The Bachelorette’s Lessons on Life & Love: Part 2

Can you believe Kaitlyn’s season of The Bachelorette is already wrapping up? She’s down to just three guys but up to her neck in drama. I haven’t been able to watch the show as scrupulously as I like to, but I do have some overall impressions of the season and guys thus far that I thought y’all might enjoy.

My feelings really confirm my feelings.
My feelings really confirm my feelings.

First off, I’m pretty over Kaitlyn as the Bachelorette. We’ve seen next to no actual conversation between her and the guys. She mostly just makes out with them, and it’s difficult to evaluate the different relationships when make-out sessions are the only point of comparison. I suppose I could start scoring kisses in terms of approach and awkwardness and volume level, but that makes me want to throw up.

Historically, kisses are to Bach contestants what those little gold coins are to Mario. The more you collect, the more staying power you have. So I get it. I understand why the guys go for the kiss early on. But, still, it seems backward to me to kiss someone you barely know in order to have a chance to get to know that person. Call me old-fashioned.

What else do you need, really?
What else do you need, really?

Additionally, I feel as though I’ve been watching one single episode over and over again. The group dates are all the same, and the producers keep ending the eps with cliffhangers instead of the standard rose ceremonies. Group dates have included a boxing match,a sumo-wrestling match, a stand-up comedy competition, a hip-hop battle, a mariachi showdown, and a Broadway audition, among other things. So much competition … and composition. We’ve had cliffhangers involving Kupah’s early exit due to his being a jerk, Clint’s early exit due to his being a jerk, and Ian’s early exit due to his being a jerk. It’s like, who came up with the dates this season … and who vetted the guys? We need a couple of bad apples, of course, but maybe not this many.

Back to our Bach, though. In addition to making out too much, Kaitlyn makes terrible decisions too much. (I’ll explain more in Nick’s sectionbelow.) I keep thinking, Kaitlyn, girl, you need a friend to help you process your options a bit more and/or to smack you upside the head now and again.

It occurred to me while watching her this season that some of the reason the Bachelors and Bachelorettes consistently make bad decisions is that they don’t have anyone around themto talk them out of doing so. They’re rather isolated.In the real world, you have friends and family to provide perspective into your decision-making. In Bachelor-world, you have Chris Harrison, and amping up the drama is literally his job. (“KAITLYN, GENTLEMEN, THIS IS THE FINAL ROSE TONIGHT.”) The Universal Truth of the Week Month is along these same lines.

Universal Truth of the Month: To make wise decisions, we need input from people with different perspectives.

 

Kaitlyn’s decisions look bad to me because I come at her situation from a different perspective. She sees it from the inside; I see it from the outside. She interprets it through one worldview; I interpret it through another. And as anyone who’s ever watched a disputed fumble on instant replay knows, the exact same situation can look completely different depending on where you’re standing and how you’re looking at it. (I just made a SPORTS ANALOGY, guys. Do I win something?)

We need other people's input into our life decisions because we simply don’t have the capability to identify and weigh all factors rightly in every situation. We are not unbiased, we can’t see the future, and we don’t even know our own motives half the time. Other people are able to provide perspective and wisdom that we don’t have.

On that note, I thought I’d provide MY perspective — whether or not it’s wise is for you to decide. Here are my takes on a few of the most memorable guys this season, some of whom are still around and some of whom have already gone home. I'll try to hit the drama high points along the way as well.

Ben H. (Remaining 3)

I think that Ben's face will help the connection.
I think that Ben's face will help the connection.

I'm putting Ben H. first because he is my fave of the remaining dudes. Of all the guys this season, Ben H. is the one I’d most likely go for in real life because he loves Jesus and, less importantly but still of note, he’s got a real Clark Kent vibe going on. (Seriously, get this man some glasses and a byline at the Daily Planet.) His social media accounts do, however, suggest questionable interpretation of Scripture, which is unfortunate considering I like a man’s doctrine like I like his abs: rock solid. (Just kidding about the abs part.)

Basically Ben H. seems like your classic WIPD, which is an acronym I just made up for Well Intentioned but Poorly Discipled. I say this because no Christian dude with good people in his life should be dating Kaitlyn. (Hashtag unequally yoked.) He’s a strong contender to be the next Bachelor, so here’s to hoping he gets some good mentors between now and then.

Jared (Eliminated in episode 9)

Classic Jared, being BETTER THAN ANY OF US DESERVE
Classic Jared, being BETTER THAN ANY OF US DESERVE

Jared is one of those guys who gets way more attractive the more you get to know him. He didn’t do anything skeezy all season, and the only thing I can criticize him for is the cringeworthy poem (there’s one every season!) that he read to Kaitlyn. Okay, also for his unfortunate facial hair. (Unfortunate facial hair/haircuts are another reason people need the input of others in their lives.)

Preach
Preach

Even when Kaitlyn sent Jared home in the most recent episode, he was an absolute gentleman — offering her his coat as they stepped outside to say goodbye. This was the perfect example of another real-life truth I’ve seen played out on The Bach: You’ll remember a guy as much (if not more) for the way you parted ways as for the rest of the relationship. Nothing secures a girl’s ongoing high regard quite like a man’s gallant departure.

One of the Bachelor podcasts I listen to calls Jared “Sharpface,” which is so, so accurate. He’s good-looking in a sharp way. If he weren’t so sharp-looking, he would definitely be the next Bach.

Ben Z. (Eliminated in episode 8)

You can come protect me, Ben Z.
You can come protect me, Ben Z.

Kaitlyn at one point described Ben Z. as a “babe soda,” which is a wonderful term I have recently begun using. If you read my "Bell Curve of Beefy" post, you know that I’m not normally a fan of overly muscled guys, but I will make an exception for Ben Z. because he seems to have a good ego-to-muscle ratio, by which I mean his muscles are big but his ego isn’t.

Kaitlyn and Ben Z. went on a memorable one-on-one date (or as I like to call it, a date) to a place called The Basement. If you’re in L.A., you, too, can visit The Basement, which the website describes as a “live escape room experience.” Basically you pay to pretend you’ve been kidnapped by a cannibalistic serial killer, and then you have to solve riddles to escape his horror-filled basement before time runs out.

Ahem. THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE WORST DATE EVER. It did, however, give me an excellent idea for an actual date in my own basement wherein a suitor comes and kills all the spiders. Any takers?

J.J. (Eliminated in episode 8)

This was right after he stressed to Kaitlyn that he was husband material.
This was right after he stressed to Kaitlyn that he was husband material.

There were a number of objectionable guys this season, but most objectionable, in my opinion, was J.J. I shudder at the name. After deliberately positioning himself as “the most hated man in the house,” J.J. solidified his spot as the villain by publicly betraying his bestie, Clint, in episode 5.

Clint and J.J. had been buddy-buddy until tips from the other guys led Kaitlyn to send Clint home mid-episode. At that point, J.J. immediately pulled a Bronedict Arnold and asked Clint to apologize to everyone for being an emotional energy-suck. This resulted in what Jared called “the most dramatic breakup in Bachelor history.” For once, this was not hyperbole. After Clint left, the producers tried to make J.J. look all normal and sane, as if we could forget the side of him we’d seen earlier.

Ian (Left in episode 7)

Put your money where your mariachi is.
Put your money where your mariachi is.

Ian was my fave early on. He was smart — a Princeton grad — and he was a runner. Plus, he’d gotten hit by a car and learned to run again, which is like Bach-contestant gold. All season I waited for Kaitlyn to get time with him, but she didn’t, and one day HE SNAPPED.

It happened after the mariachi group date. Ian had oversold his singing skills and then, upon singing rather poorly, had left the date with a big ol’ bruise on his ego. Rather than deal with his own insecurities about the fact that he still hadn’t earned Kaitlyn’s attention, Ian decided to tear her down, pulling her aside at that night’s rose ceremony to call her “a surface-level person” and to say he wanted to leave.

Explaining why he should be the next Bach (Anyone who watches this show knows this is the KISS OF DEATH.)
Explaining why he should be the next Bach (Anyone who watches this show knows this is the KISS OF DEATH.)

“I don’t understand why Kaitlyn wouldn’t want a Princeton graduate former model that defied death and has been around the world a couple of times,” is an actual thing he said during an aside before their exchange. “I don’t find Kaitlyn interesting. I don’t think that’s something wrong with me; I think that’s something wrong with her.” It was clear that he was trying to vindicate himself, trying to make sense of her lack of interest, trying to atone for his poor mariachi performance.

All of a sudden, it became clear that the things that had seemed impressive about Ian largely because he himself hadn’t seemed impressed by them — his alma mater, his athleticism, his comeback from injury — were, in fact, the basis upon which he sought to justify his entire existence. (Case in point: He included his prestigious elementary school on his LinkedIn profile.)

As I watched Ian ride away in the limo, listing his own merits, I thought to myself, Ugh, I’ve totally dated that guy — and then, two seconds later — Ugh, I’ve totally been that guy. I'm being that guy right now.

I’ve waved around my resume upon feeling threatened, all while criticizing someone else. It’s a nasty inclination, but like so many others demonstrated on this show, it’s not unique to TV contestants.

Nick (Remaining 3)

Nick was the runner-up from last season’s Bachelorette. He was inches away from being proposed to by — er, from getting to propose to — Andi when she sent him home in favor of Josh, the archetypal bro. I’d loved Nick last season; he was so articulate. (This was all the more attractive because of his juxtaposition with Josh, who knew roughly seven words.) I’d been disappointed that Andi chose Josh, so I was excited when Nick showed up and asked to join Kaitlyn’s season halfway through. The other guys were, obviously, less excited — critical of his motives, critical of her motives in considering him. They were surprisingly jealous for guys who were dating a girl who was already dating a dozen other guys.

Facing the decision of whether to let Nick on the show, Kaitlyn could’ve used some of the aforementioned perspective of others. In a rare Bach turn of events, she did get a bit of this from formercontestant Ashley S., who made a cameo when Kaitlyn went to Ashley’s NYC hair salon for an updo and a heart-to-heart about Nick. If Kaitlyn let Nick stay, she risked hurting all her current boyfriends, but if she let him go, she risked missing out on their undeniable “connection.”

That's not everything. That's two things. No, come to think of it ... that's one thing.
That's not everything. That's two things. No, come to think of it ... that's one thing.

Kaitlyn: “It was like, I’ve never experienced like that kind of chemistry from just looking at someone within two seconds. Like it already feels serious with him.”

Ashley: “But that’s lust.”

Kaitlyn: “Well, so what do you think — that that can easily fade?”

Ashley: “Yeah …. It’s really important to have another connection, like a friendship.”

Rather than considering Ashley’s sage advice, Kaitlyn assured the cameras that she knew the difference between love and lust and, not long after, started making out with Nick — which, as gold kissing coins always do, effectively solidified a spot for him for the remainder of the season.

Your definition of "great" is my definition of "problematic."
Your definition of "great" is my definition of "problematic."

It was somewhat weird to watch Nick act exactly toward Kaitlyn as he had acted toward Andi. The “connection” he and Andi had shared no longer seemed that spectacular. It became apparent that you could put any girl on screen with him and expect a connection. His eyes and his words can hypnotize. He’s so smooth he puts girls in a trance. I don’t think this makes him insincere, and I don’t think it means he has bad motives. (I still quite like him, actually.) I just think it makes him dangerous.

On that note, I must address the bad decision to rule them all: Kaitlyn and Nick went “too far” after their one-on-one date in episode 7. (That’s my attempt to keep this blog PG.) This was the worst episode of the show I’ve ever seen, and even though they’d promoed this twist all season, I still felt as though I’d tuned in for Survivor only to find myself watching the Hunger Games — the actual Hunger Games. What I mean by this is that it’s one thing to put people on an island and watch them scavenge for food and call it entertainment; it’s different to put them on an island and watch them kill each other and call it entertainment. In the same way, it’s one thing to put people in a mansion and watch them date; it’s different to put them in a mansion and watch them — ahem — misbehave. (Not literally watch them, but you know what I mean.) At that point it’s not fun anymore. It’s just sad.

Ever since, however, Kaitlyn has been reaping the consequences. She’s been wracked with guilt, which has colored her relationships with every other guy, making her interactions with them seem strained and disingenuous. This is particularly true in the case of Shawn, the only real front-runner other than Nick.

Shawn B. (Remaining 3)

Question itttt. Question it.
Question itttt. Question it.

If Ryan Gosling gained 30 pounds of muscle, moved in next door to you, and had a jealousy problem, he would actually be Shawn B. For a long time, I was confused about Shawn’s relationship with Kaitlyn. He did get the first impression rose, but he didn’t get a one-on-one — or much screen time at all — until episode 6. Nevertheless, he and Kaitlyn seemed confident about their “connection” in the meantime, and upon the arrival of Nick, Shawn was decidedly the most jealous man in the house (silver medal to Joshua). Shawn wouldn’t even deign to say Nick’s name, thereby relegating him to Voldemort-level bad guy status.

Shawn’s jealousy was somewhat accounted for when we learned that he and Kaitlyn had had off-camera time at some point earlier in season — I’m still confused about the timeline — and that during this time, Kaitlyn had told Shawn he was “the one.” (Kaitlyn is really giving the bird to the producers this season. She’s breaking all dem rules and all dem hearts. Just like professing love before the final episode, off-camera time breaks the Bachelor rules.) On the one hand, Shawn's jealousy seems out of proportion for a guy who knew the premise of the show when he signed up for it. On the other hand, Kaitlyn shouldn't have given him false assurance about his standing. That's like Dating 101.

In the most recent episode, Kaitlyn told Shawn about her transgression with Nick. The whole conversation was positively cringeworthy; it wasn’t exactly an apology because Nick was staying on the show. It was more of a statement and an unspoken question: "Will Shawn stay, too? Also, will he murder Nick in the night?" For reasons I do not understand, Shawn did stay, which brings us up to speed with the show’s current status.

What’s Ahead

We are now smack dab in the middle of the love-hate triangle that is Nick, Shawn, and Kaitlyn. Ben H. is just standing on the sidelines, looking ridiculously handsome.

My hope is that Ben H. will leave of his own accord, go home, and join a better church; that Shawn will realize Kaitlyn's not as into him as he is into her and also leave of his own accord; and that Kaitlyn and Nick will get what they deserve, which is each other, I guess. Honestly, I don’t really care at this point, but that's the only ending that would seem fitting. The next episode starts in 14 minutes, and I still have to add all the pics y’all love so much, which means this blog post will be outdated by the time it’s posted, but I've done my best!

The Bachelorette's Lessons on Life & Love

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When I started my "Life Lessons from The Bachelor" series last year, I planned to do it for only one season. Let’s be real — every season is basically the same. I felt I could, in one fell swoop, make my point about the universal relatability of the franchise. But as I caught up on the new Bachelorette premiere last week, I saw too many potential Universal Truths to keep my little blogging self quiet. (Here's the series intro if you need background.)

I again saw myself on the screen — bits of me in Kaitlyn and Britt and the guys. And I thought, This is why I watch the show … and this is what had compelled me to write about it. It’s so dang relatable. That, to me, is the redemptive aspect of the admittedly ridiculous premise. As I explained then, I don’t watch primarily to make fun of the contestants. I watch because, in them, I see myself. [In fact, since writing those posts, I’ve repeatedly watched myself fall prey to some of the same Universal Truths I pointed out about the contestants. (Hello, number two.)] All that to say, I just couldn’t not comment on this premiere, so … I’m back. I can’t commit to recap every episode, but I may pop up here and there with a new Universal Truth of the Week. (Or, you know, the Month. Flex with me here.) Sometimes the relatability is too good to pass up.

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The premiere of this season began with Chris Harrison explaining its new twist, which we all already knew about: TWO POTENTIAL BACHELORETTES.

Kaitlyn — the second runner-up and audience favorite from last season — should, according to every precedent, have been the Bachelorette. During any normal premiere, she would have dolled up, met her suitors, and then begun the “journey to find love,” by which I mean the journey of dating 25 guys simultaneously. 

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But, no, this season the should-be Bachelorette would be pitted against another girl for the title. Kaitlyn would face off against Britt the Beautiful. It must be stated that this was basically Britt’s entire claim to fame: her face. Also her Disney princess hair. Sure, she had cried a lot last season and acted as though she and the Bachelor were meant to be, but so had 99 percent of the other girls who’ve ever been on the show. The only reason Britt is memorable as a contestant at all is because she is gorgeous — like a blonder, dewier Angelina Jolie.

This season Kaitlyn and Britt would meet the 25 guys together, and then the guys would cast their votes for the girl they wanted to stay. (They did this by slipping away to a separate candlelit room of the Bachelor Mansion and dropping roses into rose-shaped slots carved into wooden boxes placed under framed photos of each girl. It was not melodramatic at all.)

“Will this be awkward and probably a bit painful?” Chris Harrison asked as he explained the new twist before the first night. (Coincidentally this is the same question I ask myself in the mirror before I go on first dates.) “Sure!” He said. “But hopefully it will lead to a better chance for true love to blossom.”

Right.

Chris said, of course, that the producers had decided to let the guys choose the Bachelorette because the guys who’d auditioned were “truly divided” about whom they wanted a chance to date. This is total bull. Clearly the producers pitted the girls against each other because it added another level of drama and tension. Interestingly for us, however, it also added another painful level of relatability.

We had to watch Kaitlyn (already the protagonist to me — and to most viewers, I would imagine) endure the typical meeting of the men while standing next to Britt. Normally the guys would’ve had all eyes on Kaitlyn. They would’ve stepped out of the limos, straightened their suits, walked her way, and then — with some cheesy or sweet or stupid statement — expressed their excitement to get to know her.

As it was, however, their attention was divided. With two women in the running, the first night would not be about getting to know Kaitlyn. It would be about evaluating Kaitlyn in light of Britt and vice versa.

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There was something disturbingly familiar to me about watching the guys compare the girls. It felt a little too real-life for my liking. In real life there’s never just one girl. There are always others to whom a guy can compare a girl and to whom a girl can compare herself.

“I feel like I’m at a seventh grade dance,” said Brady as he stepped out of the limo and surveyed his female options.

“We feel the same way,” said Kaitlyn. She seemed noticeably more nervous than Britt, repeatedly telling the cameras she felt sick to her stomach.

“I just hope the guys will give me the opportunity to prove to them that I deserve this chance,” she said during one aside.

Everything about that sentence pains me. (No wonder Kaitlyn told the cameras the night was “excruciating.”) I can think of few things more painful and futile than trying to prove your worthiness to a guy, let alone a guy who’s actively comparing you to someone else, whether another real person or an imaginary standard.

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And that was how Britt seemed to me — imaginary. Unlike Kaitlyn, whose personality was her selling point, Britt had been a two-dimensional character last season. Now just a blank slate with a pretty face, Britt could become whoever the guys wanted her to be. That’s how she’d won Bachelor Chris’s affections — he sent her home only after learning she’d lied to him about wanting to live in Snoozeville, Iowa — and it was the tactic she took again this go-round.

She used every detail any guy shared with her as an opportunity to position herself as his type. She told Ben H., who brought up his sponsor child, that her sponsor child was the most important thing to her; she told Brady, who mentioned praying, that her faith was the most important thing to her; she told J.J., who lauded her mention of relationships, that relationships were the most important thing to her.

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Britt’s plasticity demonstrated that even she — a girl to whom no other girl on the planet would want to be compared — was feeling the impossible weight of comparison and evaluation. “I almost feel like I have to go and in 30 seconds prove myself as wife material so they put a rose in my box,” she told the cameras.

I have to prove myself as wife material. What an ironic confession — one that sums up the dysfunction of this season’s setup. By pitting the girls against each other, each was forced to prove why she could be worthy of the guys’ love. Each was asked to earn what, by definition, cannot be earned. This leads us to our UTOTW.

Universal Truth of the Week: If you have to earn it, it isn't love.

This is the irony not only of this show but also of much of modern dating. If love is what the contestants are after and love operates outside the earning/deserving system, then it cannot be reached by either party proving him- or herself to the other. But that's exactly what we try to do. We try to prove ourselves — by what we say, by what we wear, by what we ask, by whom we know. We try to be enough. (And on the flip side, we often act as though others must prove themselves to us. Being discerning in dating is one thing. Insisting someone deserve your attention is another.)

Even the guys on the show — who, pre-vote, weren’t even in the hot seat yet — admitted that they felt the pressure to compare and compete to impress the girls.

“You walk in [to the Bachelor Mansion], and it’s like, wow, every single guy is better-looking … taller,” said J.J. “There’s just insecurity that just takes over.”

Is this, then, a fatal flaw in the original premise of The Bachelor (with or without this season’s twist)? Isn’t competition for love the whole point? Well, yes and no. Insofar as the show’s setup enables people to actually get to know each other, I think it could also produce real love (its purported goal). This doesn’t seem to happen often, but it has happened on occasion — later in the season, that is, after the Bachelor or Bachelorette has actually gotten to know the contestants, after they’ve become 3D people instead of pros and cons on paper.

[Fun fact for the record and/or the haters, the Bachelor franchise has a 100 percent marriage success rate at this point. All six couples (out of 30 seasons!) who married are still married. The engagement success rate is obviously far lower, but I do not believe in the sanctity of engagement, so I don't actually care.]

I don’t think, though, that most rational viewers watch the show to see the people fall in love. We watch the show to see people be people, to watch their conversations and their decision-making, to see our own tendencies played out on-screen by others. We, too, are comparing ourselves to the people comparing themselves to people.

This is getting super meta.

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ANYWAY, though things seemed to be going in Britt’s favor for the first half of the premiere — TWO-WEEK OLD SPOILER ALERT — the guys eventually ended up voting for Kaitlyn. I never doubted that this would be the case considering the producers knew viewers wanted Kaitlyn.

Today, three episodes later, we know that, though many of the guys who were Team Britt stuck it out for a chance with Kaitlyn, a couple (Brady and Tony the Healer — who is reality television GOLD, by the way) have already peaced out of their own accord.

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On any normal season, the Bachelorette is the only option, so everybody wants her. Hashtag scarcity bias. This season, however, the guys glimpsed another option and, as a result, are noticeably less convinced that Kaitlyn is their ultimate fairytale dream woman. A few of the guys — specifically Clint and Kupah, or as I like to call him, “The Worst” — have taken an unprecedented backseat approach to dating Kaitlyn. They’ve developed an if-she’s-interested-she-can-find-me attitude, as if it’s still the first night and still her job to come after them instead of the other way around. (For the record, male readers, this is super off-putting in a guy.) I will be quite curious to see how the original Kaitlyn vs. Britt twist affects the rest of the season, and I hope to high heaven that Kaitlyn chooses one of the guys who wanted only her from the get-go.

The Bachelor's Lessons on Life & Love: The Finale

Well, this is it, readers—my final Bachelor blog post of the season. Sorry it has taken me so long to get it published. (I was away on a business trip earlier this week—you know, BEING AN ADULT. Aren’t you proud?) Writing this series has been incredibly fun for me—not only because it makes my Bachelor watching feel purposeful but also because I never expected so much positive feedback. Y’all have been so encouraging in your comments and messages, and when you randomly tell me that you’ve shared my blog with your coworkers and friends and moms, it just makes me so happy. Thank you for reading and for sharing. Now onto the important stuff…

One time I witnessed a man get knocked off a motorcycle and dragged across asphalt, and that is the only thing to which I can compare the finale of this season of The Bachelor. It was arguably the worst thing I have ever beheld. In the words of Chris Harrison, "I can't imagine the number of TVs that are gonna be bought next week," seeing as, undoubtedly, screens were getting shattered in unison all across the country.

In the final episode, Juan Pabs took both ladies home to meet la familia, y la familia did not have buenas cosas to say about Juan Pablo. They basically tried to convince both girls of two things: 1) Juan Pablo is a bad dude and 2) he will ditch them sooner or later (and let’s be honest, probably sooner).

This is literally the opposite of what happened.
This is literally the opposite of what happened.

At one point, Clare actually asked la madre de Juan Pablo (presumably the person who loves him more than anyone else in the world) if there was anything she needed to know about him, and la madre said he was rude and made her cry. I read once that if you want to know how a man will treat you after you’ve been married a decade or two, you should look at how he treats his mom. Hashtag RED FLAG.

Spoiler alert: No, he won't.
Spoiler alert: No, he won't.

Juan Pablo’s primo Rodolfo also had some less than flattering words about his cousin. "I wanna know how much, like, fighting and all that you can take," he said to Nikki. "Cause, uh, Juan Pablo—I mean, I love the guy; he's a really great guy—but sometimes when things are getting rough, he'll walk away from the relationship." (Like the really great guy that he is.)

But instead of running as fast as their perfect legs would carry them in the other direction, both girls said their time with Juan Pabs' family totally confirmed everything they were feeling. Because, clearly, they have reached the point of UTTER DELUSION.

No.
No.

While Juan Pablo's family members were busy saying bad things about him, Juan Pablo was busy not making up his mind about which girl he wanted to marry. (And by "marry," I mean "string along a little longer.") Here we are, t-minus two days until proposal, and that man still had no real preference.

The right thing for Juan Pablo to have done at this point would've been to cut his losses, apologize, and send both girls home right then, but obviously, he wouldn't do that; that would've wasted a perfectly good opportunity to break a heart or two.

This actually makes me feel sympathetic for Nikki.

This actually makes me feel sympathetic for Nikki.

Before presenting the final rose, Juan Pabs had to have a final one-on-one date with each girl. The common theme between these two dates was that each girl just desperately wanted to hear Juan Pablo tell her he loved her, and both girls repeatedly expressed this to the cameras.

Neither girl, however, heard the confession of love she had waited for. Clare, in fact, got quite the opposite.

"So as the helicopter’s landing, we have a rare moment together with no camera, no audio," she said. "And Juan Pablo leaned over and whispered something to me. But what I thought was gonna be sweet, kind, loving words was not what came out of his mouth. ... He chose to tell me something that no woman wants to hear—that he really doesn’t know me and some sexual thing that I don't even want to repeat. It was insulting, it was offensive, and it just made me feel awful."

Pardon me while I go PUNCH JUAN PABLO IN THE FACE.

***

Okay, I’m back.

MAN UP, JUAN PABLO.
MAN UP, JUAN PABLO.

In that moment I saw a glimmer of hope for Clare. I thought she, like Andi after the overnight date, had finally seen Juan Pablo for what he truly was: A JERK. Realizing the relationship might be only physical to him, Clare decided she wouldn't even give Juan Pablo another besito until he had explained himself.

Why his explanation satisfied her, however, is the great mystery to viewers. Juan Pabs has never exactly had a way with words (read: English), but somehow he managed to convince Clare his feelings were real (whatever the heck that even means) by blaming her for kissing him and by lying to her about his post-show intentions.

…if demeaning sexual comments count as “something special.”

…if demeaning sexual comments count as “something special.”

The Bachelor is like one huge example of dramatic irony. (Also dramatic everything.) We, the audience, know more than the characters themselves do because we see every relationship and every interaction. It’s what makes the show engaging, and it’s what makes the show painful. It’s what makes us go, “GAAAH. Clare, come on. COME ON, CLARE. See through it. SEE THROUGH IT. He’s lying to you. HE’S LYING TO YOU.”

But Clare won’t see through it. Because she doesn’t know what we know. Because she wants somebody to love her. Because it’s easier to believe lies than it is to believe the truth. That's our final UTOTW right there.

Universal Truth of the Week: We're better at believing lies than we are at believing the truth.

In my perfect fairytale, the prince is dating ONLY ME.
In my perfect fairytale, the prince is dating ONLY ME.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies we believe. I believe lies about myself, about other people, about God, about the future, about how much control I really have. When they go unchecked, all these lies together form a sort of wobbly foundation upon which I try to make sense of other things.

I’ve already blogged this season about the way that our feelings mislead us, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that our thoughts can mislead us just as much—especially the ones we think so frequently that we never question them.

Five seconds later
Five seconds later

I can only speculate that Clare believed Juan Pablo’s lies because they made sense upon the foundation of other lies she already believed—lies about his character, about her prospects, about what love is. She was incapable of seeing the truth until she was the girl being sent home the next morning.

Though Nikki got Juan Pablo’s final rose, she did not get a proposal or the L-word she had hoped for. Juan Pablo literally said, “I like you a lot. A lot. So, um, Nikki, will you accept my final rose?” And then they just made out.

[I found it amusing that, even though Juan Pabs was shown holding a ring, the producers cut out the Neil Lane diamond-picking segment normally included in every finale. Not even Neil Lane wanted to be associated with Juan Pablo. (Good call, Neil Lane’s marketing people.)]

After witnessing the awful non-proposal, I would’ve been happy never to see Juan Pablo and Nikki again (you know, until they grace the cover of Us Weekly under the headline “NIKKI WISES UP”), but obviously I had to watch the After the Final Rose special that aired live (four months after season filming ended) following the finale.

It was equal parts awkward, painful, and maddening. Nikki and Juan Pablo were not greeted by the audience as the stars of the show. No, Clare and Andi were the stars. Juan Pablo was the unapologetic villain, and Nikki was his delusional and defensive accomplice.

That makes two of you.
That makes two of you.

Recalling Nikki’s repeated statements that she needed to know Juan Pablo loved her “to feel confident” in their relationship, Chris Harrison asked her point-blank, “Has he told you he loves you?”

EVIL EYEBROWS!
EVIL EYEBROWS!

To this she replied, “Um, not exactly, but, you know, I think he—it's not that he doesn't tell me. It's like his actions. Like I know that does.”

I'm sorry, but can we get a collective, "No, he doesn’t" from the audience? I can’t tell if Nikki is also believing lies or if she knows she’s wrong and just won’t admit it. I heard some mentions of Stockholm Syndrome, but to me it looks more like Heidi and Spencer Syndrome—when others’ warnings that a couple’s relationship is unhealthy actually fuel that couple to stick together longer out of sheer stubbornness. (Named for the infamously awful The Hills’ stars Heidi and Spencer Pratt.)

Some seasons the finale leaves you feeling a little cathartic, and you turn the TV off with a sigh and hope the couple actually stays together. This was not one of those seasons. “Another season of The Bachelor has come to an end,” said Chris Harrison. “I’m not going to lie—I’m okay moving on.” You and me both.

The Bachelor's Lessons on Life & Love: Episodes 8 & 9

This week we had two episodes of The Bach, which means that I wanted to punch Juan Pablo in the face twice as much as normal. It also means that I've decided to share two Universal Truths. Buckle up. ¡Ay, ay, ay, readers! ¿Como se dice «shallow» en español? If I had any ounce of faith left in our leading man after last week, it disappeared this week as Juan Pabs repeatedly made a royal fool of himself.

On Monday night we watched him travel to four cities to meet the fams of his remaining ladies, Nikki, Andi, Renee, and Clare. These hometowns make for an interesting contrast with the exotic locales where most of the season is filmed. The relationships that seem only flimsy against the backdrop of Tokyo and Vietnam and New Zealand seem downright baseless in the living rooms of each woman's parents. Basically, when you go back to your parents' house, stuff gets real.

Or at least it's supposed to. Some of the parents seemed to have a better grasp on reality than others.

After meeting Juan Pabs, Nikki's dad sat down with her in the living room to have a little heart to heart in front of the cameras, and he asked her, "What have you seen in him that makes you feel that this could be a possible husband for you?"

Well, I feel really really bad about it.

Well, I feel really really bad about it.

Okay, Tom, I'll give you one point for asking that question, I guess. But this was Nikki's response. (WORD FOR WORD, people. I watched it like four times to make sure I transcribed accurately. I report the truth.) This was what Nikki said made her feel Juan Pablo could be a husband for her:

"I just feel like he makes me feel really comfortable around him, and there’s just something about him, and like I can’t really put my finger on it, and I can’t explain it, but it’s just awesome; like it’s like magical. Like, I don’t know, I just I feel really really good about it."

!!!!!

I can't even. CANNOT EVEN.

This is an aside for my parents, a.k.a., my most faithful blog readers:

If I ever bring a man into your house and tell you that I want to marry him not because of anything related to his character but because "it's like magical and he makes me feel really comfortable, and I feel really good about it," I beg you—I BEG YOU—to dropkick that man out of our living room and send me to a nunnery.

Now we know why she is how she is.

Now we know why she is how she is.

But, no. Do you want to know what Tom said? Tom said, "As my daughter I want you to know that I will always support you in whatever you do."

Which, AMAZINGLY, was even worse than what Nikki said, if that is possible.

I am like typing so hard that I'm damaging my keyboard right now.

"Always support[ing] you in whatever you do" = enabling.

WHEN YOU LOVE PEOPLE, YOU DON'T ENABLE THEM. YOU TELL THEM WHEN THEY'RE BEING STUPID. UNIVERSAL TRUTH OF THE WEEK.

Universal Truth of the Week: When you love people, you tell them when they're being stupid.

This was illustrated well by Andi's dad, Hy. Andi was slightly more articulate in her explanation of why she liked Juan Pabs, but she's not exactly getting any awards. "I have a good time with him, [and] we get along really well," she said.

Dad of the Year

Dad of the Year

Hy, being the LOVING PARENT THAT HE IS, said, "He's dating three other people. That's all I care about."

And when Juan Pabs asked if he could propose to Andi, Hy said, "The person that is gonna be good enough for my daughter is gonna come to me and say, ‘There's no one else in the world for me.'"

PREACH, HY DORFMAN. PREACH.

(Sorry not sorry for all the caps this week. I'm feeling these words almost as much as Nikki is feeling Juan Pablo.)

Okay, but the moral of this blog series is not: The people on The Bachelor are crazy; let's all laugh at them. The moral of this blog series is: The people on The Bachelor are crazy and also scarily similar to me.

I like to think I show more sense than these girls, but I am under no delusions that I am incapable of getting into a bad relationship. I see them everywhere. (You know, the ones that make you go, "What does she/he see in him/her!?")

I'm a firm believer that nobody should ever get into a relationship with anyone without making sure that a handful of wiser people in his or her life get absolute veto power. I want people around me who will throw down if I need it. Basically, this is my plea to you to go figure out who your Hy Dorfman is. And if you don't have one, GET YOSELF TO A GOOD CHURCH because there are plenty there.

I will not take time to comment on Clare and Renee's families' reactions to Juan Pablo because they were dull by comparison.

The rose ceremony, however, I will comment on. Because Juan Pablo sent Renee home — Renee, whose numerous virtues I extolled just last week.

Male readers, will you please explain to me why Juan Pablo sent Renee home? I don't understand. I have watched five seasons of The Bachelor, and we're three for five on the Bach turning down all the truly lovely girls in the house and choosing the most objectionable one there. (Nikki and Clare are tied for most objectionable this year, so we already know what Juan Pabs has coming.)

I've also watched five seasons of The Bachelorette, and whereas the girls do not always pick whom I would pick, they always end up with somebody who is generally unobjectionable. (Okay, somebody as unobjectionable as people who go on reality TV shows can be.)

I think there is a Universal Truth here that I am missing. Fill in the blank, men:

Universal Truth of the Week:

Please take your best shot.

ANYWAY, when Juan Pabs sent Renee home, he shifted from being just generallyunappealing to being officiallythe worst, and I would've stopped watching except for the fact that—just kidding, I wouldn't actually stop watching.

In Tuesday's episode, he and the final three again left the motherland and headed to St. Lucia where he had one-on-ones and overnight dates with each of the girls.

(Let me take a moment to say that the overnight dates are as much a mystery to me as they are to you. Obviously the name makes them sound super scandalous, but the contestants usually take great pains to explain in their asides that they only want "time to talk away from the cameras," and I tend to believe them, probably because these people seem so uninhibited about everything else they say on television that I have a hard time believing there's anything they wouldn't admit. Now you know the presumption under which I watch this show.)

There's part of your problem.
There's part of your problem.

With Renee gone, my allegiances had shifted to Andi, and that girl made both her dad and her law school professors proud in this episode by reaming Juan Pablo out like the freaking lawyer that she is.

Interesting criteria

Interesting criteria

But before we got to the good stuff, we had to watch his one-on-ones with the ladies. Honestly, I can't even distinguish among them in my brain because they were all the same. Clare and Nikki mainly just said a bunch of inane things (see pics at right) about why they liked Juan Pablo, and both girls told him that they loved him despite the fact that he is contractually prevented from reciprocating the response.

I started to see our Universal Truths come full circle this week after Andi had her overnight date. She was livid the next morning. "The whole night was just a disaster," she said. "I just realized that he didn't really care about who I was and what I thought and what I want in life....It sucks to think back about all the emotions I had. Was I an idiot? Was I blind? Was I trying to be as open as possible? I don't know."

Were you an idiot, Andi? Were you blind? Well, you were making up his personality in your brain, and you were gauging the strength of your relationship by how you felt. When the producers packed up and the cameras were gone and you had actual, real-life interactions with the guy for the first time, you saw the real him, and, surprise! The real him isn't all that appealing. Which leads us to yet another UTOTW.

Universal Truth of the Week: The shine always wears off, and all the remains is what's underneath.

Worked for a while.

Worked for a while.

You can only make up a person's personality in your brain for so long. The longer you know him and the more situations you go through together, the more you'll start to see his true character. This is why I find it odd when people say stuff like, "He's just not the same guy that he was when I first met him." Yes, he is. You just didn't know him when you first met him. Now that the shine has worn off, you're seeing the truth.

When you're dating a guy with good character, it will be okay when the shine wears off because what's underneath is good, too. It's when you're dating bros like Juan Pablo that you need to be concerned. Consider this another reason why you need a Hy Dorfman in your life. Other people may be better at seeing a person's true character than you are. (Especially if you're kissing that person.)

Winning her case.

Winning her case.

As would be expected, Andi decided to leave the show early, but not before going all district attorney on Juan Pablo and accusing him of always talking about himself and never caring about her. And as would also be expected, Juan Pabs didn't seem too sad to see her go—because she was right: he didn't really care about her; he only cared about himself.

Tomorrow night we'll watch the Women Tell All, and then we have to wait only one more week to see Juan Pabs get down on one knee and propose a marriage that will never happen to Nikki or Clare, and I don't know which one I hope he picks less. I can't wait!

The Bachelor’s Lessons on Life & Love: Episodes 6 & 7

Dear readers, I just want y'all to know that I drove to Target last week to buy a VHS tape to record episode six of The Bach because I was going to miss it, and I knew you would be heartbroken if you had to wait for my post. (I hope you feel loved.) Here's the thing, though: It is 2014. And apparently Target does not carry VHS tapes anymore. Alas, I watched the episode a week late on Hulu, so now I'm combining two episodes into one post again. (This may become a trend.)

Yes, Juan Pablo, that is the PREMISE OF THE SHOW. You have to pick one.
Yes, Juan Pablo, that is the PREMISE OF THE SHOW. You have to pick one.

I'm getting concerned about Juan Pablo. At the end of this past episode, he had narrowed his harem to four, and he is presumably just three weeks from getting on one knee and proposing marriage to one of the girls, but there is still no real frontrunner. I've watched this show for enough seasons to know that most Bachelors have one or two clear faves at this point.

Juan Pabs is similar to past Bachelors, however, in that his top four exemplifies his inconsistent judgement. Sometimes he handles himself in a way that suggests he is a totally legit guy—for instance, when he comforted Charlene as she told him she was leaving—but other times, Juan Pablo seems completely unable to see past a pretty face. The fact that crazy Clare and nasty Nikki are in the top four alongside Andi and Renee shows that Juan Pabs can be pretty clueless sometimes.

I'll structure the post a little differently this week. We're getting towards the end, so I'll share my thoughts on the final four ladies (plus Charlene because she totally would've made it to the top four had she not sent herself home early) before getting to our UTOTW.

Charlene

#smartgirlprobz

#smartgirlprobz

Charlene decided to leave in episode seven because she was lacking the "cerebral connection" she needed with Juan Pablo. That was her nice way of saying "I'm way too smart for this man."

I frequently hear tall girls lament that they are too tall for the guys they meet, but smart girls can never audibly lament that they are too smart for the guys they meet even though SOMETIMES WE TOTALLY ARE. So my opinion of Charlene went up last week. You made the right decision, girl.

Andi

So ironic
So ironic

Did y'all know Andi has kissed Juan Pabs more than any other girl on the show? Yeah, the producers keep track. Other than that, I have nothing to say about Andi from the past two weeks. I think she may be the next to go home, but it's any girl's game at this point.

My money's on Andi to be the next Bachelorette.

Clare

Clare may be crazy, but I can no longer question her love for Juan Pablo because in episode six, that man told her she looked hot in sweatpants and that he liked to listen to her talk.

Ahem.

The Bachelor producers take such pains to create romantic dates for Juan Pablo and the ladies. But HEAR ME OUT, male readers—'cause I know y'all totally read this—you do not need private jets and yacht trips and hidden waterfalls and rappelling adventures to woo the ladies. A girl will be truly wooed when you tell her that she looks hot in sweatpants and that you like to listen to her talk. If a man ever told me he liked to listen to me talk and actually meant it, I would probably marry that man. (Disclaimer: No guarantees.)

Nikki

Ben's season had Courtney, and Jake's season had Vienna, and Juan Pablo's season has Nikki. She's the girl whom the guys like and the other girls can't stand.

Preach.

Preach.

When I think of Nikki, I picture Janis Ianscreaming, "YOU ARE A MEAN GIRL!"

For reasons no one understands, Juan Pabs let Nikki be the first girl to meet his daughter, which confirms that he—like so many Bachelors before him—is a terrible judge of character. Not only is she straight-up mean, but she and Juan Pablo have also never had an actual conversation about an actual topic before.

Allow me to share with you a convo that took place between the two the prior week. Here it is, word for word:

Nikki: You look very nice tonight.... I give it a 10.

JP: Pink underwear by the way.

Nikki: I like a man in pink.

JP: I like pink a lot.

Nikki: I kind of like you a lot.

JP: Really, how come?

Nikki: Um, I just do. [Then they make out.]

JP: What does "a lot" mean?

Nikki: More than a little.

JP: What does "a little" mean?

Nikki: Not very much.... Um, I feel comfortable with you. You know, I feel excited and just myself.

JP: I like that a lot.

Nikki: Oh, how much is a lot?

[Stupid/awkward conversation spiral]

Sounds like a super solid foundation for a relationship. Time to meet the fam!

Renee

You are a gem, Renee.

You are a gem, Renee.

Like a lily among the thorns is Renee among the other bachelorettes.

Remember when she crawled under the bathroom stall door to comfort the drunk girl who'd made a total fool of herself?

And when she consoled Kassandra, who was missing her son?

And when she counseled Charlene, who couldn't decide whether or not to go home?

In a house full of girls who are looking out for their own best interests, Renee is constantly looking out for everyone else. Even before the rose ceremonies, Renee always seems more concerned about Juan Pablo's heart than her own.

This girl has never gotten the air time she deserves, but still we've seen glimpses of her goodness since the beginning. This leads us to our UTOTW.

Universal Truth of the Week: The best ones fly under the radar.

Renee is never the one stirring up drama or drawing attention to herself, which is precisely why she's the best catch in the house.

If Juan Pablo doesn't propose to Renee at the end of all of this, he's totally blind. And if he does, he's totally marrying up.