2012 was a typically insane year on the three Bachelor franchise series. We had two engagements break in a very short period of time, but we also had only our third wedding ever involving a winning pair. We watched former Bachelor winner Emily Maynard turn around to become the Bachelorette. We marveled at the audacity of the previously forgettable Nick Peterson. We saw a lot more of Courtney Robertson and Ben Flajnik than good taste required. Here is our list of the top moments of 2012 from the three shows in the family. Be sure to vote in the poll below!
Courtney schemes her way to the ring: A model with a track record of dating minor celebrities, Courtney figured out early that superficiality – baby talk, coyness, a willingness to take off her clothes – was the key to winning Ben’s heart, or some other organ at any rate. Modeling is a field where infighting can be fierce, and she showed a genius for both coming up with ways to antagonize the other contestants, and soothing Ben in such a way that he wouldn’t give the others the time of day when they suggested Courtney was a game-player who didn’t care about him as a person. The quick end to their engagement didn’t come as a surprise; it’s hard to remember a franchise couple where both parties showed such little interest in a lasting relationship.
The decline and fall of Ben Flajnik: Ben was fairly popular with viewers during his 2011 appearance on The Bachelorette … until he had a shockingly bitter reaction to Ashley Hebert dumping him in second place. His behavior on The Bachelor didn’t help matters, as he came across as completely unable to read emotional cues, and dismissive of the other women’s legitimate concerns about Courtney. When a contestant named Casey was outed as having at best a complicated relationship with an ex, Ben coldly told her it was time to go home, sending her away weeping.
Shawntel’s unhappy return: 2011 Bachelor fourth-place finisher Shawntel Newton struck up a Twitter relationship with Ben the following summer, which apparently had her believing she might as well take a shot at sparking things with him in person – via a Bachelor walk-on. The other women became illogically infuriated at the show giving Ben the chance to take Shawntel on as a new contender, as if “fairness” has anything to do with the way The Bachelor is normally constructed. In the end, Ben decided to send her back to her cadavers, but only after she was raked over the coals by the other ladies at a highly uncomfortable cocktail party.
The twins from hell: Bachelor Pad tried something new for its third season, casting several “superfans” to augment the typical cast of ex-contestants. None of the fans had a chance of breaking into the existing cliques that always populate this show, but before leaving, blonde twins Brittany and Erica Taltos became legendary for their over-the-top stupidity and for the tone of their combined voices, which sounded like insane chipmunks going to war. After a sleepless night of endless arguing, the pair (who were playing the game as one person, which still left them about half a brain short) walked away from the mansion when one of them insisted on quitting. Brittany made news later in the year when a truck backed over her head while she was sunbathing. What’s that old joke? “X-rays after the accident showed nothing.”
Chris Bukowski, supervillain: Chris’s fourth-place finish on The Bachelorette was noteworthy only for his jealousy, petulance, and unsuitability for being a husband while still in his mid-20s. But on Bachelor Pad, he was a powerhouse bad guy, someone who was nearly friendless by the end of the season. He began in a partnership with Blakeley Shea; when he found her too clingy, he moved on to a flirtation with the hapless Jamie Otis; finally, he dumped Blakeley as a partner officially and hooked up with Sarah Newlon, praising her “new car smell.” All of Chris’s scheming got he and Sarah to the runner-up position, but left his reputation in shambles.
Nick shocks the Bachelor world: And who did Chris and Sarah lose to? Why, that would be Nick Peterson, who spent the first several episodes of the Pad season being virtually ignored by the cameras. He teamed up with Rachel Truehart when both lost their original partners, and they made it to the winners’ circle even though it was obvious they were teammates of convenience and not really friends, let alone lovers. If anyone ever had incentive to become the first to invoke the right to screw their partner out of half the prize money – which would come if someone voted to keep all the money while the partner voted to share it – it would be these two, but only Nick had the guts to actually try it (had Rachel joined him, both would have forfeited any prize). He won’t win any nice-guy awards, but Nick didn’t make many friends on the show to begin with, and his decision (coupled with Rachel’s understandable disbelief) made for incredible television.
Emily tosses out Kalon: We knew from the time Kalon McMahon showed up at the Bachelorette mansion in a helicopter that he had been cast as the season’s villain. The Houston socialite didn’t seem like that bad a guy except for one thing: he was obviously ambivalent at best about the prospect of becoming a stepfather, which is a necessity when it comes to Emily and daughter Ricki. While he and Emily had some talks about this reluctance, it was the report that he had referred to Ricki being “baggage” – a remark conveniently never seen on the show – that set Emily off. “Get the f*** out,” she ordered Kalon, and he left without further incident.
Doug Clerget, shy schoolboy: Nothing was funnier on The Bachelorette this summer than the bizarrely reticent behavior of Doug Clerget, who spent the season acting like a virgin sprung from life in a monastery rather than someone who had enough game at some point in his past to father a child. Despite Emily letting all the men know that she expected them to show genuine interest in her in a physical way, Doug hung back up until Emily began giving him the time-honored “let him down easy” speech – which he interrupted to give her a chaste peck on the cheek. Let’s hope the next woman in his life doesn’t believe in sex after the first date, or the first 100 dates.
Emily & Jef, not so perfect: Not to toot my own horn too much, but the quick end of this relationship was easy to predict. Emily’s almost instant breakup with Brad Womack left doubts about just how interested she is in a new husband; there were religious and cultural differences with Jef Holm that were glossed over during the Bachelorette season (especially the question of his Utah-based family and business); and Jef simply seemed too young and uncomplicated to jump into life as the stepfather to a little girl and the husband of someone who clearly wants to be a celebrity independent of the franchise. One still hears chatter about Emily getting another shot, but the two very quick breakups has tarnished her halo a wee bit.
We have a marriage! Neither Ben nor Emily made it to the end of calendar year 2012 still together with the people they swore eternal love to on their season finales, but it was a different story for 2011 Bachelorette Ashley Hebert, who married J.P. Rosenbaum in December. The pair had no real drama while on the show and haven’t had any since – against all odds, the franchise seems to have paired up true soulmates. Ashley seems content to continue with her dental career in Philadelphia, and all things considered, this couple has left me with nothing to joke about, the bastards.