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‘Bachelor in Paradise’ ends with love, sort of

| Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bachelor_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer
Labor Day has come and gone, college football season has begun, and pumpkin spice lattes have returned, meaning summer 2014 is, by most accounts, officially over. Luckily, the reality TV world managed to let out a cry of “summer break forever, y’all” with its last gasp of air, Monday’s finale of “Bachelor in Paradise.”

“Bachelor in Paradise” is a spinoff of ABC’s long-running “The Bachelor” franchise, and at first glance, the concept is completely confusing and altogether difficult to explain. A group of former “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” contestants are taken to a villa in Tulum, Mexico, for a “second chance at love.” The show begins with more women than men, and the men hand out roses to decide who stays in paradise. In the following episode, the roles are reversed as new men arrive in Mexico, and women control the elimination process. This cycle and influx of new cast members continues over the course of the show, as relationships form and break.

Put simply: Good-looking people are put on a beach with copious amounts of alcohol, and America gets to watch.

What made this the most enjoyable show of the summer is that it embraced the craziness of the whole process. If it is ridiculous to expect to find love in seven weeks on a reality TV show, it’s completely absurd to expect to find love in three weeks.

Unlike the creators of the flagship series — who present the show’s quest for love as completely genuine — the producers of “Bachelor in Paradise” embraced this absurdity, almost unbelievably so. And the contestants, old hands at creating drama for the camera, happily oblige. The series’ seven episodes feature no less than two emergency room trips, an alleged ménage à trois, a naked hippie, a man jumping out of a third-story balcony, a cast-crew affair, a guy who goes on a date by himself, a talking raccoon, a marriage proposal and lots and lots of ocean sex.

In an interview with New York Magazine, host and executive producer Chris Harrison refers to the show as “don’t-think-too-hard, don’t-choose-too-good-of-a-box-of-wine, sit-down-with-a-pint-of-your-favorite-ice-cream, just-have-a-good-laugh-and-relax TV,” which, if you follow the excessive hyphenation, is the best possible description. It was this self-aware silliness, such as when editing made the delusional Claire look like she was venting to a raccoon, that made the show so fun to watch over the last six weeks.

In the finale, the mayhem comes to an end, in what is disappointingly the most conventional (boring) episode of the season. Harrison dramatically asks the remaining couples, “Can you really see this person in your life … forever?” Realizing they’ve known their partners for less than three weeks, three of the six couples immediately break up. The episode’s fourth breakup occurs when Sarah dumps Robert after he wears jeans to bed during their night in the Fantasy Suite. I couldn’t make up the storylines on this show if I tried.

The episode actually ends on a rather sensible note, given its predilection for the ridiculous. Three of the original franchise’s successful couples were brought to Mexico to counsel the two remaining “Bachelor in Paradise” couples about making their relationships work after the show. With this glimmer of optimism in their eyes, the unbearably boring Marcus and Lacy — who the other contestants held up all season as the paragon of true love — end up getting engaged.

But in true paradise fashion, the season ends with a “where are they now” montage that pokes fun at the contestants. Claire’s raccoon apparently still is looking for true love, and “there’s an 80/40 chance [Marcus and Lacy will] have hot babies” — a reference to when Lacy commented she was torn 80/40 on a decision. “Bachelor in Paradise” is guilty-pleasure TV at its finest, and luckily, it already has been renewed for a second season next summer. It’s going to be a long winter.

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About Matthew Munhall

Matthew thinks everyone should listen to Charly Bliss.

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