Nikki is a genius.
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.
Anyone who wants to win anything — Olympic gold, a Fulbright, a Pulitzer, a presidential election — should watch this season of The Bachelor on demand and pay close attention to winner Nikki Farrell. Obviously, if you just want to receive the final rose on The Bachelor, that goes without saying. But Nikki is brilliant, and there is only one kind of brilliant (that would be the brilliant kind), so anyone could learn a lot from her. Certainly anyone wanting to win the heart of the man of her dreams should review the episodes with great care. But the personality of a champion is a rare and special thing: Nikki has used an amazing gift to be a pediatric nurse who now has Juan Pablo to herself. I guess she is not interested in getting a MacArthur or ending malaria. Oh well.
The discrepancy between what Nikki can do and what she does is of course an indication that there is either less to her than meets the eye, or the world has gone wrong. As it happens: The world has gone wrong. But not recently. Actually, humanity has been on a bad course from the get-go: The Fall — the one from grace — occurred in the first week of human life, if you believe the Bible. But if you know science, we are evolving and getting better all the time. That is the tension we struggle with: We may be in a möbius of decline, but it's a long way from mud huts to the grand comforts and great adventures of reality TV. Are things really so bad if we can watch a date between one man and six women that took place in Seoul on American network television? Nikki won the contest of now. That's that.
I don't know why previous contestants on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette have been the chosen ones, but it is possible that it was true love. Juan Pablo has not told Nikki he loves her and he has not proposed to her, but she won the final rose because she knew how to play the game, and no one else did. Nikki was convinced from the start that she would succeed, and she was not concerned with the other women at all — it was as if they were not even there. The ladies of The Bachelor household mostly considered Nikki a bitch, because she did not get cozy with them on the sofa for late-night sob sessions. Of course Nikki didn't: she did not want to be like everyone else and feel psyched out. Also: Nikki did not feel like everyone else; she felt like Juan Pablo's girlfriend all along. She was not at the Bachelor mansion to make friends, and mostly Nikki did not do much of that, because she was there to win Juan Pablo. As Henry Ford said, "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." A man who invents the automobile and a woman who succeeds where the rest of those similarly situated fail never forget the mission. It is a monomania. There is nothing going on except the finish line.
There is no such thing as luck. Yes, there is the luck of being born beautiful and brainy. But that's about it. Successful people know this. Every amazing coincidence that gets a winner closer to the grand prize is put there because he put himself there by doing absolutely everything that can possibly and probably and must be done to assure the perfect outcome. Movie stars and champion athletes and billionaire businessmen and bestselling authors have gotten there because they thought of everything and then they did everything — and they were talented to start with, but thinking and doing everything is talent. Thinking and doing everything over and over again until it works — what's known as drive — is a massive talent. Never giving up, persistence when everyone else is saying who the fuck cares?, is magic.
Nikki is possessed of magic. Nothing at all, including how much Juan Pablo lusted and loved all over the place, swayed her from her path. Nikki said perfect things to everybody all the time — to Juan Pablo, to his parents, to the camera, even to Clare. She was always confident and pleasant. She did not complain. She did not ask about other women. What other women? Who?
We believe the way to win someone's heart is to play hard to get. And it's true that everyone wants what they can't have. That is the oldest trick in the book, and it's a good one. The problem is that most of us want to be gotten. If you are interested, you can only run away for so long, and you cannot conduct a working relationship by being impossible. A better strategy is to be formidable. Nikki did not make things difficult for Juan Pablo, but she convinced him that life with her would be tulips and roses and whipped cream. Nikki even told Juan Pablo that she loves him before he chose her, which made it necessary that he choose her. She was smart, because she was careful with intensity, whereas most women are just emotional. It is a great deal harder to be excellent than to be withholding, and it is amazing that Nikki is so good at it at age 26.
But it might be all that she is good at. Who knows? Everything in her life until now was leading to The Bachelor. The woman was born to be in a house full of women in front of a television crew, and to make one man choose her over everyone else. I don't know what else this leads to. Andi is the next bachelorette on The Bachelorette in May, and I predict a future of something called Clare Does Hair. But will it really be enough for Nikki to have Juan Pablo? Winners love to win over and over again. This party must have more life.
Image via ABC.