On Winners and Losers

Before we get down to brass tacks, let’s make one thing abundantly clear: Becca won. Becca won everything. She won The Bachelor by receiving the final rose. She won the breakup. She won at life by not having to spend it with Arie. She will be the next eponymous star of The Bachelorette. She is a Charlie Sheen meme made flesh.

The people who bet money on Lauren B. (which would have included this bookie) will likely argue that since she ultimately ended up with the engagement ring that she’s technically the winner. But what victory did she achieve in ending up with Arie Luyendyk Jr.? She’s forgiven him for choosing another woman over her because he finally came back around, but Arie’s already established himself to be lacking in the scruples department by concurrently telling multiple women he loves them, trying to reconcile with his ex while engaged, waiting for said ex to confirm she’ll take him back before ending his engagement, and setting his fiancée up for a nationally televised breakup. What a prize.

Whenever Arie’s choices have come into question, he leans on a theme of what it’s like “to be the Bachelor.” There is no doubt a level of brainwashing exerted upon the central character that’s only slightly less severe than what’s pressed upon the candidates, but it’s certainly not something that 99.99999% will be able to relate to. Say, “Love makes you do stupid things,” or even, “I wasn’t thinking clearly” – anything but the angsty teenage cry of, “You don’t know what it’s like to be me!”

And though it’s factually true that we will never know what it’s like to be Arie (and thank the Big Guy Upstairs for that), we all know what it’s like to be Becca and have the rug ripped out from under us. Thankfully we will never have to suffer it on national television, mostly because none of us would be able to handle it with the same aplomb she displayed. It would have been easy for her to have an ugly cry, swear a blue streak, or even give into the trappings of a breakup and give Arie that hug he so desperately wanted, but she maintained her dignity in the face of multiple rolling cameras.

Her ability to control her emotions is only one of the reasons she’s going to make a next-level Bachelorette; the real icing on the cake is that she is intolerant of anyone’s bullshit – and the contestants on The Bachelorette are chock full of that. This season we were given the treat of watching her cut not one but two undeserving jabronis down to size, a task she completed almost effortlessly. She might break a sweat with her next twenty-nine failed suitors, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

Of course, that might not be a problem. While there were more than a few bets on Becca winning The Bachelor, there wasn’t anyone banking on her being with us for another ten weeks. And that’s what we in the gambling business call a windfall. I wouldn’t quite classify it as retirement money, but I can take a well-earned break if I want it. Frankly, after five hours’ worth of finale, dodging the Reality Steve’s of the world for months, watching Chris Harrison smugly smile through a nationally televised heartbreak that his people helped engineer, and having to sit through tens of hours of television to confirm something I knew within two minutes – that Arie is the worst – I could use the time off. Hell, I think we all could.

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Ta-Tia For Now

One of the great marvels of the modern world is the “Hometowns” episode of The Bachelor, in which the eponymous star meets the families of the four different women he’s dating (each of whom has generally had a rough go of things in the past romantically) and seems genuinely perplexed that they might have reservations about their daughter/sister/niece/cousin getting engaged to a man who’s been seeing upwards of around twenty other girls for the past six weeks. And this is without them seeing any footage from the show – just imagine if they had access to the dailies.

All of this is to say things went pretty much as expected on each of Arie’s dates. Every father or father figure made allusions to acts of bodily harm, musclebound brothers got to act like the bouncers they quite possibly are, and all the mothers deflected Arie’s request for a blessing to marry their daughters by saying something along the lines of, “I can only say that I will honor my daughter’s decision.” Not only did Arie take that as a ringing endorsement, it’s quite possible he even said, “I love that,” in response. Thankfully, I’ll never know for certain because I won’t be subjecting myself to that viewing experience ever again.

The only real surprise of the week (apart from Arie knowing his way around an apple slingshot) was that Tia got the boot in favor of a woman who had Arie help her create dolls of themselves using actual rat skin and then used said taxidermy to recreate a scene from their date in Paris. This is not to say that Kendall isn’t deserving of being in the final three – far from it. Hell, I’d say she’s too good for this show. She’s one of, if not the, most complete people to ever grace the franchise. She’s in touch with reality, strives for empathy in her encounters (she thought she could engage with Krystal as a rational human being, people!), and her quarky quirky hobby is actually real. But based on what we’ve seen, these are not the things that interest Arie. Arie is mainly interested in being the center around which others’ worlds revolve. Tia has been willing to commit to that for some time. I’ll never understand why she was sent packing, but at least we have a legitimate shot at her being The Bachelorette. Hopefully some good will come of this madness.

And speaking of madness, there are two episodes next week, one of which is “Women Tell All”, or as I like to call it: Bachelor Bookie Christmas. There’s just so much to gamble on. Let’s take a look at the props, shall we?

First to Cry:

If you aren’t betting on this, you really just don’t get the spirit of this exercise. This is the wager that separates the Bachelors from the boys:

Tia:                  +120

Bekah M:         +150

Chelsea:          +175

Jacqueline:      +200

No Tears:        -125

Field:               -150

Yakety Yak:

There are three girls we know won’t be on WTA and one of the other ladies is bound to bring up one of their names. It doesn’t matter if it’s in admiration or animosity – who gets mentioned first?

Kendall:          +135

Becca K.:        +160

Lauren B.:       +190

None:              -150

Fighting Words:

Krystal’s definitely going to talk shit to someone. Who’s first on her list?

Tia:                  +115

Bekah M.         +185

Chelsea:          +200

Jacqueline:      +250

Field:               -175

Glam-Bam Thank You Ma’am:

Like most of the world, I’d never heard the term “glam-shaming” until Marikh dropped it on Chelsea earlier this season. Of course, I have no doubt “glam-shaming” and glam-adjacent terms will be brought up again. The only question is how often (note: any “glam” term counts – “pro-glam”, “glam-positive”, etc.):

Over/Under:    7.5

Over:               -175

Under:             +135

Fear Itself:

Blooper reels are at their best when they reveal some kind of weird fear from the contestants – fear of moths, fear of red peppers, fear of anyone finding out they secretly wished Peter was the Bachelor. And sure, there were already montages showing Annaliese’s fear of bumper cars and dogs, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t hiding anything else. So who gets found out first?

Annaliese:       -200

Jenna:             -165

Krystal:           +115

Bibiana:          +185

Arie:                +225

Field:               -110

A History of Violence:

Someone is going to threaten to get physical. Who do you think spouts fightin’ words first?

Caroline:         +185

Bibiana:          +200

Krystal:           +250

Field:               -105

None:              -120

The Most Bettable Bet:

So far Chris Harrison hasn’t called this season the most anything. That won’t hold for WTA…will it? What do you think Chris Harrison will use to describe this episode?

Emotional:      -200

Explosive:        -150

Surprising:      +150

Unbelievable:  +200

Any other word:          -250

Doesn’t happen:          +500

Poking the Papa-Bear:

There’s a lot to mock Arie about this season, and usually WTA takes some time to do that. Which trope do they hit up first?

“That’s Amazing”:     -185

“I Love That”:            -150

Being old:                    +125

Make-outs:                  +200

None:                          +350

Do Not Engage With Crazy:

I figure someone’s going to try and talk with Krystal rationally because everyone makes mistakes; it’s just a matter of how many people slip up:

Over/Under: 2.5

Even odds

And Then There Were Two:

Because there won’t be a recap before the Fantasy Suite episode, you better place your bets now on who we’ll be seeing go toe to toe for the Final Rose:

Lauren B.:       1-1

Becca K.:        2-1

Kendall:          3-1

Andiam-no.

I was watching this week’s episode with my gal Friday when she pointed out that this season’s defining characteristic is that Chris Harrison hasn’t once referred to it as the most anything season ever. The only superlative is that it’s the least superlative – which actually says a lot.

The most interesting thing to happen this week was Kendall getting a hometown without ever having had a 1-on-1 date. It’s possible that this phenomenon has occurred before, but this bookie can’t remember the time. That we’ve already reached the high-water mark of this write-up before getting to a hundred words also says a lot.

And even though Jacqueline ran intellectual laps around Arie as she broke up with him, it didn’t make for interesting television as it was a bit like watching a Formula One car race against a cinder block. It’s no shock at all that Arie’s two strongest relationships are with Becca K, who makes every conversation about Arie, and Lauren B., who makes every conversation seem like it’s happening with a brick wall. Arie is falling hard for two very different women, even if it’s for the same exact reason: he doesn’t have to try very hard when talking to them.

If you bet the favorites last week, you’d still be in the running. Lauren B, Becca K, Tia, and Kendall were all in the top four. Kendall’s on the outside looking in this week, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t worth a wager, considering the long(ish) odds:

Lauren B         8-5

Becca K           7-4

Tia                   5-1

Kendall            6-1

Tia’s chances may seem a little low, but that’s only because she’s a front-runner for the next Bachelorette. She’s been getting the edit all season, but as Arie turns his attention to Becca K and Lauren B, it seems like a foregone conclusion. But there are a number of ways next season’s Bachelorette could shake out – see for yourself:

Other Season   1-1

Tia                   3-2

Lauren B         10-1

Becca K           10-1

Kendall            15-1

Bekah M.         20-1

Field                -110

There you have it. Hopefully there’ll be more to say next week when hometowns happen and every girl’s dad wants to punch Arie in the face for asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage while dating three other women at the same time. But if anyone can make that scenario uninteresting, I’m sure it’s Arie.

Dim Bulbs in The City of Light

Bonjour, mes braves. To all of you who made it through this week’s episode, you’ve won my admiration. To those of you who didn’t, you’ve earned my respect.

Before we start to break down exactly why you would have been better off watching paint dry, let me first congratulate everyone who put money on Kendall making up the second part of the inevitable Krystal 2-on-1. In addition to being a few dollars richer you also profited off Krystal’s misery; there’s no punchline for this setup, I just wanted you all to bask in a job well done.

Normally I might feel compelled to make apologies for that kind of statement, but normally we aren’t confronted with a contestant that could easily be described as Chad (from JoJo’s season) minus the threat of physical violence. While Krystal wasn’t physically aggressive, she displayed no capability for empathy, changed her behavior to manipulate situations to her personal gain, and admitted no shame when confronted with her actions. Instead of being a psychopath, she was merely a sociopath – that’s about the highest compliment I can give her. Kendall, you’re a saint for trying not once but twice to engage with Krystal as a human being. Arie, you broke up with her on national television in front of woman she disdained; you should probably be looking over your shoulder the rest of your life.

As one villain exits, another is born conveniently edited in the form of Lauren B – which is a real shame considering she and Arie are perfect for another. Lauren B. proved to be Arie’s conversational equal this week as she offered the same monotone “Wow” when met with the beauty of the Seine, a wheel of cheese, and the local architecture. This is not unlike Arie giving an emotionally hollow “That’s amazing,” “That’s awesome,” or “You know” on subjects ranging from contestants’ spirituality to literally anything else that isn’t directly about him. The last time I recall him actually investing in a conversation was last week when Lauren B. revealed she takes coconut milk in her coffee. Star-crossed lovers, for sure.

Lauren is of course unhappy with watching Arie date several other women besides her, which is unfortunate considering that’s the premise of the show. What I would be more unhappy with in her position is Arie trying to relate to her romantic hardships by sharing the tale of his ex-girlfriend having a miscarriage, ending their relationship because his lifestyle kept them apart, and then painting himself as the victim. Arie, I hate to break it you, bud: you have not been wronged here.

But if you were able to make it through the Agents of Chaos and the Masters of Inanity, there was a slight reward waiting for you. I am of course talking about Jacqueline, who we are only finally getting the pleasure of knowing and unfortunately will likely never see again after next week. Jacqueline’s ascension has been meteoric, thanks in no small part to her professional aspirations. I can only assume the budding psychologist came on the show to perform some kind of case study, but she’s quickly made the leap from research to practical application in the field.

After discovering last week that the quickest way to Arie’s heart is down his throat, she swiftly changed all her tactics by blowing out her hair, pushing up the girls, and simply putting her lips on his to keep him from saying anything stupid. Arie doesn’t do even slightly complicated, and yet somehow he sat through Jacqueline explaining that getting her PhD means six years in one place that will almost one hundred percent not be Scottsdale, Arizona – and he still gave her a rose! I don’t know about you, but I think Jacqueline should get a master’s degree just for that.

That being said, it’s tough to see her lasting much longer given there’s only one more episode between now and hometowns. Still, the odds are up for the final seven and it’s anyone’s game – anyone but Jacqueline’s, that is:

Lauren B.        2-1

Becca K.          3-1

Tia                   7-2

Kendall            6-1

Bekah M.         8-1

Seinne              15-1

Jacqueline       50-1

RIP, Jenna – you were too fun for this world. Can’t wait to see you on Women Tell All.

The Airing of the Grievances

We need to talk about the weak link holding this season back from being one of the most enjoyable in recent memory, the one person responsible for turning each episode with this otherwise fantastic cast into a two hour slog. I’m not talking about Ashley, the contestant to make it the farthest without ever talking. Nor am I talking about Lauren B. 2.0, who is somehow just as beautiful but even less interesting than the original girl from Ben’s season (though I’m still not convinced they aren’t the same person). And it isn’t even Krystal – hell, every season needs a villain. No, the real problem with this group is Arie; and while we’ve scratched the surface in the past we need to fully break it down.

Arie is, at best, a C- man. There isn’t anything terrible about him, but there isn’t really anything good about him, either. When the women are talking he gives the appearance of listening, but mostly just looks at their mouths and either says “Yeah”, “You know,” or, “That’s awesome.” And when he is no longer able to sustain that bare minimum level of engagement, he plays with their hair or touches their clavicle until they eventually take the hint and start kissing him. During Rachel’s run on The Bachelorette we saw her future fiancé display an almost encyclopedic understanding of Neil Strauss’ The Game; Arie seems to have plucked out some bits about physical contact and said, “That’s enough for me.” It’s not the same level of sociopathy, but it still isn’t a great look.

His attempts at conscientiousness are almost always rooted in self-interest. Though it’s pure speculation to state that the reason he invited the losing bowling team to the after-party was because he wanted additional time with those women, it’s tough to overlook that he was shown making out with three women from that squad (Lauren B., Bekah, and Kendall) and only one (Becca) from the winners. What’s more, when Krystal did what any self-respecting Bachelor villain would do and threatened to leave, Arie told the remaining women, “I don’t want to disrespect you by going up there, but I really feel like if she has strong feelings, I should address it.” Arie, I hate to break it to you, but telling someone you don’t want to disrespect them by doing a thing and then actually doing that thing is even more disrespectful than just doing it in the first place.

But none of that sits as poorly with this bookie as when Tia – God bless her heart for all the feigned enthusiasm upon seeing the airboat – told Arie she was falling in love with him only for him to respond with, “You have to look at me when you say that.” Even a patented “That’s awesome” would have been a better response. Tia – and pretty much everyone but Krystal – I’m sorry; you deserve better.

And yet Arie has not said anything overtly racist, misogynist, or otherwise bigoted in any way. He is employed, owns a dog, and has a healthy (albeit potentially codependent) relationship with his parents. As I said: not terrible. This is what passes for a catch in the current state of things, at least on national TV.

As far as the gambling’s concerned, I’m willing to give odds on a case by case basis to anyone who thinks they know who’ll be joining Krystal on the 2-on-1 because it’s anyone’s guess at this point. I’ll also accept bets on pairings that don’t involve Krystal, but you might as well just take whatever dollars you were going to wager and light them on fire; the 2-on-1 exists to either feed or extinguish the flame of a contestant’s villainy – nothing more. It would make for great drama if they pitted friends like Tia and Caroline (gone and basically already forgotten) against each other, but there’s no point in messing with the formula. The system works. We haven’t stopped watching yet.

I’m still holding out hope it’ll be Chelsea squaring off with Krystal when the times comes, especially after what Tia went through this week to get her rose. Some girls get yachts and champagne – others get airboats and deep fried corn on the cob. A little karma wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Keep On Survivin’

This week quickly turned into an episode of Survivor; not because the ladies were out in the wilderness washing down bugs with champagne in order to sustain themselves, rather they all collectively realized that if they have any chance of being on The Bachelorette, they’ll have to make it through several grueling weeks of pretending to be interested in Arie.

I gave up hope on that endeavor during Arie’s intro reel, and that was without having to actually engage with the guy. These poor women will only be able to sit through him repeating “you know” and “that’s awesome” so many times before they go insane from a complete lack of real human interaction.

Seinne’s moment of clarity (defined in Bachelor terms as realizing, “I’m way smarter than this goober”) could have happened at any point on her date but was most obvious during dinner when her eyes were bigger than the plates themselves. Even Bekah – who in the past astutely observed that she doesn’t need Arie – found herself having to mount a defense against Arie’s inane “You’re so young!” argument, despite the fact there are only two women remaining that are closer in age to Arie than to her. Of course, she wasn’t on the defensive for very long considering it took Arie five seconds to transition from, “You’re so young!” to “So have you ever dated anyone my age?” Men: give us an opportunity to look as skeezy as possible, and we will pounce on it.

And somehow, the rest of the women were willing to go to extremes for Arie’s attention. Some ate bugs. Some contemplated drinking their own urine. After watching Arie seemingly drink his own urine, Jacqueline (the first and last time we’ll probably ever focus on her) went so far as to attempt the act until Arie screamed out that it was only apple juice. But if those ladies are thinking along the lines of Bekah and Seinne their actions don’t seem so desperate; hell, there are days when I’d eat a bug or two just for the chance of free champagne and hanging out in a hot tub all day – even if there is a total jabroni wandering around who tries to talk to me every so often.

But the good times can’t last forever and there are indeed departures on the horizon. While I was convinced that a Chelsea/Krystal 2-on-1 was a stone cold lock, Chelsea has managed to reign in her special brand of crazy in the interest of letting Krystal self-destruct. Now the producers are setting us up for a Tia/Krystal showdown that will be much more rewarding; pure loathing is always more entertaining than insanity because it’s rooted in reality where there are actual stakes. I’m still offering 3-1 on Chelsea/Krystal, but I’m also putting Tia/Krystal on the board at 2-1. And though this isn’t tied to exits, if anyone wants an over/under, I’m setting the number of times Arie drops “you know” in conversation at 32.5 with -$110 on either side of the line.

I’ll give the season this: it’s nice to be getting odds out there so early. In the words of Arie: “That’s awesome.”

Dog Days of Bummer

Fate – or more likely The Bachelor production team – is a cruel mistress, especially when you consider how many things are out of the hands of mere mortals like you and me. If not for Annalise having to face her two (presumably) biggest fears in as many weeks, it’s possible she’d still be kicking around the mansion. If only Lauren S. had received a better wine list, it’s plausible that she wouldn’t have needed the Chekhov’s suitcase edit. And if Rachel had never publicly trashed Peter on After the Final Rose we might have him as our Bachelor instead of the human equivalent of a glass of room-temperature skim milk, Arie Luyendyk Jr.

I’m not trying to be cruel to Arie (even if every bone in this bookie’s body is telling him to be), it’s just that he’s so damn boring. His OS clearly hasn’t been upgraded since the last episode as he’s still interacting with the women by repeating back exactly what they say to him and framing it as an opinion (“Yes, breakups can be hard”). Apart from parroting, the only other mode Arie Bot 3000 seems to possess is making out with whatever woman he has two minutes alone with (provided they aren’t named Annalise, Bibiana, or Lauren S.).

Bibiana’s departure was a tough pill to swallow, if only because she was the leading member of the Anyone But Krystal Coalition, soon to be the leading political party on this season of The Bachelor. I’m not sure how the next phase of this mandate from the masses is going to begin, but I’ve got a fairly good idea of how it’s going to end.

Let’s not forget that Chelsea was the front-runner for this seasons’ villain until Bibiana started having words with Krystal. Chelsea continued to low-key vil, but it was hard to really consider her for the role with the other ladies getting swept up in Bibiana’s proselytizing. Now that the producers have been robbed of their Krystal vs. Bibiana showdown (further proof that Arie is the blandest Bachelor to ever Bach), they need a new powerhouse for the inevitable two-on-one.

While the two-on-one is always the cleanest way to dispose of a villain (except for Nick keeping Corinne around so he could eventually score that practical $1,400 sweat-suit that never goes out of fashion), the stakes are always highest when the rest of the contestants believe the star is, at best, choosing between the lesser of two evils. And if you don’t think Chelsea’s primed to become one half of that dynamic duo, then welcome to your first season of The Bachelor.

One’ll get you three that when the showdown comes, it’ll be Chelsea and Krystal squaring off. I could give odds on them each individually arriving at that end, but I’m practically giving away money as it is. Once the matchup is confirmed I’ll set the lines on who makes it out of Thunderdome unscathed; until then, I’ll consider myself a winner if I can keep from dozing off  anytime Arie does his best impression of a real live human.