I don't believe in the idea of guilty pleasures. If you enjoy something, why feel guilty about it? This year, my wife introduced me to the trash TV glory that is The Bachelor franchise, which currently consists of what feels like approximately one thousand hours of television per week. The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and their accompanying spin-off and follow-up shows can easily suck up your TV watching time once you become super invested — which I am, unabashedly so.
After seeing Evan — perpetual Nice Guy/Mayor of the Friend Zone/Erectile Dysfunction Specialist — on JoJo's season earlier this year, I couldn't help but feel squirmy every time he tried to get romantic or found himself tumbling down a rabbit hole of feelings that weren't being reciprocated. With Bachelor in Paradise in full swing, Evan's awkwardness has only multiplied tenfold.
He's found a new infatuation in Paradise's voice of reason Carly, whom he kissed — twice, both terrible and gross — and forced a situation where once again the "butterflies and fireworks" rumbling around his insides were unrequited. In a fit of desperation to get a rose and stay in Paradise, he turned his attentions to Amanda, the only other parent on the show — and a woman who at that point had apparently become one with bad boy Josh's lips.
Evan's desperation for love and acceptance is certainly relatable — it's probable that I was Evan in my college years — but watching him do things like interrupt Amanda and Josh's exercising of tongues in tactical pick-up effort makes my skin crawl:
Except we've all been there, right? Most of us aren't as smooth as a Jordan Rodgers or — as Evan would say — "polished" as a Josh Murray. But still, this is a major flash-bang of desperation that makes me cover my eyes like an 8 year old watching a slasher flick for the first time. It's painful; it's emotional gore and Evan is a glutton for punishment.
In fact, his entire performance on the show up to this point is just one long variation on the classic scene from Swingers that any single person has related to at one time or another during their search for love.
In the movie, Jon Favreau's Mike scores a girl's number at a bar and proceeds to pummel his chances with her into the ground via one uncomfortable phone call after the next. I don't plan on having children, but if I did, this would be the scene I show to my teenage kid that's ready to enter the dating pool to advise them on how not to behave. Observe:
Hard to watch, isn't it? Now imagine that feeling, but molded into a human named Evan. As cartoonish as most of the people on Bachelor in Paradise are, Evan is at once the most outlandish and the most realistic; he's a clear introvert thrown into a situation where he's forced to be outgoing in front of a national audience. He's out of his comfort zone and impossibly awkward, yet I know that I'd probably be the same way.
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And so, as the "love story" of Evan and Carly continues on — his failed attempts to woo Amanda for a pity rose aside — I can't help but feel for the guy. It's kind of adorable to see Carly flip-flop between attraction and repulsion for him. He just wants that affection we all strive for, even if his methods are strange and off-putting for those of us at home shouting at their TVs, echoing Carly's own sentiments: "Don't be weird!"
Someone sit that guy down and force him to watch Swingers before he scares Carly away — again.