‘The Bachelor’: Lessons From the Exhausting Three-Hour Premiere Extravaganza That Rocked the Dating-Show WorldABC
Last year’s The Bachelor was, we think we can all agree without a hair-pulling skirmish breaking out, something of a disaster. The Juan Pablo Galavis Experiment failed spectacularly at connecting not only with Bachelor Nation, but with the woman upon whom he bestowed his ForeverLove for the six or so months that overlap with the production’s generous rental of the glittering Neil Lane MaybeDiamond™ that symbolizes the minimum possible commitment of two momentarily besotted television contestants swept up in the heady swirl of a hastily fabricated romance. At the end of their journey, before a hanging jury of hooting, bloodthirsty, final-rose-crazed studio audience members, Juan Pablo pleaded Not Going to Say I Love You Just Because This Angry Mob Might Tear Me Limb From Limb in front of poor Nikki, further sealing the fate of their statistically doomed relationship. It was not meant to be for these lovers, and Juan Pablo cemented his place as the worst Bachelor of all time, leaving the coppery taste of thwarted promise in the mouths of a disappointed Nation that could not be gargled away even by a thousand heavy-pour margaritas during a promising summer fling in Paradise. The sacred temple lay in smoldering ruins, its toppled pillars stacked like broken stems because of a single a-hole’s misguided refusal to say the three little words that could have changed everything.
And so we here at Bachelor School are committed — nay, obsessed to the point of injecting freebased rose-petal abstract between our toes upon rising each day — to averting another Juan Pablo–style debacle in 2015. We have shuttered every last brick-and-mortar campus and laid off a staff of more than 500 fiercely dedicated souls — yes, even the sundae artists at the fro-yo bar in the Reseda Heights Advanced Training Center; sorry, Janet and Billy, your noble sacrifice is appreciated — to fully reinvest ourselves in the educational principles that made this humble School the leading institution of higher-Bachelor learning. We see in this new season the potential to correct the mistakes of the past and arm our students with the knowledge they need to expertly navigate the perils that await them, from the Opening Night to the Fantasy Suite, from Drunken Pool Party to Inevitable Picnic Atop a Breathtaking Mountain, from First Impression to Final Rose. Each season, like each new relationship, brings hope anew. But only if you’re prepared. So let’s learn the lessons of the premiere. Let’s pin more knowledge-grenades to your cocktail dress and push you out there into battle. There is ForeverLove to win.
1. Skip the red carpet.
The Bachelor is always evolving its format, but only around its commerce-driven edges, and so a Two-Hour Premiere Spectacular becomes the Three-Hour Bachelor Live Prime-Time Event of a Lifetime. We can’t concern ourselves with the behind-the-scenes dirty business that necessitates such presentational bloat. Let the suits dress up the product however their greedy hearts desire; the debut-night game remains the same, and it’s one of limos and driveways, not fancy carpets and press lines. No one’s ever won The Bachelor by wasting time reviewing DVR’d footage of past contestants updating the world on the status of their wedding planning — bully for them, if they’re still together and haggling over details, ha-ha, why won’t he just agree to a firm date, doesn’t he realize they have to lock down the vineyard for late June or risk pushing everything to the winter like animals? And there is scant strategic value in listening to the still-glassy-eyed survivors of the summer’s paradisaical fuck fiesta natter on about their post-show experience. At this stage, the ghosts of seasons past offer little else but the haunting moans of irrelevant experience; let them wail in the muted silence of your fast-forward button. This is not the game tape you’re after. Every hour is precious. Don’t waste it on the Nikkis of the world offering the halfhearted case that her selfish ex-lover prioritized her less highly than a batting practice–used Hanley Ramirez Louisville Slugger from 2010.
2. Be his America.
In an extreme course correction necessitated by the ill-fated importation of a foreign-born Bachelor, the producers chose one Chris Soules, the very salt of the Iowan earth, to reestablish their temporarily unmoored franchise in its proudly domestic roots. They call him Prince Farming; while America doesn’t have royalty because we fought a war or something to ensure we bow to no crown unless it’s one presented courtside at a basketball game, we do have fairy tales. And there is no fairy tale more American than one about the humble farmer who is plucked from a blue-collar romantic wasteland and deposited on the steps of a castle stocked with potential future brides and enough alcohol to fill a modest moat. Prince Farming is, in his own repeated, disbelievingly intoned words, the luckiest man in the world. Say it with us: Ewe. Ess. Aye.
And so to advance through the obstacle-strewn corn maze to his heart, you must be his America. You must be his farm princess, as firmly planted in the noble soil of this great country as the mighty stalks he so lovingly tends before blowing off some steam by tossing around some very heavy-looking tractor tires, shirtless and slicked in honest sweat. You must be willing to join him out there, in the fields, and not just for the enchanting lovemaking session in the alfalfa patch that makes you think that, yeah, maybe you could swing this kind of life if you had to, cities are overrated anyway, you can’t even see the stars most nights.
Seriously, you’re going to have to move to a farm. Prepare yourself now. His America lives in Iowa. His America is not within thousands of miles of a place that does decent headshots. His America is silos, not skyscrapers; real cattle calls, not open casting calls. It’s going to be total effing hell on your acting career.
Say it with us, louder now: Ewe. Ess. Aye. In the Eye-Aye. So long, Elle-Aye. Here she is, His America.
3. Make a powerful first impression.
It’s a rudimentary lesson, but one that bears repeating at the beginning of each season as a refresher. You have, on average, less than 20 seconds from the opening of the limo door until you disappear into the mansion, where your competition for attention is 29 other bachelorettes strong.1 And so you must not merely pull out all the stops, you must drown the stops in that fountain. You must present your most memorable self, not your most honest self, nor your most humble self. You must become the desperation-fueled prop comic flop-sweating your way through open-mic night at the Driveway Laugh Factory. Bring along that karaoke machine; how else is he going to remember you’re a cruise-ship singer? Ride up in a cocktail dress on a motorcycle for some reason. Tuck a filthy penny you found at the airport into his shoe, that’s weird enough, sure. Demand he close his eyes so he can’t see you, OK, that’s not at all an insane gamble when he’s largely judging you by your looks in split-second, maybe he’ll think it’s cute. Heart-shaped rock? Why not. Cowboy boots and Daisy Dukes2 followed by a panic attack because all the dressed-to-the-nines frenemies rolled their eyes at you, so you throw on a standard-issue Little Black Dress and run back outside to show you can’t take the farm out of the girl, what now? Go for it, you’re going to forget all about it after you obliterate the awkward memory with alcohol in a few minutes. The important thing is that he remembers you when he enters the house. The only mistake is to be instantly forgotten. The second-only mistake is to do something super-weird involving a bloody organ in a Coleman cooler.
4. Give him your heart. Well, somebody’s heart.
Oddly targeted advice, yes, but in the grotesquely specific lies the lessons of the universal. So, say you have an interesting job like “donated tissue specialist,” and you want your Bachelor to remember that, because as we just said, you need to make a powerful first impression, and in theory nothing sticks in the mind like ignoring the biohazard symbol on the lid of an organ donation cooler to reveal a heart slathered in blood. Like this:
There’s a crucial, and highly counterintuitive, trick to this: The heart must be human. No cow’s heart, or sheep’s heart, or even baboon’s heart, should you have access to a particularly amazing exotic butcher. Anyone can buy an animal heart. Only the truly dedicated would go through the trouble of stealing a viable organ from work, or, even better, harvesting the still-beating organ from the chest of your Bachelor’s last ex-girlfriend as a pulsating symbol of your devotion. Not only will your Bachelor be utterly unable to forget you,3 but you’ll win an instant ally in Chris Harrison, who will appreciate that you were thoughtful enough to bring him a delicious snack; his energy levels get dangerously low before the rose ceremony if he’s not able to feed on something fresher than the desiccated spare parts of last season’s losers they stock in his greenroom mini-fridge. There is no more valuable friend to have on your journey than the Shadow Bachelor himself, who won’t think twice about steering your competition toward a speedy ruin if you kick off your visit to his dark kingdom with this kind of respectful blood offering. He’s not eating a cow’s heart. That basket of ruined livers from Paradise is more palatable than some bovine bullshit from your Whole Foods offal counter.
5. Be demure.
Of course, everyone has his or her own definition of “demure.” For our purposes, greeting your Bachelor with “You can plow the fuck out of my field any day”4 is low-key and perfectly classy. And following that up inside the mansion with a bashful joke about a walrus at a Tupperware party in search of a tight seal is equally charming. He is, in his own innocent aww-shucks way, the walrus, and perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future he’ll fill up your Fantasy Suite with the full range of salad bowls and burpable lids to show his appreciation of your memorable icebreaker.
6. Drink exactly the right amount.
What, you ask, is “the right amount” of alcohol? It is an amount sufficient to make a temporary forced imprisonment with 29 other competitors seem momentarily bearable, but still less than that required to make you shift from foot to wobbly foot on the rose ceremony riser while clawing at your face and slurring loud disapproval at your Bachelor’s choices, thereby inviting the camera crew to broadcast your every slack-mouthed grimace to millions of horrified viewers. The alcohol consumed should also not induce you to wander the garden in search of onions, expressing your desire to peel their many layers in a way that makes us think you’re actually vocalizing a desire to flay your bachelorette sisters, wait, is that a pomegranate, it isssss a POMEGRANATE, wow, you feel powerful, you want to drop everything and run through sunflower fields and ride a horse, no, you want to RIDE A HORSE IN A SUNFLOWER FIELD, cross that off the bucket list right now, onion onion onion.
7. Never give up.
Once all the flowers have been handed out, you will quickly realize, as all rejected contestants do, that there is nothing beyond the Rose Chamber but a very short walk to the Limo of Despair, which will take you on a very long drive back to a life suddenly and powerfully suffused with a new kind of loneliness. You can go meekly. Meekly is always an option, and one bearing a reduced risk of any humiliation beyond the standard, streaked-mascara kind noted by the impassive eye of the back-seat confessional camera.
You can also not go at all. You can step away from the curb, before the driver can gently guide you into the romantic oblivion of that final limousine ride, and head right back into the mansion, ignoring the shocked producers scrambling to get footage of your Hail Mary refusal to accept your fate. What do you have to lose, in the end, but the chance of winding up with a more prominent place in the “After the Final Rose” highlight package of shattered hopes? That seems hardly a deterrent at all. It’s a miracle more people don’t try it. Security hardly ever unholsters their stun guns.
8. Be a surprise virgin.
Apparently someone is a secret virgin this year, and she made it past the premiere! This is a strategy with an almost impossibly high degree of difficulty due to the required lifetime of sexual abstention that usually does not result in participation on a televised dating competition, so we cannot in good conscience recommend it, at least not without the cost-prohibitive availability of a time machine.
Chris Harrison, however, loves a good virgin. Their souls pair nicely with that beating heart and a chalice brimming with tears of the roseless. Guy’s gotta eat, you know?