Welcome back to The Bachelor, the show that believes you can fall in love and sell Clorox bleach at the very same time.
It's the start of the new year, which means we are all googling "self-help podcasts" and making promises to ourselves that we will be better this year. It means the treadmills at the gym will be virtually inaccessible between the hours of 5 PM and 8 PM until the third week of January, when all of that resolve diminishes into something truly inescapable: the person you are and always will be.
Despite its famous moniker, the new year isn't happy. It lends itself to misery. It is the ultimate Sunday. At best, you manage to keep your head above the waters of despair afloat the buoyancy of self-delusion. At worst, you give in immediately to the desperation that accompanies the passage of time.
At least we will always have love.
And that's what we are here to talk about today: love and one man's journey towards it.
Who is that man? Great question. Fantastic question. The only question, perhaps, worth asking until Donald Trump has been safely escorted from the Oval Office to a private island full of menopausal Komodo dragons.
His name is Arie and here is everything I know about him: his family seems to be recent Dutch immigrants. He is a "racecar driver" who is involved with real estate on the side. He is the Victorian ghost in a Wes Anderson movie. He looks like a swamp at dusk. The three things that make him excited to be alive are excitement, adrenaline, and pizza. He starred on a season of The Bachelorette that aired years ago, before I had even heard of the show, perhaps before I had even made my acquaintance with this sad world. He appears to be well over half way done with being alive.
And he could absolutely get it from this girl.
Why has The Bachelor franchise condemned us all to watching the eight week journey of a strange man in whom we have no emotional investment? Well, first of all, it's a free country and you don't have to do anything you don't want to, except pay taxes so we can bomb other nations to keep democracy safe. You have every right to turn off your television and say, "not today Satan, I would rather watch a Ken Burns war documentary than give even a moment of my time to this stranger with the fake career who is inching ever closer to being eligible for Medicare."
But wait — before asserting one of the insignificant rights America gives you in order to create the illusion of freedom, consider what Chris Harrison and his shadow people were up against. Do you remember the men of Rachel's season? There was Peter, the gap toothed infidel incapable of compromising his morals in exchange for a free wedding. There was Eric, the well-dressed Playboy who couldn't pick true love out of a lineup. There were others, but I'm not paid enough to remember their names.
What other choice did they have than to parse through the archive of contestants, searching for one who was single, alive, and not in jail?
So here we are — "we" meaning you, me, Ari, 29 beautiful women, Chris Harrison, the shadow people, and whichever country music star is ready to throw their career under the bus this season.
There's not much to report back from last night's episode. None of the women got particularly drunk. None of them dressed up as a shark. One of them collects taxidermy animals but even she seems down to earth. One of them might not be 21 yet.
Some of them are named Becca. Most of them are named Lauren. One of the Beccas spells her name "Bekah." All of the Lauren’s spell their name "Lauren."
They're all beautiful. They're all vaguely employed. And they're all ready to trade in their dignity for a starring role in a cage.
Let the games begin.