the curious cases of Jared and Daniel with The Lord of the Rings, pterodactyls, and misogyny
Jared and the Return of the King
The worst thing is when pretty people know they’re pretty. Pretty people who grow up not knowing or caring turn out to be decent people. But after last season’s Bachelor in Paradise, Jared is like the giant nerd who just grew out of his awkward teen phase to become sort of handsome and then started working out a little too much (metaphorically–he’s not Nick). Now he’s a little in love with himself because he’s spent too much time hearing about how great he is.
But Jared is not even a nerd! He describes himself to Jubilee as one, except he doesn’t seem to remember Legolas’ name, and neither of them know that “Aragon” is Aragorn. He also mentions how he’s matured into loving Aragorn more than the Frodo-Samwise relationship, which is only the entire homoerotic heart of the books. Though he does show good judgment in mentioning how The Two Towers is more memorable than The Fellowship of the Ring. (The Helms Deep battle gets me every time.)
Then a murderous clown sent by the producers shows up and Jubilee screams. I’ve replayed this about five times. Jared does not run to help Jubilee. He runs for the exit. Only Jubilee grabs him and her giant heart emoji eyes prevent her from seeing the truth. That’s not an Aragorn move, Jared. That’s a Wormtongue move.
Let’s look at some of his other dalliances. He was definitely interested in quiet, boring Jade (famously a former Playboy model and more famously, made farmer Chris Soules watch the video with her) before getting outmaneuvered by Tanner. After failing there, Jared stuck out most of last season with the human Kardashian doll with a master’s, Ashley I. Eventually he decided that he couldn’t do it any longer and removed himself, but only after his shirt and dignity were used for Kleenex.
This year he handed his rose to Emily and by extension Haley. This could be some nice gamesmanship, two women = better chances to stay. But Emily has about the depth and substance of a flattened cardboard box. When it comes to terrible Bachelor decisions, I like to empathize: What would I do? If I wasn’t into Jubilee, would I be willing to chance it with a beautiful, empty-headed girl who was into me? Of course! You’re on a beach vacation, why not! But this doesn’t prove that Jared is a good person, only that he’s a pragmatist and I’m as shallow as he is.
Further evidence that he’s not the top hat-wearing, monocle-sporting gentleman he’s made out to be is the definitely unhealthy way he watches the twins eat bananas and how he derives far too much joy from Josh Murray one-upping Nick Viall.
But the worst part is his time with Emily. As this poor, semi-innocent girl throws herself at him, he flops around with the studied disinterest of a gutted fish and the thousand-yard stare of someone who’s seen some shit. I know Ashley I. was bad, but you’re not a war vet, Jared. After putting forth as little effort as possible while still being able to breathe but not blink, he finally stands up and kisses her out of obligation. He cares so little, even as Emily literally narrates a master course in the art of seduction she uses on him. What happened to the nice guy who tried so hard on Kaitlyn’s season? He lost the glasses and the acne. He She’s All That-ed himself, except there’s no Freddie Prinze Jr. to blame.
Orange to Onion: the Possible Redemption of Daniel
You can’t get rid of me, I’m like a disease that just won’t go away. Like herpes or something.
Unstoppable quote machine and speedo-connoisseur Daniel Maguire should be put in the Smithsonian for some of these gems:
What a journey it’s been! From quite possibly the best exit speech in Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise history to protein-packed heartthrob, Daniel has pulled off the upset of all upsets by becoming actually, possibly likeable, with one gigantic caveat.
The best thing about Daniel is that he likes Sarah, one of the few people who exudes genuine warmth and human toughness. The worst thing about Sarah is that she keeps showing up on this show. But notice that she actually says “Daaaamn, Daniel!” after he tried unsuccessfully to force that on JoJo during their first meeting. Kismet?? Sarah describes her burgeoning feelings for him as “weird,” “really weird,” and “so weird,” which is an appropriate reaction.
But before we go any further, we have to address the elephant in the room. In episode one, Daniel dropped a couple slightly misogynistic bombs about the women in the first episode, and when I say “a couple” and “slightly,” I mean “a lot” and “not slightly.”
In ascending crapulence:
I have very high standards. An eagle doesn’t settle for a pigeon, right? An eagle settles for an eagle. I don’t know what’s better than an eagle, like a pterodactyl or something?
So far, these are like poodles and little Yorkies. Just washed-up street dogs.
…and of course…
Hopefully there’s some better fresh fruit that comes in that looks not so worn out and not too ripe. Something that looks a little more crisp, a little more succulent and juicy. So far the fruit here looks like it’s been bruised in transportation.
Really not good. There’s also actually more.
So how did Daniel make such a massive edit turnaround? It begins with his gravitation towards Sarah, who struggled with her own looks and the fact that she is one-armed in a two-armed world. At first it seems it happened more by default; both of them are romantically shunted aside. But eventually it starts to evolve. Daniel even somehow manages to stop spouting horrible things long enough to reveal a strangely sweet and halting vulnerability that wins the attentions of the feminist-core of the show, the one who stood up best to his friend Chad.
You can even witness a change in his rhetoric (or maybe that’s just the edits). He stops calling women pigeons and bruised fruit and starts talking more about how he’s an eagle swooping in for the kill. Still not the best, but my argument isn’t that Daniel’s not a misogynist. My argument is that unlike Chad, he might be a misogynist with the capacity to change. As story arcs go, that’s a pretty compelling one.
Even outside of his chemistry with Sarah and his meme-able one-liners, Daniel has habitually demonstrated that Canadian love of peace and a rare insight. He tries to talk down Chad out of his violent insanity, which prompts his murdery friend to describe him as “so unmurdery.” If that’s not an effective character reference, I don’t know what is! He sees right through Nick’s fronting about Amanda, and when a game-playing Leah says she’s like a layered onion, he accurately says she’s “more like an orange with one layer.” It’s a beautiful moment that belongs on an Emmy reel and a step up in his fruit-metaphor game.
I don’t know if Daniel will affect the full Beauty and the Beast transformation, but right now he’s a little less like Hitler and a little more like Mussolini.