Spoilers ahead for season 27, episode nine of “The Bachelor.”
“The Bachelor” franchise loves to describe itself in superlatives. More often than not, in previews host Jesse Palmer will refer to an episode as “the most dramatic in ‘Bachelor’ history,” or the most heart-wrenching or the sexiest, yada yada yada.
While I don’t always find those assessments to be true, I have to hand it to the “Bachelor” producers: Last night’s Fantasy Suite was perhaps the weirdest episode of the show I have ever watched. It included a trip to Thailand, a self-imposed no sex rule by Bachelor Zach Shallcross, an utterly predictable breaking of the no sex rule with one of the contestants, a subsequent conversation between Zach and Jesse where one adult man admits to another adult man that he had consensual sex, another uncomfortable conversation where Zach again admits to having sex to one of his dates, and ultimately, the smart, gorgeous and level-headed Jewish contestant Ariel Frenkel was eliminated.
Despite Ariel being entirely too good for Zach, it’s definitely a disappointing end-cap to her journey on season 27 of “The Bachelor.” But perhaps even more disappointing for Jewish fans? The fact that our Ukrainian-Jewish queen and fan favorite will not be the next Bachelorette.
As it stands now, Charity Lawson, who was eliminated after Hometowns, will look for love as the Bachelorette next season. (I say “as it stands now” because last season there were two bachelorettes, and I wouldn’t put it past producers to do that again in a surprise twist.) To be clear, Charity is a fantastic choice. The 27-year-old Georgia native is a child and family therapist who “is extremely passionate about helping people live their best lives.” OK, mensch alert! On the show, she came off as intelligent (in terms of smarts and emotions), drama-free and genuinely ready to find love.
Importantly, Charity is also a Black woman. In the “Bachelor” franchise’s 21 years on air, there have only been five Black leads: Rachel Lindsay in 2017, Tayshia Adams in 2020, Matt James in 2021, Michelle Young in 2021 and now Charity. Additionally, the franchise is seemingly terrible at vetting for racial sensitivity or just outright racism, with multiple contestants having done or defended Blackface, attended “Antebellum plantation-themed” parties and more. While making Charity the Bachelorette does not make up for or diminish these failures, it seems to signal that the franchise is trying to move forward with inclusivity at the forefront.
So, where does that leave Ariel?
My hope is that if she chooses to return to the franchise, Ariel could become a Bachelorette in a future season. (For what it’s worth, this isn’t unheard of! Contestants Katie Thurston and Michelle Young from season 25 of the “Bachelor” were announced as Bachelorettes at the same time and then starred in separate, consecutive seasons.) Plus, “Bachelor” fans seem to have fallen in love with Ariel for her fun-loving attitude, emotional intelligence, effortless coolness and strong sense of self, and want more:
This girl never shed a single tear over that funky lil man 👏🏾😩 Boss bitch energy the entire way through. I hope we get graced with her presence again #TheBachelor pic.twitter.com/tWvLCGaNy9
— Nikki (@iHoe0810) March 21, 2023
Ariel is an absolute QUEEN one of my favorite contestants in a long time #TheBachelor
— Francesca (@BarstoolFran) March 21, 2023
GIVE US A 2ND BACHELORETTE SEASON WITH ARIEL AS THE LEAD I AM BEGGING #thebachelor pic.twitter.com/86rJNRuLlO
— ŠHØØKĘTH (@bbloudmouth) March 21, 2023
I too want more of Ariel’s boss bitch personality onscreen. But, crucially, I also want more of her Jewishness. Last week, Ariel gave us perhaps the most Jewish episode of “The Bachelor” ever, and it was unbelievably refreshing. “When someone enters my family or enters my life, they need to know how important it is for me to be proud of my Judaism, to be proud of my family and to be proud of where I come from,” she said on camera, before introducing Zach to Jewish deli food and discussing her parents’ struggle as Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union. To me, it felt like a huge step for a show, which has often centered religious Christianity and not given their Jewish contestants the space to discuss their Jewish identities. (Andi Dorfman and Jason Mesnick have been the only Jewish leads on the show to date, and both barely discussed their Jewishness.)
And now, it’s a step I’m not willing to give back.
Ultimately, however, if Ariel doesn’t want to come back to “The Bachelor” franchise, I’d completely understand. For now, I’m thrilled to watch Charity find her happily ever after. But if Ariel does return to the show, I’ll be ready and excited to watch her find the bashert she so clearly deserves.