Luke Pell, erstwhile Bachelorette contestant and hopeful country singer, embodied the opposite of Bachelor ideals last night on The Bachelor Winter Games. He essentially ghosted fellow contestant Nastassia (Stassi) Yaramchuck and, when confronted about it, all he had to say was, "Yeah." Clare Crawley accused Pell of having gone on the show just for Instagram fame and, most heartbreaking of all, Pell hardly seemed to care. ABC was ready to toss Pell, a certified trash rat, under the bus, though: After his segment concluded and participants started milling about the stage, the cameras stayed on Pell.
"Sorry for the confusion," he told Yaramchuck. "Confusion" is a cute word to use in this situation. Yaramchuck and Pell built an impressive narrative on Winter Games. They first bonded over heart conditions, little glossy versions of the Tin Man. Both have had heart surgery. Pell cried when talking about his surgery. Who knew he could be that emotional?
"I never thought I'd be connecting with Stassi of all people," Pell told the camera.
Then, Yaramchuck revealed that she wasn't comfortable on camera. She was private, and she didn't like kissing Pell in front of all of America. Pell coaxed her forward, asking her gently to let him in.
"I want tomorrow, too," he told her before the kissing competition. Their kisses were always chaste, but that's what made the coupling seem so charming: They were so intimate, so drastically emotionally raw, that the camera almost couldn't approach. They were hot to the touch.
"I don't want it to be finished," Yaramchuck told Pell quietly, tears in her eyes. It was the most emotional she'd been on the show. Pell agreed that he wanted to see where their relationship could go. What a story! What sweeping, international romance!
The big reveal after the finale was that Pell never once reached out to Yaramchuck after the show. He claimed that he messaged her on Instagram. He didn't get her cell phone number, and Yaramchuck flew back to Sweden, only to see him again at After the Final Rose, where he seemed utterly unconcerned that he effectively ghosted someone on national — sorry, international — television. Pell's behavior almost isn't ghosting at all. He ignored Yaramchuck in plain sight: He had every way of accessing his "Russian princess," as he called her, but he chose not to. Instead, he went on tour with his new EP, which contains a song called "Ball Caps and Blue Jeans."
Pell could be called Bachelor anathema, but he's not. Unfortunately, Pell is a drastic example of a bigger trend. The Bachelor and its counterparts give contestants a small platform. This platform lends access to hundreds, even thousands of women. On the Will You Accept This Rose podcast in March last year, former contestant James Taylor confessed that he'd "gone a bit crazy" after the show. All of a sudden, Instagram, Twitter, and maybe even your personal agent become your Tinder. Who wouldn't eschew monogamy for a life of true bachelorhood?
Consider the case of Robby Hayes and Dean Unglert on last season of Bachelor in Paradise. Hayes pursued a relationship with Amanda Stanton, then promptly ghosted her after the show. Unglert famously waffled between two women on camera. One girl, Kristina Schulman, he "connected" with, while the other, Danielle Lombard, was just plain "hot." He seemingly chose Schulman on the show's finale, but then, off-camera, called Lombard after the show and asked to hang out. At the reunion special, Unglert chose no one. (He then started a podcast called Help! I Suck At Dating.) Chris Harrison, the most muted man on TV, later implied that Unglert was a fuckboy. Hayes is now one of the more reviled men from the franchise, his hopes of becoming the Bachelor seemingly dashed.
Even Arie Luyendyk, Jr., the current Bachelor, is plagued with rumors of infidelity and indecision. (Fuckboys are characterized by billowing indecision. You know, the kind of weak-knees that have extremely adverse consequences.) When he was first named as the Bachelor, his ex-girlfriend told publications that she was "blindsided" by the news that he would be courting women on national TV — they'd only broken up a couple of months before. The timing was suspicious, although Luyendyk insists their breakup had nothing to do with his being cast on the show. Luyendyk's fellow Bachelorette contestant Jef Holm had similar accusations to make: He bet $5,000 that Luyendyk wouldn't make it a year with the winner of his season. Then, there's the sound bite circulating from the Women Tell All taping suggesting that Luyendyk "fucked over" one of his final picks.
How does a franchise that prides itself in forming love connections keep churning out people who are so terrible at it? Heartbreak makes for good television — no one can argue that Yaramchuck's confrontation with Pell wasn't A-plus stuff — but relationships make for even better TV. The relationship between Lily McManus and Courtney Dober, two contestants on Bachelor Winter Games, has fans in fits. McManus and Dober seem to genuinely care about one another; post-show, they rode an RV across the country. How cute is that? McManus and Dober also notably have gained Instagram followers since the finale aired. Pell has lost over 1,000 and he's turned off the comments. Try as he might to gain influence and notoriety, Pell seems to have lost the game.
It's a vicious cycle: The good guys go on The Bachelorette to fall in love, but they get game instead. Then, with their newfound fame, they don't need or want to fall in love. But, oh, they want to be famous! Please sir, may I have some more? Ironically, the best kind of Bachelor contestant might be the person who doesn't want to be a Bachelor contestant, just as Plato's pick for king would be the philosopher, who is qualified to lead because they do not want to lead. Really, when it comes down to it, the Bachelor franchise should read Plato's Republic.
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