The year 2017 is officially behind us, 2018 is dawning, and a whole new season of The Bachelor stretches out ahead. There's a lot to unpack this time around, but let's start with the oldest contestant on Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s season. She's one of the four Laurens — Lauren J., to be specific — and the 33-year-old is an appealing mix of mature and young at heart. Her occupation is listed as "Recent Masters Graduate," so she's an driven, ambitious adult, but also in that student frame of mind. It's a combination that crops up elsewhere in her bio, making her seem like a strong match for Arie. After all, he's a full-grown man who drives cars fast for a living, so it's a similar combo.
One of the things that the Louisiana native says she can't live without is her nephews, so at least one of her siblings has kids, and Lauren J. might be in a family-starting state of mind herself. But she also says that she's often running late and that one of her bad habits is "eating full meals in bed — like putting a legit body towel over me and ordering pizza — no plates needed." That combination could start to make you think that the master's grad might not have it all the way together (who does?). But wait — she flips the switch again by sharing that she's "over games," and says that the best way to impress a man is just by telling him you're into him.
Basically, even though Lauren J. is 33 and the average Bachelor contestant this year is 27, that's not even close to an excuse to write her off. She may have 10 years on this season's youngest contestants, Maquel and Olivia, but she's clearly spent that time getting to know herself and pursuing a great career. According to her LinkedIn, her master's is in social work, and Reality Steve has sources claiming that she's looking to enter the mental health field. Plus, she's still three years younger than the Bachelor himself.
That's right, this show is still within Bachelor Nation, so it's hardly a surprise that Arie isn't being pursued by any women his own age or older. Casting for these shows already tends to trend younger for female contestants than it does for male contestants, and at 36, Arie is one of the older Bachelors. (Only Season 6's Byron Velvick and Season 15 returnee Brad Womack are older; they were 40 and 38, respectively.) In comparison, the professional race car driver was far from the oldest competitor during his last appearance in the franchise, five years ago. On Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette in 2012, the single mother was just 25, and even with a five-year age gap, 30-year-old Arie wasn't her oldest suitor. (That honor went to a 36-year-old biology teacher named Aaron Martell.)
But before we get too hard on Arie for having a cast that's, on average, nine years younger than he is, let's take a look at some past seasons. Our Season 22 star certainly stacks up well next to Season 21's Nick Viall, who was also 36, but had a cast that maxed out at 31, with an average age of 26, a full year younger than Arie's. But other Bachelors fare better, with nonexistent or even opposite age gaps. Ben Higgins' oldest contestants on Season 20 were three 30-year-olds, but he was only 26 himself, a formula that turned the typical Bachelor Nation situation on its head. Season 19's Chris Soules, 33, and Season 18's Juan Pablo Galavis, 32, each had a contestant who was their same age, and Juan Pablo brought his, 32-year-old Clare Crawley, all the way to the finale. And breaking Bachelor tradition yet again was Season 17's Sean Lowe, who at 28 was four years younger than his oldest contestant, 32-year-old AshLee Frazier, who was eliminated in third place.
That's how things have shaken out in the last five years, so while Arie does have quite an age gap with a lot of the women pursuing him, it's not unprecedented. It would have been nice to see him with an older range, in line with some of the previous Bachelors, but 33-year-old Lauren J. is nothing to turn up your noses at. It seems like she'll show Arie exactly what he's missing in the more age-appropriate category, and have him wishing he'd increased his average.