If The Bachelor and Bachelorette are romantic journeys, then Bachelor in Paradise is that journey thrown into the Large Hadron Collider, flinging contestants at each other at warp speed. This season — the fourth in the franchise — had to reboot following an alleged incident of sexual misconduct (no evidence of misconduct was found during a subsequent investigation). Afterward, the whole thing fell apart during a mere 10 days of filming. In the end, only three couples actually left together. Only two made it into the world outside of Bachelor Nation, with both members of the couples claiming they were thriving (Taylor Nolan and Derek Peth, of course, got engaged). During the finale that aired Monday night, all of the cracks in Bachelor Nation were finally laid bare. Namely, the trouble with the accelerated timeline on which the show operates, and the contestants who are clearly there for the all wrong reasons.
In the past, the Bachelor/Bachelorette/BIP franchise has gone out of its way to pretend there are no men behind curtains, clearly orchestrating a rise to notoriety (or whatever you want to call manipulated social media influencer status) with their time on the show. That was completely apparent in the case of Daniel Maguire, the self-proclaimed Canadian eagle slash fuckboy who flew in on some Trump jokes, and exited Paradise with Lacey Mark. He pretended to be so into her. In fact, when she said “I’m in love with you,” he said, “I’m falling for you…I didn’t expect it, but it’s happening.” If you were Lacey in that situation, you’d be pretty pumped that the guy you’ve set your hopes and dreams on seems to be returning your affection. “I know he’d never, ever lie to me,” she said. “Literally, nothing could go wrong.”
Obviously, everything went wrong.
The couple hadn’t even exited the cocoon of Playa Escondida when Daniel had a conversation with a producer about how he didn’t really like Lacey. “I could never change my Facebook status to: ‘In a relationship with Lacey,’” he told the producer behind a closed door, as if they’re in middle school, and it’s 2005. She’s clearly not in his MySpace Top 8 or his T-Mobile Fave 5, either.
He tried to talk his way out of the tangled web he’d woven on the live show, but Lacey wasn’t having it. Daniel said he wasn’t serious about her, and “falling for her” would have to mean marriage, which he didn’t think the two were headed for. “You’ve done two of these shows, and you’re 32 years old. What do you think [falling for you] means?,” Lacey asked to rousing applause from the audience and other contestants. Chris Harrison tried to reroute the conversation, which was clearly veering into “he’s not here for the right reasons” territory.
“You can’t be my girlfriend after five days of hanging out,” Daniel tried to argue, instead revealing one of the central fallacies of the entire operation. You can smash people together when they’re basically abandoned on a remote beach and forced to interact for cameras, but you can’t force the natural timeline of a relationship. Not everyone can be Derek and Taylor or Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert. Daniel clearly wasn’t interested in forming a connection with Lacey, even though she was head over heels for him. Whether she was caught up in the heady concept of the show or not remains up for debate (let’s call them Bachelor in Paradise goggles), but Lacey was all in. Daniel, on the other hand, was more interested in showing off his carefully honed washboard abs and Canadianism.
Christen Whitney also blew up the show’s spot when she ultimately brushed off Jack Stone. He was talking fantasy suites, leaving “hand in hand” as a couple, marriage, the whole shebang. When he sat her down to ask her to stay with him while all the singletons were chauffeured out of Mexico, what she had to say was actually laughable. “I can’t leave here as a couple…at this point in time, we are acquaintances right now,” she insisted. “If I’m being honest, every conversation we’ve had has been like, about the weather…My mind is melting; does he think we have a love story?,” she later told the camera in an interview.
“Dude, that is so weird,” Jack Stone called the scenario as he stalked off down the beach. Christen, bless her, decided it was time for a swim.
The women weren’t above seeking fame, either. Twins Emily and Haley Ferguson are already giving interviews to outlets like Us Weekly saying that they regret their behavior. They were only in Mexico for one day, and the show is presenting their ordeal as a central narrative of the show. The manipulated drama is seeping through. The franchise keeps trying to push them in our faces, and they will live on in Bachelor Nation infamy, sure to be seen again.
All of the cracks were showing during this season of Bachelor in Paradise: The insane timeline that can’t force connections; the fuckboys; the contestants who were so clearly there to gain fame and get that sweet, sweet Instagram #sponcon. Sure, the 10-day journey resulted in two couples (one engaged), but what will this season really be remembered for? The Incident between Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson (also forced to reunite last night), and the contestants who, ultimately, were just there to make noise.
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