‘The Bachelor’s Worst Trait

ABC_bachelor1_ml_150224_16x9_992 “The Bachelor” got down to its ickiest episode Monday: The one involving the fantasy suite.

In a world where “50 Shades of Gray” is No. 1, this is the hubba-hubba episode. Never mind that it was also the only exotic episode of the season — in Bali, when heretofore the dates had taken place in the West and in dreary, flat Iowa, hometown of the farmer bachelor Chris Soules. Now, after daylong dates with each of the three finalists, they are handed a card that invites them to forego their individual room if they wish to join the bachelor for a night together in the suite (an icky detail is that it is signed by meddling host Chris Harrison).

In a realm where “on this journey” means “I’ve been dating a lot of girls at once,” then “take it to the next level” means implied sex. Chris is very anxious to take these relationships “to the next level.” The hormones are about exploding from his skin.

Well, the first of the two girls, the free-spirited Canadian Kaitlyn Bristowe, says yes quickly. The second, Whitney Bishoff, who has a high powered job as a Chicago fertility nurse but has one of the worst voices of any contestant in the history of the show, says yes even before she’s done reading the question. The third (and new favorite), Becca Tilley, 26, a chiropractic assistant from Shreveport, is a little rattled since she’s a virgin and hasn’t told him yet. She’s actually worried that she’ll be shown the door right then. Chris does sigh a long sigh when she finally tells him, but then does the right thing (with cameras on him and such) and says he respects her choice. Well, what else was he going to do? Make fun of it?

The curtains and doors close coyly to the cameras once we get a look at their rose pedal-scattered and candlelit suites (and why is the fantasy assumed to be sexual? Why not an ice cream fantasy? Or one involving a lot of dogs?). But often a lot of the storyline of the series happens behind these closed doors. It was only on the the last “Bachelor,” remember, where one woman wised up and left after what happened behind those closed doors (Juan Pablo had bragged about sleeping with the other finalist and was generally a jerk — a trait that was clear before they spent the night together).

This time, Becca and Chris spent the night but didn’t do the nasty, we are led to believe, but there was an uncomfortable conversation at the end of the night, when she said she wouldn’t instantly commit to going to his pitifully small Iowa town should she be chosen. This is always the most contentious question on “The Bachelor,” even more than the sex. Who is going to move to whose hometown to continue this relationship? Kaitlyn says she’d go, but you hardly believe her. She’s the one who wanted to turn Chris into a rapper. Whitney worked hard to get her enviable position, but says she’d give it all up to ride tractors. Why should she even be in that position? Can’t any of the women ask him if he would consider moving off the farm, as he had this whole past year with back to back stints in “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor.”

That’s the worst part of “The Bachelor.” “It’s Chris’ world, and we’re just living in it,” says Kaitlyn. But why is it that way? Why can’t women have equal power or choice? It looked for sure like Becca would be going home because of her uncertainty over changing locations not her unwillingness to jump in bed. But a tearful, last minute discussion ends with Becca staying and Kaitlyn going home (oh well, it’s Chris’ world).

The key to winning “The Bachelor” is retaining some mystery, of retaining some distance to the end, so that the bachelor is still in pursuit mode. By saying yes to the fantasy suite so quickly, the other two women were essentially already done. The finale, in two weeks, is framed with Whitney, 29, saying that Becca, 26, is too young (Chris is 33). But I’ve got my money on her. Not really. I don’t bet on these things.

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