I’m going to say it right away: I am unabashedly in LOVE with this season. And it’s nice to not only feel this way but to also declare it here (my digital equivalent of shouting it from the rooftops!) since I feel like I’ve spent a lot of recaps mainly dumping on the show. (Cough, Bachelor Canada Season 3, cough.) I’ve said before that my critical commentary and interest for this show come from a place of love for it, so when there’s a season that I think does us and the franchise justice, I’m one happy clam. And that’s where I am right now.
You know what it is? This season is the intelligent Bachelor viewer’s season. It ties into what I was saying two weeks ago, about how we can recognize a humane edit versus a cruel one, and how much better, more convincingly “real” reality television that is for us. The show has evolved from thinking we only want cotton candy—girls we watch only to make fun of, obviously fabricated drama, unconvincing connections between the contestants and the lead—to recognizing that we want something meatier. We’re not dimwits who’ll just eat whatever sugar-laden fluff we’re fed.
One of the most major factors for me feeling this way is the dizzying number of frontrunners I have. Usually, I can zero in on the Final 4 and make reasonably accurate predictions based on airtime and edits. When writing my Top 4 predictions for this column, I often truly have a true Top 2 (maybe 3), and I’ll tack on extra contestants who are peripherally in the running, but not because the race is actually tight. But for real, as I felt after this season’s premiere, I left last night’s episode scratching my head. We’re already halfway through the season but there are still SEVEN women I can see going very far, and possibly to the end. Bekah M, Becca K, Chelsea, Tia and Seinne are all major contenders. There are two dark horses, Kendall and Lauren B. They’ve both sort of come out of nowhere (they didn’t have much screen time in the first few episodes), but their chemistry with Arie is so convincing it has me wondering if the show is shedding its usual airtime/edit formula by allowing Catherine Lowe-levels of dark horse-ery.
I was talking to my sister about Krystal and had a bit of a revelation: We agreed that we don’t want her to leave. That’s how good a villain she is! Always, when villains grind my gears, in terms of impairing my viewing pleasure, they can’t be sent packing soon enough. But with Krystal, it’s not so black and white. I go back and forth between sympathizing with her and being grated by her. I truly believe she is not a malicious person. I feel a bit bad for her in that I think she’s in over her head and she’s kind of spiralling out of control. Based on how she reacts to conflict within the Bachelor bubble, narcissism might be her curse and she appears to have something of a victim complex. Her own pride is her worst enemy. Bekah M said something that really nailed it on the head: “I wonder if Krystal still lives in her deluded world where she still thinks all of us are wrong.” It ties into all all things I often talk about on these recaps: That where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or the common denominator factor: If you have conflict with many people yet they all get along with each other fine, you’re the common denominator and maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. It takes humility to be able to admit fault but Krystal seems hell bent on pointing a finger at everyone but herself, almost as a means of survival, as though her being wrong (or not perfect) is not something she could recover from. Most interestingly (again, from the intelligent Bachelor viewer’s perspective), we can almost see her progressively growing closer and closer with her producer as she becomes more and more alienated from the other women. What she said last night after getting her rose—”If the girls thought I was a threat before, then watch out ladies!”—didn’t sound like something she’d have said in Episode 2.
You guys, my Top 4 list is all askew! I don’t think I’ve ever had so much change in my lists as this season. My predictions based on Episode 5 are as follows…
1. Tia, 26: This was a WOW 1-on-1, enough to catapult Tia from 4th last week to 1st. And enough to make me go back to each episode and pore over her screen time. (Yes, I am a nerd.) I feel a little tricked, like we weren’t given the proper tools to know Tia would be this significant a player. On Night One, she got an intro video and her full limo exit was shown, but we hardly got any conversation between her and Arie (just a few sentences about them both liking to keep things light and funny). There was no ITM of Arie reflecting on Tia or his time with her. In Episode 2, all we saw of any 1-on-1 time between them was Arie telling her, “You’re definitely my type” and her smiling. (Seriously, that’s all.) It wasn’t until Episode 3, with the barrels of hay and moonshine at the Rose Ceremony cocktail party, where we saw some concrete time and Arie talk about liking her a lot. At any rate, none of that matters now, since based on that incredible 1-on-1 date I feel strongly that Tia will either win or make at least final 2. The way these two look at each other, and the easy banter and flow, and the fact that Tia is a badass career woman (for which Arie has expressed appreciation). The mic drop quote that solidifies her in the top spot? Arie saying: “I feel more myself when I’m around her than any of the other women.”
2. Bekah M, 22: Bekah M hasn’t budged from my 2nd spot for awhile. She holds firm, but I’m the first to admit she’s not getting bumped higher because of her age. And it’s not that I don’t think she’s a mature and ready 22-year-old, but rather that I don’t know if Arie is going to go with his, to use his own word, “riskiest” option. But man, what a natural rapport these two have. And their chemistry! She’s also making it far. If (and possibly when) this breakup happens, it’s going to be brutal but captivating television.
3. Becca K, 27: Just when I was beginning to think all was lost for Becca K and Arie, he carved out some real QT for her, even taking her to his room! My beef is that most of what we were shown of that QT was just them kissing, without nearly enough substantial conversation. (Compare this to Bekah M, where conversation is ALWAYS, almost disproportionately shown versus everyone else.) But we also got a little interaction on the bowling portion of their date, so overall I still think Becca K is a frontrunner. But if she does win, she has a right to be pissed about the general lack of airtime their love story is getting.
4. Kendall, 26: This was a tricky decision. I was tempted to include Chelsea because I don’t think Arie would keep a mother on his season longer if he felt lukewarm about her, but we haven’t seen nearly enough time between them overall (I believe the last 1-on-1 time we ever saw was Episode 2?). I had to bump Seinne because, despite her great 1-on-1 last week, she got pretty much zero airtime with Arie this week (note how Bekah M’s time was shown while she too had a 1-on-1 last week). Lauren B seems like a potential force to be reckoned with but while her Group Date 1-on-1 time was shown, BOTH Kendall’s Group Date 1-on-1 and Rose Ceremony 1-on-1 times were shown. Looking back, Kendall, like Tia, had an intro video and her full limo exit shown. Her 1-on-1 time only included her song on her ukulele (which was really good!) so, again like with Tia, I was thrown off. But the more I see her the more seriously I take Kendall and Arie as a couple. I eagerly await their 1-on-1 date!