenia,” she said. “You’ve done enough talking. I need to talk. … My actions speak louder than my words. I lead by example, Jessenia, so just stop talking.”

I’ll say one thing for MJ: She’s right that her actions have definitely spoken louder than her words. For all that she doubles down on that “preaching peace and harmony” and “leading by example” narrative, it’s clear her behavior has something else to say.


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Images: ABC

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