By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
America’s most popular matchmaker has done it again. Chris Harrison orchestrated yet another season of beautifully over-produced reality television centering around unlikely relationships and extravagant personalities. But we still watched, didn’t we?
Bachelor Nation first showed on ABC in 2002 with the launch of its namesake “The Bachelor.” The show was such a success that it has produced a number of spinoffs, gathering a crowd of faithful fans as large as any other franchise on television.
One of those spinoffs, “Bachelor in Paradise,” just finished its sixth season. Even though I just began watching during Colton’s season, I’d argue this was definitely one of the more dramatized 13 episodes of TV ever aired.
Endings That Worked
So, I’m gonna separate a few storylines that I liked from ones I thought didn’t work. You don’t have to agree. I’m not asking you to, but I’m a dude talking about BIP — I can do what I’d like.
First up is the reunion of Caelynn and Dean. Caelynn began the season at the center of the Blake debacle. Of course, she was at Stagecoach. And so was Kristina. And Tayshia. That drama enthralled the crew for the first week, meanwhile, Caelynn settled for “Always be Cam.”
Next week though, Dean jumped into the picture. Immediately, Caelynn was struck by the beauty of the homeless man’s mustache. They stayed together for a few weeks, instantly becoming one of the most rooted for couples, but Dean is a nomad. He can only stay in one place for so long, and he left to pursue his free-ranging lifestyle.
True love wins out though. Dean comes back after Connor S. takes a liking to Caelynn, and Caelynn agrees to leave paradise with her star-crossed lover. They are currently living in his van together. How romantic.
Now, I’m not normally one to enjoy and encourage violence, but wow that Jordan versus Christian matchup was fun. The two decided that Nicole was worth fighting for, and it was a great throwdown. Literally, Jordan picked up Christian and threw him to the ground.
Unfortunately for him though, the two MMA-hopefuls were forced to leave the beach after the altercation. Still, that shot of Christian being forced over Jordan’s hip is worth not having Jordan around.
To Hannah and Dylan — Dylan is the sweetest, most innocent boy this show has ever seen. Meanwhile, Hannah is a bit manipulating, a bit conniving, but overall probably a good person. That doesn’t mean she didn’t screw up before settling on Dylan. Once again, Blake is involved. He had been messaging Hannah before the show even started, something that is frowned upon but not necessarily against the rules.
But Hannah managed to untangle herself from that web of mistakes in time for Dylan to welcome her back with open arms. From that point on, the two lovebirds didn’t look back, representing the face of love for the matchmaking show. In the final episode, the two did get engaged, and it was absolutely adorable. Go them.
Finally to my favorite: John Paul Jones, aka JPJ. This man comes from Hannah’s season. While he was there, he didn’t show that much emotion other than his love for chicken nuggets. Nevertheless, he was a fan favorite in his time on the show, and the people rejoiced when he was announced for the new BIP cast.
JPJ came in soaring, rocking a speedo and his trademark floppy hair. And even with his high-flying appearance, John drew little attention from the women of Paradise. JPJ gave his rose to Onyeka on night one, but not before an awful experience with Jane’s hot sauce.
Week two began the Tayshia saga, and that was one of the more dramatic series through this season. After Demi left Derek, he decided to pursue Tayshia; meanwhile, after only a week, Tayshia attempted to friendzone our boy JPJ to open up things with Derek.
This led the blonde hero to confront Derek repeatedly, something I suspect Chris Harrison was behind. As Derek and JPJ fought over Tayshia, Tahzjuan and Haley fought over John, calling each other pigeons in the process.
But later on, JPJ is able to reel back in Tayshia, becoming one of the more consistent couples on the beach. And while they eventually depart in separate cars, Tayshia was seen on JPJ’s yacht this week, so you can take from that what you will.
Things that Didn’t
Let me make this perfectly clear: Demi is my favorite. She is amazing, strong and courageous, but her relationship with Kristian is not what BIP is all about.
When the couple shares an intro slide, they are no longer exploring options. From the moment Demi ended her relationship with Derek, she should have left with Kristian. My guess is she didn’t for the ratings.
If she wasn’t going to date anyone else, or even think about it, and if Kristian was only coming on the show for Demi, then why don’t they explore that relationship at home? Again, I don’t have anything against her, mostly just against ABC manipulating a same-sex relationship to gain viewers.
To something less serious and possibly controversial (or maybe not), let’s talk about Blake. He absolutely violated the premise of Paradise. Why go to the beach if you already know everybody there? You can’t just watch the tape and go scout a few practices to get a feel for your choices.
So, this awful drama engulfed Blake for weeks, as well as the previously discussed debacle with Hannah, until he crawled out by way of his “relationship” with Kristina. Over time though, those friendship roses began to affect Blake’s heart. Blake began to seriously pursue Kristina in a romantic way, but alas, the poor lad was too late in his pursuit.
Blake would go home in tears, saying Paradise just wasn’t for him. Maybe he shall be a lesson to those other eager boys who would think to cheat the system next.
My last criticism of this impractical, wonderful show is the entire arc of Nicole and Clay’s relationship. It began so pure and happy, and progressively devolved both due to production crews and dueling interests.
Nicole began to waver when Jordan and Christian began to show her interest. We all know how that ended. Then the crew went up to the wedding, where Clay’s ex Angela “happened” to be a bridesmaid, and the show decided to send Clay without Nicole to the afterparty. Then they decided to send Angela to the beach.
Of course, this caused issues within their relationship as Clay fawned over his ex-girlfriend. Clay began his timid behavior around this point, and even after confronting her, he couldn’t buy into his relationship with Nicole.
Overall, I love this show. I don’t mind most of the production decisions, only the ones that I can see the ratings desperation wreak off of like smelly garbage in an old cartoon. Chris Harrison will continue to draw people in as long as there is drama and attractive people to gawk at, but after all, it is his world.