After spending all season ripping apart Juan Pablo for his sexist paternalism, his homophobia, his hypocrisy, and his all around smarminess, we’re going to do something we never thought we’d do: defend him.
Hear us out.
When Andi, one of the women in Juan Pablo’s final three, spoke up about the nightmarish reality of the fantasy suite, we commended her. She pulled back the curtain of the show to reveal what a sham it is. World travel, exotic locales, novel date activities, and heavy mood lighting do not a relationship make; they — and the cameras — don’t create an environment to truly get to know someone intimately. Andi didn’t realize this until she and Juan Pablo finally had a chance to be alone, away from the cameras, and truly be themselves. Previous Bachelors have been better at keeping up the charade in the camera-free fantasy suite, but not Juan Pablo — his insensitivity and narcissism couldn’t be contained. Andi saw his true colors and, for the first time in Bachelor history, painted a brutal picture of the Bachelor — the man and the show — with them.
Now, with his appearance on “After the Final Rose”, Juan Pablo has done the same: revealing himself to be even more of an dick than we imagined, yes, but also highlighting the utter preposterousness of the show’s set up.
Juan Pablo refused to play the producers’ game; he refused to follow “The Bachelor” script — the script which dictates that when the Bachelor chooses someone to be with at the end of the show, he must publicly declare his undying love…for a woman whom he’s essentially just met. If he won’t propose marriage (god, how annoying and selfish!), he’ll at the very least state clearly and unequivocally, “I love her.” It’s an essential part of the pretend fairy tale the producers are peddling: this show is about finding true love and we’ll all be damned if someone doesn’t find it by the end!
We lost count of how many times Chris Harrison asked Juan Pablo if he was in love, asked him to say he was in love. Harrison even went so far as to say Juan Pablo was in love, but was just refusing to let us all enjoy it vicariously: “This is what we all signed up to watch, and that’s what you signed up to show.”
But Juan Pablo wouldn’t budge — because he’s obviously not in love. At least not yet. And can we blame him, bastard or not? After only two months on the show with Nikki, and several more spent apart from her in hiding, he — like most sane people — need more time to make any grand statements or big moves, especially when he apparently takes marriage very seriously (he didn’t even marry the mother of his child) and doesn’t consider divorce an option. They — yes, JP and Nurse “I’m in Love” Nikki — need time in the real world to figure out how they actually feel about each other, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of Bachelor couples don’t ultimately end up together for the long haul. Juan Pablo said, “We’re starting our relationship.” The key word being starting.
But Nikki said it best (which is not surprising, considering Juan Pablo’s strained English and his proclivity for sticking his foot in his mouth): “I’m not going to force it,” she said. “I’m happy and I know he is too. That should matter more [than the words]…There’s people that have sat up here before and said they’re in love and everyone wants to believe it but they don’t because it’s just not there…Falling in love in a few months and, not only that, but the fact that they were dating other people the whole time, it’s just not exactly realistic…This is a real relationship to us, we’re taking this very seriously.”
To which Juan Pablo added, in a rare moment of eloquence, “I’m sorry the show didn’t end up the way you guys wanted it to but I just have to be honest.”
The couple also refused to reveal their future plans — or even if they had any future plans at all — saying they preferred to keep their relationship private, or at least as private as possible in a post-Bachelor world. This, of course, spurred the ire of Harrison along with Bachelor poster children/good citizens Sean and Catherine: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” said Catherine. She meant that he should be more grateful to the show for the opportunity to find someone he cares about by spilling his guts (though it sounded an awful lot like she was admitting the show is more about making money and publicity for participants than it is about actually fostering true love). But Juan Pablo, having held up the letter of the producers’ laws the entire show, went rogue last night and ignored the spirit of those laws by keeping his innermost thoughts and feelings to himself, proving better than any prepackaged happy ending that these are real live human beings (however flawed) and not the producers’ puppets or our playthings.
Last night’s treatment of Juan Pablo seemed to suggest that in the world of the Bachelor, it’s better to end up alone than with someone whom you’re enjoying dating and getting to know — that’s just so realistic, so logical, so anti-climactic, so real. Everything “The Bachelor” isn’t.