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Elizabeth Wurtzel’s ‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: In the Horserace

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“Talent is desire run amok.”

It’s time for another episode of The Bachelorette, America’s pre-eminent reality show for romantic group dates, high-profile rejections, barely concealed male rage, 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. 

California Chrome, a pretty chestnut colt, won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness by pulling up from behind and crossing the finish line ahead by nearly a couple of lengths. That is not about the body; it’s about the spirit: that horse loves to win.  A different animal would see others in the lead and get discouraged, but California Chrome wants to beat the competition so badly that all of a sudden, he breaks for the front. No amount of skill, no amount of training, no amount of nothing matters more than desire. Talent is desire run amok.

Andi Dorfman, the leading lady of The Bachelorette, is the same sort of animal. Andi is pretty enough and smart enough, but men are wowed by her because she has the life force. On the most recent season of The Bachelor, she was an also-ran until the end. She did not have a one-on-one date with Juan Pablo until, because of the failures of everyone else, she was somehow still around, like a worthwhile pawn in chess or an excellent foot soldier in the queen’s army. Of course, with the right moves, a pawn crosses the black-and-white board and promotes to queen. Andi made it to the final three on The Bachelor, but became disenchanted with Juan Pablo after a night in the “fantasy suite,” seemingly because she discovered that he was doing the same things with the other two bachelorettes that he was doing with her. Andi don’t play that. After storming off the set of The Bachelor in Saint Lucia — you can’t fire me; I quit! — Andi is now the star of The Bachelorette. Instead of being one of many, Andi is now the one. She’s the queen. She pulled ahead to the lead. Trifecta!

Andi’s suitors are quite an array, including a farmer from Iowa that she seems to like and a surfer from California that she already sent back to the waves. There were 25 men to begin with, and among those she got rid of immediately was an attorney, which shows her good sense, even though Andi is a prosecutor herself: it takes bad news to know it. And I am expecting bad news and bad scenes over however many weeks this goes on: women are at worst catty and at the very worst have catfights, but men and their jealousy can result in blood and guts. The guys who agree to be contestants on The Bachelorette all seem to be real men, which means they won’t appreciate being toyed with. But The Bachelorette is entertainment above all, so games must be played.

And yet, despite the games, despite the entertainment, this is the sincere pursuit of love and marriage on network television. The idea is for a big puffy wedding with a vavavavoom dress and a multitier cake and yet another broadcast opportunity to come out of this. Somewhere sometime somehow there will be life beyond the cameras, and it is supposed to be happy for two people who meet on The Bachelorette. It only seems ridiculous until you consider our other dating and mating rituals. Is this any sillier than Tinder? Andi should never have made it to the near-end of The Bachelor, but she is willful. In a horserace and in everything, it’s the spirit that matters.

Image via ABC