Bachelor Nation
Cassidy Timbrooks' 'Bachelor' villain edit is legitimately unfair.

Can We Stop Shaming Cassidy For Having A Sex Life Before The Bachelor?

It's 2022, folks. We can do better than this.

ABC/John Fleenor

Only two episodes into Clayton Echard’s season of The Bachelor and Cassidy Timbrooks’ villain edit is already set in stone. For fans of the show, this shouldn’t come as a surprise: Timbrooks is The Bachelor’s favorite type of villain. In the words of contestant Mara Agrait, she’s “aggressive” — or is she merely just confident, forward, and content to make out with Echard in public? She isn’t a big fan of kids (um, kids — especially a huge crew of them running toward you — aren’t for everyone, and that’s OK). But most ~damaging~ of all, she was hooking up with someone else before filming began... as if that’s a crime? In a different, non-ABC world, nobody would hold these things against her, but reality TV is far from reality, so here we are.

From the onset of the episode, when Timbrooks cheekily told the camera, “Game on, b*tches,” it was obvious she would serve as the season’s new villain. (Bye, Claire! It was nice while it lasted.) Timbrooks was determined to make an impression on the season’s first group date, which involved setting up a child’s birthday party with Hilary Duff, but that didn’t mean she embraced the spirit of the date. Instead of hanging streamers, decorating the cake, or building a life-size dollhouse, she opted to steal Echard away for a few romantic moments. Timbrooks knew what she was doing, too. “I don’t really care if Hilary Duff is disappointed in my dollhouse abilities or the girls are a little miffed, like, ultimately, I’m here to date Clayton,” she said. Fair enough!

Echard clearly didn’t seem to mind Timbrooks’ lack of team spirit or I-can’t-wait-to-be-a-mom attitude, either. She won the group date rose, guaranteeing her place on the show for another week... or maybe not. The episode ended with Echard asking Jesse Palmer, “Has anyone ever taken a rose back before?” and a sigh-inducing “To Be Continued” sign. The straw that broke the tight end’s back? Sierra Jackson, another contestant on the show, revealed to Echard that Timbrooks had a friends-with-benefits (FWB) sitch at home. (Quick reminder: FWBs are non-exclusive flings. She was not ditching a serious relationship for her 15 seconds of fame, à la Jed Wyatt.)

ABC/John Fleenor

In fact, in a flashback scene, when Timbrooks explained the lack of relationship to Jackson, it didn’t seem as though she felt there was anything to hide — perhaps because there wasn’t. Timbrooks explained that she had a hookup buddy at home who actually FaceTimed her while she was still quarantining before appearing on The Bachelor. According to Timbrooks, her FWB even made a reference to watching the show together once she got back. Discussing the comment with the other women in the house, she implied that he knew she was filming a TV show, but he didn’t know which one.

(Before going on the show, contestants have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so they cannot tell anyone that they’ve been cast. There would be no way for Timbrooks to tell her FWB exactly what was going on without breaking her contract.)

But so far, Echard hasn’t given Timbrooks a chance to explain — at least, not during episode two. Following the revelation, he told the camera, “Having a woman here in the house that potentially has a man on the side,” — to our knowledge, she doesn’t — “that’s pretty unsettling to hear that.” The troubled Bachelor continued, “I’m here to find love ... One of my biggest fears is being rejected. The last thing I want to do is fall for somebody and [discover] she’s playing me. This certainly is a worst-case scenario.”

The women who appear on the show are supposed to be waiting for him, patiently putting their lives on pause from the time they’re cast until he deems them worthy of a rose.
ABC/John Fleenor

In other words, Echard is worried that Timbrooks might only be stringing him along until she can return to her FWB. But if you look at her actions on-screen so far, she seems pretty excited about one man only: the Bachelor. The implication is that the women who appear on the show are supposed to be waiting for him, patiently putting their lives on pause from the time they’re cast until he deems them worthy of a rose. It’s a dusty, outdated point of view that isn’t surprising as much as it’s disappointing.

It also might be a huge double standard. Since Echard’s season premiered on Jan. 3, at least two women on TikTok have claimed the current Bachelor also dated before his time on the ABC franchise. In one, a woman claimed, “Trying to watch The Bachelor knowing we matched on Tinder, Snapchatted, and he asked me to hang out multiple times a month or two before he was on Michelle’s season.”

Another TikToker shared a similar story, claiming, “Trying to watch The Bachelor as if he didn’t try to hmu through multiple dating apps knowing he was gonna be on the show.” She captioned the video, “Mizzou girls knowww.” Judging by the comments sections, those who knew Echard from the University of Missouri were not exactly surprised by the claims. “Has he talked to every girl in Missouri,” one commenter wrote. Another wrote in all caps, “He literally talked to every girl at Miz.” A third claimed, “Not me seeing him on Hinge last month.”

Of course, there’s no way to know exactly what Echard’s intentions were — let alone if these stories are even true. Elite Daily reached out to Echard’s rep for comment on these claims about his dating history, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

Other TikTok commenters defended the Bachelor. One person wrote, “Really don’t see the issue? He was single and trying to date, and then went on a show to date!” Another agreed, writing, “I mean so what though?”

To be totally transparent, I agree with those defending his potentially active love life. But why isn’t the show — and specifically Echard — affording that same reasoning to Timbrooks? It seems monumentally unfair to set someone up as the villain for simply living life before the show even starts filming.

Although I didn’t like how Bachelor producers used Twitter to publicly compare Echard to Shrek during Michelle Young’s “After the Final Rose,” I am starting to see a similar plot line developing. Is Echard hoping for a similar fairytale, expecting his future fiancé to be a damsel in distress, locked in a tower, and waiting for him to save her?

If so, it’s clear that Timbrooks is not that girl. And she’s no villain, either.