The Bachelor lives in a world where a Scottsdale, Arizona real estate agent can afford take himself, his older wingman friend, and his tens of willing girlfriends on a globetrotting tour of the most romantic locales in existence (and Tahoe). The Bachelor does not exist in reality. So, it’s easy to see the emotional extremes of the ABC series as a type of alternate plane, where the antics we see on camera don’t really have any lasting impact. After all, everything caught up in a whirlwind of roses and group dates is merely glitz for the cameras, and everyone will be shilling FitFabFun on Instagram or responsibly downing Bachelor In Paradise-provided margaritas in no time.
Then you see an episode like Monday night’s Bachelor installment, “Week 9,” and you remember this isn’t merely some Hard Rock hotel chain-sponsored fantasy. Nothing brings the franchise crashing back to actual reality quite like Ross Jirgl, the ex-boyfriend of frontrunner Becca Kufrin, barging onto the set to demand the opportunity to propose to the season 22 finalist. While some may claim the move was romantic, it was actually one of the most unsettling moments in franchise history.
Ross’ appearance was The Bachelor at its most manipulative. Fresh off of her fantasy suite overnight date with lead Arie Luyendyk Jr, Becca walks back to her hotel room none the wiser anthropomorphized emotional chaos is literally bounding towards her. At the same time Becca is minding her business, editing suggests, the hulking Ross is walking towards the same hotel, claiming the reality contestant is his “soulmate.”
During his introductory chat with Arie, Ross says any proposal Becca may receive is “his” proposal to give her ,and he’s thought about her “every day” since their breakup a year ago. Thanks to this fixation, he contacted every single person he could to learn Becca’s wearabouts until he successfully tracked her down. Becca knew none of this and certainly didn’t ask for it — she's too busy sharing “I love you's” with Arie.
Although, as Becca points out, this entire mission could be seen as Notebook-style romantic, it actually feels decidedly unsafe. It’s obvious from her reaction to Ross standing in her doorway — staring at him in shock and then the camera — no one asked her if this invasion of privacy was okay. That means her location was shared against her will with someone she purposefully removed from her life. Although Ross repeatedly claims he’s thought about her nonstop since their breakup, Becca doesn’t share the same sentiments despite their seven-year dating history.
In fact, Becca joined a dating competition series just to put distance between herself and that relationship. That’s why her first word to Ross after a confused “Hi?” is “No,” a word she would go on to use at least six times during their subsequent conversation.
While Ross never becomes violent, it never seems out of the realm of possibility for things to go badly, fast. We’re watching a large man, who flew all the way to Peru and then drove for five hours, get rejected on national TV. That’s unquestionably humiliating. Who would be surprised if Ross ended up getting violent? It’s not like reality TV isn’t known for its shocking brawls. And we don’t know if Ross, who clearly gives off the vibe he feels ownership of Becca, was given the full, lengthy psychological inspection regular Bachelor cast members are forced to undergo. Rather, it distinctly feels like Ross popped up in South America, and producers immediately tossed him in front of cameras the moment his suit was on.
You can say this kind of concern is overreacting, but it’s not when you take into account certain domestic violence statistics. Documentarian Cynthia Hill, who directed HBO’s 2014 domestic violence doc Private Violence, told The Guardian between 50% and 75% of domestic violence homicides happen after a woman leaves her relationship. A recent CDC report reveals about one third of intimate partner femicides occurred right after an argument (like telling an ex you don’t want to be with them anymore), and 12% of the total killings were associated with jealousy (like telling an ex you don’t want to be with them anymore because you’re in love with a reality TV bachelor. And that reality TV bachelor is right downstairs).
After knowing all of this, it’s not exactly fun to watch Becca get thrown into such an uncomfortable situation she never went looking for. As she dumbfoundedly asks Ross at one point, “How did you know I’m here?” That is a terrifying question to have to ask someone you thought was out of your life for good.
And, scary statistics and what-ifs aside, the simple fact Becca doesn’t want Ross in her life is what makes the entire scene so deplorable. As her co-star Bekah Martinez pointed out on Twitter, “Anyone who sympathizes with Becca’s ex needs to reevaluate and realize that his behavior is textbook MANIPULATIVE and EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE.” Becca seems to agree, since she liked the post.
Becca also wrote her own tweet, explaining, “I stand by my decision to not accept an unhealthy relationship back in my life. I will never doubt or question that.” Please think about the fact Becca was made to face by a relationship she personally deems “unhealthy,” which is something she has now said on both The Bachelor and social media. If anyone has further questions about her feelings about the Ross spectacle, Becca then took to Instagram Stories to respond to people inappropriately thirsting over the supposedly “thicc” Ross, saying he didn’t always “exemplify” the qualities people would want to see in their loved ones' partners. Basically, Becca announced Ross is no prince, so don’t get it twisted.
The Bachelor might traffic in overwrought romantic fantasy, but Becca's entire ordeal was definitely more of a nightmare.
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