Look, fine, okay, fine, look. I watch The Bachelor. I have always watched The Bachelor*. What's more, I don't just watch The Bachelor sometimes, or a lot. What I'm saying is that I never don't watch The Bachelor.
*and, naturally, The Bachelorette
Even when I was sick in the hospital last year—too sick to watch the Oscars!—I was like I...think...I...can...still...watch...The Bachelor and I did, forcing my eyes up to the screen in between bouts of throwing up, which was a triumph of the spirit of fun, I think.
I read books, okay? I read big ones. I just started rereading War and Peace, which I almost finished twenty years ago, and I have every reason to believe that I can almost finish it again. I also listen to classical music on purpose, and I've seen a dance performance this very year! And it was a dance about Socrates! So when you judge me, fold that in.
What can I say? Watching ladies and gentlemen fight each other to bag a hottie relaxes and invigorates me. I'm married—I've been with Dave for ten years and some change—and so I'm out of the game. Watching The Bachelor gives me the chance to armchair quarterback a little. Also, there's a strong rubbernecking component because HOLY JESUS, who would put herself through something like this? I met Dave on a yoga retreat in Hawaii that I went on with my best friend and some other excellent folks, and I remember weeping tiny tears leaning against a van window on a trip home from the beach because my friend had fallen asleep on Dave's shoulder in the back seat. Her head was touching him! All was lost. Our love would never be. If we multiplied that by 25 but with women who were actually trying to wrestle him out of my grip, I'd have gone bald from the stress. It's awful/wonderful to witness, like watching a typhoon from inside a warm, well-stocked, indestructible house.
My mom also watches The Bachelor, and this has brought us closer together. Every week she says, "It's a horrible show. It makes me sick. I don't think I'll watch it again," and then she watches it anyway and calls me during a commercial, all, "What do you think of the preschool teacher? I think she's nice." We've watched it together a few times, but this gets dicey as a season wears on and the making out gets more intense. She'll say things like "Do you think they're going to suck face again?" which is a troubling and totally unauthorized use of slang. A of all, nobody says that anymore—if they ever did—and b of all, she particularly times a billion does not say that. My mom saying suck face is about as credible as me attempting to work a stripper pole. I promise you that that analogy is proportional.
The latest season just ended on Monday night, and it featured the most wack Bachelor ever, a narcissistic former professional soccer player from Venezuela named Juan Pablo whose air supply was apparently going to run out if he didn't have his hands on a woman's face at all times. Truly, he was the most face-fingering man alive, constantly stroking temples and chins and foreheads and noses, whispering "It's okay," and "Stop crying."
The final two contestants were a pediatric nurse named Nikki from Kansas City and a hairstylist named Clare from Sacramento. Clare's speech pattern made me want to kick my television.
Everything? She said? Was so?
But poor, starry-eyed Clare got slut-shamed and then rejected something fierce by Juan Pablo, so she had my sympathy. What was truly wonderful, however, was when the final two women met his family. They know better than anybody what a dick Juan Pablo is, and they did their best to convey this to the women without outright crucifying him on camera. Examples, only the slightest bit paraphrased from memory:
Juan Pablo's mother, Nelly: What do you like about him?
Clare: He's honest!
Nelly: Honest....hm. He's rude. You know, he's made me cry many times.
Juan Pablo's cousin, Rodolfo: So how much fighting are you prepared for?
Nikki: Well, I think a certain amount of fighting is healthy.
Cousin Rodolfo: So if things get difficult, and he walks away—which he will—how much are you willing to sacrifice to make it work?
Juan Pablo's father, Saul: Juan Pablo is a difficult man. He's not easy. And he's always right.
Nikki: That's great. He's honest. So...that's good.
Nelly: What do you imagine your weekends will be like?
Nikki: We'll probably go to the beach with his daughter during the day, maybe the lake, and then we'll come home and do family things, play games maybe in the evening.
Nelly: What will happen is that you'll make him breakfast and then he'll watch TV all day. Juan Pablo is a simple man. Are you sure you want a simple man like Juan Pablo?
Nelly: Do you love him?
Clare: I do.
Nelly: Are you sure?
It was one of the most pleasing segments I've ever seen. They didn't throw him under the bus, exactly. They just gently made sure that when the bus took off, he was under it. I was hoping for more and more obscure relatives to pop out of the woodwork and give him delicately negative Yelp reviews.
Great-Uncle Felipe: How do you feel about always being the person to take out the garbage? Juan Pablo doesn't like to do that.
Ancestor Dora: He's never been all that kind to animals. Do you care for animals much?
Cousin Virgilio: On a scale of one to ten, how important is fidelity to you? Is it over, say, a three? I am simply curious.
In the end, Nikki "won", if winning is having a handsome douchebag announce to you that he has a ring in his pocket but he's not going to propose, then grab your face and whisper "Don't be cranky" to it over and over while the credits roll. Which—no lie—is how the show ended, and which is exactly why I watch it in the first place.