During Week Three, Part One of this season’s The Bachelorette, Tony gets a rose.
Tony is a healer from St. Louis, Missouri who kisses his Bonzai tree in his initial hometown interview and says things like: “I see the world through the eyes of a child, I have the heart of a warrior and the soul of a Gypsy.”
Later in the episode, Kaitlyn, our bachelorette, invites Tony on a group date sumo wrestling, and Tony starts yelling about peace and love and violence and wanting to “just go to the f—ing zoo.”
But Tony gets the rose, and sweet Daniel1 is eliminated.
* * *
After years of rolling my eyes and verbosely judging anyone who flipped the channel to ABC on Monday nights, I began watching The Bachelor in January 2014.
Or should we say Juanuary 2014?
You might be wondering: Why would I want to start watching The Bachelor during Juan Pablo’s season? The guy is a jerk.
If Tony is a villain on The Bachelor, Juan Pablo is a supervillain.
That is some entertaining television.
* * *
The Bachelor saga is more like a Greek drama than a reality television show. I used to yell at the television screen the way adults yell at middle school students:
IT’S NOT LOVE!
It’s hormones. And the bachelor-mansion setting with the pool and hot tub and costumes (nudity is a costume, right?).
The producers develop the cast the way a playwright stages characters: villain enters from stage left carrying a rose; hero exits stage right empty-handed.
The scripts of cast interviews are manipulated:
How do you feel about sumo wrestling, Tony? You’re okay with it? Are you sure? It doesn’t make you angry at all? Aren’t you upset with Kaitlyn for disrespecting your peace-and-love morality? Wouldn’t you much rather go to the zoo? You would? How angry does it make you that you’re not at the zoo right now? Angry enough to leave the show?
* * *
In Week Three, Part Two, after Tony voluntarily leaves the show, more drama conveniently escalates as Clint professes in an interview: “I feel like I’ve connected with JJ more than Kaitlyn right now.”
Moments later, as Clint downs his Jameson on the rocks:
JJ: If the eyepatch fits…
Clint: Hey, villains gotta vill.
JJ and Clint clink glasses.
JJ: Goin’ vill.
And the fans wait for Jared, self-proclaimed Loveman, (“Ready to rescue the bachelorette from all the evil men in the world!”). We wait for Jared, who stepped out of the limousine the first night wearing a parody of a Superman shirt. We wait for Jared to stop shrinking incognito in the crowd like Clark Kent and to play his part.
* * *
Sean, the bachelor from Season 17, shares in an article from US Weekly that he and Catherine, the “winner” of the season and now Sean’s wife, had to re-learn how to date after the show ended:
“You spend just a small amount of time with that person before getting engaged, which sounds nuts…You leave the show, you get into the real world and find out like, ‘Oh crap! Being in a relationship isn’t always easy and it actually takes work!’”2
In any drama, after the curtain falls, the heroes are left to stare at stage makeup without the lights. They are left to create their own stories without ornate settings and scripted climaxes.
* * *
The drama of plays and reality television is not unlike our own lives. After the romance of meet cutes, after the initial moments of spilled coffee, of exploding fireworks above lawn blankets, we are left staring at leftovers for dinner and dirty dishes in the sink. We are left staring at one another’s skin and bones and discovering the hopes and dreams, the flaws and imperfections that heroes and villains are really made of.
Because we are creatures of stories, we create heroes and villains in our love lives the same way the producers of The Bachelor cast them. The boy who never calls? Villain. The girl who brings you lunch during a stressful day at work? Heroine. Taylor Swift writing a breakup song about you? Villain. The one who takes you to the zoo? Hero, according to Healer Tony.
In real life, as in The Bachelor, heroes and villains have their defining moments of virtue and vice. But moments don’t last forever, and at the end of that moment, both heroes and villains are ordinary, messy people with a really good story.
- I’m not sure if anyone remembers Daniel (I don’t), but he has a chivalric cast bio. ↩
- “Sean Lowe, Catherine Giudici Explain Why So Few Bachelor Couples Get Married.” US Weekly (Feb. 17 2015) ↩
Cassie Westrate (’14) graduated with a double major in writing and international development studies. She currently lives in West Michigan, where she works as a writer, hangs out with her pet bird, and fights crime by night. Just kidding about the crime.