[Disclaimer: I’m a dude. I mean really a dude. I love football, BBQ, and Braveheart. I roll 6’5, 235, but I do watch The Bachelorette with my wife.]
Many of us are making our way through the guilty pleasure of The Bachelorette: Season 6. If you have watched a few seasons of The Bachelorette (I have watched three, which is as many years as I have been married), then you have probably nailed The Bachelorette archetypes, which reappear season after season.
There’s the “Too Good to Be True” character – Roberto this season – who just seems so perfect, but usually gets dumped in the end because he does not have enough edge. There’s the Villain, the jerk who pulls the wool over the damsels eyes but clearly is the most insidious, revolting man ever. (Justin, aka Rated R, took this title after the discovery of his girlfriend at home.) There’s the “It Takes Me A While To Open Up” fella, who initially seems like a dud, but comes on strong down the stretch when he reveals a wound from his past. (Chris L. from Massachusetts has been the late-charging darkhorse this season after telling Ali about his mother’s recent death.)
And then there’s “That Guy.” Oh yes, any amateur Bachelorette follower knows That Guy all too well. They are so memorable because they produce enough intense, vicarious awkwardness and embarrassment to stick with one for years.
The narrative of That Guy goes something like this:
1.) They repeatedly say, “I came here for love.” They derive some level of self-righteousness from the purity of their motives, and they are constantly judging and downgrading the intentions of the other contestants.
2.) They have utterly no level of self-awareness of how minuscule their chances are of snagging the irresistible Bachelorette. Let’s be honest, Tom Cruise would be mediocre in this handpicked crowd of glamour boys.
3.) They whole-heartedly believe that with exceptional performance they will demonstrate their love and value to the Bachelorette and will win her heart. With That Guy, this usually results in high-risk, dating faux pas and social suicide in the form of hokey guitar playing, impromptu singing, or, as was the case this season, the misguided tattoo.
This year, there were two That Guy’s, but Kasey from California emerged as the greatest That Guy of all times. Poor Kasey proclaimed that he came to the show to “find love” and to “guard and protect Ali’s heart.” Although Kasey seemed dead in the water after the second week, he maintained his firm believe that he would prevail as Ali’s boo. Kasey criticized the motives of lesser bachelors who came to the show for the wrong reasons. Kasey, who possess little musical talent and less formal training, spontaneously broke into song during his one-on-one date with Ali, making for supremely awkward reality TV. And, finally, Kasey committed the single, “un-smoothest” move in Bachelorette history: he got a tattoo of a heart to show the sincerity of his love for Ali, after she questioned his ability to be transparent. After this move, Ali cut Kasey and left him seemingly stranded on a glacier in Iceland. (I know, can it get anymore random?)
The reason we all cringe when we watch the shenanigans of That Guy on The Bachelorette is because we are That Guy. We really do believe before God, our motives and heart are pure. Compared to other people, we are good, or at least good enough for love. We are utterly clueless of just how far short we fall of the standard for winning God’s love. We think we have acceptance within striking distance, but we need a bigger miracle than Kasey ever needed with Ali. And finally, we convince ourselves that performance will win us love. In the end, our striving for love leaves us more and more alienated from the One whose approval we most desire.
The man who wins the Bachelorette is always one who has not tried too hard and has received love. So it goes in the economy of God’s Kingdom. The more we try, the further we tumble into alienation and despair. When we die to striving and confess that only a miracle of generosity can bring us into love, then we allow the grace of Christ to bring us into the ultimate acceptance we so deeply desire.