Remember on Chris Soules’ season, when post-finale they dropped that “double Bachelorette” announcement? That was all anyone was talking about, NOT the newly engaged, happy couple. The announcement itself was even more dramatic than an already hyper-dramatic episode, trumping it entirely. Last night was a bit like that. Like, I made my usual notes about the episode—which for the record was hyper dramatic—but the After Paradise announcement that Nick will be the next Bachelor was so explosive that I don’t really want to talk about anything else.
First of all, this was one hell of a genius move on the-powers-that-be’s part. The shock value alone had to be one of the great appeals of this choice (the others I will get to in a bit) because if you think about it, arguably the most valuable trick up their sleeves is just that: shock value. We as an audience lose interest quickly and easily. Watching even remotely similar storylines and drama grows tired, and gimmicks (the gossip magazine episode from JoJo’s season comes to mind) have one-and-done shelf lives. Unpredictability is crucial in keeping us tuning in. Case in point, I had more than one friend text me that they hadn’t planned on watching next season—they’d all yawned at the prospect of a season led by one of the usual suspects, plucked from the previous Bachelorette’s final four—but this twist was just what the doctor ordered to keep them tuned in.
Surprise factor aside, there are so many things I love about this. And though friendship may be tinting my lens slightly, I’ll do my best to make sure this isn’t coming with a side of bias. Firstly, I truly believe the familiarity viewers feel with Nick will result in a more invested, interactive viewing experience. Nick has proven different from the cookie cutter Bachelor time and time again. He states his opinions even when they’re unpopular. He has real conversations with people. Perhaps my favourite, especially as a platonic female friend of his, he doesn’t only see women as potential romantic partners. (How many platonic, quality advice-laden conversations have you seen him have with women on Bachelor in Paradise? It’s come to the point where Andy jokes—affectionately, of course—that Nick is this season’s gay friend.) I for one am looking forward to watching him differentiate between friend and lover, hearing him articulate in his ITMs why he likes one woman over another. Nick is polarizing because he’s different, and that differentness is just what this franchise needs.
On a purely practical level, if the goal of this show really is a happily engaged couple that eventually walks down the aisle, it makes sense to have a Bachelor in his mid-30s. It just does. Not only will the women cast be slightly older and better equipped for “forever,” there’s an emotional maturity that comes with those extra years. There’s a more sincere desire to find and settle down with a partner and not play the field any longer. (I realize this is a blanket statement and am not insinuating the younger Bachelor couples won’t last. I’m just saying, in my and my friends’ experiences in a big city, it’s proven true time and time again.)
Finally, say what you want about Nick Viall (he’s heard it all), the man is a hopeless romantic. I distinctly remember talking to him directly after he’d filmed Kaitlyn’s season. He’d just been broken up with at Final 2 (AGAIN) and was sincerely ruined. He was heartbroken and confused; he’d gone into it with “open eyes” as he put it, without the naïveté of a first timer, yet still managed to get blindsided. I asked him if now he thought the whole thing was BS, if he didn’t believe in it (partly because, in some ways, I didn’t). His answer? He still thought it could work, still believed in the show, still believed his love story was out there. Part of me was in disbelief at this unfounded certainty, but the other part of me admired that kind of blind hope. Whether you agree or disagree, think he’s a hopeless romantic or just an idiot, you have to respect that kind of conviction. And though I still identify as a skeptic regarding this franchise, I fully believe in Nick.
To quickly touch on non-Nick-Announced-As-Bachelor affairs, I felt awful for Caila on After Paradise last night. It was obvious by how the camera zoomed in on her reaction that she wasn’t told Ashley would be there. In fact, I’d go so far as to guess they might have promised her just the opposite. It was tough to watch the two of them; you could cut the tension with a knife. And while Ashley’s reticent apology was better than nothing, it would have struck me as more sincere if she hadn’t needed to be prompted more than once by Michelle Collins to make it.
I’ve been getting asked a lot about my thoughts on Amanda and Josh and whether or not I think he’s sincere. Honestly, I think it’s obvious Josh IS sincere about Amanda. (Although pizza does give her a run for her money.) Sure, perhaps he did initially head out to Paradise in an effort to salvage his image post-It’s Not Okay (which as I’ve said before is well within his rights) but I don’t personally think he has the malice in him to have strategically and insincerely aligned himself with Amanda. I may doubt his ability to truly care for her, but I don’t doubt that he believes he truly cares for her. I figure he went out there both with the intent to discredit Andi’s book plus an open mind about who he might meet. Were his intentions 100 percent pure? Probably not. But with the benefits that come from being seen week after week by millions, are anyone else’s?
For more from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays on City.
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