Elizabeth Wurtzel’s ‘The Bachelor’ Recap: The Fantasy Suite and The Opposite of Love

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For all we know, they played Go Fish and talked about ideas. For all we know.

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. 

There is no purer decadence and fun than a one-night stand: It is sex for its own sake. In her extraordinary 1973 classic Fear of Flying — which everyone must read — Erica Jong coined the "zipless fuck," which proceeds from eye-lock across a crowded room to nakedness in the nearest rendezvous without debate — or zippers. There is something about physical attraction without the dilemma of love that is a platonic ideal.

If only human beings were platonic ideals — and not a complete mess.

This week there was an extra special extra episode of The Bachelor so that Juan Pablo could have himself a bit of a bachelor party. With only three women left — he finally sent single-mother Renee packing — Juan Pablo was given access to the "fantasy suite" in a beach resort on Saint Lucia, where he was meant to have overnight dates with the ladies. And that is what he did. Of course, for all we know, they played Go Fish and talked about ideas. For all we know. But I think not. And yet, it is funny to ponder what ABC is condoning: Even though we are all grownups, it is stunning that premarital sex between consenting adults is allowed on network television at 8:00 at night, which is still family viewing time. And not just that, but sex between one man and three different women in as many nights. As a country in denial about absolutely everything — most especially about being in denial — I am heartened when something happens that is too blatant to deny. On The Bachelorette, does the woman spend the night with each of the final three men? I don't think America is ready for that much — or that little — sanctioned female promiscuity. When a woman does it, it is slutty; when Juan Pablo does it, it's attaboy.

But there is always a button-fly in the ointment. Casual sex in the seventies turned into an epidemic of venereal diseases as a physical manifestation of the emotional toll. Turns out: there are zippers. Lots of zippers.

The morning after her night in the fantasy suite, assistant district attorney Andi is all hot and bothered: she is huffy. With her Georgia accent, Andi is a huffy hussy. She does not like Juan Pablo at all anymore. In all their nighttime hours together, he did not ask her about herself. Juan Pablo does not know Andi's politics, her religion, her social views. Whenever she started to tell him something, he told her something better. And worst of all, he mentioned his fantasy nights with the other women. Andi knows what's going on, but the better part of valor was for Juan Pablo to make her believe she is it. Andi could have forgiven the rest of Juan Pablo's faults if he had not made her forget she isn't the only one.

The morning after, Andi turns into the prosecutor she is, badgering Juan Pablo about everything he ever said to her, to prove to him he is a bad person. She wants to win her case. But why? She's already decided to leave. But she feels used. What is worse? It is just about the lousiest feeling in love. The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is used. There is not much to do with it. It is a lot like hate.

A one-night stand is a dangerous thing, which is why it is excellent when the fates align, as they seldom do. Both people have to want the same thing: nothing but the moment. There is no purer fun and decadence than living in the now. It requires faith. It is the easiest and hardest thing to do. 

Image via ABC