How am I already discussing Episode 10? Bachelor in Paradise, you’ve flown by, and although I rolled my eyes in disbelief when I first heard we’d need to endure four hours a week of your quality programming, I have to admit that in spite of myself, I’ve eaten you right up. Last night, Chris Harrison was my personal comic relief, with his redundant yet completely straight-faced, serious-toned speeches about asking yourself—but this time really asking yourself—if you could see this relationship lasting past Paradise, in potentially air-conditioned circumstances. I was thoroughly entertained by his claims that a romantic 1-on-1 date and a Fantasy Suite would somehow suddenly put a relationship “to the test.” (As though there haven’t already been 1-on-1s and “boom boom room” visits aplenty.) How leaving Paradise together somehow automatically means “marriage, kids, the whole thing” is beyond me, but one should nonetheless “continue to talk, continue to have those discussions,” as there is nothing worse than a—duh duh duh!—EMPTY PROMISE. At the very least, it’s good to know Chris Harrison truly, deeply cares about these folks and their feelings…
Speaking of tears, Izzy had an interesting episode. I think we can all agree Izzy’s remorse over Vinny would be a hell of a lot more believable if it had happened on its own, as though the gravity of what she’d done finally set in or had she realized on her own that she truly missed him. But for her regret to occur directly following Brett’s (incredibly ineloquent) rejection wasn’t very convincing. Nor do I think it was true regret. I must preface that I really love Izzy as a person. She came to my birthday party last week and is always such a sweetheart to me and to everyone. However, I believe Izzy regretted losing Vinny but not hurting Vinny. True, heart-wrenching regret would have set in immediately upon seeing how hurt he was and should have knocked the wind out of her sails regarding Brett. Yet, she allowed Vinny to leave brokenhearted and chose to pursue Brett nonetheless. After Brett’s “I’m just not that into you,” Izzy felt regret to the extent that insecurity and loneliness began to creep in, and the first thing she sought—that any of us would seek—was security, the comfort in the comfortable. On the whole, this storyline was very compelling as a viewer; who hasn’t been (or at least come close to becoming) the Izzy in this scenario at some point in their lives?
And for the record, Andy LOVED how Vinny handled Izzy’s phone call. He called it “relationship 101 perfection.” Vinny’s response to Izzy’s apology might have been brusque, but it was also concise, simple, truthful and word-for-word what should have been said. It wasn’t apologetic (which it shouldn’t have been), nor was it laced with anger or resentment. No bullshit, no flowers.
Now about Shushanna’s sudden exit. While it’s easy to say she knew what situation she was walking into, part of me loved how defiant she was. She was proud—too proud to be a latecomer on this show for sure—but I kind of dug it. Sure, you could argue she just wanted to leave before she got dumped, but I honestly don’t see the big problem with that. If she were super confident in what she and Wells had, it’s safe to say she’d have stuck it out. But I can appreciate not wanting to suffer through the rigmarole if you’re not confident there’s a pot of gold waiting at the end of that long, foggy, painfully drawn-out rainbow. I guess what I liked most was how unceremoniously she left—no acts of desperation or last-ditch efforts to stay on TV longer. (There were those tears at the end but they struck me more as tears from wanting the relentless ITMs to stop and less about “not finding love.”) She just wanted out and I respect that.
Speaking of staying on TV longer, Ashley I is the queen of it. I did not predict that Wells would give Ashley that rose and, particularly considering their breakup the very next day, the whole thing felt super produced to me. Grant’s comment to Wells after he’d given Ashley the rose said it all, “That was the best move you could have made.” It felt just like that, a “move.” A move on producers’ part most likely, but a move nonetheless.
It’s still tough to discuss Ashley without it morphing into a conversation about Ashley and Caila. I’ve seen many comments directed at me and other members of Bachelor Nation about picking sides or vilifying either woman. First, I can’t emphasize enough how delicate being on the other side of all this is. In person, Ashley is funny, smart, self-deprecating and knows full well the role she plays in this franchise. In person, Caila is as sweet as you’d expect, but also generous, perceptive, and an epic conversationalist. (I’ve had more real—not even close to “fake”—conversations with her than I’ve had with some friends I’ve known much longer. And on the topic of what exactly “fake” means, I highly recommend this Huffpost article on this very saga.) When you know these people personally—and have never had any issue with either—can you really be expected to point a finger based on how they appear on a heavily edited television show? Second, it amazes me how after this many years, no one points that finger towards the puppet masters in the wings. For example, I have a hard time believing Caila wasn’t in the slightest encouraged by a producer to pursue Jared in the first place. How coincidental that Ashley should arrive right after Caila’s date with Jared! Would Ashley speak so loosely and callously in her ITMs if the producer next to the camera didn’t feel like her close friend? Unlikely. I’m not saying producers are devils—there’s a reason we all still love them—nor am I deliberately not holding anyone accountable for their words and actions during filming. But remember, the environment is foreign and designed to have you rub each other the wrong way, talk shit about each other, and make you insecure. For these conversations to bleed from a television show into real life, long past filming, editing, airing… Those grudges are misguided and misdirected.
For more from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays on City.
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