There was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where geeky super villain Warren created a “love-bot” programmed only to love him. Things went awry when Warren found an actual flesh-and-blood woman whose company he preferred to that of the love-bot and his Franken-girlfriend was doomed to wander around Sunnydale looking for Warren, getting increasingly agitated when she couldn’t find him, “because I love him and he loves me and we are meant to be together.”
I found myself thinking about Warren’s crazed love-bot when I saw a sputtering, befuddled, and utterly freaked out Chris Harrison on Monday’s After the Final Rose episode.
You see, The Bachelor (and its sister show, The Bachelorette) is set up for one thing and one thing only: To create the comforting illusion that their ridiculous 12 week game show ends up with true love. Sometimes there is a proposal, sometimes there is just a heartfelt declaration of love. Always, the audience plays along, with obedient collective amnesia, pretending that 90 percent of all The Bachelor relationships don’t fall apart within six months of the show’s end.
But this season’s Bachelor, the none too bright, none too nice, and none too fluent in English Juan Pablo, didn’t follow the rules—and it was spectacular.
Things got weird right away, when he rejected runner up Claire and she, well, had a cow. No, she wasn’t the first person to respond angrily (“you’re not the man I thought you were!”) to a Bachelor’s rejection, but he was the first Bachelor to not stick to the script in response. Instead of comforting Claire, telling her how much he cared for her, giving her some platitudes about how she was going to find a man worthy of her love, he looked annoyed by her little tantrum and then, after she finally left in a huff, he said, “Whoo! I’m glad I didn’t pick her.”
*Studio audience gasp!*
Then it was Nikki’s time to come teetering off that ridiculous boat in high heels, ready for her proposal and the exciting beginning of the rest of her life.
“I can’t wait for him to finally say I love you back!” she enthused.
Well, she’s still waiting, as far as we know.
Because, once again, Juan Pablo went off script—way off script. He didn’t get down on one knee (not unprecedented on The Bachelor) and he didn’t even say I love you (totally fucking unprecedented!).
Instead, he said, “I like you a LOT”—which, let’s face it, is the kind of bold proclamation a dude can make after a really good first coffee date.
And poor Nikki had to just stand there—the winner, but NOT the winner; smiling like a pageant queen who had just taken home the “Miss Congeniality” prize.
Wh-wh-what just happened?
Okay, so the actual show was a bit of a bust, but the After the Final Rose promised to give us what we all wanted and craved, right? Juan Pablo finally prostrating himself before us, and declaring his love for Nikki. Indeed, there was talk of a surprise announcement. Could it be—oh sweet, sweet redemption!—a proposal?
(The fact that Juan Pablo is a sexist jerk you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy is irrelevant to this little equation: We wanted our “happy” ending, dammit!)
Once again, Juan Pablo refused to play along. (I’m honestly not sure if it’s because he’s subversive or if he’s just not intelligent enough to play the part he unofficially signed on to play.) He and Nikki were doing great, he said. There was no secret announcement. Certainly not a proposal. Not even a mild commitment.
It was at this point that Chris Harrison turned into Warren’s love-bot.
“But you love her, right?” he kept saying.
Juan Pablo remained mum.
“You clearly love her,” Harrison said. “Why not just say it?”
(Juan Pablo’s love, by the way, was not clear to anyone but Chris Harrison.)
Anyway, Harrison went from baffled to annoyed to enraged. He wasn’t programmed to handle this kind of curve ball. He had no script, no tools to deal with this deviation from his programming. He literally was like the love-bot wandering aimlessly around Sunnydale, getting increasingly agitated. At one point, I think I saw smoke come out of his ears.
So the funny thing is that Juan Pablo, possibly the biggest jerk in the history of the show, also became its greatest hero. He was the first person to point out the absurdity of the whole process. To essentially say: This is not a proper setting to fall in love. I am not in love. I’m basically some guy who came on The Bachelor to get laid.
The truth hurts, America. But I’m sure our collective amnesia will kick in the for the Bachelorette, Andi Dorfman. She’s a nice Jewish girl and a lawyer! Gosh, I just know she’s going to find Mr. Right!