Juan Pablo Is the Sarah Palin of The Bachelor
Contrary to what casual viewers might assume, the Bachelor need not be the perfect man. As Prince Charming–like as most Bachelors aspire to be, they're never everyone's type. The reality show has featured boring guys, cheeseballs, a D-list actor, a boho type, single fathers, divorced guys and, recently, a Christian celibate, whose abstinence was an eyeroll even to his chosen one.
But the one thing you can't be is a smug, self-satisfied, condescending assface. And that's what the producers of ABC's long-running reality show were stuck with in Juan Pablo Galavis. Why? Just like a certain vice presidential candidate from Alaska, he looked good on paper but he wasn't properly vetted.
Juan Pablo was picked to be the season 18 Bachelor the way most Bachelors get the gig: He was a suitor on Desiree Hartsock's season of The Bachelorette, which had just finished airing. But unlike most rollover Bachelors, Juan Pablo had been eliminated on episode 6 of The Bachelorette, when he was among eight remaining suitors. Typically a new Bachelor or Bachelorette is chosen from one of the runners-up who make it into at least the top three or four.
So what made Juan Pablo so appealing?
In addition to the lure of the obvious hashtag #teamojuanpablo, he likely was tempting to producers because he would solve a certain PR problem. The Bachelor had recently been sued for discrimination for not casting people of color. And while the suit had little chance of success, it highlighted a real problem: Contestants on the show have been predominantly white, and there had never before been a non-white Bachelor or Bachelorette.
Enter Juan Pablo, the sexy Venezuelan single dad. Maybe he hadn't had a lot of screen time on The Bachelorette. Maybe producers couldn't be as certain he'd be well-liked by audiences. But they had a chance to cast a Latino — the first minority Bachelor — and put a Band-Aid on their bad reputation.
Since neither the casting producers nor the audience knew Juan Pablo that well at the onset, none of us could have predicted how quickly he'd go rogue.
Problems began in late January, just weeks after Juan Pablo's season premiered, when he was quoted as saying he didn't think there should be a gay or bisexual Bachelor because it's not a good example for kids, and that gay people are "more pervert." He blamed the media for taking his comments out of context, as well as the fact that English is his second language, claiming he doesn't always choose the right words.
The public gave him little more than half-hearted forgiveness. But he still had time. If the rest of the season showed him to be a genuine, charming, warmhearted person who the audience could believe came on the show to find true love, perhaps he could salvage things.
But the opposite happened. In an early episode, Juan Pablo slut-shamed his frontrunner, Clare Crawley, for taking a late-night swim with him in the ocean, an act that clearly led to some sort of sexual encounter the show was unwilling to confirm. Even though Juan Pablo was a willing participant, the next morning, he blamed Clare for what he deemed a regrettable incident, saying it was disrespectful to his daughter.
The predominantly female audience grew angrier.
It quickly became apparent to viewers that Juan Pablo's demeanor toward the women on the show was generally supercilious. He was a big shrugger. No matter what concern any woman raised to him, he famously said, "It's OK," dismissively. During emotional conversations, he demanded they "look at me" — a phrase he said in the same way he might when scolding his daughter. He was quite proud of his "honesty," which over the course of the episodes revealed itself to be a catch-all excuse for jerkoff behavior.
The women on the show eventually figured it out, too. Some of them even left him. And those who stuck around had few positive things to say about him at the "Women Tell All" reunion that aired before the finale.
On last night's final episode, in a moment alone with Clare, Juan Pablo apparently said something so offensive to her that she couldn't bear to repeat it. She indicated, however, that it was along the lines of "I hardly know you, you hardly know me, but I really enjoyed fucking your brains out in the Fantasy Suite." The comment — so snide and belittling, and vaguely misogynistic — made it undeniable to the audience that we'd all been on one long, bad date.
Finally, Juan Pablo sealed his fate as the worst Bachelor in history during the "After the Final Rose" special. He littered the room with hostile shrugs and "It's OK's," waved off emphatic criticism and scolded host Chris Harrison multiple times for "interrupting" him. Worst of all, he hugged tightly his chosen woman, Nikki Ferrell, as he confidently proclaimed his lack of love for her. Her uncomfortable smile failed to mask her humiliation.
Juan Pablo, stick a fork in us. We're done.
The only way ABC might be able to turn this around is by doing exactly what it has done — casting Andi Dorfman as the next Bachelorette. She was Juan Pablo's third in line, a woman who called him on his shit and kicked him to the curb in the penultimate episode. At the very least, the network knows its audience already has her back.
Get the Arts Newsletter
Get the latest news and offers from the LA art scene sent directly to your email address. Exclusive events and art related sales you won't hear about anywhere else!