Elizabeth Wurtzel’s ‘The Bachelor’ Recap: A Victory for Feminism

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We've come a long way, baby.

It’s time for another episode of The Bachelor, America’s pre-eminent reality show for romantic group dates, high-profile rejections, crying pharmaceutical saleswomen, and rendering the phrase “true love” utterly meaningless through ceaseless repetition. This season, we have asked Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation and Bitch, to confront our favorite national circus nightmare. Join Elizabeth each Tuesday for all of her opinions on the squabbling and hot-tubbing that’s fit to air on ABC. 

Sometimes I think an honest viewer of The Bachelor will glean only one lesson: If you are pretty and sexy, nothing else matters. It is possible that absolutely everything in our culture suggests or even screams this, but if there is a place for Clare the annoying hairstylist in The Bachelor mansion, then looks are surely everything. Clare, as it happens, looks like the star of a reality TV show: I am not sure that she has had any plastic surgery, but she has a face that appears to be manmade, like a local anchorwoman in the eighties. At some point, Juan Pablo kisses Clare against his better judgment because he can't resist her teeth. I sure hope those are some damn incredible choppers. 

But there is better news: Juan Pablo has admitted he has a favorite, and she is definitely the most valuable woman of the contestants by market measures. Sharleen is an opera singer who lives in Germany, with a master's degree in vocal performance, and not much interest in children, including Juan Pablo's. Like everyone else on The Bachelor, Sharleen is striking and skinny, but her presence still seems like a mistake: maybe she filled out the entry form on a dare and it worked out because someone at ABC liked the sound of Heidelberg. So far, Juan Pablo can't help liking Sharleen because she is so different from the rest of them, in that she is not bouncing around like three Spalding tennis balls fresh out of a can. She is skeptical, which is appropriate, except not if you have committed to reality TV. Of course, Juan Pablo can't afford to have any misgivings, because he does not want to be captain of a shipwreck. But he just likes her. He does, he does, he does. And that is the way it goes in life: We like what we like no matter what. It does not matter what someone says to put me off if I like him. I'm sold. 

Juan Pablo is into Sharleen even though she is the only bachelorette so far who does not especially like that he is a single father. That shows her good sense. The rest of them are crazy like other women, who are charmed by a man pushing a stroller, because it is synecdoche for loving kindness, or something like that. I wish women would quit making this mistake, and realize that what you want to find is a man who arrives in your life with nothing left over from previous relationships, and then judge for yourself what kind of guy he is. The time he spends with his kids is time he won't have for you. The time he spends negotiating with his ex will be years of your life you can't get back. And anyway, what went wrong there? We still don't have an answer about that with Juan Pablo, but somehow all the women on The Bachelor want him to know they were born to be the world's best mother and stepmother. Sharleen would rather sing. Turns out that is just fine with Juan Pablo. Someone needs to tell women we've come a long way, baby. 

Image via ABC.