Why I Can’t Hate “The Bachelor” – Even Though He’s a Jerk

If the mud-slinging taking place across the Internet today is any indication, fans of "The Bachelor" are not too happy with Jason Mesnick. "What kind of man would do this to a woman he that he chose to give an engagement ring to," one wrote in the comments posted below an article on People.com. "Jason, […]

Last Updated: March 4, 2009 @ 5:58 PM

If the mud-slinging taking place across the Internet today is any indication, fans of "The Bachelor" are not too happy with Jason Mesnick.

"What kind of man would do this to a woman he that he chose to give an engagement ring to," one wrote in the comments posted below an article on People.com. "Jason, you ought to be ashamed of yourself." Why all the vitriol? For those of you who weren’t amongst the millions of viewers who tuned in Monday evening, Mesnick shocked! America! by proposing to Melissa Rycroft, 25, during the finale, only to dump her and ask out runner-up Molly Malaney, 24, during the After the Rose Special, which was filmed six weeks after the final show.

Like many, I was not pleased with this situation.

Over the course of the season, I have become vaguely obsessed with Mesnick — or ‘The Bach,’ as I affectionately call him. First of all — he’s a total dime piece: tan, crisply ironed blue button-downs and a winning grin.

I’m likely in the show’s target demographic – a wide-eyed twentysomething still not completely jaded about the possibility of true love who thinks Mesnick, 32, has that sweet-yet-sexy single father appeal. But I’ve never bought into the over-the-top "romance" shlock the show sells — the red roses, fantasy suites and outlandish horse-drawn carriage dates.

And that’s part of why I liked The Bach. Everything in his nature seemed to reject the inherent bullsh–t the show brings along with it. He acknowledged he’d rather spend a date night at his boat house in Seattle than at a secluded five-star restaurant. He always wore jeans with his highfalutin’ blazers.

And, of course, there was Ty — his lovable tyke who served as a constant reminder of Jason’s imperfect personal life. "He’s a REAL guy!" I’d argue to buddies cynical about the show. "This is no management consultant, heir to the family dynasty, professional bass fisher hybrid, guys. He’s a single father. Please."

Since the spoilers about the finale hit the Internet weeks ago, I’d been fearful that I’d learn of Jason and his dream woman’s fate prematurely. My roommate, less keen on keeping the finale a secret, scrolled through some reality television forums to check out what would supposedly happen. Her face quickly dropped: "You are going to DIE."

My anticipation was heightened throughout the day on Monday. There was no checking of Facebook statuses for possible updates from friends on the East Coast who’d already seen the episode. Text messages were off-limits. My TiVo was ready to go at 8:30 PM as to avoid all commercials.

But when the big moment finally arrived, my heart sunk — not for Melissa, but for a greater truth about the confines of love which viewers seem unwilling to accept.

I was never a Molly fan. She’s that typical hot chick who inherently appears to be adventurous and outgoing simply as a result of her looks. By the time she met Jason on her final date and proceeded to straddle him on a massage table, rub him down with baby oil and then prove her domesticity by cooking him a stir-fry dinner, I knew she had sealed the deal. Because how many guys ever choose the doting, sweet girl over the sultry, false one?

So Jason, the endearing single father who’s borne so much heartbreak, enforced the stereotype that he’s just like any other testosterone-fueled guy. And he made out with Molly about two seconds after ending things with Melissa, which just added salt to the wound. He’s a jerk!

But I still can’t hate him.

Ultimately, Jason’s decision flew in the face of the entire franchise and proved that ABC and the confines of their reality TV juggernaut will never truly be able to produce a successful relationship. This may not seems like big news to many viewers, who know that all 13 seasons have only produced one successful couple  –the All-American Trista and Ryan, heralded on each season as the gurus of love.

During Season 11, bar owner and Bachelor Brad Womack rejected both women at the final rose ceremony because he wasn’t in love with either of them. Jason took that a step further, tarnishing his good-guy name by staying true to his feelings and refusing to fit into the show’s notion that true love can be generated in a miniscule timeframe. A majority of the couples from seasons past have stayed together for many months to preserve the illusion that the show works, only to break up further down the line when the spotlight shifted away from them.

So Jason wasn’t prepared to enter into this falsehood and now American is pissed. Yes, he was selfish in the process. But by going through the embarrassing, hurtful ordeal of axing Melissa, he showed he would not uphold the show’s faulty premise: that love can be manufactured in front of the cameras in a matter of weeks.

"I lived my honest, true life, and I developed feelings for two girls," Jason said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Monday evening.

It’s baffling that audiences are so passionate about a fairytale ending they know will never come to fruition. Instead of hurling insults at Jason, viewers should take solace in his decision–perhaps the one true moment to come out of the entire season.