Steve Braunias on The Bachelor: Lessons in love from a sensitive woke age guy


Farewell, then, to the latest season of dating show The Bachelor. It was all very strange. It was Tinder without the sex. It was the opposite of sex. It was about a different kind of hunger — the need to take every single available opportunity to exchange cliches about life’s journeys and that. It was very, very chaste, but still it ended in tears. The contestants wore their hearts on their sleeves. Episode after episode, the Bachelor tore their hearts off their sleeves with a long, drawn-out, vicious tug. It was waxing without the wax.

The Bachelor was Samoan musician Moses. He was supposed to be the star of the show. Certainly he was beautiful to look at. He was all about respect. He respected the ground that the contestants walked on. But he was more interested in the ground than making a pass. He waited until episode 11 for his first kiss, and kissed only one other contestant after that. We used to laugh at the male stereotype of the sensitive new age guy, or snag; Moses updated it to 2021 conditions, and cast himself as a sensitive woke age guy, or swag.

All swags are boring. “I get where she’s coming from … I respect her feelings … I respect her decision … I respect her journey”, etc. It was a higher form of mansplaining. You looked around for someone more vibrant, someone funnier, someone as beautiful to look at, and you didn’t have to look far.

The real star of The Bachelor was Lou. Lou was the woman who sought love after loss: the man she was going to marry was killed in a car crash. Everyone loved Lou. She lit up the screen, she was always being hugged or touched, she wore the best clothes.

New Zealand television needs to find a place for Lou to come back and bring her style, her charisma and her big, big smile to the nation.

All the contestants were animated; they were such a relief after the munters, grunters, goobers and brooders who paraded themselves as strong silent types on the preceding series of The Bachelorette. The contestants on The Bachelor never stopped talking. They felt things. They made an effort. They had fun. They cried. They wanted things. They hit the vino and made short work of the snacks. They all had long hair, and they all longed for Moses’ touch. He gave the final rose to Annie. She was happy.

Shenae was runner-up. She was devastated.

The Bachelor was a long, gruelling study in rejection. Georgia, a PE teacher, was among the first to be expelled. Shivani, who works in litigation for the Government, failed her case. Negin, a police officer who speaks Cantonese, got busted. It was heart-breaking. What incredible New Zealand women they all were, with their careers, their skills, their sparkle, their courage, and their beautiful, trusting faces, wet with tears.

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