The Bachelor's Four-hour Hometowns/Fantasy Suite Extravaganza: It's Not Okay
Someone is going to get fired, n’est pas? I'm looking at you, Bachelor Harem Casting Office! How did you manage to let not one, but TWO self-respecting women with a sense of their own worth make it into this season's cast? THAT’S NOT THE WAY THIS WORKS. They should've all been Clares, Bachelor Harem Casting Office! Disney-princess-faced and inwardly seething, that's what we're going for here.
First there was Too-Classy-4-This Sharleen, who said in no uncertain terms the connection between her and Juan Pablo wasn’t “cerebral” enough (a.k.a. "himbo is dumb") before bouncing out of Miami to the rest of her extremely successful opera career...
...and then this week, Andi, the sharp-shooting Atlanta assistant district attorney, turned a tropical paradise into a high-noon duel. Andi called out Juan Pablo as only a high power ADA can, and she was downright angry he had wasted her time. She missed weddings for this! (Though frankly, is there a better excuse to scrawl onto an RSVP card? “Can’t come, finding love!”) As an audience, we had a general idea of what was stewing in Andi, thanks to the confessional the producers taped presumably right after their disastrous one-on-one date: Andi reiterating that Juan Pablo couldn’t be bothered to ask her anything about herself or really listen to her, that he talked mostly about himself and did a lot of “name-dropping.” (How I long to know what names he dropped. Those giant CGI M&M’s he’s been co-starring with during commercials? David Beckham? Xuxa?)
Juan Pablo’s talking head was hilariously intermixed with Andi's own disgusted reactions. Everything is great! She might be the one! It was perhaps a window into just how weirdly detached Juan Pablo has appeared throughout this entire process. His insistence on activities that involved not talking, his habit of constantly tracing the features on his date’s faces while they tried to have a conversation with him as if he was completely not listening—am I alone on this one, or has Juan Pablo seemed a little checked out? And Andi was sane enough to not gloss over that.
Their actual confrontation brought more unflattering remarks to light, along with a smattering of he-said, she-said: Andi was offended he told her she was the “default” choice after he decided Renee was not in his top three, and he denied the comment insisting he'd said she had “barely made it,” which actually seems more insulting? Regardless, Andi refused to let him end the conversation with an “It’s okay. Thank you for being honest.” Andi’s point was—and I kind of agree with her—that slapping an “It’s okay” onto every response in a difficult conversation is extremely dismissive and condescending. She was not asking him if he was okay with her leaving, she was telling him why he drove her away, and if his feelings were ever actually involved, that should've bothered him. As she pulled away in the ABC Getaway Van, we got Juan Pablo congratulating himself on dodging a bullet—“That little fight right there was everything”—and Andi, hilariously, accurately predicting that he’d “It’s okay” away their conversation. “He doesn’t get it. It’s not a language barrier thing.” AGREED, and it’s not the first time he’s used the ESL thing as a mask for incredibly hurtful and thoughtless behavior; he tried to to dismiss his inexcusably homophobic remarks halfway into the second week of the season with the same inadequate defense.
So, huge round of applause for Andi: She has a real sense of self worth that is not swayed by travel, sun, or all the champagne ABC can buy. And another round of applause for her dad, who no doubt helped build the foundation of that self esteem. When Juan Pablo traveled to the girls' hometowns in the first half of this week's four-hour extravaganza, Papa Dorfman gave him perhaps the best response I’ve heard to what is easily the series’ most asinine ritual —“Time to ask Daddy for the blessing on a proposal that may or may not happen after two hours of small talk!”—and told Juan Pablo that the man who deserved his daughter would know that he couldn’t bear to be with anybody else.
Andi echoed this sentiment when she proclaimed that she wanted a man who loved her more than he loved himself. That’s not normally how we speak about love; usually, we phrase it the other way around: You put the person you love before yourself. That Andi was gauging how much he appreciated her versus how quickly she could talk herself into loving him provided a healthy contrast to the rest of the contenders, and it might very well pay off in a material way. Some internet sources are already talking about Andi Dorfman being the next Bachelorette like it’s a done deal, and if she’s as forthright with male contestants as she was with Juan Pablo, that'd be an amazing season.
Was this Andi’s plan all along?! Surely the awkwardness with Juan Pablo was apparent ages ago—the long-delayed first date, the off-key disjointed harmonizing of their steel drums, the weird moment where she and Juan Pablo harassed a couple of kids at a picnic table. If she hung around in hopes of becoming the Bachelorette, then frankly I like her even more. To the savvy, the spoils!
As for the final two contenders, only sworn enemies Clare Crawley and Nikki Ferrell remain in this ridiculously expensive race to the altar, to the delight of The Bachelor's producers. The girls have already said to each other's faces that they are NOT friends and they DO NOT LIKE each other, so that ensures a piquant level of psychological anguish when/if Juan Pablo chooses one over the other. Maybe moreso for Clare, who has visibly wrestled with her fury each time he’s called Nikki for a rose before her and declared that whichever woman he picks will say a lot about who he is as a person: good or evil, presumably. In her mind it’s Betty and Veronica, when in fact JP has introduced Nikki to his daughter already so... watch out, Clare.
During the hometown dates, I felt for Clare; she has a Dickensian number of sisters and one of them was sort of kind of hyper-controlling and emotionally abusive? I’m looking at you, Lara. What was the deal with Lara parking herself next to their mom and answering for her? Granted I think we’d all have the instinct to shake the shit out of a sibling if they were talking marriage about someone they'd just met, but do it when the cameras are off. Clare’s modest Sacramento home and inability to have a five-minute conversation without being sister-bullied contrasted vividly with Nikki’s palatial Kansas mansion, where giant Chinoiserie screens predominated and her dad was all like “Dude marry my daughter sure” and Nikki and her BFF mom had a nice gossip sesh upstairs.
All this, along with a six-year age difference and her obvious authentic crush on Juan Pablo, conspire to make Clare the underdog I long to champion... except guys, can I be real with you, I can’t handle Clare, and I cannot handle her lips. Clare has not stopped pursing, flexing, or wriggling her lips since Juan Pablo complimented them. They are great lips, sure, but get a shiny gloss and let them stand on their own merits dude, don’t wiggle them around like they’re showgirls at the KissyFace Casino. And Clare is so SUPPRESSED. All her rage, all her feelings, just jammed down into a tiny cloud of darkness that comes out in her eyes when Juan Pablo looks away. In that sense, she is the antithesis of Andi.
For weeks now I’ve watched her quietly, discreetly freak out for extremely justifiable reasons: Juan Pablo slut-shamed her! Juan Pablo sent her off without a rose after she got very real with him about her dad on a group date! Juan Pablo called Nikki ahead of her every week for a rose! And we've been able to see the anger flash over her face (in one instance, when she was in a helicopter headed back for a hotel, she openly cursed about getting the bleep back on the beeping road), but she is 100 percent dedicated to being just the sweetest lil’ ole thing when she’s next to Juan Pablo. Her voice and conversation when she's sitting across form him becomes way more childish than the articulate, grown woman who shows up to film her testimonials. With Juan Pablo, Clare scrunches up those lips and wants to know if her dress is okay? Oooh when she covers his eyes she goes away! Peekaboo! and it’s just... it’s just so not cool. If a guy likes a dumber version of you, you need to go find a smarter version of him. Of course, unlike Andi, Clare wants to stick around, and I think that's why she’s endlessly swallowing the bitter horse pill of impotent rage: Juan Pablo may value honesty, but he be no friend to an honest confrontation.
I’m conflicted about this season. I'm sort of hoping neither girl ends up with Juan Pablo, both because he hasn’t seemed mentally present the entire season and because honestly I haven’t seen any authentic chemistry at all? The promos for the finale look pretty grim. What is happening? How did things go so terribly wrong?
... Who if anyone is making it out of this show engaged?
... Is Andi a canary in the mineshaft for The Bachelor? Like, how many more years before the premise of this show is completely untenable?
... Andi: unnecessarily harsh on Juan Pablo, or are you proud of her for getting her say in?
... Can someone be “too honest”?
... Clare vs. Nikki: Who would you rather go on a road trip with?
... Is Juan Pablo honestly looking for a life partner, or is he just riding the ABC train to the end of the line?
... Is four hours of The Bachelor in one week kind of like when your dad catches you smoking and makes you smoke an entire carton of cigarettes, which is to say, awesome? Or just too much?
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