Another season of Bachelor in Paradise draws to a close on Monday night, and with it ends the grueling obligation to spend three hours a week watching sweaty singles dry hump and cry (not necessarily in that order). Last season I described the Bachelor/Bachelorette spin-off as “an all-star league populated by some of the franchise’s most afflicted [as in mentally/emotionally unstable] former contestants.” That wasn’t quite as true this season. Both of the Ashleys are totally unhinged and, frankly, Joe seems like he’d hit a woman, but there was also a healthy helping of snoozy monogamists who did well at maintaining a facade of sanity, like Carly (ugh), Kirk (zzzz), Jade (*crickets*), and Tanner (phsllllsheleshh).
But once again it was a window into a frightening world with arbitrary rules written and enforced by maniacs, be they producers or contestants. Here are some I’ve picked up on . . .
Women are older than men even when they’re basically the same age. Clare Crawley is 33 years old. Now, I’m also 33 years old, so you could say I have a dog in this fight, but Clare is not old, a thing Ashley I. accused her of being and the thing that caused Jared, a tender 26 years young, to reject her. (She is, however, long in the tooth—those veneers never cease to amaze me!) Meanwhile, Dan Cox’s age—32—hasn’t been dwelled on. But neither has the fact that the beard makes him look like a dancer at a bear bar or every third guy on Scruff.
Single moms deserve love more than other single women. Juelia, the shiniest lady in all the land, has a daughter. We know this because sometimes we see her FaceTiming with a small child and also because everyone brings it up all the time—especially when rose ceremonies roll around and she’s at risk of going home unless a guy picks her—because she “deserves” to be there more than someone else. Juelia’s loneliness was bumming everyone out so hard that the producers arranged for our simian friend Mikey to come back for her even though she didn’t really give a shit about him when she thought Joe actually liked her. Joe liked her so little! Maybe because her name is spelled “Juelia”?
Both people have to agree to end a relationship. Remember the Seinfeld episode when George’s girlfriend wouldn’t let him break up with her because it’s like “launching missiles from a submarine—both of us have to turn the key”? That’s basically how everyone on this show behaves. Oh, and showing interest in a person at any point constitutes “leading that person on.” So, Samantha texted and made out with Joe and then realized that she didn’t want to date him forever because he’s a shallow, angry, horrible person. What a fucking tease, right?
Being on a Bachelor franchise show two or three times is totally OK—but five times is for gross perverts and losers. This season of Bachelor in Paradise constitutes Chris Bukowski’s fifth appearance on a Bachelor-associated program, and his housemates did everything short of pelting him with spoiled vegetables when he arrived. He got too drunk for their liking and attempted to hang out with Tenley, who rejected him, adorably (“I’m not gonna kiss ya!”), and then asked him to confirm that he understood she was rejecting him. (To her credit, men here don’t always understand when they’re being rejected.) Then Joshua did the ballsiest thing ever and asked Chris if he could use his date card to go out with Tenley instead. Beaten down like an old dog, Chris agrees, and then goes home without a shirt or his dignity. Given his loyalty to the franchise, you’d think the producers would love him. Nope! They compiled every awful thing people said to or about him and played them like they were voices in his head.
Even though this is a show about single people meeting other single people, you can’t just run around meeting any single person you want! When Jacqueline arrived just this week, right away someone offered to orient her—who’s dating who, who’s dated who, who’s undateable—and she was like, no, fuck it, I’ll do what I want. Atta girl! Where have you been all our lives? (Putting on makeup. Lots and lots of makeup.)
Bonus thing: Jared is a handsome person and we will all treat him that way. The most difficult pill to swallow this season has been that everyone thinks Jared is soooo fine—seriously, could you imagine swallowing a pill that sharp and angular? Ashley I. described him as “Ashton Kutcher mixed with Joe Jonas.” I’d go with “the Backstreet Boy with the thick eyebrows mixed with that creepy kid in middle school who had a pager and was always hanging around near the pay phones outside a convenience store.” Except with patchier facial hair.