God help me, I watched "The Bachelor" last night. Well, technically, I watched "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" (not to be confused with tonight's "The Bachelor: After After the Final Rose"). I did it because I've been unable to go anywhere for the last couple of weeks without people I know (technically, women I know) asking me about who Jason was gonna choose, or about the spoilers floating out about what went down -- spoilers that turned out to be 100% accurate, by the way -- and there comes a point where I need to set my personal tastes aside and at least take a peek at something that the culture's buzzing about.
So here's my question, which we can discuss more thoroughly after the jump: While Jason is clearly a massive tool, why is he any worse than any of the other massive tools that have been on this show?
So, to sum up really briefly for those of you who are lucky enough to not watch this show: Jason Mesnick, hunky single dad, was a runner-up on a previous season of "The Bachelorette." He comes back, as previous fan favorites have, to be the star of his own season, and public interest suddenly rises over what seems to be the first Bachelor in franchise history to not seem like an insufferable d-bag. He gets down to two women, Melissa and Molly, and winds up proposing to Melissa. Cut to six weeks later, and he's changed his mind, and dumps Melissa on-camera for a shot at Molly.
Now, some people, like Kristen Baldwin at Entertainment Weekly, have already dubbed Jason the biggest cad the show's ever featured. And, admittedly, I come to this from a position of extreme ignorance, having watched maybe two or three hours combined over 13 seasons, but I still don't understand what makes Jason so much worse than his predecessors.
Every "Bachelor" relationship falls apart. Every single one. The only apparent difference here is that this one fell apart quickly enough for the break-up to happen in front of the cameras. And based on stories about how little some of the previous couples liked each other, I doubt even that's true; this is just the first time the Bachelor decided he didn't even want to keep up the pretense for the reunion show. That may be because he's also the first Bachelor who needed a mulligan on a previous woman he dumped, but regardless, most of these "relationships" end pretty damn quickly; all Jason did was make plain what everyone watching the show already understands, even if they didn't want to acknowledge it.
Some of the outrage seems to be over the fact that Melissa got dumped on-camera. Again, I'm coming to this as somebody who doesn't watch the show much, but don't you basically agree to the possibility -- no, the probability -- of that happening as soon as you sign on for the show? Likely public humiliation is part and parcel of the franchise; as Linda Holmes asks, Melissa "would have been dumped in public if he'd picked Molly originally; why was she entitled to be dumped in private now?"
This may be one of those cultural blind spots I can't overcome, like the popularity of "The Hills," so if any of our regular readers wants to cop to watching/liking this show (I promise no judgment, from me or anyone else) and explain what I'm missing here, feel free.