HOT TAKE: The Bachelor, Arie

Yes, I too, am part of Bachelor Nation. My journey to deal with my own emotional shortcomings and watch other people find love began with Rachel’s season last year. Since first falling in love I have gone to paradise once (What up Wills!) and attended my first winter games. So while I am new to the experience of trying to find the one for me amidst a curated set of 20+ insecure adults, I am not naive. This season America had the unfortunate privilege of watching the Bachelor’s own “Kissing Bandit” Arie Luyendyk Jr. return to prime time and try to find love.

Since I am relatively new to the Bachelor scene I was not aware of the kissing bandit’s previous appearance – so in a way I was…lucky? I came into this season with no preconceived ideas about who Arie is. I was meeting Arie for the first time just like all the women on the show that bravely step out of the limo at the Bachelor mansion. I didn’t have a cool entrance planned where I revved an F1 Indy car into the courtyard. I wasn’t coy about my age (I’m 33) as I rode up in a vintage mustang. I didn’t even have a toy wiener. I had a cold Coors Light and a trusty black lab who just wanted me to play with her instead of watching this show every Monday for 2 hours.

Week after week I tuned in to find out who Arie would discover as his true love, and honestly, after the first few weeks I had no idea why I kept going. Arie is a pretty uninteresting dude. Sure he drives racecars and has some nice salt and pepper hair that I am jealous of but outside of that? He’s no Peter. He’s a fake nice guy who wants to be seen as the nice guy but is not the nice guy.

Here is a good opportunity to admit my bias: Arie is from Scottsdale, AZ. I used to live in Tempe, AZ. I think most people from Scottsdale are douchebags. Glad that’s out of the way.

We are lead to believe that Arie is not the typical Scottsdale playboy he once was. He is a mature 36 year-old-man who finds himself ready to settle down and find love. ABC found roughly 30 or so women who might be the perfect match for Arie based on the highly secretive bachelor true love algorithm. One note on the top secret formula, ABC: you might want to place maximums on the names factor. Why? Because Arie is from Scottsdale and has no personality whatsoever. This means that approximately 25% of the contestants on the show were destined to be named Lauren, or Ashely. Lauren won out. Tweak the formula!

So after the first night’s carnage of rapid elimination we are left with our core set of about 16-20 women who will vie for Arie’s heart. There are a few notable standouts in the mix:

  • Krystal – A personal fitness instructor from California. She seems mostly normal at first, but man does she have a poker face. This ball of yarn quickly unravels and reveals a true monster. She’s the villain of the season, the snake (Shout out Kenny, love his relationship with Lee. I would watch that spin-off: Kenny & the Snake) who tries to keep Arie all to herself. Arie is digging her, but she becomes petty, jealous and vindictive. Still, I thought Arie might keep her around. Only when she was caught insulting him and hurting other girls feelings does Arie give her the boot. She is wife material, baby voice and all.
  • Beckah M – This pixie haired youngin’ arrives in a classic ‘stang and catches Arie’s eyes immediately. She has an appreciation for the older things in life, she says. She’s young, something Scottsdale dudes with gray hair love. I’m convinced that if Arie could steal her youth and use it be young again he would. He’s a youth vampire. She is energetic and fun, two things Arie is not.
  • Bibiana – Type cast as the Latin woman. She is everything that ABC needs her to be. Emotional, reactive, competitive. She seems to genuinely want Arie, but is ultimately without a rose early on. She gets a second chance at love during the winter games, but turns down the Kiwi Bachelor. I wanted this to work. I suspect she will be ready for paradise this year.
  • Tia – Oh Tia. A sweet southern girl from Wiener, AR. I just looked this up – wiener is home to 686 people. Total. My god. Mercifully Arie didn’t pick you. You deserve so much better than raceboi. Tia was immediately one of my favorites. This is probably because it didn’t seem like she was really feeling Arie at first. By the time she came around to liking Arie it was time to meet the families. It’s then that we know Arie is going to say goodbye. She has too much personality and is too sincere to break her heart on live TV. America wouldn’t stand for it.

IMHO the rest of the women don’t get significant screen time because they have too much to offer. They all have depth. Someone like Arie who is incredibly shallow is intimated by strong women. Want proof? Seinne. She’s an emotionally intelligent, Ivy League educated (Go Bulldogs! I wanted to go to Yale but wasn’t smart enough so lied about it for a bit. Now I write posts like this, go figure), strong and confidant black woman. Arie kept her around for the good optics but when it became time to boot her it “came out of nowhere”. Uh huh. Nice try Arie but I see you. Weeks go by and the women continue to leave the bachelor mansion. Or France. Or Peru. All somehow broken-hearted. None of them realize they just dodged a huge fucking bullet until the most dramatic bachelor finale ever.

The two finalists, Becca K. and Lauren B. (good odds) are wildly forgettable through much of the season. Lauren is monotone and unsure of how she feels towards anything, especially Arie, but Arie won’t have it. It’s clear from the jump that basic Lauren has captured his heart. In between their not-talking and looking uncomfortable true love can be forced. It only took several romantic trips across the world to convince Lauren to finally speak to Arie about something other than their immediate surroundings. Swoon.

Becca K. is the opposite of Lauren. She likes Arie for some unfathomable reason. Arie plays it cool with her and keeps her around week after week. My gut told me that Arie knew she liked him and could keep her around as an emergency parachute in case it became clear he was going to be embarrassed on national TV. Becca would say yes if he couldn’t convince Lauren to. How do we know this? ABC pretends it didn’t invite her ex-boyfriend down to Peru to try and win her back. Arie needs to know how desirable Becca is. It’s quite telling that Arie just lets him go over and try to win her back. He thinks it bad timing and whines a bit for the camera but at this point we know he doesn’t care.

In end, just like America, Arie chooses security. Is it right? No. He shockingly tells Lauren he saw some doubt in her eyes about their relationship and for that he has to let her go. Cue the dramatic mountainside proposal where Arie bends the knee and asks for Becca’s hand in marriage – something he should have never done. It’s perfectly okay to admit you played the game poorly, got blown out by the opposite side and had no business being on the field in the first place. But Arie isn’t a quitter. He’s in love. Kinda.

The hype leading up to finale was palpable. The leaks started coming in a few days before the airing of the finale. SOMETHING DRAMATIC HAD HAPPENED. Arie is having second thoughts. We learn he has been texting Lauren on the side (of course he has, he’s from Scottsdale), and telling Becca that he still thinks about Lauren. Becca, being entirely too Minnesota nice accepts this and wants to make it work with Arie all the same. Why does she do this? WHY? Because ABC wants to capture the exact moment when someone’s heart actually breaks in real-time, with no editing. This is the money shot the Bachelor drafted Arie to take from day one. Arie calls off the engagement, live, and we see Becca react just like someone we know in real life!

First she thinks he’s joking, then she experiences denial. Incredulity flashes across her eyes for a second and then is immediately replaced by sadness when she realizes he’s being serious. This is happening. Live. She repeats “Oh my fucking god” over and over before asking him to leave and trying to get space enough to cry off camera. This is the moment where Arie has an opportunity to do the right thing. To get just a sliver of self-respect back. All he has to do is leave. The damage is done, the engagement is off. He can text her on the side and explain more to her later – we don’t need to know any more.

Arie doesn’t leave. He lingers. He prods her by asking her how she is feeling. I know how she is feeling. The entire world does. Instead of fucking the fuck off Arie tries to play the nice guy card by being there for her in this hard time. Somehow he forgot he caused this? A nice guy would leave. Arie is not a nice guy. This half-hour segment of the 2 hour finale drags on for what feels like days. I am going through all the breakups I’ve ever experienced in my head. I’ve been Arie. I’ve been Becca. I never wanted to be back in that place but because Trump is now President we all get to experience our worst memories again. Thanks Arie.

So Arie asks for Lauren to marry him and she says “sure”. You deserve this Arie. You deserve all of this. Becca is our new Bachelorette by default. I’m sick of this shit. I’m ready for paradise. Wills, don’t forget your puppets, daddy needs a drink.