At this point, when ABC reveals a new "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette," its pick is not all that surprising. Usually, the producers just go with the previous season's runner-up or an obvious fan favorite.
But when the network announced that the 2018 "Bachelor" would be — of all the choices — Arie Luyendyk Jr., the runner-up on "The Bachelorette" five years ago, the Internet was shocked. And not in a good way.
"New Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. enrages, confuses Twitter," USA Today trumpeted. "Was Arie Luyendyk Jr. the Wrong Choice for 'The Bachelor'?" E! Online asked. "The new 'Bachelor' was just revealed and people are seriously confused," BuzzFeed explained.
So as talk of "The Bachelor" takes over your Twitter feed during the premiere Monday (it airs at 8 p.m. on ABC), allow us to explain the controversy.
Why are people so upset about Arie?
It's more about who the bachelor could have been: Peter Kraus, the impossibly handsome personal trainer who earned a rabid fan base when he appeared this past summer on "The Bachelorette," vying for Rachel Lindsay. Peter made it all the way to the final two and it seemed he and Rachel were destined to be together — until he informed Rachel that while he would love to date her, he didn't want to propose after knowing her for only six weeks.
So they went through a grueling breakup during "The Bachelorette" finale, a split that had far more passion than Rachel's eventual engagement to winner Bryan Abasolo. Naturally, fans thought this meant that Peter could be the star of "The Bachelor." But reports surfaced that producers were furious that Peter broke the show's unwritten rules when he balked at proposing, and they didn't want to reward him with his own season.
For what it's worth, executive producer Robert Mills told "Entertainment Tonight" that Peter was "absolutely in discussion" to be the bachelor, but that he wasn't in the right place, emotionally, to handle the show.
What about this apparent "feud" with another "Bachelor" contestant?
Jef Holm (one of Arie's good friends when they competed during Emily Maynard's season in 2012) had some harsh things to say in September when Arie was named the next star. "Oh the stories I could tell," Jef tweeted. When someone on Twitter asked him to elaborate, he wrote, "Let's just say it would be really really really bad for him." He also said he stopped being friends with Arie years ago "because he's disgusting."
Jef was the winner of Emily's season and Arie was the runner-up, so take any bad blood with a grain of salt. Still, the tabloids jumped on Jef's tweets.
How does ABC feel about any backlash?
During his ET interview, Mills didn't seem to feel it was a bad thing, especially because it generated buzz before the season even started.
"I've seen a ton of 'I haven't been this excited in forever,' 'This feels like a real throwback Bachelor,' 'This is a real man,' and then a lot for 'I'll never watch the show again,' 'How can you do this to us?' " Mills said. "And they're both great reactions, to be honest . . . apathy is the worst thing for any TV show, but certainly for this one. I'm glad that people care."
So, what's Arie's deal?
ABC recently aired a preview episode to set up the season's narrative: Arie is a 36-year-old race car driver who now has a much more "stable" job selling real estate in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he grew up. (He was born in the Netherlands and his family moved to Arizona when he was a toddler. His father, Arie Luyendyk Sr., is a famous former race car driver.)
Arie traveled the world racing cars, though now that his real estate business is on a solid foundation, he's ready to settle down. All of his friends are married and having children, and he wants to meet Ms. Right. To prove this, the special showed Arie visiting his recently married brother Alec and sister-in-law Haley. "It kind of hit me the most, when I was at your wedding, and I was there alone, and I was kind of like, 'Man . . . I'm definitely missing something,' " Arie said wistfully.
ABC also brought back former "Bachelor" star Sean Lowe, married to Catherine Giudici, the winner of his season in 2013; they have a young son and another baby on the way. Sean was apparently on hand to prove that Arie is a good guy. "Arie's one of my really close friends," he confirmed.
What happened with Emily?
During Emily's season, Arie was known as "the kissing bandit" because of the sheer number of make-out sessions they had in front of the cameras. Although Emily said he was "stupid hot" and "super chill" and had a "bad boy edge," eventually, she dumped him for Jef. She didn't offer a specific reason. When he begged her to reconsider and handed her a journal with all of his memories from the show, she chose not to read it.
The special portrayed Arie as heartbroken over this breakup. He admitted it has been difficult to have meaningful relationships in the past five years. But he fell in love with Emily, so he knows he could make it happen again.
What about the contestants?
There are 29 women total, including four Laurens, a Becca, a Bekah, a Brittany, a Brittane, a Jenna and a Jenny. The preview spotlighted a few special contestants, such as American Fork’s Maquel, a 23-year-old photographer; Kendall, a 26-year-old taxidermy enthusiast; and Salt Lake City’s Marikh, a 27-year-old restaurant owner who is "used to being the one that's pursued, so pursuing someone and fighting for their heart is something new and different."