I’ve surprised even myself with my soft spot for Evan. I’ve always liked him. Despite it being low-hanging joke fruit for many a contestant, I have no issue with his occupation (which by the way is WAY more legit than most of the careers in Bachelor Nation) and from the beginning of JoJo’s season I gushed about Evan’s glorious facial expressivity. In his ITMs he was and is consistently eloquent, funny and expressive, regardless of whether or not what he’s actually saying is completely misguided.
Objectively, I should criticize Evan. Based on his edit, he’s been pretty flip-floppy when it comes to the women; when Carly shut him down last week he immediately spun on his heel and showed interest in his “original” crush, Amanda (who, by the way, dealt with that so classily). Even though there’s a 98 percent chance he was producer-coerced to pursue that, the timing was not flattering. I understand the need to stick around in Paradise (actually, wait, no I don’t) and admire one’s efforts to not drown in heartbreak and keep their options open, but Evan’s brief pursuit of Amanda sort of discredited his ongoing feelings for Carly. (Though, it must be said, I really like Carly and Evan together.)
I guess what I love about Evan is his David versus Goliath-like pursuit of justice. Obviously I’m speaking of his confrontation with Josh, which believe it or not, caused a debate between Andy and me. He and I usually agree on just about everything, especially when it comes to something as frivolous as elimination-based reality TV. But, while I liked that Evan “warned” Amanda to keep her eyes open regarding Josh, Andy agreed with Josh that if Evan had some issue with him, he should skip the talking-behind-people’s-backs part and just talk to Josh directly. I agree with that idealistic premise in theory, but what was Evan supposed to do? Pry Josh from Amanda, sit him down, and say, “Hey I heard your ex-fiancée claimed in her book that you’re an emotionally and verbally abusive person. Warn Amanda about that, will you?” After all, factually it seemed Evan wasn’t telling Amanda anything that she didn’t already know. He was simply imploring her to not ignore that information for convenience’s sake and to bear it in mind.
I suppose my favourite thing about Evan is that, even in the heat of the moment and in the face of what most people would find incredibly intimidating, he sticks to his guns and doesn’t even pretend to drink the Kool-Aid. He did it multiple times with Chad on JoJo’s season, and again here on Paradise with Josh. During his conversation with Josh over It’s Not Okay-gate, SO many people would either agreeably take Josh’s word at face value, or smile and nod and pretend to take Josh’s word at face value (while retaining their doubts and, yes, probably continuing to talk about him behind his back). But Evan remained a transparent, critical thinker and, in a way, spoke for the viewers at home.
I cannot stress enough that I’m in no way accusing Josh of lying. As I said last week, I think being with the wrong person can truly bring out the worst version of someone, and I have no doubt Josh remembers what happened between he and Andi differently. However, to dismiss an entire book of specific examples as “fiction” isn’t, well, specific enough. And though I appreciate Josh’s take-the-high-road approach, taking the high road in this case would have been to ignore it completely and not appear on another series in the show’s franchise, the very franchise tying him to Andi and that book in the first place. As Evan so aptly put it, “Did you think you were going to come on here and it [the book] not pop out?” He has a point. Josh himself signed up for this show, a move many saw as a form of damage control and which frankly he has full right to do. So whether or not it was to salvage his image, why not seize the opportunity and categorically dispel what he claims to be defamation?
Above all, as a member of the audience—the very people whose minds you’re trying to change (it’s safe to say there’s nothing to prove to, say, friends and family)—it’s unsatisfying and borderline insulting to have the book and its contents not even skimmed over, but completely dismissed. I enjoyed when Evan asked, more to make a point than anything, that if everything Andi claimed in her book was indeed untrue, “Then why don’t you sue for libel?” (I often joke about how sue-happy Americans are but it’s impossible not to recognize his point.) Josh’s response was first crickets, then that he wouldn’t even acknowledge something so untrue (again, he put himself in the position where it would need to be acknowledged), that he’s a very spiritual person, and that God has a plan “always, no matter what.” In my humble opinion, the conversation wasn’t a conversation. It was Evan articulately addressing the elephant in the room and Josh responding in stock, prepared-sounding quotes that didn’t really answer what Evan had asked or stated. I often come back to the theory of showing versus telling. Instead of telling everyone that Andi’s book is bullshit, Josh should show it with specific examples as to why.
Sometimes writing these is tough. Last week I treaded very carefully on this topic. I always try to judge by what I see on television, as an unbiased viewer; I make a concerted effort to not consider what I hear through the real-life grapevine. These are my thoughts not as Andi’s friend, not as Amanda’s e-friend, but as a viewer. And as said viewer, I thank Evan for saying on the show what I was thinking at home.
For more from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com.
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays on City.
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