Each season on The Bachelor , it's clear the producers' goal is to make the women fighting for one man affections go a little nutty and it's never been more clear than in Juan Pablo's already controversial season. After all, when reality contestants get hopped up on drama, the reality part of reality television becomes incredibly compelling.
People get drunk, they fight, they form alliances against their enemies and stage awkward, forced make-out sessions. Every year, the women on The Bachelor find themselves between a rock and free-flowing wine, and more often than not, contestants allow themselves to succumb to the drama. Juan Pablo's season, however, might have finally broken the mold: the "crazy" formula just backfired.
Finally, the reason many of us experience simultaneous self-loathing and addiction during every season of The Bachelor has become so obvious it's not even slightly entertaining anymore. Whereas Bachelor contestants are always given copious amounts of wine like Cersei Lannister on, well, any day really, and the premise that 25 poor souls will compete for one man is inherently primed to create multitudes of bad or questionable behavior for our viewing "pleasure," Juan Pablo's season is different because it's so, so much worse.
The root of the TV-tailored issue is that superficially, Juan Pablo might just be the most universally attractive Bachelor in a long while. Most often, contestants usually fall into a few different categories: the serious ones, the revelers, and the dead weight. The dead weight are women who aren't all that interested in the man ABC has chosen for them, but they play along until they're painlessly eliminated early on, say "oh well," and trot back to normal life. The revelers genuinely think their Bachelor is great and they'd gladly kiss him behind a partition where no one else will see, but they're not in it to win it. Of course, the serious ones are the folks who get sent home in a tear-filled limo or sent off into the sunset with the "prize." On Juan Pablo's season, everyone is a serious contestant.
Already, we're set up for maximum televised "crazy," but there's a new, glaring issue. Not only does the show make it painfully clear that it's only after over-the-top reactions — they make the woman with a fear of heights bungee jump and the woman afraid of not being taken seriously pose completely naked, as is usual for the series — but the contestants are now painfully aware of this fact, too.
Sharleen, the opera singer who traveled from Germany just to potentially meet her match, specifically calls out the cameras when she and Juan Pablo attempt to take a clandestine moment away from Monday night's pool party, and this was after reacting to the "first impression" rose the way most humans might take that sort of early affection in actual courtship.
Later, Clare, the hairstylist from Sacramento, shares her frustrations with The Bachelor process — beyond the usual, "I didn't know this would be so hard" explanation — and winds up sounding not too different from Brooks last season on The Bachelorette when he complained about the process building relationships incorrectly. This season, the wafer thin fourth wall is ripped down like shredded tissue paper by the contestants themselves — before we even get to the mushy, emotional part of the season.
Sure, these ladies are still painted to be "crazy," but for once it's more than obvious they're victims of their environment. One contestant, Kelly, is allowed to bring her dog to the series' house and to every rose ceremony. Another woman is crying and locks herself in a bathroom stall on one of the first rounds of group dates. Cassandra, one of the apparent front-runners, is constantly plagued by missing out on time with her son in order to be on her "journey" with Juan Pablo.
But none of these instances is actually insane. ABC allowed Kelly to bring her dog knowing full well they'd use shots of the poor thing doing its morning business as "color." The crying girl was clearly drunk, and rather than help her or send her home, producers sat back as she got more and more drunk and then shoved cameras in her face while she was crying and embarrassed. You might hide in a bathroom stall at that point too. Cassandra misses her son, because spoiler alert: that's how being a mom works.
Still, this season of The Bachelor feels crazier in an glossed over sort of way. But all it takes is a simple look at Juan Pablo on a date to see why. Sure, The Bachelor has never been a shining example of how to have riveting dinner conversation (or how to treat your 25 girlfriends), but more often than not, the focus of a one-on-one date is to get to know the person. Every one-on-one Juan Pablo has been on is almost all physical: With Clare, the hot tub was almost immediate. With Chelsie, it was skydiving and dancing. With Kat, it was an electric run and gyrating on the stage afterward. With Cassandra, they're in their bathing suits and swimming in the ocean before they're even halfway through. It's no wonder he makes out with every woman: he's a man without restraint thrown into situations in which a physical reaction is practically inevitable. Hell, he couldn't even make it through meeting his bachelorettes in episode one without practically biting his own finger off in pre-sexual frustration.
Even on group dates, however, Juan Pablo can't control his tongue. But again, it's clear the producers are involved. During Monday night's soccer date, Juan Pablo and Sharleen descend to the field where a blanket is set up in plain, spectacular view of the group date's box seats dinner locale. It's practically theater in the round, set up just so that the other women see Juan Pablo kissing one woman within minutes of kissing another. Juan Pablo clearly has no control over himself and the producers are more than happy to set up situations for these displays to be seen and to create jealousy — quite naturally — among the women forced to watch from the sidelines.
On some level, we've always known that this process breeds behavior that looks "crazy" on television, even when the people themselves might not necessarily merit that crass description. However, never has it been so desperately clear that the series is pitting these women against each other like a kid playing with action figures than in Season 18. And when even the contestants are aware of how fake the whole process is, it's certainly difficult to keep watching The Bachelor as some diverting Monday night romp rather than the sad, over-inflated slice of "reality" it truly is.