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The Bachelor | an enneagram perspective

What does the US TV show The Bachelor have to do with the Enneagram? Like all reality TV shows, the Bachelor is contrived and structured for impact, yet behind the veil there are real people doing somewhat real things. And so I like to watch these shows to examine the interpersonal dynamics, get a sense of people’s types if I can, and analyze their type-based behavior.

I am sure these shows are contrived because a hair cutter I had several years ago was a part-time actress and she played a Bachelorette’s “best friend,” yet had never met the woman. I know someone who knows someone behind the cameras who says the film editing is intense. Still, there is something about the Bachelor brand that intrigues me: a person looking for more than love (marriage); 20+ possible candidates living together and vying for the one person’s attention. There are group dates, 1-1 dates, and no dates. And people get rejected or sent home, sometimes only one, sometime multiple candidates.

My take on the recent Bachelor, known as Juan Pablo (even though he does have a last name!), is one that involves the Enneagram and Diversity (especially race and gender). The first part of this blog will read like Juan Pablo was every woman’s worst nightmare, which in a way he was: a good-looking, charming, and hunky guy with more than a 6-pack for abs, a great (or so he says) dancer, a former soccer player, a devoted father to his young daughter, and a self-absorbed guy who was more comfortable being physical than getting to know the women beyond the most surface level with a gross insensitivity to social issues and diversity such as sexual orientation, physical abilities, and gender. Oh, my!

Prior to his being on the Bachelor, he was a candidate on the Bachelorette vying for the affection of the Bachelorette, although he was eliminated early on. This should have been a clue: early elimination, said almost nothing on the show, but looked great. He became a “fan favorite” and it appears that the Bachelor brand was getting increasing pressure to not be so entirely Caucasian. Yes, there were occasional people of color as candidates for the roses, but very few. Voilà, Juan Pablo! But the show appears to have neglected to have learned much about him or have vetted him. Were they in for a surprise!

Enter the Enneagram. After the first episode, I though he was a type 7 or possible a type 3, but after a few episodes, type 7 (self-preservation subtype) seemed a really good fit, and here’s why. First, Juan Pablo (aka JP) had a very short attention span – almost every conversation he had seemed to be wrapped up in a few sentences – and almost every date he went on involved something high in stimulation, even more than the normal excursion on the Bachelor. In the end, almost every woman but two claimed Juan Pablo never asked them any questions about themselves and had little interest in who they were as people.

Early on in the season, when Clare – who makes it to the final two women – appears at his door at 4 am for an uninvited ocean swim (and much more, it seems), he talks to her the next day about his discomfort, blames her for the unannounced visit and their ocean behavior in which he willingly participated, and frames his displeasure in terms of not setting a good example for his young daughter, even though he says many times he will not let her watch the show. Somehow, constantly kissing different women on the show isn’t the same, nor is having three different sleepovers with the final three contestants. Hmmmm. Did the producers get on his case?

Andi, one of the final three women and an assistant district attorney, left of her own volition after spending the night with him in the fantasy suite called him a “borderline narcissist” and some other fine words. We’ll never know exactly what happened in the “sleepover” in which Andi didn’t sleep much. But we do know that he spent some time referring to his sleepover with another woman on the show and no time getting to know Andi. So here is Juan Pablo confronted by Andi and what does he do or say. For every complaint she has, he says “That’s fine” or some other way to reframe her concern. Every time he interrupts her while talking – this is a 7s version of listening – he stops talking, only to interrupt again. When Andi leaves him in frustration, he appears very relieved to see her go, taking no responsibility for his role in her departure.

There’s more. What got him in big trouble was his “in mind, out mouth” behavior after the series had been filmed but while it was airing on TV. When asked at a TV network party whether or not it would be a good idea to have a gay or bisexual bachelor, instead of keeping quiet or deferring to the network on this, his lack of impulse control – also an attribute of 7s who have done minimal self-development work – took over. “”I don’t think it is a good example for kids to watch that on TV.… There’s this thing about gay people…. They’re more pervert in a sense.” Much later, JP tried to explain himself; he reframed the issue as a language problem, since Spanish is his first language. The problem is that he speaks English very well and pervert is pervert in any language. JP goes on to claim, ”I love gays!” Seriously, if anyone says, “I love Jews” or “I love (name the group),” people with any diversity sensitivity would more than raise their eyebrows in disbelief. This is code for a defensive reaction to an underlying prejudice.

Foot in mouth once more, JP tweets a comment using the word “retards,” and in one of the final episodes says something not-cool to contestant Clare of the 4 am beach swim fame and who seems in love with the idea of Juan Pablo. Clare says something like, “When the cameras and mics were off, Juan Pablo said something to me of a sexual nature that no woman wants to hear, coupled with he didn’t really know me.” After JP rejected Clare, she told him how much he had led her on, and when she left, he said, “I’m glad I didn’t pick her!” These are three more examples of his lack of verbal impulse control, not to mention his empathy issues.

So Juan Pablo ends up with a woman, Nikki, who gets no marriage proposal and no “I love you” on the final show, but that is between them. I have to wonder why the network did so little vetting of their Bachelor before they brought him on stage. Or did they and then decide to have him be the Bachelor anyway? Word on the street is that JP has said the three magic words to Nikki, but wasn’t willing to admit so on TV because he wanted to “piss of the executive at ABC and Warner Bros.” Why was JP so angry? Did they chastise him for the 4 am swim with Clare? Did their lack of support after his “pervert” remarks make him feel thrown under the bus? Did he just not like the constraints and then rebelled against the rules and limits, like a 7?

“Everything’s fine,” “It’s all about me,” Don’t get serious,” “Don’t make me uncomfortable.” Make light, reframe, blame, or if none of those work, get angry and get even. Did ABC ever get more (or less) than they expected out of our under-developed type 7 Bachelor, Juan Pablo!

In defense of Juan Pablo
Sharleen w borderAs much of a jerk and homophobic and insensitive guy as he appears to be – no one put those words in his mouth or told him to act in such a superficial and cavalier way – I am now going to defend him.

All along, he seemed enamored of one contestant, Sharleen Joynt, an exquisite opera singer born in Canada and working in Germany. Sharleen, in my opinion, is one of the most sophisticated and grounded contestants I’ve ever seen on the show. Lovely and smart, she was taken with JP, only to leave half way through because something wasn’t right. It seems from comments she made later that JP just wasn’t an intellectual partner for her, though the chemistry was definitely there. Mind over matter, she left. Juan Pablo actually did ask her questions about herself, and they did engage in serious conversations.

In defense of Juan Pablo, I think he was so smitten with her early on that she was his choice and so he never felt much need to really get to know the others. Like a rooster, he did play with the hens, much to their dismay. So when Sharleen left, it took him by surprise and his game plan no longer worked.

It is not a good idea to have only one game plan when on a show like this. Nor is it smart to make hurtful comments and be so insensitive to the feelings of others. But he did what he did, he got what he got, and the show must go on!

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Diana Schneidman
7 years ago

I love it! I love assessments of trashy TV shows. And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Do you ever watch Project Runway and Under the Gunn? Both are reality shows about clothing designers. Fascinating studies of team dynamics in the workplace.

-d

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