The Maclean’s Bachelor panel: One bachelor, three critics, countless possibilities.
The Bachelor Canada airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Citytv. You can catch this week’s episode here.
Quick question: WHAT WAS THAT?
Bachelor Canada fans were gravely misled by last week’s cliffhanger ending, which suggested a confused and overwhelmed April was packing her bags and taking the next flight out of Tahiti.
Instead, she watched a sunrise to clear her head, embraced Tim on the beach, and slipped him a note.
“I want to be here now more than ever,” she said, which isn’t saying much because it’s never been clear she wants to be here.
Too little too late, I figured. Tim and April’s relationship has been way too hit-and-miss. He’s absolutely picking Trish. Just look at their lovely, drama-free final day together in Tahiti: Trish presented him with a lock, which they secured to a mountain gate as a sign of their love, throwing away the key.
“That felt really right,” Tim said, kissing her.
It was their last kiss. Minutes later (in TV time), Tim proposed to April. She said yes. More precisely, she said: “Yeah I will! Oh my goodness. Holy moly.”
Normally I’d welcome this sort of television twist, but not when it means Chandler calls its quits with Monica.
In the obligatory After the Final Rose special, Tim acknowledges to Trish that their relationship was very natural, very different from the one he had with April.
“Mine and April’s relationship went up and down and all over the place. Your relationship and mine was more of a steady thing, there wasn’t all of those ups and downs.”
I have a theory that those of us who grew up on teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls, and The O.C. have a slightly warped perspective on relationships. We were trained to understand that fighting means you care, that jealousy is romantic, and that the bigger your problems, the more likely it is you truly belong together. Naturally compatible? Please. Change the channel.
Tim says he is “hopelessly in love” with April and I don’t want to take too much away from that. But I am disappointed that, again this season, mystery seems to have trumped maturity.
And with that, I’ll nominate Trish to star in the first-ever Bachelorette Canada.
Before we get into this fully, please forgive a small amount of triumphalism on my part. As I watched Episode One of this year’s Bachelor Canada, I made notes on each of Tim’s prospects to remind myself of who they all were. Next to April’s name and minor biographical information, I wrote three words in caps: “SHE WILL WIN.” So, as surprised as I was that Tim ultimately rejected Trish…
But anyway, enough about me.
So what happened here? I like your theory about the perceived importance of drama in love, Sonya. It would make a nice amount of sense for trivial pop culture to have so largely affected what is essentially a derivative of all the programs you mentioned. But because Tim couldn’t articulate his decision-making, and give us an answer as to why he chose April over Trish, we are indeed left to speculate.
Back in 2011, Tim wrote a blog post (he has a blog that he updates fairly regularly) wherein he relayed something a cab driver once told a friend of his. The cabbie’s quote, according to Tim, was this: “I’ve been married a few times, and when you’re trying to figure out whether you love someone or not, what you have to do is find all the terrible things about that person. And then ask yourself if you can live with those things for the rest of your life.”
At the time, Tim pondered the quote with a brief invocation of black swan theory. He found the similarities “striking.” (I’ll let others debate that.)
“A love can find someone, and run through all the millions of things he or she loves about that person…all well and good,” Tim wrote. “But all that positive evidence of love will be nullified by just a single instance of negative evidence, like if the beloved is an ax-murder [sic].” So, he concluded, “the cabbie seems to be right.”
It’s an interesting thought, in light of all that happened this season on the Bachelor Canada. There were plenty of moments this season where negative attributes were in full focus. We owe much of the drama to them, in fact. There were even hints of previous negative attributes – ones that appeared in former relationships – that led the two final women to sign on to the show in the first place. Negative personality traits were everywhere.
Sonya, a few weeks ago you said, “Bachelor romances are famously likely to fail,” because the leading man “doesn’t have to accept flaws – he can eliminate them.”
I still agree, I think. But I wonder.
Each time something negative popped up, the question we had was less about whether Tim could overlook these attributes, and more about how quickly he could offload the problem and move on to better things. I don’t blame us (or anyone) for watching the show this way – as you noted, it’s an assumption we’re encouraged to make. And, in fact, this is what Tim did for most of the show. I think.
This probably helps explain why we thought Trish (who, yes, should be the first Bachelorette) would win – she showed no visible drama, no obvious negativity.
So, what gives?
Upon reflection, something Trish told Host Harcott (Remember him? No?) when it was all finished stands out. He asked her why she thought Tim didn’t choose her. “Sometimes I do have a hard time opening up and showing my emotion. And watching this season, April was so vulnerable…,” she said.
I think that’s where the difference lay, ultimately. Not the difference between the two women, necessarily, but the difference between Tim’s perception of the situation and ours. We saw one flawless woman, and another with flaws. Tim must have seen something different. Either he saw April’s flaws and consciously chose to overlook them more than Trish’s, or he didn’t see them as flaws at all.
One final question: Will this last? April and Tim said there are wedding plans, but the longevity of these things are difficult to predict. I’ll defer to Tim’s blog again, where he summarized a study on relationships – one that, at the time, he felt buttressed the cabbie’s argument.
“Apparently people are terrible at predicting a relationship’s probability of lasting. What they are good at, however, is predicting why the relationship would fail.”
Sure, I nailed one prediction, but I’ll stay away from this one.
I think I’m still hung up on Sonya’s first question.
That was a jarring conclusion. I suppose it maybe often is, particularly for the one person who ends up rejected: format dictates that two potential mates be in the running until the last possible moment. But the switch from locking it up with Trish and throwing away the key to telling Trish she wasn’t the one seems to cry out for explanation.
In that regard, I note that Tim entirely avoided answering Trish’s post-game question about when he knew she wasn’t the one. Is it possible that the shortening and dramatizing of reality television obscured a more complicated situation or process? If we’d had total access to Tim’s words and ruminations, would it have been more obvious that she was running second to April?
Conversely, the prospect of ever rejecting April seemed odd after he lobbied her to stay: telling a woman to stick with you and then telling her she has to leave would have been rather cruel.
But still: How do you make a symbolic gesture of long-lasting love with one woman one day and then, seemingly the next day, ask a different woman to marry you? I’m an old man who doesn’t understand how you crazy kids are conducting yourselves romantically these days—I take it most future life partners are now chosen by swiping right or left on your iPhone screen—but even by the free-wheeling standards of 2014, this seems an odd way to go about things, no?
I suppose in a more normal situation, Tim might’ve been in a long-term relationship with Trish only to break up with her and, later, happen upon April and get married. So it might be argued that the Bachelor franchise simply compacts “normal” human mating into a TV-sized package. You could spend 15 years of your life looking for the right person or you could get it done in a couple months on television.
Mind you, even if there is actually very little or nothing to link the process with real life, it might still be basically defensible: I mean, who are any of us to say how two people should end up committing to each other? Go ahead and swipe your apps, kids. Go on your TV shows and hand out roses.
Similarly, I don’t think I’m in any position to judge the relationship that Tim and April have. Good luck to them. I can only barely wrap my head around the way in which they got together, but that doesn’t mean much of anything now.