First impressions aren’t always everything — especially when it comes to reality TV. Three couples in particular have stood out for pivoting from their initial characterizations on “Bachelor” shows.
First: Bekah Martinez — the 22-year-old “Bachelor” contestant who was painted as too young for marriage and a family — announced Wednesday that she’s pregnant. Although Martinez isn’t sure marriage is for her (she and her boyfriend, Grayston Leonard, have no plans to tie the knot), she has always been clear on wanting to be a mom. “It’s the one thing that I’ve known with certainty for so long,” she told PureWow. The pregnancy wasn’t planned, but Martinez says it has brought her and Leonard closer together. About 40 percent of children are born to unmarried women these days, but it’s not something we often see within Bachelor Nation.
Second: Jordan Kimball, the male model who appeared more concerned about his camera angles and his 4,000 Tinder matches than making a genuine connection on “The Bachelorette,” went on to propose to Jenna Cooper on Tuesday night’s “Bachelor in Paradise” finale. It’s unclear whether the couple is still together (Jenna has been accused of cheating), but Jordan has redeemed himself as a man with serious intentions.
And finally, “Paradise” allowed Chris Randone, who came off as insecure and aggressive on “The Bachelorette,” a chance at redemption. During the finale, he got down on one knee and proposed to Krystal Nielson (who was also the villain on her season of “The Bachelor”). Randone’s maturation wasn’t entirely self-directed. During Tuesday night’s show, he noted that Nielson told him early on in “Paradise” that he needed to be more self-aware “or you’re going to lose friendships here and you’re going to lose me.” Nielson didn’t exactly come across as the model of self-awareness on Arie Luyendyk’s season, so perhaps they’re both growing.
Several contestants this season noted that they were looking for their “Paradise” love story, a la Jade and Tanner or Carly and Evan. And a setting where there are multiple people to choose from — rather than a single leading man or woman — appears to make a match more likely. The “Bachelor” spinoff has yielded about one lasting couple per season, which is a much better average than “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.”
“Paradise” also allows contestants who didn’t get such positive edits in their previous seasons to show different sides of themselves. This season, we saw John Graham (a.k.a. Venmo John) come out of his shell more than he did on Becca Kufrin’s “Bachelorette” season and date several women.
It also allows favorites from other seasons a second chance at love. Tia Booth and Colton Underwood got to resume their relationship. It didn’t last, and viewers aren’t pleased that Underwood will be the next Bachelor, but at least the Tia-Colton question mark, which lingered over much of Kufrin’s season, has been answered.
Kendall Long, who was a fan favorite from Luyendyk’s season, found herself in a love triangle involving another fan favorite, Joe Amabile (a.k.a. Grocery Store Joe). And though they broke up in “Paradise,” Kendall apologized, and Amabile took her back. They seem great together, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re the couple to outlast the rest of this season’s pairings.
These “Paradise” couples — and Martinez’s surprise announcement — relate to real-world dating, too. Singles on dating apps often discard one another even more quickly than on the “Bachelor” shows. What if they were to stick around a little longer and allow a fuller picture of a person to emerge before they make a decision? Would the woman who’s judged as too young for a family . . . end up choosing one? Can the joker get serious? Can the man who’s insecure grow up for the right person?
It might not happen overnight, but anything is possible.