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Bachelor Recap – Episode 1

By: Zak Waddell, ‘The Bachelorette’ contestant on Season 9  //  Follow him on Instagram at @RealZakWaddell 

If you missed last night’s episode of The Bachelor, it’s easy to find out what happened. Ask around at work, start your thumbs digging through Social Media… heck, Siri might be able to answer it. But let me save you the time (and sadly, maybe even the joy of the pursuit), what “happened” is easy:

30 girls instead of 25

He falls for Britt night one

A crazy girl relates people to onions

A girl gets tired and irritated as she comes down from a buzz.

ohh…and my little sister makes me proud with her Karaoke machine

We will talk about those soon enough (spoiler alert…though indirectly).

Let’s focus instead on what “is happening”. Even though Chris is The Bachelor, is he really a bachelor as we know it? Something about the essence of the word Bachelor as we know it seems to imply a freedom of choice. If being single is enough to be a “bachelor” then we can move along. But when you put it in that context, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. What is a “bachelor” beyond being single. We have bachelor parties to remember our bachelor days, as if to celebrate all the best of those days in one single night. We celebrate the freedom to act as we wish, with no one else to answer to. We play golf all day with our friends, go on fishing trips, spend the weekend drinking in Vegas, dress up the groom to maximize embarrassment and attention.

It seems to say, “This man, at this moment is a bachelor. A man who is desired because he lives in a state of freedom. He is giving up all this, for a life of marriage. After considering all the women in his past, the temptations of this night included, he chooses one woman from all the others on earth. He is sacrificing a life of individual freedom for the mystery of marriage.”

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A farmer from Iowa is the antithesis of a Bachelor, mainly because he lacks choices. His family and a responsibility for the family’s farming empire have taken him out of the dating scene. Sure, he can venture into the city at night, try online dating or rekindle connections from college. The hard truth of the matter is relationships hinge on proximity. Anyone he meets is required to sacrifice their way of life for a farm and a farmer in Iowa.

This is important because for the first time, the Bachelor is the victim. The viewer expects with Bachelor’s past a man who has dated and encountered all varieties of girls. With Sean and Juan Pablo, living in Dallas and Miami, we assume they have acquired discernable preferences from being bombarded with options and having a multitude of experiences. How many women would a single man encounter living in a town of 400?  If novelty is the spice of life, Chris has certainly dulled down his taste buds.

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In this recap, we will focus on Chris as the victim of certain archetypal characters (though not named specifically); archetypes that exist in the city, not capable of surviving on the farm. I won’t name names. I’ll let you fill in those gaps. I am team Bachelor, team Chris, team Sustainable Love. I am also team Train Wreck, team Over the Top, team Drunk. The two are not mutually exclusive, but overlap in the quadrant of Reality TV…after all Chris this is what you signed up for.

Some people may be asking, “but what if he decided to give up farming…what if they seek compromise”? These things might happen, but it’s not relevant to the story being told. We must take “farmer looking for a wife” at face value to find Chris a woman that fits into this framework. I also must say that Chris may not be as “lucky” as he thinks he is. Juan Pablo was not presented with any girl that fit his natural preference or cultural similarities. He made an honest attempt to find a love that would integrate into his family and unique cultural traditions. Unfortunately, he was unlucky in his pursuit.

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I don’t think Chris is unlucky based on the selection of women last night. There seem to be a few girls that could make a natural transition to a farm, and many who could deceive him into thinking they could. As shrewd and capable of making good business decisions as Chris might be on the farm, he has entered into the realm of the heart…a place where these women might have the upper hand.

I also must say Chris is not “lucky” to be The Bachelor. Sure, he was given the opportunity because of the good story it makes for TV. Sure, any woman might be enticed by the prospect of a millionaire farmer and landowner that could make all her problems go away. Sure, he took the middle ground on The Bachelorette, staying out of drama and coming out a true gentleman. Luck, however, is not something left arbitrarily to the cosmos. It is something made by one’s own hands. When paired with humility a man of integrity like Chris comes across lucky. But don’t let him fool you… he has tilled his own soil.

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Solemn and sincere are my first impressions of Chris. It is interesting to see him away from the guys on The Bachelorette. In this context and at times he seemed to me cocky and despondent. I can admit this was confused with raw, no-apology needed, confidence. The cockiness: being one of the only successful, career driven men in the house, he offered Andi something desirable. The despondency: the realization she would have to choose his farm lifestyle in order to choose him.  Both of these don’t require an apology.

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So let’s get to the task at hand. Let’s see who our villains are:

The LA Actress: She is more concerned with her characterization than with Chris.  She overly dramatizes her interactions for the cameras: if she makes it far enough, she might win over America and become The Bachelorette; if she doesn’t make it far at all, she might kick start a career on-screen.  She is dangerous because of her good looks, charm and ability to express fabricated emotion. She is the front runner early on making the best first impression. First impressions will be hard to Chris to shake. She will certainly reveal her true colors amongst the girls. The girls will expose her. She can’t survive in Iowa because she requires too much attention and needs constant validation.

The Sexually Progressive: She takes huge risks to break from the pack. She is free with her sexuality. She can speak like one-of-the-guys. She is very touchy and affectionate. She makes men feel comfortable quickly when things can be awkward. She does all of this in order to make statements on morality. She believes strongly in moral relativism and believes ones experiences are the only things that define them. This will not fly in Iowa where religious and cultural traditions are rigid. She will always be an outcast causing Chris to choose between her and her family.

The Jock: They lead with their body, hoping to intrigue you into searching for more. She might be more, but she has decided to identify herself with her body first. In order to maintain this intrigue, she will need to focus her time and energy toward body maintenance.  This may prove difficult in an environment where people are more sedentary and less health conscious.

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The Bleeding Heart: She is truly empathetic towards others. She has given her life to others through service. She is the perfect representation of a mother and head of household. She tells her story quickly in order that he might see this. She may not be the most attractive or seductive but she is patient knowing he sees her beautiful heart. How would this not work in Iowa? Because she needs constant service in order to fuel her heart. My fear is that there may not be enough people to serve in a town of 400.

The Creative: She is creative and fun, insightful, challenges him to be more, to ask more questions, to dig deeper, to create. She needs constant stimulus and thrives on people and ideas. Iowa would squelch her dreams and shake her concept of life and living. She would be miserable.

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One might be asking, who does this leave. And here lies the question. We no longer live in an age where a woman is subordinate to a man. The female identity as it applies to relationships has progressed so greatly in the last 50 years; I would argue man has regressed. But that’s conversation for another time and place. Let’s just agree that this season of The Bachelor is asking us to squeeze all we have learned about modern relationships in a town in rural Iowa.

When it is all said and done, it won’t be asking us to embrace changing times, but to simply accept it. We live in a post-modern world that is integrated culturally, religiously and spiritually.  Our collective consciousness is no longer uniquely American. We are a part of all cultures, even when unwilling. Arlington, Iowa is the closest thing we have to a time warp. I applaud ‘The Bachelor’ franchise for continuing to take risks on individuals that speak to things larger than just love. If you reach deeper you will find much more than entertainment. You might even put your finger on the pulse of love in America. Where is it now? Where is it going?

I’ll be watching.

-Zak

Come back each Tues for a recap on Zak’s thoughts of the episode and get a man’s perspective on what is really going on. 

  • Crystal

    Zak, this is one of the most elequently written article I’ve read in awhile. It was thought-provoking and moving.

  • Tiffany

    I enjoy your perspective, Zak! Can’t wait to read more!

  • Debbie

    Kudos for a rare perspective. Insightful, intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable to read! You are a great writer. Lookingforward to your futue recaps. Thank you Zak! And thank you Des!

  • Beth

    Great points! When watching the show I kept watching for the girls ages, occupations, and locations and wondering how many would actually fit in Iowa. We all say we’d be willing to give up anything for love, but deciding in only 6 weeks is a tough call when you have 29 other women to compete with. This was very well written and I look forward to your thoughts each week as it progresses Zak. Des thank you for allowing this insight.

  • Raina Jennings

    This is so well-written!! Loving how you’ve described some of these women…most of them I can pinpoint but some I’m not sure who you’re referring to! I’ll have to pay closer attention. Jeez are you a psychologist or something?!?!

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