'Bachelor' Shocker: Was Arie Luyendyk Jr. the Right Pick?

ABC managed to keep their choice under wraps, but will 'Bachelor' Nation welcome the surprise?
Courtesy of ABC/Lou Rocco
Arie Luyendyk Jr.

The news that Arie Luyendyk Jr. has been named ABC's next Bachelor was swiftly met with a batch of mixed reviews. The former race car driver was a fan-favorite after finishing his stint on Emily Maynard's 2012 season of The Bachelorette as runner-up. He was so well received, in fact, that ABC even considered him for the following two seasons of The Bachelor, though he ultimately lost out to Sean Lowe and Chris Soules, respectively.

Now, after a five-year TV absence, the 35-year-old real estate broker beat out the most recent runner-up, fresher fan-favorite Peter Kraus from Rachel Lindsay's Bachelorette cycle earlier this year. "We've kept in touch over the last few years but [the timing] just fit perfect," Luyendyk Jr. announced Thursday on GMA of his back-and-forth relationship with the show's producers.

"As a devoted fan of #TheBachelor franchise for many seasons, I'm disappointed about the casting of Arie, even I have no idea who he is," posted Twitter user @rachelhoneth, highlighting the short attention span of Bachelor Nation. "@chrisbharrison @ariejr @TheBachelorTV what are you thinking?!? Peter was perfect!!!" exclaimed another, @kdubs3.

Is the surprise announcement of Luyendyk Jr. a smart move for the long-running franchise? The Hollywood Reporter's Jackie Strause and Kimberly Nordyke discuss the pros and cons of the pick and what it means for the January 2018 season.

Jackie Strause: I have to begin by giving props to the franchise. In recent years, the new Bachelor or Bachelorette has rarely come as such a surprise. As we reported, ABC had been in talks with Arie, along with Luke Pell (from JoJo Fletcher's Bachelorette) and even pitched former Bachelor Ben Higgins, though he turned them down. But Arie's name never leaked in the press. The pick was very last-minute and that certainly paid off. I hope Luke didn't have his bags packed again!

Kimberly Nordyke: I have to say, I actually was not excited about any of those potential choices. I was never a fan of Luke and with Ben, I just wasn't ready to see him return to the franchise so soon. At the same time — and I know I'm sort of contradicting myself here — I feel like Arie has been gone from the franchise too long. His casting seemed to totally come out of left field!

Strause: I've already had a few friends texting me to say just that. But let me ask you this, are you enjoying this season of Bachelor in Paradise? Controversy and shutdown aside, the cast is younger and newer and they aren't as serious about finding love as they are about their status as being a "social media influencer." I'm excited to get back to someone who is more mature and who is settled in life. He's the best catch ABC has offered in years.

Nordyke: You're right. The cast on this season of Paradise appear mostly to be more interested in short-term hookups than long-term relationships. While I love some good drama out of the Bachelor franchise (and its spinoffs) early in the season, I also really want to see a happy ending — something I think all of Bachelor Nation would agree with. Bachelor in Paradise has had two successful seasons in a row as far as that is concerned (Jade and Tanner, Carly and Evan — both couples now happily married and starting families), so it'll be a bit unsatisfying as a viewer if we don't get that kind of enduring love story at the end of this season (we're looking at you, Taylor and Derek!).

Which leads me back to Bachelor and Arie: As a viewer, I'll be rooting for him to find love, truly, as we all want to see that amazing proposal at the end of every season — and hopefully, in the future, a wedding — and I do think he'll be a bit more serious about it given his age. But then again, Nick was 36 when he starred on the show, and he's now single again following his recent breakup with Vanessa only five months after popping the question on national television. Obviously, a lot of people were hoping that Peter Kraus, the runner-up on Rachel's season, would change his mind and agree to become the next Bachelor. Do you think Arie will be a better Bachelor than Peter given the latter's reluctance to propose?

Strause: As far as Nick is concerned, we can't forget that it was the guy's fourth try on the show. A quick scan of his social media accounts reveals many "sponsored" posts, so I'm more inclined to put him in the Paradise category, despite his age. But yes, let's chat about Peter. We know that he was speaking to ABC about the gig and lost it last minute to Arie. Knowing that the producers heavily track the conversations coming out of Bachelor Nation on social media, my guess is that too many viewers were skeptical that Peter would propose in the end. Having said that, why do we need a guaranteed proposal? Talk about a spoiler! When Brad Womack turned down both of his final picks, that was amazing TV. When Jason Mesnick swapped his pick on After the Final Rose, the entire world heard about it. I would have been A-okay entering into a Peter season not knowing the ending. I do think it's funny that the choice came down to two silver foxes.

Nordyke: Great point, Jackie. No proposal would certainly result in "the most dramatic finale ever"! My thinking is that we need to have some happy endings to keep the credibility of this franchise intact. As a viewer, you want to believe that "the process" works. But I am hoping the producers don't count out Peter for a future installment of The Bachelor. Clearly, they're not afraid to dip into past seasons. And, ironically, I actually think that Peter's reluctance to propose makes him appear more serious about finding The One. On the other hand, I've always felt that Arie seemed more into the fame than the actual search for a wife, and there's been some mixed reaction on social media. (My mom — a huge fan of the show — just called me asking, "What were they thinking?!") But even as I say all this, I know that I'll be watching every Monday night come January.

Strause: The fame thing was a concern back when he was on the show, but what I like is that he doesn't need The Bachelor. He's a successful race car driver who comes from a famous line of professional athletes, his dad being famed Formula One racer Arie Luyendyk Sr. He already had the name if he wanted to parlay his first stint into a red carpet-making career. Instead, he's living in Scottsdale and working as a real estate broker. Even his Instagram feed is refreshing: It's photos of friends and cars, instead of his abs (ehem, Robby Hayes!). I like that we are hearkening back to the days before gaining social media followers was the only goal to being on the franchise.

The big question is how ABC will market him and if they will be able to remind viewers who he is so they are hooked into his journey come January. But, either way, true Bachelor Nation fans should want him to get a happy ending after losing out to that Jef Holms. Even Emily quickly lent her support on Thursday and nothing speaks louder than a nod from an ex: “I can’t think of a better person to be The Bachelor than Arie and I’ve been hoping this day would come since season eight ended! He’s a gentleman through and through and all the girls on his season are lucky to have him. I’ll be wishing him nothing but the best because that’s absolutely what he deserves!"

Now that we've weighed in, what do you think about Arie as The Bachelor? Tell us in the comments below.

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