Ben has many dark secrets, including blandness
by Kirsten Nolan
This past winter America was introduced to vanilla, personified on season 20 of the reality dating competition show The Bachelor. Ben Higgins, the bachelor, and the winner of his season, the woman he chose as his bride, Lauren Bushnell, are about as boring as they come. Ben is so boring that Saturday Night Live parodied him and dubbed him Bland Man. So, I was both surprised and intrigued when I learned that the couple was going to have their own spinoff show on the cable channel Freeform called Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?
No other Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise couples have ever gotten their own spinoff show. Maybe that is because most of the couples rarely last more than a year, but still. Upon watching the second episode of Ben & Lauren however, it was made more apparent why they got a show: to remind America of their existence so they can soon get married on television, and ABC can make more money.
Overall, their show is ridiculous and an insult to reality television lovers everywhere. As a fan of reality television myself, I have a certain expectation when it comes to these programs. They should be ridiculous so as they are entertaining, but there should also be some level of believability. I am well aware that most reality shows are scripted or their scenes are set up in some capacity. But when I am watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, despite how contrived a conversation might be I believe that Khloé actually had that reaction to what Kris is saying. I do not feel this way when I watch Ben & Lauren.
The first episode begins with a flash-forward to the end of the episode, where Ben and Lauren are about to make an appearance on After the Final Rose, the program that airs after the finale of The Bachelorette. They are appearing on the show because the bachelorette, Jojo Fletcher, who was the runner up to Lauren on Ben’s season of The Bachelor. And during Ben’s season, he did something no other bachelor who came before him has ever done before — he confessed his love for both Lauren and Jojo. The producers obviously see the drama in this — let’s force Lauren to be in the same room as Ben and Jojo as much as possible to make her as uncomfortable as possible so we can get some juicy footage! The only problem with that is these people are boring and also really bad at acting. When Lauren complains to Ben that she regrets coming and does not want to make an appearance, it comes off more like a middle school student acting out a scene in drama class, rather than a real person with actual insecurities who is apprehensive about being around her fiancé and his ex-girlfriend.
The show only becomes worse from this first scene. There is a scene where Ben and Lauren are trying their hardest to come off as silly and regular in a grocery store, and it is as painful as one could imagine. To add insult to injury, in the same scene, a random middle-aged woman approaches them and shares that she is a big fan of them, but then immediately launches into some pretty invasive and rude questions about how Lauren felt seeing Ben tell Jojo he loved her on national television after confessing the same thing to her. It is insulting to me as a reality television-watcher, that the producers of Ben and Lauren thought I would think this was a real thing that happened rather than the completely set-up, artificial mess it actually was.
In the second episode, it is revealed that Ben has been harboring a giant secret —there is one thing Lauren does not know about him that could alter the course of their relationship. Viewers are left on the edge of their seat. Is Ben a brony? Is he addicted to eating drywall? Maybe he’s a furrie! No, the answer is none of those. He likes dressing up and going to renaissance fairs. Then of course the producers send Ben and Lauren to a renaissance fair. Based on what they showed in the episode, I am not totally convinced that Ben is even into renaissance fairs. His behavior at the fair gave no indication that they are something he enjoys and is passionate about. I am eighty-five percent sure a producer was desperate for some footage of them doing something that was not mind-numbingly boring, noticed a renaissance fair was in town, and forced them to go.
If you are looking for an entertaining reality show, I would skip Ben & Lauren. Sure, I will most likely watch their wedding when it airs on ABC sometime in the near future, and I will keep watching Bachelor franchise shows, but I cannot keep up with Ben and Lauren’s show. It is like watching a hokey sitcom, only people are trying to tell you everything that happens is real. Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? is an insult to the intelligence of reality television lovers everywhere.