On Monday night's episode of The Bachelor, a lovely young woman named Clare had a sultry 4 am rendezvous in the ocean with Bachelor extraordinaire Juan Pablo. Unfortunately for Clare, the waves of joy she experienced were as the short-lived as the positive sentiment surrounding her chosen mate has been.
Clare and Juan Pablo have a special connection or something, though by the looks of the preview for next week, that connection will soon be broken. The night of the group date, Juan Pablo decided that Clare was worthy of some bathing suit alone time, and they canoodled in the pool of his private suite, just like they had in a hot tub in a previous episode. "I took her to my suite. I just wanted to have a good time with her, make her feel special. Let her know that I feel comfortable with her," Juan Pablo said. This was one of many times he would use the word "comfortable" with regard to his actions with Clare; she's considered a bit uptight and needed to be brought out of her shell or something.
Clare, emboldened by the special attention he was giving her, took the bull by the horns and, like Courtney had in Ben Flajnik's season, invited Juan Pablo to go in the ocean with her in the middle of the night. ("I just wanted to come and say thank you" = classic line.) While there's much debate over whether or not the two actually had sex in the those warm, Vietnamese waters, things were apparently hot and heavy enough to prompt Juan Pablo to reconsider whether it had been the right thing to do. During the Rose ceremony, Juan Pablo decided to take Clare aside and tell her that he wasn't sure that what they did was "fair" to the other girls, and that he was worried about the example he was setting for his daughter.
"That was good," he said to Clare, who was still brimming with joy over the whole affair, during one of two talks about the incident they would have. "But at the same time it was kind of a little weird for me." Juan Pablo then proceeded to not explain himself at all and make Clare feel terrible. Even after backtracking and saying she shouldn't be upset, that he was just trying to explain how he felt to her, Clare clearly felt terrible, given that she had just made an emboldened toast at the Rose Ceremony about "finding love, being loved, and making love." (She may have also been remembering and cursing herself for the comment she made about being so excited she felt like a baby giraffe with wobbly legs? Unclear.)
Do we all regret things after we think about them later? Yes. But Juan Pablo's oft-repeated desire that he be liked and his attempts to avoid hurting others has resulted in as many mistakes as he wanted to avoid. In the process, he's totally ruined himself as a sexy and viable life partner: not to make bold, sweeping statements about a reality television show, but he is fading fast in the eyes of the public. This man was once deemed so good looking and charming that ABC renamed the month of January for him. The homophobic comments he made while doing a promotional appearance soon after the show premiered really started things off, but his behavior during episodes like Monday night's has not engendered him to anyone. He may have apologized for calling gay people "more pervert" but he's not backing down about Clare; on Tuesday he took to his People magazine blog to reiterate his belief that he'd made a mistake by going in the ocean with her, making no apologies about the way he handled it.
Juan Pablo might not be the most hated Bachelor in the show's history, but he could be the first to have so much negative attention focused on him so early on. Usually, Bachelors are disliked after they make a decision during the Final Rose Ceremony and hurt someone (IRREVERSIBLY, of course), like Jason Mesnick was when he dumped Melissa for Molly. Brad Womack had some issues when he came back for his second season after not picking anyone during the first go-round, but the show quickly stifled that with produced segments about how "ready" he was for love this time. They even televised his therapy sessions to prove how changed he was.
Tweets and and comments on Juan Pablo's Facebook page demonstrate that there are plenty of women who still love him, but that there plenty others who absolutely despise him, including viewers who have written about hating him for numerous publications. A larger issue for Juan Pablo is that even Bachelor host and producer Chris Harrison doesn't seem to like him. Who knows how much editing the producers have done to separate the two on the show, but Harrison has barely been around in the past few episodes. He's usually dropping in to offer advice and counsel but we've seen little of that this season.
Harrison is also typically pretty measured in his criticisms of people on the show, but after the episode aired, he called out the "bizarreness of [Juan Pablo's] actions" in an interview with TV Guide:
When she showed up he was fully into it like this is awesome and sexy and she was as happy as can be and then he turns around and treats her like all of a sudden she did something wrong and broke the rules. It was not only confusing, but it was borderline rude. We even told him as much, but he didn't see it that way. Even though he apologized later I don't think he really understood how cheap he made her feel. In my deliberation I said, "You're not getting this, you really hurt her feelings, you need to fix it and apologize." But there are cultural differences with him and things do get lost in translation and how it's interpreted. It's his perspective; it's not right or wrong. So it made for interesting conversations and I had to learn to stand back a little bit and respect that.
"Cultural differences" aside, Harrison clearly doesn't think much of the dude. "You've seen [chinks] in his armor already, but I wonder what people will now think about how he treats everyone and goes about things," he added. "But this is who he is and what he says and you'll see it, warts and all."
The Bachelor's issues with sexuality go far beyond this one dude's wishy-washy treatment of his potential love. This is a program that says "women are supposed to be relatively innocent and chaste, up until the moment the man calls on them to stop being so," as Willa Paskin explains at Slate. "If Clare had bided her time and waited however many episodes until Juan Pablo invited her into his fantasy suite, she would have been celebrated as a woman willing to make herself vulnerable for love. Instead, she got the easy-woman edit and a scolding about sexual propriety from a guy proudly wearing multiple women's spit."
That's certainly been true throughout the program's history, but considering group opinion of Juan Pablo, it might not be that way forever. The Bachelor is never going to present the world we wished we lived in (or even the one we do live in). But the way the franchise has turned on its own ideal human indicates that even the people that make the show will only tolerate or support what they hath wrought so far.