On 'The Bachelor,' If You're Not First, You're...Probably Living Happily Ever After

Arie and Lauren are pregnant! Presumably with the world's very first silent baby...

Beloved TATBT reader, I do apologize for the lack of newsletters this week. All cards on the table: I've been quite sick, and am leaving for a Parisian trip on Saturday, so when I haven't been frantically popping Sudafed, I've been frantically shopping for the least cheap-looking cheap leather leggings available on the internet.

So I'm in kind of a weird place right now! What I’m saying is: I am high as a poorly flown kite on off-brand Sudafed and running solely on white hot anger at myself for never even glancing at a French Duolingo ad…

But no matter my current ability to construct sentences, I could not let one more moment pass by without making note of a major goings-on in Bachelor Nation...

** This is where I pause to say that if you're someone who came to TATBT not knowing that it is, in fact, a reluctant Bachelor stan account — hi, hello, please stay here forever and shop our wares. I hope you can still enjoy this reluctant Bachelor stan account that talks about boring strangers with the familiarity of a tight-knit nuclear family, and the significance of a pending nuclear war. **

The news comes from our lame-duck-Bachelor Arie, that end-piece of bread you've been reaching past every day for two weeks, until finally it’s the only piece left, and you lift your hands in praise when you spot a fleck of mold on it, because now you can throw it away without feeling the pang of privileged guilt that would have come if you had thrown it away from the start, for there was never a time, nor a plane that existed in which you would have actually eaten this flaccid piece of bread…

For you are not Lauren, one of two women in America willing to make their matrimonial sandwich with Arie.

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The first woman willing to do so, of course, was Becca K, the second ever first-place Bachelor contestant to ultimately finish last, and then be given the truest first place prize she could hope for: being named the next Bachelorette. Before her, this exact same thing happened to Melissa Rycroft who was proposed to by season 13 Bachelor Jason Mesnick, then dumped by Jason Mesnick so that he could go crawling back to the runner-up whom he initially dumped for Rycroft: Molly Malaney, to whom he is still married and has a family with.

Still with me? Good.

Because the actual news here is that this traumatic paint-by-numbers path to a lifetime of happiness has worked once more: Arie and Lauren are expecting a tiny prop for their DIFFERENT EYEWEAR frames — AKA, a baby — in advance of their January wedding. This is lovely news for them! By all accounts (@ariejr and @laureneburnham as it were), and despite that time he chose another woman over her, Arie and Lauren are utterly in love: silent, boring, wordless, real, true, TV-transcending love. 

Which forces me, a noted Bachelor historian, to point out that even though the male-led Bachelor franchise maintains a truly unromantic 4.5 % success rate for the final couple staying together (thank you Sean Lowe, and all that sex you stopped having), the rise to power of this Bachelor trope wherein the lead proposes to one final woman, then swiftly dumps her and begs the runner-up whose heart he recently shattered to take him back — that method has a 100 percent success rate!

The "Still Together" column on The Bachelor (U.S. TV series) Wikipedia page has exactly one green "Yes" wedged in between 21 red “No” cells, but it also contains two very important footnotes:

So, what does this mean??? 

I truly have no concrete answers for you. I am asking: How are there two-out-of-two instances where begging the woman you put in second place on national television to take you back results in marriage and babies, and only one instance out of 22 attempts where the first-choice-fiancé ultimately results in marriage and babies, as The Bachelor construct intends it to?

Does this circling-back to one's second place choice after breaking up with one's first-place choice actually happen much more often than we're privy to? Are there second-place finishers out there who are forced to respond when, say, a Ben Flajnik shows up on their doorstep: Thanks but no thank, I much prefer vacations to Sayulita and a lifetime of spon-con income to taking back a man who publicly chose another woman over me. 

I know it couldn't have happened with Juan Pablo because there is no way in hell feminist icon Clare Crawley would not have publicized that sweet, sweet vengeance to the world. But did, perhaps, Farmer Chris go crawling back to Becca Tilley [ed. note: a recent People's Choice Award winner for Favorite Pop Podcast 2018, WHAT IS HAPPENING] and she just politely declined and never said anything about it?

I think not. I think — and stay with me here — there might be a small flaw in the romantic structure of this monogamy game show we watch.

The math for success has always been there: if you present me with 30 decent-looking dudes with a hint of a job and a whisper of emotional intelligence, I could probably marry one of them. I couldn't marry any of them — but once I weeded through the ones that consider exercise a necessary from of bonding and the ones that brag about not having TVs but watch a shit ton of Netflix on their laptops, I'm sure I could marry one of them.

The problem, it seems, is in the picking. It must be noted though, that The Bachelorette Wikipedia page (even with the recent breakup of Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth, RIP), features six-out-of-fourteen green yes boxes in the "Still Together" column. So, the ladies seem to do a slightly better job than their male counterparts at the choosing of a permanent partner under an immense amount of pressure and very little personal contact.

Do I think that Bachelor-elect Colton Underwood — who took the duration of three Bachelor-related franchises to decide that he didn't like Tia enough to actually inform Tia that he didn't like her — will be able to pick a matrimonial mate in one fell swoop? Absolutely not. I'm not confident Colton can put on one of his many awful jackets each morning without first consulting a YouTube video.

But if the Bachelor franchise could just look into the success rate of reneging on one's original proposal, choosing the runner-up instead, and living happily ever after; if they could somehow incorporate their male leads’ consistent inability to make correct choices on the first try…

Well, 30 years down the road, we might just get that season of second-generation Bachelor contestant spawn I've always feared/dreamed of.