THE MOST DRAMATIC HEADLINE IN BACHELOR HISTORY RIGHT THERE FOLKS. Ok, so maybe that’s an overexaggeration, but it’s definitely not an opinion shared by most of the fellow citizens of Bachelor Nation. Arie Luyendyk Jr., the 21st Bachelor in the history of this beautiful franchise, has been getting absolutely crucified by fans over the past few days in a way that none of his predecessors had been following the conclusions of their seasons. And it’s not totally unjustified Internet rage. In case you’ve spent the past 72 hours living under a Twitter rock, or a Twock (don’t use that), then allow me to catch you up to speed. By the finale, Arie had professed his love for the final two contestants: Becca Kufrin, the likable and “ready for marriage” option, and Lauren Burnham, the hottest option from Day 1 who just so happens to have zero original thoughts. Determined to follow the rules of the show and propose by the end of the season, Arie surprised most fans by choosing the safe route and popping the question to Becca. She instantaneously said yes, and we soon learned that they were happily engaged for about two months following the proposal….or at least it seemed that way to Becca. Arie was internally agonizing over his decision. After a private conversation with Lauren, Arie decided to give it a shot with her before it was too late. And here’s the kicker…HE ALSO ALLOWED THE CAMERAS TO CAPTURE THE ENTIRE BREAKUP WITH BECCA.
I’m not kidding when I say it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever watched on television. It lasted about an hour, even though Becca told Arie to leave around the five-minute mark. It nearly broke social media, with people sending threats to Arie and Chris Harrison for allowing it to unfold before our eyes. But not me. I want to personally thank both of them. BECAUSE THIS IS THE BACHELOR WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS WHY WE WATCH. Go watch 60 Minutes or some shit if you’re preoccupied about being a good person. It was drama and entertainment in its purest form. (And, for the record, Becca is doing just fine.) Which, at the end of the day, isn’t that the reason we tune in in the first place?
That’s a good question, PJ. Entertainment value is definitely one of the methods we should use to measure Bachelors and their seasons, but it isn’t the only one. Everyone has their own standards for grading these suitors, but here are the core four that I consider:
- Was he qualified to be the Bachelor?
This takes into account his job, his history within the franchise, and whether or not he is handsome enough to carry the torch. Basically, does he deserve this honor?
- Was he serious about being the Bachelor?
This show is infinitely more interesting when the protagonist is genuinely looking for a wife. It sets up way more drama, because these people are all terrible actors and it’s obvious when they are just pretending to go along with the narrative. Take that bullshit to Bachelor in Paradise.
- Was he a good guy?
This is a tough one. Ideally we want our Bachelor to be someone worth rooting for, but you have to balance that against the risk of a boring season. Some of the best Bachelors in the show’s history were dickheads. But with that being said, there’s no way to spin misogyny, verbal abuse, or general disrespect as a good thing.
- Finally and most importantly, did he anchor an entertaining season?
Once again…it’s the reason we watch.
So now that we know the ground rules, let’s put Arie to the test. We’ll stack him up against each of the five Bachelors who predated him, going back to Sean Lowe because that’s just about when social media took this show to another level. (It’s also when I started paying attention again.) GET YOUR ROSES READY.
Was Arie qualified to be the Bachelor?
Best Recent Example: It’s probably Arie.
Worst Recent Example: Nick Viall
You have to go pretty far back into the archives to find a hard yes to this question. Among our most recent Bachelors are a 27 year-old software salesman, a farmer from Iowa, and a man who struggled with the English language. And we were also fresh off the season of Nick Viall, a debatably good-looking Salesforce employee who had already been through THREE difference chances at love within the franchise. So yes, Arie was a good choice to have the title bestowed upon him. The initial feedback wasn’t exactly positive, but that wasn’t because people were upset with the decision. We were just completely thrown off. It had been over five years since he finished as the runner-up on Emily Maynard’s season of The Bachelorette, and EVERYBODY was expecting Peter Kraus from Rachel Lindsay’s season. But in hindsight, the producers made the right call. I like Peter, but he was pretty boring and only lost because he was openly critical of the expedited nature of the show. Not sure if that’s the guy you want with the power. As for Arie, he was well liked despite his weird “kissing bandit” reputation, and professional racecar driver is elite when it comes to Bachelor occupations (even if he sucked at it).
Was Arie serious about being the Bachelor?
Best Recent Example: Sean Lowe
Worst Recent Example: Juan Pablo Galavis
We’ve seen both extremes of the spectrum on this one lately. At the “yes” end, you have Sean Lowe, who respected the process and is still happily married to the winner of his season. Right behind him is Ben Higgins, who broke the rules by telling two women that he loves them but also still seems genuinely distraught over his broken engagement with (Real) Lauren B. On the far other end is Juan Pablo, who was clearly there to hook up (shoutout the ocean sex with Clare) and dismissed all of the girls telling him that he doesn’t deserve love with his trademark “ees ok.” And Nick Viall isn’t far behind him, because it didn’t take long to realize that he was way more into the status of being the Bachelor than actually finding a wife. Arie is somewhere in between all of these guys. He too told two women that he loves them, and opting to have the cameras rolling for his post-show breakup proved that he had a pretty major taste for drama. Keeping around a 22 year-old for the majority of the show also raised a red flag. Still, I’m giving Arie the benefit of the doubt here. He sent home women as soon as he didn’t see a future with them (for the most part), and he handed out multiple one-on-one dates to the women he was clearly the most interested in. Oh yeah, and his proposal to (Fake) Lauren B tells us that he didn’t back out of his initial engagement just for entertainment purposes.
Verdict: Not the most serious, but yes he cared.
Was Arie a good guy?
Best Recent Example: Ben Higgins
Worst Example: Juan Pablo Galavis
I’m not gonna try too hard to sugarcoat this: the answer is no. Even though he was on his best behavior for the first 10 episodes of the season, Arie undid all of it and more with his performance in the finale. It was seriously that bad. I know I’ve already covered it, but the way he went about the breakup with Becca was just so, so bad. Pretty much every former Bachelor and Bachelorette validated that he had the option not to do it in front of the cameras too. But that’s not even what concerned me the most about it. How about Arie just turning into an emotionless sociopath out of nowhere in the moment where he needed more empathy than ever? I’m still so confused what happened to him in that moment. He said his feelings towards Becca changed when they were “hanging out”…dude you were ENGAGED for two months. Or how about when Becca was emptying her tear ducts in the bathroom about a half hour post-breakup when Arie had the audacity to ask her “are you ok?” I get that this was an extremely tough moment for him to compassionately execute, but it seems pretty indicative of his true character that he seemed so slightly concerned about the news that he was breaking to Becca.
Even with all of that though, I don’t really think Arie is a bad guy deep down. He’ll deservedly have a dark shadow cast over his season forever, but he came off as a nice guy for most of it. He handled his first 28 breakups well, and all of the women in the mansion seemed to genuinely like him. He was totally respectable to each of the four families that he met with, and he didn’t start any controversy whatsoever before the finale. Yeah I know…it all comes down to the Becca breakup. But for what it’s worth, he wasn’t the first Bachelor to change his mind. And he actually handled it better than the first guy, Jason Mesnick, who broke up with his then-fiance across the couch from Chris Harrison during After The Final Rose. (For the record, Jason absolutely made the right decision. 15 year-old PJ was absolutely in love with Molly, and Jason is still married to her.) Arie probably doesn’t deserve this consolation prize either, but there have been recent Bachelors with objectively worse temperaments too. I already covered Juan Pablo, Nick was a narcissistic asshole, and just take a quick look at Jake Pavelka if you wanna go back a little farther. I mean, I’m not even sure they’d be allowed to air this kind of behavior anymore. So while Arie wasn’t even the worst we’ve seen in the past few years, all of your “Arie is literally all guys in 2018 #fuccboi” tweets were fair game.
Verdict: No, but his douchebaggery is getting overblown.
Did Arie anchor an entertaining season?
Best Recent Example: Juan Pablo Galavis
Worst Recent Example: Chris Soules
I’ve already said it: some of the most entertaining Bachelors in history were some of the worst at it. Looking right at you, Juan Pablo. And some of the nicest guys to ever have the platform, like Ben Higgins and especially Chris Soules, ended up on the boring side of things. As for Arie, his season was pretty entertaining, even before the finale. Yes, part of that is probably due to the fact that we were coming off a series low point with Nick’s season, but Arie deserves props for bringing the show back to its roots. He maintained control throughout while keeping around contestants for almost always the proper amount of time. We’ve seen villains last too short and too long in recent years, but Arie entertained the idea of Kyrstal for just about the perfect length. He was articulate, blunt when he needed to be, had a solid sense of humor, and brought along the finest wink game the show has ever seen. And this is a guy who brought a taxidermist to the fantasy suite…he kept it interesting.
Don’t get me wrong…Arie had his drawbacks. It’s been years since we’ve had a cringier Bachelor. I wanted to die whenever he whispered or opened the door with “hiiiii” or asked a girl in the highest octave voice “what’s wrooooong?” And sure, he loses some points for ending up with a girl that 0.1% of viewers were hoping that he’d end up with. But let’s not act like the finale goes in the cons column for this category. In fact, it’s the biggest pro. It was the most purely entertaining Bachelor moment…maybe ever? And this franchise NEEDED it. I know the show isn’t in danger or anything, but I’m pretty confident that it had slipped over the past few years and that the producers knew it. I personally know a ton of fans that dropped out after Nick and Rachel’s shitty seasons, so when you extrapolate that it’s likely way more fans were lost than gained. I don’t have the numbers to back that up, but I think I’m right considering the show decided to run a spinoff AGAINST ITSELF near the peak of this season. None of that will be the case for the near future. The show is back in a big way, and it has Arie to thank for that.
Verdict: Without a doubt.
So with positive grades in three of the four qualifying categories, Arie checks out as a strong Bachelor. Definitely not perfect, but fans should remember him fondly. I thank him for his contributions.
If you were wondering, here’s how I rank the Bachelors discussed above:
- Sean Lowe
- Arie Luyendyk Jr.
- Ben Higgins
- Juan Pablo Galavis
- Chris Soules
- Nick Viall