As someone who’s has made The Bachelor franchise a guilty pleasure for well over 6 years now, I know that I was as shocked as the rest of Bachelor Nation when Arie Luyendyk was announced as the Bachelor for the 22nd season (yes, you read that right, we’re 22 seasons into this crazy social experiment).
My first reaction?
Who the hell is Arie Luyendyk?
Now, if I was a die-hard Bachelor fan, I am sure I would have known at least who he was, but even the majority of Bachelor Nation who did know of him was surprised at the choice to make him the next Bachelor. I won’t pretend to understand the elaborate reasoning behind this choice, but let’s just all agree he wasn’t the obvious next guy in line.
Given that, Arie’s season of The Bachelor began with, what seemed to be, little hype and excitement. As with every season, I rolled my eyes and said it looked absurd but set the DVR to record just the same.
Because once a member of Bachelor Nation, always a member of Bachelor Nation.
Now, if you’re reading this article because you know me, but have no idea who Arie is and are not a fan of The Bachelor, let me break it down for you –
The premise of the show? A guy dates about 30 women for 2 months, ultimately whittles them down to his two favorites, and in the finale – says goodbye to one, and proposes to the other.
Of course, there are exceptions and twists and turns that make spending my Monday nights with Chris Harrison worthwhile for over 6 years, but that’s the basic outline for the show.
In each of the 22 seasons (half of which are Bachelorette seasons where it’s a woman dating 30 men at once), the promise is for more exceptions, bigger twists and turns, and in the words of Christ Harrison “the most dramatic season yet”. And because it’s television, he’s usually right.
While many might agree that Season 22 of The Bachelor was indeed the most dramatic season yet, it was also overall pretty lackluster. But I’ll get to that.
If for some reason you didn’t watch the season, want to, and have been living under a rock and don’t want a season spoiler – stop reading this now.
For the rest of you, let’s hash out exactly why none of us really like Arie, but why we should respect and appreciate the choice he made.
So there we are at the 47537-part finale (do they get longer every season?!), where Arie has his two final girls left – Lauren and Becca. As always, we have ideas about what he will do, but editing has played a heavy hand in that. So we wait for the “final rose” to fill us in, and then the live show that follows.
Bottom line? Arie says goodbye to Lauren and proposes to Becca.
So far, same as it ever was.
Then, the big twist.
The show finished taping, and about a month later (we only know this because they aired it), Arie realizes he actually is more in love with Lauren than Becca, breaks off his engagement to Becca (without fully knowing that Lauren will even take him back), and pursues Lauren.
Ultimately Lauren takes him back and Arie proposes to Lauren on the final, live show of Season 22. Boom. And that’s a wrap.
Since Bachelor Nation found out that Arie broke off his engagement with Becca and re-chose Lauren, there has been a lot of backlash. Like, a lot. And normally I’m not one to do more than post a single Facebook status about my thoughts on a Bachelor finale, but this one? This one I can relate to pretty hard.
Now look, Arie isn’t generally someone that I respect or admire. I think he showed little-to-no emotion throughout the season, I never felt his connection with anyone (other than one girl he sent home because everyone else told him she was too young for him), and honestly, I think he’s pretty unattractive (physically and emotionally). Sorry, Arie, you might be a great guy, but honestly, you aren’t my cup of tea. And that’s fine, I wasn’t one of the 30 women trying to date you, so we’re good there.
I am not alone in the feeling that overall, Arie just wasn’t a very likable Bachelor. He seemed almost detached from the experience and the process, and near the end where he supposedly had strong enough feelings to propose, it was pretty unbelievable. Maybe it was the cameras, or maybe his personality just isn’t suited for this kind of social experiment. Whatever it was, it made for some crappy television and a general consensus of “so, when does the next season of The Bachelorette start?” We were over it, and we were ready to move on (and thank god for The Bachelor Winter Games!).
And if it wasn’t for the never before seen footage of Arie breaking off his engagement to Becca, I am pretty sure no one would even remember who Arie was by the time the next season aired.
But here’s actually why I do respect and admire his choice. And to be fair, little disclaimer here, I, of course, don’t actually know Arie at all, how he truly feels, where his heart lies, and what was “made for TV” vs. actual, real emotion. But we, as Bachelor Nation, judge him based on what we do know of him, so here goes –
Ultimately, Arie struggled with the dynamics of the show – dating multiple women, having feelings for several of the women he was getting to know, getting a lot of outside influence – from fans, friends, and family – about who he should choose to be within the end, all of which affected his ability to listen to what he truly wanted for himself – what was right for him.
And so, he made the wrong choice.
He listened to the wrong people (anyone other than himself) to make the biggest decision of his life. He went with his head, and not his heart (or “gut” as seems more realistic sometimes in these difficult choices). He did the “right” thing, the choice that people could understand and accept.
Because let’s be honest, Becca is a catch and a seemingly obvious, good choice.
And then, he did the thing we all say we always want from people, but it seems we don’t actually want once it’s happening.
He followed his heart. Like, actually followed it – to the woman that he truly wanted to be with. The woman he couldn’t stop thinking about. The woman who he was willing to risk a lot of public scrutiny for, just to see if there was a chance she might (still) love him. He took a risk, a very public, unpopular, risk. And he took it in the name of love.
I have no idea if he and Lauren are meant to be if they’ll last if his big risk paid off. But honestly, that’s not even really the point.
It’s not the end result in the pursuit of love that matters, it’s the pursuit itself. It’s finally shutting out the voices of the outside world and getting real quiet, real still inside yourself and figuring out what your voice is telling you. What you want most. Sometimes you don’t get it, but you never regret taking that risk when you’ve made an authentic choice.
The end result, it’s unknown. What Arie knows right now is that Becca is not the right person for him and that something inside himself was telling him to pursue Lauren – possibly forever. Even if Lauren slammed the door in his face, he would still know Becca wasn’t the right one for him. Even if he and Lauren break up in a year, he will still know that he shouldn’t be with Becca.
Sure, you could reason that what if Becca is really the love of his life, Lauren is the mistake, and he comes crawling back to Becca… And honestly, not actually knowing Arie, I can’t say too much about that – other than, it seems he never had a strong “pull” towards Becca the same was he did towards Lauren. TV or not, I think all of Bachelor Nation would agree that this guy was smitten with Lauren from the very start – for unexplainable reasons (like really, no one got it – she’s beautiful, but she was pretty close to mute from what we saw on the show). Maybe they won’t ultimately be the right reasons, but at least for now, he believes they are – and that means he’s not making a mistake. He’s listening to his heart.
I will also say that when someone makes an unpopular choice, knowing they are going to receive a lot of negativity as a result, and they still make the choice anyway – that is usually the authentic, honest choice. The popular choice, the choice everyone wants you to make…is the easy choice, for everyone except the person making it. You can logic your way into it, reason that it makes sense, that it’s right, that it’s good – but if it’s not what you want, it will never be right for you.
So if, as Bachelor Nation, we are subjecting ourselves to this pursuit of love (in it’s most contrived, and edited form), we need to start accepting that sometimes that means making the unpopular choice. I’m not saying we have to like the Bachelor or even the girl he chooses (I liked a lot of other girls on this season, probably more than Arie did), but if we trust and believe that everyone wants to find the right person for them, then the point isn’t that we like them at all. In this case, it’s just that we get to be a fly on the wall of a very strange setting for a real-life love story, watching the cards fall however they may.
The next season of The Bachelorette is just around the corner, and I for one already have my DVR set to record. I hope that no matter what Becca chooses that makes her season the most dramatic season yet – be it an older man, woman, or goat – we can all just accept that she knows herself better than we do, and the right choice for her is hers to make, and hers alone. But I think I speak for all when I say, I really hope she doesn’t choose…an older man.