For me, at least, most seasons of The Bachelor begin with a whimper. It’s hard to tell the contestants apart or care about them at all (particularly when four of them are named Lauren), The Bachelor in his human form tends to be a hollowed-out tree trunk of a person, and the emotional reactions and inter-house confrontations generate too instantaneously to feel even vaguely believable. It generally takes a minute to acclimate and get sucked in—much in the same way, I imagine, that it takes a few days of no books or TV or outside communication or emotional support for the women in the house to decide they are in love.
With the exception of Chris Soules, however—who was so offensively dull that his season unfolded kind of like a horror film, except instead of dying immediately the protagonist gets dragged off to Iowa to bear children—we haven’t had a Bachelor as comically uncharismatic as Arie Luyendyk Jr. in some time. I have now watched four entire hours of this season, and I am still entirely perplexed. It feels like he’s mimicking Ken Marino’s performance on Bachelor parody Burning Love.
Arie, 36, consistently looks like he’s wearing several different shades of foundation that are all the wrong color. Although the women are frequently shown breathlessly commenting on his looks (“even better in person”) and his “pillowy lips,” god help me, this man slinks around in his soft brown leather jacket with the flair of a 17-year-old who went on What Not to Wear. He loves race cars and real estate and Scottsdale and 23-year-old blonde women, and that honestly seems to be about it. “He looks like a Sim,” my roommate commented. It’s true, no offense.
Arie, who was last seen—in a far, far more flattering light—several years ago on Emily’s season of The Bachelorette, does not have a fan in professional Bachelor spoiler Reality Steve, who has interviewed his ex-girlfriend (they broke up a month before Arie was announced as the next Bachelor) and heavily implied that he has a checkered history with women. Reality Steve, who enjoys reminding his readers that Arie was not the network’s first choice, has been referring to Arie in his writing as “Not Peter.”
Jef Holm, who ended up with Emily (they later broke up), wrote on Twitter after ABC’s announcement: “I stopped being friends with [Arie] years ago because he’s disgusting.”
Anyway, now that we’re all feeling great, let’s take a brief look at what happened this week. The girls are excited—so excited. “Cyuuuuuht,” one of them says appreciatively, re: Arie. His first date is with Becca K., who, with some surprise help from Rachel Zoe, gets dressed up in so much silver that she ends up looking like a Maserati. They make out, Arie whispers “I like kissing you,” and I feel so, so uncomfortable, as if they are doing this right next to me in real time. Next up is Krystal with a “K,” a fitness YouTuber whose face has never—I repeat, never—dropped out of a smile in her time onscreen thus far and whose voice sounds like she is a little bit ill and taking something for it. Arie takes Krystal to Scottsdale, Arizona, which thrills her, and for some reason she meets his entire family. Arie’s mother has a loose blonde side braid, a thick Dutch accent, and does not smile at all. “She loved you,” he informs Krystal, who later goes on to tell him about her troubled childhood and her homeless brother. They then dance the night away to a musician with scant Google results who goes by the name of Connor Duermit. Krystal, like Becca K., gets a rose and is quite pleased.
The group date involves real-life bumper cars, and honestly nothing has looked less fun; it’s actually just smashing into each other with real cars in a pit of sand, which seems very, very dangerous, even with safety gear. One of the girls starts crying beforehand because she experienced “bumper car trauma” in her childhood, and another contestant, Jenny, laughs at her and tells producers of her plans to specifically ram the crying girl with her car. Afterwards, Brittany, one of the other contestants on the group date, quietly slips away with an undisclosed minor injury.
“You made it intense,” Arie jokes.
What else? At the rose ceremony, Bekah, who has an adorable pixie cut and the bold, slightly manic confidence of a woman who has a lot of Instagram followers, looks up at Arie with a smirk and says, without taking a breath: “I’msimpleandnodramaI’measytoplease.” Another contestant, during her one-on-one time, literally presents Arie with a stuffed dead seal. Bibiana, whose eyes have grown wider and more furious with every moment of this competition, gets extremely angry when Krystal tries to interrupt her “time” with Arie and says she will listen to Krystal only “if you learn to speak like an actual human being.” Bibiana then casually threatens to kill Krystal, telling her to “sleep with one eye open.”
After Jenna, age 25, gets sent home by Arie, who is wearing a polka-dotted pocket square, she storms past him without saying goodbye—a rare breach of Bachelor decorum—and then, when he follows her out, whirls around to casually reframe the situation, telling him that this process actually wasn’t really working for her. This is the first time she has been dumped, Jenna tells us.
I guess I’m watching this season, after all.