On last night’s episode of The Bachelor, the other contestants confronted this season’s villain, Corinne — a cheese-pasta-loving 13-year-old trapped in a 24-year-old’s body — for napping through the rose ceremony. “I do have a question,” declares Sarah, eyes flashing like daggers from behind a hedgerow of eyelashes. “Do you think you’re really ready to marry a 36-year-old man? I don’t see you meeting his maturity level. I’ve tried to tell you, ‘We’re going to stay up this rose ceremony, we’re not going to go to sleep, we’re going to be up.’ And I would love to hear from if you if you think you are.”
In response to this tongue-lashing, Corinne responds basically the same way I would: Why is my nap schedule any of your business?
“I know that you were really upset about me falling asleep that day for some reason,” she says, dryly. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone by taking that nap. I’m sorry for sleeping, guys.” We cut to Corinne alone with the camera, donning an expression of mock outrage. “Oh my god. Sorry guys. I napped. Michael Jordan took naps, Abraham Lincoln took naps, and I’m in trouble for napping.”
While Abraham Lincoln feels like a stretch, and I sincerely doubt that Corinne can dunk, I have to say, I’m Team Corinne on this one. Not just because Arianna Huffington tells me that sleep is important, but because I think her naps tell a bigger story than meets the eye.
For a comparative analysis, let’s refer back to last season’s villain, Chad. As you may recall, Chad’s shtick was that he ate, a lot. Plates of cold cuts, entire sweet potatoes, whatever he could get his massive, lard-covered hands on. But as Kathryn VanArendonk wrote on Vulture last year, Chad’s constant eating wasn’t simply a villainous flourish. Rather, it worked — intentionally or not — to dismantle the show’s carefully constructed veneer of artifice. Despite the show’s grueling shooting schedules, contestants are almost never shown eating or satisfying their basic human needs, which helps the show maintain its fairy-tale quality and trick us into believing that people can actually find love in such a manufactured environment. “Bodies as they actually exist in the world are not the territory of The Bachelor,” VanArendonk writes. By nourishing himself — consistently, ravenously, often messily — on camera, Chad was displaying a level of authenticity that the show usually strives to hide.
Corinne’s naps serve a similar function. As former contestant Brad Seberhagen once explained, the franchise has a grueling shooting schedule, with cocktail parties often taking a whole night to shoot. “Some people go mad, and give up trying to hold it together and just start drinking,” Seberhagen recalled. “By week three, people started getting in each other’s faces. The cocktail parties started at sunset and ended at sunrise … it was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting.” Napping is Corinne’s form of truth-telling, a signal to the audience that she’s a real person who’s being forced to run a much more grueling set of obstacles than the one we’re seeing play out onscreen.
With each episode, I remain less convinced that Corinne is the villain the show paints her to be. Her biggest crime seems to be a refusal to accept the show’s capricious yet unspoken set of ground rules — to pretend that the world of The Bachelor makes sense to begin with. The other contestants’ problem isn’t really with Corinne’s naps, it’s with Corinne’s perceived lack of investment in the process, which is what leads them to charge her with the ultimate crime: being there for the wrong reasons. But actually, a lot of what Corinne says is perfectly reasonable. She won’t pretend to enjoy their date shoveling poop and milking cows, because, no shit, that’s a terrible date. (As she puts it: “It’s like, everywhere I turn, poop, poop, poop. Thank God I didn’t wear designer today … This is probably the worst date I have ever been on.”) She’ll flaunt her boobies in front of Nick, despite the show’s weirdly prudish standards of morality, because he obviously likes it and duh, it’s got her this far. She won’t pretend that she’s a bionic woman who can survive for days on end with no sleep, because she’s tired, and why should she?
Generally speaking, being a reality-TV villain requires both conscious acknowledgment of the rules and a willingness to transgress them — which means that these characters are often the ones most primed to expose the show’s artifice. While Chad had a lot of problems and was genuinely violent and scary, a lot of the time, he also seemed to be the most clear-eyed person on the show, the one willing to say what the others were only thinking. Admittedly, if everyone played by their own rules, the show wouldn’t exist, but having one player transgress the show’s unspoken norms can expose just how arbitrary and capricious the game is to begin with.
Of course, this argument is moot if we accept my original premise: that Corinne actually naps so much because she’s a tween body-swapped into an adult’s body, and she needs at least nine hours of sleep a night so her bones can grow. Blink twice if you need help, girl.