Look, we can’t know who the next Bachelorette will be just yet. Not only does current Bachelor Arie Luyendyk, Jr. still have a few weeks left to choose his future bride — leaving us with the complete pool of possible Bachelorette 2018 leads — but it’s possible Bachelor Nation producers will pick a throwback contestant à la Arie himself or even a Winter Games breakout. But, I already know who I’m hoping to see hand out roses to a bunch of overly competitive dudes this summer: one miss Kendall Long.
Yes, I know, you’re saying, “But, Kendall is still on the show,” which is true. But let’s be real about Arie for a moment. He’s a 36-year-old real estate agent with a house full of identical T-shirts whose greatest joys are seeing his parents every day, going to bed early, and claiming to get excited about excitement… without showing an ounce of excitement. This is not a man we can expect to honestly choose a wacky, lovable taxidermy-obsessed 26-year-old who designs ultra-cool sets and makes him play with petrified dead white mice in formal wear, as the trailer for “Week 8” confirms will happen.
Considering everything we’ve learned about cardigan-loving Arie, that kind of well, excitement, isn’t his cup of tea (a literal cup of tea might be, though). So, with Kendall’s Bachelor exit feeling more and more imminent, it’s time to start campaigning for the unexpected fan favorite to take the Bachelorette mantle next.
When you think about it, classic Bachelor contestants like current frontrunners Becca Kufrin and Lauren Burnham seem like a traditional choice for Bachelorette, but they’re not exactly getting the edit of a future Bachelor Nation leading lady. Poor Becca was sidelined for much of the season, essentially serving as a background character for weeks upon weeks, despite a very strong showing during season 22’s very first date. Becca faded so much since “Week 2,” even the usually oblivious Arie noticed their relationship had accidentally fizzled following the highs of their Rachel Zoe-sponsored one-on-one time.
Similarly, Lauren B. wasn’t given much to do until last week, during her Parisian date with everyone’s favorite “race car driver.” This week, all of a sudden, Arie is head over heels for one of his two remaining blonde contestants. With a rushed romantic timeline like this one, it’s difficult to feel a real connection to the last Lauren standing. Can anyone even name her profession off the top of their head?
Kendall, on the other hand, has received one of the best edits of the season. Considering her legitimate passion for taxidermy, it’s not hard to imagine the producers looking at Kendall with a cruel eye. It’s not like they didn’t treat Annaliese Puccini like an unhinged weirdo for her many traumas or make Bibiana Julian into an Angry Latina firecracker. Yet, instead, Kendall never got that kind of shade after “Week 1.” Arie always treated the Santa Clarita native’s quirks like endearing surprises instead of faults that make him want to run for the hills.
It seems like the Bachelor producers have followed suit by never giving Kendall a mean flashback sequence or eye roll-worthy confessional interview.
The pinnacle of Kendall’s charm offensive came during “Week 6,” when her introspective, sweet persona was put up against season villain Krystal Nielson during a one-on-one date in France. Following a backstabbing comment on Krystal’s part, Kendall didn’t attack. Instead, she had a mature, revealing conversation with a fellow woman. During Kendall’s big speech, she details her own past relationship traumas, shows real emotional intelligence, and works hard to empathize with someone who is trying to sabotage her. In the best part of the conversation, Kendall tells Krystal, who’s either smirking or on the verge of tears, “Man, you’re imperfect. And isn’t that amazing?”
That’s the kind of stuff Bachelorette intro packages and brands are born from. Those two sentences are also what makes fans love a contestant, as we saw in the social media response to Kendall’s “when they go low, you go high” moment. If a Bachelorette season is going to work, viewers need to feel more than lukewarm about the star. At this point, no one feels lukewarm about Kendall.
The only other remaining contestant who’s managed to create a similarly beloved audience reaction is Tia Booth, BFF of Raven Gates and daughter of Weiner, Arkansas. The 26-year-old immediately became a leading Bachelorette candidate with her bubbly personality and appreciation for moonshine. And, yet, lovable Tia got the closest thing to a villain edit in “Week 7,” by telling Arie she didn’t think youngest competitor Bekah Martinez is ready for marriage. When you boil down the scene, it’s shockingly similar to the way Krystal threw Kendall under the bus.
While no one treated Tia like a villain, the optics of Bekah sobbing with a single streak of mascara running down her face over Tia’s behavior aren’t exactly good. It gets worse when you realize Tia and Kendall were actually put in near identical situations and handled them completely differently. While Tia essentially tattled on Bekah, who was tired and uneasy after this lengthy Bachelor “journey,” Kendall heard similar concerns from Jacqueline Trumbull and encouraged her friend to speak to Arie herself. At no point did she insert herself into a relationship that didn’t actually involve her — and, this kinder, gentler game plan still resulted in one fewer competitor.
In a polarizing year like 2018, it might just be time for the world’s first relentlessly nice Bachelorette.
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