Elizabeth Wurtzel’s ‘The Bachelor’ Recap: Countdown to Juan Pablo

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Elizabeth Wurtzel's 'The Bachelor' Recap: Countdown to Juan Pablo

What’s in a name? A lot. 

By Elizabeth Wurtzel

It’s time for another season 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 the squabbling and hot-tubbing that’s fit to air on ABC. 

Here is the truth, and the answer to Shakespeare's question: There is a lot in a name. If your parents want your life to be substantial, they give you a serious name, like mine or anything else biblical or Anglo-Saxon. And if your parents are hoping you will someday have plump silicone breast implants, that you will someday be a personal trainer, that if it all works out you will someday be a contestant on The Bachelor, and who knows what else they hope for, then they name you Christy or Kelly, or anything that ends in an "i." That's just the way it goes. I'm sure there is a fine neurosurgeon somewhere named Kyli but I'm not completely sure. In the mean time, here is how bachelorette Christy describes her favorite type of dancing: "Is drunk dancing a type?" They say blondes have more fun, and I bet they do. 

The preview of the eighteenth season of The Bachelor was called Countdown to Juan Pablo, and shame on Cervantes for not coming up with that title first. This year's bachelor is a Bachelorette leftover, but he arrives out of the wrapping all fresh and new. Juan Pablo is a Hispanic single dad, specifically Venezuelan, but he is conveniently blue eyed and all-American looking with just a touch of swarthy flavor that is meant to be oh so ooh lala. This is a guy who can't stand knowing that a shirt is not just something you wear for warmth: expect much of this round of The Bachelor to be spent poolside, kind of like the prior seventeen attempts. Also, expect tears and drama, and many variations on the women saying I can't take this any longer. It is never clear what part of the situation they can't stand, or why they stay if that is the case. Amazingly, in clips I have seen from other seasons, many contestants simultaneously believe love is going on, which is painful. There are bad scenes on black-and-white tiled bathroom floors, and more like that. But just living in a house with so many other women in their twenties, without a competition of any sort, is enough for all the world's sorrow. I would love to see a setup like this in the Central African Republic. 

In 24 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, there have been five success stories, which means these couples have stayed together more than 20 percent of the time. There is a marriage and an engagement from The Bachelor, two and one, respectively, from The Bachelorette. It seems so unlikely that the numbers would be that good, since this artificial and ridiculous situation should not yield results that work off-screen ever. And yet one in five times, which has to be a better rate of matchmaking than most of what we do in what we call real life, the tie has had some bind. But I do see why. Juan Pablo is as serious about this pursuit as Don Quixote was about his. He is earnest: he loves his daughter and his stereotypically loud Latin American extended family, with all their yummy looking food. To the right man, a windmill looks like a ferocious giant and a common whore looks like a highborn lady. Some people go through their entire lives not seeing. They are forever on TV. 

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