TV

“Queer Queen” Demi Burnett Emcees Epic “Bachelor” Pillow Fight

“It’s gonna be pretty hot to watch,” she said before turning the straightest show on TV into her own horny fantasy.

If nothing else, The Bachelor gives us new vocabulary words like finasco (instead of fiasco) lingery (instead of lingerie) and disgenuine (instead of disingenuous). My spell-checker could barely keep up with all the neologisms that Pilot Pete’s ladies coined on Monday night as they relentlessly insulted each other. (Pro tip: Always watch this show with closed captioning turned on because the captioners put the fake words in scare quotes for added hilarity.)

If you thought these women were done fighting over a bottle of champagne, then you have vastly underestimated the shit-stirring abilities of Bachelor producers. Kelsey and Hannah Ann are still reeling from last week’s #ChampagneGate scandal. (Quick recap: Hannah Ann opened a bottle of Dom Pérignon that Kelsey was specifically saving for Peter. Kelsey swears it was intentional. Hannah Ann, in her own words, “would not steal champagne” and “is not a champagne stealer.”)

ABC/Eric McCandless
Hannah Ann in The Bachelor.

In addition to perpetually finding new ways to say that she would never pilfer sparkling wine or swipe any bubbly, Hannah Ann is also responsible for deploying the non-word “finasco” to describe this whole affair. But the most shocking thing said about #ChampagneGate this week comes from Kelsey, who tells us, after all this time, “I don’t even really like champagne.” Excuse me, what? Generally, people don’t cry about beverages they feel neutral about. But no, says Kelsey, it’s the principle of the thing that matters, not the Dom.

Peter leaves the drama of #ChampagneGate behind him this week by putting on his best flannel shirt, driving a red pickup truck, and taking 27-year-old nurse Victoria P. line dancing at a bar in the Conejo Valley. (First, though, Peter practices by grinding on her during a more private line-dancing moment in a nearby cowboy boot store. This is heterosexual kink at its finest.) The pair then retire to a nearby airplane hangar for dinner because, even though Peter literally spends 50% of his waking hours inside planes, he must eat near planes, too. This season could—and should—end with Peter proposing to a plane.

Often during these dinner dates, contestants disclose some personal trauma as a way to accelerate their bond with the lead—but the pain they discuss is also often relatively minor compared to the struggles of, say, anyone who isn’t a straight, thin, conventionally attractive white person. Last year, for example, one contestant had bumper car–related trauma. Seriously. This is not the case with Victoria P., who struggled with poverty, the loss of a parent, and her mother’s addiction. Here is a strong and resilient woman who deserves love so much better than what she is likely to find on The Bachelor.

In a whiplash-inducing bit of editing, the episode jumps straight from Victoria P.’s heart-wrenching traumatic revelation to a pillow fight emceed by self-proclaimed “queer queen” of Bachelor in Paradise Demi Burnett. Demi makes a surprise cameo and assigns each of the girls sexy outfits—although one gets a muumuu—and then pits them against each other in several rounds of competitive pillow fighting.

ABC/John Fleenor
“Queer queen” Demi Burnett in The Bachelor.

The first rule of Pillow Fight Club: Talk a lot about the other girls in Pillow Fight Club, so that the pillow fights can then become episode-consuming verbal fights. “It’s gonna be pretty hot to watch,” Demi declares—and even though a sexy pillow fight is a little stereotypical, it’s good to see a queer girl’s horniness shaping a segment on TV’s straightest show.

In the final round of the pillow-fighting tournament, it’s Alayah (a.k.a. Miss Texas 2019) versus retail marketing manager Sydney—and the pageant queen prevails by literally sitting on Sydney. But the fight continues outside the ring when Sydney accuses Alayah of being fake. At one point, she asks Alayah a question I have asked many a Bachelor contestant: “Do you work at all?” To which Alayah responds that she has “three jobs,” without specifying what, exactly, those jobs are.

ABC/John Fleenor
Peter Weber (left) and Alayah in The Bachelor.

Sydney takes her concerns to Peter, who gives her a coveted group date rose for her honesty. But once the other girls watch Sydney get rewarded for talking about Alayah behind her back, it’s like they are conditioned like Pavlovian canines to do exactly the same. The floodgates open. They tell Peter that Alayah’s voice “goes up, like, five octaves” once the cameras turn on. Victoria P. says that Alayah told her not to let the producers know that they knew each other before filming started.

ABC/John Fleenor
Peter Weber and Tammy in The Bachelor.

In the millennial age, when being “genuine and real” is prized above all else, being “disgenuine” can be a death knell for a Bachelor contestant. Despite having feelings for Alayah, Peter declares that her behavior “doesn’t look genuine.” And with that, she is sent home, her rose going to Instagram Incarnate Mykenna instead.

Judging from the teaser, though, we haven’t seen the last of Alayah. Next week promises her dramatic return—and almost certainly more bickering over carbonated grape juice.

Samantha Allen is the author of "Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States" and a GLAAD Award-winning LGBTQ journalist.
@SLAWrites