The XX Factor

And You Think Women Are Too Picky?

This week, the media has been debating whether the thirtysomething woman with no man is single because she’s too picky . Meanwhile, on television, the other half of that debate has been unfolding on The Bachelor , which has provided us with very convincing rebuttal to Lori Gottleib’s thesis, showing that the thirtysomething dysfunctional male is not at all worth settling for and can have just as much trouble making up his mind.

Pilot Jake Pavelka is about to crash and burn. The famously rejected contestant on The Bachelorette has made some pretty poor choices thus far. This week on The Bachelor he eliminated the last sane-and I use that term loosely when describing an emotionally stunted 23-year-old virgin-candidate. Corrie may not have been the love of his life, but she seemed like a reasonably stable person. Last Monday, he eliminated four women, two more than he needed to, and when he dramatically incinerated one of the leftover roses in a conveniently placed campfire, he destroyed with it the last shred of hope that he will end up happy.

It’s like watching your most embarrassing experiences played out on prime time. Throughout the season, Jake has repeatedly shown a shocking lack of self-awareness when dealing with the opposite sex. (Would the “nice guy” dump the woman with the kid?) Though his little on-air confessionals tell us he is confident with his choices, one has to wonder about that, given the weird and wonderful crackpots who remain.

There is Ali, who was obviously the meanest girl in her high-school gym class and hopes this strategy will keep working to her advantage in her adult life. There is the insanely beautiful swimsuit model Gia, who, while relatively smart, has more than an air of Mafioso about her that Jake will eventually find too edgy. (I predict next week, when he meets her Gotti-voiced mother.)

This leaves Tenley and Vienna who have been on their best behavior given the cameras trained on their every move. The final two are perhaps the most terrifying prospective partners I could dream up for any man.

Vienna was an early favorite, being less of a Barbie doll (minus her plastic-looking hair extensions) than the rest, and winning women viewers’ sympathy when all of the girls in the house turned against her. But her neediness is already making me claustrophobic for Jake, and I can only imagine how batshit-crazy the girl is going to get after the crew leaves. I still like her as a character in a TV show, but I wouldn’t put a ring on it, Jake.

In the end, he will probably pick Tenley, whose childlike hand-clapping and high-pitched squeals (“This is fun!”) hint at a debilitating emotional instability that will emerge in full as soon as he gets her home alone.

It is possible, given his already erratic behavior, that Jake will chuck that final rose into a dumpster and ride off on his motorcycle to the nearest dive bar, leaving the last two women clawing at each other and pulling their hair out. In this case, perhaps Jake, who seems constantly eager to please, will fall in love with his inner bad-boy and live happily ever after.

Photograph of Jake Pavelka from The Bachelor © 2010 ABC/Greg Zabilski.