“This is going to be painful.”
Chris Harrison spoke that line with his signature mock solemnity during The Bachelorette’s live finale. He stood in the center of the After the Final Rose set, surrounded by an audience of women (many who wept) and a few cast member alums.
Chad was there, slumped in his seat, security guard in tow. At one point he arose and pleaded his case. He wants to be the next bachelor. Yes . . . Chad. Paragon of toxic masculinity. Puncher of men. Taker of ‘roids.
He claimed that he had recently been through a lot. He milked the death of his mom. He revealed that he was a marine (like his nemesis Alex!). The show had kept hidden that respectable fact. He admitted he had behaved badly and would seem even worse once Bachelor in Paradise premieres—the teasers show him drunk and violent. Quelle surprise.
His entreaty ended with his claim that “everyone deserves love.” He was slurring, eyes dark. That mix when shame meets intoxication. Let’s hope he gets the part. There’s so little true understanding about the sadness of certain white men, the Chads of the world, monster darlings, toxic narcissistic abuse-hounds.
Do it, ABC. Cast Chad. You know you want to.
Robby’s broken heart was supposed to be the big tragedy of the night. But no one even mentioned him as a possibility to become the next bachelor. There was no balm for his demolished heart. Barring some kind of Chase miracle, it will be War Veteran Luke, God of Abs, Lust-puppet to JoJo, Prince of all things pure and rural.
If nihilists get their way, and they might, it will be the ogre Chad, twin soul to Ramsey Bolton, the Republican nominee, and those of that ilk—men of the zeitgeist after all.
Robby somehow came off as gracious and dignified despite getting “gutted” by JoJo, or Joelle as he calls her. That’s how close they were. How in love. It was plain as day that if Joelle wanted sweetness and happiness she should choose Robby. He had been thinking about their future life. Robby’s domestic fantasy included a comfy couch and burnt dinner. So realistic.
“I’m giving you a princess.”
Joelle’s parents raised an actual princess, according to them. Now she needs to become queen. Which is fine. Rock on, your royal majesty.
However, Joelle is a walking psychological sketch of a woman with a penchant for bad boys. You saw it over and over. A man would exude human characteristics and/or claim to love her and she would immediately be struck with nausea. Somehow, Robby was able to say “I love you” five hundred million times and still stick around. Joelle detects he has a “good soul.” Her family also noticed. That was the nail in Robby’s coffin.
Dr. and Mrs. Fletcher know that Robby loves their daughter. He says that she’s his “number one priority in life.” So they tell her to choose Robby and she freaks out. Not only does Joelle go for bad boys, but she also loves to rebel against her parents and brothers.
They call Robby “husband material.” One of the brothers finds him a “logical fit,” ready for a serious life. Plus, he asked permission for her hand in marriage. Guess who did not ask for permission? The brother of Aaron Rodgers.
Anyway, Princess Joelle starts to tantrum, as princesses do. Dr. and Mrs. Fletcher do not like it when Joelle cries. They try to soothe her. She interrupts them. She whines. “I’m so stressed out,” she wails, channeling Veruca Salt a little bit.
The real issue here is that Jordan neglected to ask her dad for her hand in marriage. Like he said he would! Back on fantasy suite night! Oh Joelle, don’t you know about the things men will say in the deep of night?
Why are we so desperate for princesses and permissions?
As you know, most fairy tales and romantic comedies end with marriage. So even though that’s when things supposedly get good, you never get to see it. So too with The Bachelorette.
Neil Lane arrives. Sparkling ring goes to finger. Engagement. Boom. Over.
Marriage originated not for love, but as a fiscal transaction between a woman’s husband and dad. Why doesn’t that make Joelle nauseous? Instead, she gets frantic because Jordan neglected to get her dad’s permission.
Why is this millennial woman of the world clinging to this tradition? When you break them down, all traditions are weird. Hey kids, believe in Santa. Or time to for everyone in the U.S to eat turkey. Same with rituals around love. They are all weird.
Do not tell Joelle that Jordan doesn’t need anyone’s permission to drop to his knee. Also, do guys really need to drop to their knee? Yes. Because rituals invoke social order. They keep everyone calm. The Bachelorette obsesses with rituals around love. It tries to give us a sense of social order, of rightness.
The franchise’s great spark is in the way it mucks all that up. It starts with a fantasy, promises a marriage, and then takes us behind the curtain. “This is going to be painful,” indeed. The show revels in the grotesquerie of it all. Of broken hearts and losers. Of guys like Chad asking for redemption.
And in its very premise: that love happens best while on camera. Privacy equals danger.
Love is still, in part, an economic transaction: lavish weddings, white ball gowns, Neil Lane reveries, men dropping to their knees and asking your dad’s permission.
Aren’t we past all this?
Drop to your knee, Jordan, or get the hell out.
Jordan’s Hail Mary Pass
Jordan finally acted like the Former Pro Quarterback who he apparently is—but not until the very last second.
He started off his meeting with Joelle’s family by saying that it’s so great to make fun of people. Like they do in his family. It’s their “tradition.” It’s so wonderful to embarrass each other and laugh at each other. (Is this why Aaron is AWOL?) Jordan brings everyone the gift of a terrible hat. No one is more awkward than Jordan when it comes to family.
Mrs. Fletcher confronts him: “Give me your word you will not break JoJo’s heart.” Jordan responds with “Absolutely . . . [weird pause] . . . not.” Freud would have a field day. Mrs. Fletcher figures out that Jordan is an egomaniac, but that makes Joelle need him even more.
There’s a huge brouhaha over the ask-the-dad-permission thing. It seems like Joelle will choose Robby—because he asked the dad permission.
Finally, it’s game day. Jordan calls and asks permission by phone. The Fletchers give him their blessing. But how will Joelle know?
Write a letter. Pass that pigskin.
Somehow, Robby also writes a letter—on notebook paper with a frayed edge like it was yanked from some battered spiral notebook.
Jordan’s letter wins. It lands on JoJo.
Incidentally, know who else is amazing at Hail Mary passes? Actually superior at them? Some guy named Aaron Rodgers who is supposedly desperately famous, yet also so estranged from his little brother that he hasn’t even met his fiancée, a real princess, despite the fact that Chris Harrison promises, (promises!), in so many earnest teasers that we will get to the bottom of this famous rift concerning Aaron Rodgers, a footballer who performs the position known as quarterback, and his brother, who also, formerly, played the same position, but not as well, sadly.
How do you make a beach TV-ready?
First, get some rattan baskets the size of cement drums and have them kind of loll around the set. Place even more baskets and vases all over. Add some palm fronds. Drape leis over a bunch of Buddha statues that have Mona Lisa smiles. Chris Harrison shall wear the same expression when he sends Robby to his doom.
Joelle wears a pair of strappy heels apparently made from discarded engagement rings. She is a vision—and seems almost happy when Jordan finally drops to his knee and asks the most important question in the history of questions.
Yes. But then they don’t seem all that happy once they make it from that beach in (ready?) Phuket, Thailand, back to the couch on After the Rose. There’s been trouble. Rumors. Tabloids. Why can’t everyone just be happy for Jo and Jo?
Why is this couple the subject of so many articles like the very one you are reading? So faithless, so mordant. Why so cruel?
Because we already know what happens. Chris Harrison leads us through the motions every time. And we already know, it’s going to hurt.
Photo: Getty Images
Read Molly Pennington, PhD every week here on The Good Men Project!
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at our Submittable link.
And thank you for sharing this!