There are several buzz words you'll hear on each episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, probably even Bachelor in Paradise. It's common for viewers and contestants to overuse words like "journey" and "villain," or the ever-so-popular phrases "here for the right reasons" and "confident in our connection." I'm not too bothered by any of those buzz words, but the one that I wish would be thrown into the Bachelor Nation trash can is one America heard nearly 35 times on Monday's Bachelorette episode: "Frontrunner." The men of JoJo's season debated who the frontrunner was, whether Robby was the frontrunner, whether Jordan was the frontrunner, who wasn't the frontrunner, and on and on.
It's obvious to viewers and to the contestants on JoJo's season that she and Jordan have a great connection. He got his second one-on-one date on Monday, which included a limo, a private jet, and some romantic grape stomping before he opened up about what everyone in America has been wondering about: His relationship with his brother Aaron Rodgers. Jordan said he felt like he always had to live up to his brother and could never quite reach the same athletic talent level (at least that's how I heard it). JoJo answered by basically divulging all of her feelings about Jordan.
“Even when we first started this whole thing and I realized right off the bat how much I liked you, I think that scared me a little bit. As the weeks have gone on, that fear started to dissipate. And I think it's because the more time I spend with you, I know who you are. And I trust you."
So, JoJo is leaving America and the contestants (although they have no idea what she and Jordan conversed about) to think that Jordan must be the true frontrunner... oh my!
Later, viewers saw tensions rise over that darn word on the group date with James, Robby, and Chase, when Robby decided to get competitive and call himself the frontrunner, using the word nearly 500 times and giving America its new weekly drinking game. "The whole frontrunner thing pisses me off. In my mind I'm the only frontrunner here and I always have been," Robby said.
His own declaration of status aside, one thing I do agree with is that the whole frontrunner thing pisses me off, too! But for a different reason. The word bothers me not only because of the repetitive nature in which it's used on this show, but also because it's insinuating that the entire process is more about winning a competition than actually developing feelings. I mean, according to Merriam Webster, the definition of frontrunner is literally "the person or thing that is most likely to win a race or competition; a leading contestant in or as if in a rivalry or competition."
It also bothers me because, well, what's the point of sitting around and arguing over who is the frontrunner? I know there's not a whole lot to do around the house when you're not on a date, but sheesh. I also know it's a term thrown around by producers, so it's easy to grab onto, but I want Bachelor Nation to stop falling for it. It's often a word a contestant says to overcompensate for the fact that they're really not feeling all that secure in their own personal relationship. There's nothing wrong with feeling confident in your relationship, and even feeling like you could be "the one" for JoJo, but it's a slippery slope when you voice that word aloud, as it leads to overconfidence and disappointment.
I say it leads to disappointment because, no matter how many times a contestant like Robby says they're the frontrunner, he's really not convincing himself or anyone else that he's in the top spot. In fact, he could just be making himself look worse to America and JoJo alike. And, if America picks a "frontrunner" but they don't make it in the end, fans may end up disappointed, too.
During Ben's season, a producer asked me if I saw myself as the frontrunner. I'll never forget how carefully I responded. I said something to the effect of, "I'm sure some people in the house see me as a frontrunner, yeah. But I don't necessarily see myself that way." I didn't want to go there, because in my eyes, it wasn't a race to the finish, and it certainly wasn't a race to be the last one standing. I also hesitated saying that word because I knew that Ben had a strong connection with Lauren from the very beginning, and there were times I admittedly thought to myself, "Yeah, I have a feeling he's going to choose Lauren." When I watched the season finale, I wasn't surprised by the outcome (and I almost patted myself on the back because of my judgment). But Lauren never went around declaring herself the frontrunner and instead just focused on building a relationship.
So could Robby be the frontrunner? Absolutely. But as someone with experience on this show, it's not hard for these contestants to tell who the person at the end could be, and if we're talking odds here, the person at the end is rarely the contestant who refers to himself or herself as the frontrunner. By all means, he could be the one that JoJo ends up with — but rather than taking more bites of the frontrunner stew, he might want to dig into that humble pie... before he ends up with his foot in his mouth.
Image: Olivia Caridi/Instagram