Never has there been a better case for casting older leads than last night’s romp through Paradise. Older leads (should) beget (marginally) older contestants, and isn’t the point of this whole thing love and marriage? I know there are exceptions to the rule, and there have been many examples of people in their early 20s getting married and living happily ever after. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 24 is awfully young to consider sharing a life with someone for good—especially when you intrinsically become part of a world of overnight fame, fawning and followers (and ensuing fortune). Last night, Tayshia said about John Paul Jones, “He’s so young.” And it struck me in that moment that, indeed, he is. Here I’ve been erroneously holding JPJ to the same behavioural standards as Derek, an intelligent, fully-functioning man nearly a decade (eight years) older than him. But John Paul Jones is not only young, he’s immature. And therein lies the issue. We’ve all known 24-year olds who are self-aware and perceptive—Demi is a terrific example. But, JPJ feels downright teenaged in his actions and interactions with people.
First, we have JPJ’s exchanges with Haley, who, as an aside, was an absolute delight last night. When with her twin sister, Emily, Haley has been the quieter, more passive-seeming of the two—and I for one did not know how quick, clever and acerbic she could be. Even if nothing ends up working out for her romantically, coming on Paradise was a great call, if only to give America the chance to appreciate her strengths, separate from her sister. But back to JPJ, it was interesting to observe how he handled confrontation when he wasn’t the one in the driver’s seat. Thus far, we’ve only witnessed him see red with regards to Derek. But when Haley rightly (and oh-so-satisfyingly) called JPJ out on his own brand of deception and manipulation—the very behaviour he was attempting to accuse Derek of—JPJ somehow became even more unlikable. (I didn’t think this was possible.) Hayley took issue with the fact that JPJ unequivocally led her on, telling her about their “instant connection” and giving her his rose. He even admitted she was just collateral in him “exploring other options.” (Just imagine how JPJ would have reacted had Derek used that language when talking about Tayshia—the hypocrisy!) But, understandably, Haley’s main beef was with the fact that, by leading her on and occupying her time, she hadn’t used her precious chances to “explore other options.” The respect of JPJ’s honesty could have entirely averted that predicament.
Unfortunately, not only was it clear JPJ didn’t understand his own crime (his sentence, “It sucks, you know, sort of hurting Haley” says it all), he went so far as to tell her, “You’re a big girl. Don’t put this on me now.” JUST. UGH. He’s allowed to cry over and bemoan his self-inflicted misfortunes, yet she’s not allowed to speak her piece over being wronged by him? How about you take responsibility for your actions and not be a condescending moron? Note to all men: Don’t call a woman a “big girl” under any circumstances. The irony is, JPJ’s use of those words shows how young, green and not “big” he is himself.
Second, we have JPJ’s interaction with Tayshia, when he pulled her aside to profess his feelings. It was almost painful how juvenile he came across here. Hair in his face, zero eye contact, mumbling almost incoherently, crying uncontrollably. He was telling Tayshia how much he romantically liked her and it legitimately felt (and looked) like my 7-year-old nephew’s response to being forced to apologize for bad behaviour. It’s as though he can’t function when he’s not in goof mode. Tayshia’s interactions with him here felt far more motherly than romantic, and it struck me in that moment that JPJ is one of the many guys out there who probably needs (and seeks) a partner who fills that role for him.
Finally, we have JPJ’s ITMs, where he continued to go off on Derek. It’s possible these confessionals were from before the wedding confrontation—it’s actually very likely—but it makes no difference to my point. 🙂 In an ITM, JPJ said, “Tayshia’s not looking for a guy like Derek.” How about you don’t tell women what they’re looking for? Only boys do this, not men. Case in point: later in the evening, JPJ told Derek, “I’m the right guy for Tayshia,” and Derek replied, “You don’t get to decide that. She gets to decide that.” (MIC DROP.) JPJ unjustly called Derek a “creep” (does he not realize that his creep radar only seemed to go off once Derek threatened his potential pursuit of Tayshia?). JPJ went on to call Derek a “fraud,” yet in the same breath admitted, “I don’t have any facts to substantiate that.” Wasn’t his whole issue supposedly based on incriminating “verbatim” quotes of Derek’s? This is immaturity, two-fold. Spreading rumours without any proof or facts to back it up really reeks of high school behaviour. And this isn’t only badmouthing someone; this is slandering them on national television.
That is why it irked me when Tayshia and her beach mates lumped Derek into the same “boys behaving badly” camp as JPJ. Perhaps this was obvious only to us viewers, but Derek had no choice but to roll up his sleeves and tussle in the mud with essentially a child. Tayshia said they were both “acting like middle school children,” but there’s a clear differentiation to be made here. First, NO ONE could talk to JPJ and not raise their voice—it is literally the only way to be heard. Second, it drove me bonkers when the assessment of the situation was that JPJ and Derek were fighting over Tayshia, that it was some sort of love triangle. NO. Derek wasn’t fighting over Tayshia—remember, he was the MAN who stated she could make her own choices. He was fighting over the defamation of his character. It’d be different if they were arguing in real life; Derek could easily take the high road, not engage and promptly delete JPJ’s number. But this is national television; talking trash about someone while mic’ed and being filmed inherently is defaming their character. JPJ dropped a grenade on Derek, misquoted him and sullied his reputation to millions of viewers. Derek was in between a rock and a hard place; rise above engaging but let millions of people believe what JPJ had claimed about him, or lower himself to JPJ’s level and at least attempt to clear things (and his reputation). I would have chosen the latter option, too.
Tayshia and the other Paradise inhabitants might have thought this heated argument was a bad look for Derek, but everything he needed to do, he did. He put JPJ in his place for speaking for Tayshia, he methodically debunked each of JPJ’s claims and most importantly, he provided much-needed context for JPJ’s quotes of his. JPJ claimed Derek said, “You can fuck the girls that follow you,” yet failed to mention that was followed by “… and I choose not to.” Hearing this missing puzzle piece made me sick with disgust for JPJ.
Meanwhile, as Derek painstakingly defended himself, JPJ’s laughter showed us everything we needed to know. Derek, frustrated, asked him how he could laugh, why he wasn’t taking things seriously. JPJ only responded by laughing again, even more maniacally than before. This is a game to him; he doesn’t think about the repercussions of his irrational, emotional actions, how they might affect others. (His blowout at Chris and Krystal‘s wedding last week proved this.) And even when faced directly with the hurt of others—hurt HE inflicted—he either gets defensive (as with Haley), or he laughs (as with Derek), like a child who’s hit a classmate. Haley said it best when she described JPJ’s actions as “selfish” (unsurprisingly, he didn’t agree with this, further proof of his lack of self-awareness). And you know what selfishness is another indicator of? You guessed it: Immaturity.