09.09.2016

'Bachelor in Paradise' Is Where Heaven Always Ends in Tears

Sometimes tears of joy!

Bachelor in Paradise is like The Bachelor, but even more inane. In other words, better. It takes contestants from previous seasons of the show, some who didn’t even make it past Week One, and sticks them on a booze-filled private beach in Mexico. The point of the whole show is for couples to form, but each week there’s a rose ceremony (elimination ceremony) as well as new additions to the island who can break couples up. One week, the women are in control of handing out roses (being in charge of who goes home). The other week it’s the men. This goes on for around two months, and after that the strongest couples in the house get engaged. You know, just like real life.

The way I see it, reality TV is an extension of B-movies, camp, Troma, and any other form of trash cinema. This might be a controversial statement, but I sincerely hold shows like The Jersey Shore in the same regard as Pink Flamingos. My crusade has always been to take the guilty out of the words guilty pleasure, which is often what’s associated with these kinds of shows. To embrace the tacky, cheesy, hack, and gimmicky is just as important to me as embracing the refined and tasteful. That’s why I have no shame in admitting to you that Bachelor in Paradise is a damn good show.

Last but not least, there’s the human monster known as Chad who is well-known for getting drunk and telling people that he’s going to murder them.

Let me briefly run down some of the more memorable cast members who entered paradise. There’s Lace, who was popular for basically being an over-the-top drunk mess on Ben Higgins’s season of The Bachelor. There are two women exclusively known as “The Twins,” because they are twins. There’s Daniel, a Canadian who frequently talks about himself in third person and when he does refers to himself as an Eagle. Then there’s Ashley—a virgin who cries a lot—and Josh, a man who repeatedly uses the excuse that his dog has been battling cancer for six months to explain why he hasn’t been active on social media. Last but not least, there’s the human monster known as Chad who is well-known for getting drunk and telling people that he’s going to murder them.

Observing these people interacting and forming connections feels oddly familiar yet completely unfamiliar at the same time. The way they approach one another and talk so formulaically about love doesn’t feel natural. At the same time, seeing them actually tell each other so bluntly exactly what it is they want and are looking for is remarkably refreshing. Each couple has their own special story, and different reasons you want to root for them or not. Ashley, for example, comes to the island still obsessed with a very plain all-American male named Jared.

The two met on the last season of Bachelor in Paradise, and though were somewhat romantic with one another in the beginning, Jared made it clear he wasn’t interested in her. They continued a friendship, however, with Jared knowing full-well that Ashley was not giving up on the hope that the two of them would one day be together. When Ashley returns to paradise this time around, she finds that Jared has formed a connection with a plain all-American woman named Caila. Here’s the thing about Caila: Her demeanor is so positive and smile so fixed no matter what the circumstances you might be convinced she’s a robot or a serial killer

 Anyhow, this of course turns Ashley into a diabolical sobbing mess. She wants to give up on Jared, but can’t. No matter how much Jared tells Ashley they’re never going to be together, Ashley doesn’t relinquish hope . She essentially forces Caila to leave the show. In a surprising turn of events, Jared departs with Caila leaving Ashley all alone once more.

Another favorite storyline of mine involves Evan, an erectile dysfunction specialist who is often called “the penis guy” on the show. He first falls for a woman named Carly, who tries to reciprocate feelings but can’t bring herself to be attracted to him. Evan doesn’t give up, however, and eventually wins Carly over after exaggerating an injury and asking her to go to the hospital with him. During that hospital trip, Carly suddenly sees something in Evan she hadn’t seen previously, and the two become madly in love. Now, they’re one of three couples at the end of the season to be engaged.

These two storylines playing side by side is a terrifying reminder that love is unpredictable. I watch these relationships unfold and can’t help but put myself in each one. While I can’t relate to any of these people on the surface (it truly boggles me that they actually find one another attractive), it’d be a blatant lie to say that their struggles aren’t relatable.

'Bachelor in Paradise' is more than a crappy reality dating show. It’s a lesson in love, and more importantly, a lesson in humility.

One minute, I’m convinced I’m an Ashley—hopelessly chasing men who’ll never love me—but then I look at Evan and think, Wait, maybe it is possible for things to change. Maybe I just haven’t found my Carly yet.

Circumstances are always different, and people won't always react to one another the same way. Bachelor in Paradise is a genuine look into how mystifying the vagaries of connection really are. Finding a match is based upon more than chemistry. It’s also based on luck, and timing. It reminds me why I hate dating advice. There is no one hard and fast set of rules for finding love.

The couples that made it to the end of the show were considered the “strongest” couples in the house. Out of the four, three actually got engaged. This is after knowing each other for six weeks or less.

Of course it’s ridiculous and completely unrealistic. At the same time, since the show stopped airing these couples still claim to be in love. So, I guess I can just shut my judgmental mouth, and so can the rest of us. Bachelor in Paradise is more than a crappy reality dating show. It’s a lesson in love, and more importantly, a lesson in humility. I am not better than anyone on this show and neither are you.

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