Thanks to the whirlwind romance of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson, many pop culture fans have spent the past few days trying to satisfactorily define the phrase “big dick energy.” It’s not literally about junk size — it’s about attitude. Cultural critics have pointed to a sense of quiet, untroubled confidence, a laid-back sensuality.
But sometimes, the easiest path to comprehension is through understanding what a concept is not. If you want to know what “big dick energy” is not, Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelorette” provided an excellent case study.
Please turn your attention to Chris Randone, a 30-year-old sales trainer with a fascinating hairline and a taste for tequila and water (double water).
Chris garnered an early one-on-one date with lead Becca Kufrin, where the two wrote songs with Richard Marx and opened up about painful pasts. And during this week’s group date ― which made use of his new songwriting skills, as the group of men wrote versions of “Danke Schoen” under Wayne Newton’s shrewd gaze ― Chris was feeling himself. He’d had one-on-one time with Becca! They had a connection!
Flush with confidence, he decided to let Becca come to him during the evening afterparty. When she didn’t, and he ended the night without a rose or any alone time with her, his apparently rock-solid assurance crumbled into gravel.
He spent the rest of the episode treating the other suitors and the cameras to feverish monologues about whether he should just go home, why Becca doesn’t like him anymore, and his confusion that she would give up on such a great guy. During the cocktail party preceding the rose ceremony, he insisted on speaking to her on three separate occasions ― although, after the first conversation, it’s clear that she is no longer interested in spending more time with him that night. In each talk, he only succeeds in unmistakably conveying his desperation.
Chris gets the rose, yes. But his lurches between try-hard swagger, childish sulking and overbearing desperation paint a fairly complete image of anti-BDE.
It’s all bluster, no substance; all cockiness, no confidence.
On HuffPost’s “Here to Make Friends” podcast, Claire Fallon and guest Kate Dries picked apart Chris’ collapse:
Claire Fallon: It’s time for the cocktail party. Chris has been ...
Kate Dries: ... freaking out.
Fallon: But Becca grabs him first. It sounded like she was saying, “Chris, I need you to see me after class.” It’s like, the deputy principal walks up to you, and you’re like, “Oh man, did she find that vodka bottle in my locker?”
Dries: There’s something that drives me crazy about these “can I steal you” conversations, where the lead will never really interject between two people fighting. I assume it’s a combination of, like, they don’t want to look bitchy. And I’m sure production is like, let stuff play out. Don’t show favoritism as much as possible.
Fallon: I would also wonder if, as a lead, you want to know how both parties are actually going to handle it.
Dries: I think it must be just a combination of things, but I get so annoyed. So Chris has his time or whatever ...
Fallon: I’m sorry, we have to talk about his time. Because as they sit down, he’s like, “I think you owe me 50,000 kisses.” And she’s like, “Excuse me? I sat down to give you a talking to, and you’re telling me that I owe you physical favors? Not a great start.”
They both try to talk about the group date incident, and it’s clear that they both feel aggrieved about how the other person acted, and he does not reassure her adequately at all.
Dries: Yeah, he freaked out! They always have these freakouts. There’s one or two people every season who forget this is what they signed up for.
Fallon: I mean, it’s an insane show. Obviously if you’re dating a person and you both are at a party and neither of you goes to talk to the other person, you might both have a case for being pissed. But in this case, she’s dating all these people. That’s the agreement. She’s going to give time to people who seek her out, and she has a lot of other things on her plate. It’s his one job to try to get time with her. That’s it. He didn’t do it.
Dries: They have all this frickin’ time, it doesn’t go the way he wants, and then he goes back for more.
Fallon: He can’t just say “I’m sorry.” He can’t say “It was stupid of me and I’ve learned from it.” Instead he’s like, “I don’t think you get how much I like you.”
Dries: Right, and if she doesn’t understand, it’s your job to demonstrate better.
Fallon: Finally she just walks away.
Fallon: So we get another Chris and Becca conversation. Chris is saying some wild stuff. He’s like, “I’m the guy who’s genuinely here for the right reasons and ready to commit to the idea of being with Becca.”
She says, “So, if you feel so strongly for me, why were you ready to jump ship the other night?”
And he’s like, “Well, it was the first obstacle, so I just thought maybe I wouldn’t try anymore.” Which is a really reassuring thing to hear from your future partner, that the first obstacle they’re like, maybe I’ll just throw in the towel, if there aren’t seven producers there to make me keep going.
Dries: Yeah. Not worth it.
Fallon: She’s just staring blankly into space. Finally, he’s like, “Look at me. Do you see potential in me? No lie.” And she doesn’t respond.
Dries: I really would not have predicted that Chris would have been ― this whole episode was about him. The two-on-one was almost an afterthought, and usually the two-on-one is the big thing.
Fallon: He ends this conversation still unhappy, because Becca looks like you might look like during an actual breakup conversation. She can’t make eye contact with him. Her jaw is set.
He’s like, “If this one thing will jeopardize what we have, that will be the most devastating thing that could happen to both of us.”
Dries: Mmm. Love when people speak for me.
Fallon: It’s time for the rose ceremony, and shockingly, Chris does not go home. She has this tendency to see a guy really fuck up, and be very direct ― “I’m not happy with this, this was a big red flag” ― and then just keep them.
Dries: We don’t know that much about Becca, I don’t know her, but we saw that with her ex-boyfriend. They were together for a long-ass time and it seems like he was big dick for a lot of it, and she gave him a lot of chances. Clearly she did that with Arie too. ... I think she’s just too nice.
Fallon: I think so.
Dries: At this point, she and Chris have only bad energy, and it doesn’t even seem like she’s sexually attracted to him, the way she is with Colton. And she has all that drama with [Colton], but she’s trying to overcome it ...
Fallon: That I understand. She’s blinded by his big shiny teeth and his big goofy chin. She wants to put her face all over it. I get that! That’s an impulse I understand.
Dries: Right, but she and Chris just seem like polite acquaintances, kind of.
Fallon: It’s like having that horrible breakup conversation with someone you weren’t even dating, and in fact are not even friends with.
For more on Chris, and the rest of this week’s “The Bachelorette,” listen to “Here to Make Friends”:
Do people love “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” or do they love to hate these shows? It’s unclear. But at “Here to Make Friends,” we both love and love to hate them — and we love to snarkily dissect each episode in vivid detail. Podcast edited by Nick Offenberg.