Arie Luyendyk Jr., star of the current season of The Bachelor, has been criticized for being stiff, emotionally inaccessible and uncharismatic; boring, to put it bluntly. And even people who love The Bachelor like Bachelor Winter Games contestant Ashley Iaconetti have said so. She's written that "He just doesn't seem warm or approachable."
But here's the thing about Arie: in person and on social media, he's actually funny and charming and not nearly as bland as he seems on the show. And Ashley has a theory about why there's this discrepancy. Since Arie was on The Bachelorette way back in 2012 and hadn't been on TV much since then, the show had to do more work at the beginning of the season to reintroduce him than it normally would, since viewers would normally already be familiar with the lead's backstory from the immediate previous season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (or Bachelor in Paradise in Nick Viall's case). This meant that it took longer to get to know the girls, who are really the entertaining part of The Bachelor.
"In this case, Arie was on The Bachelorette so long ago that we don't feel any attachment to him and we're yearning to get to know him and that's why people are bored by him," Ashley tells TV Guide.
For some reason — maybe because he was out of practice at being on-camera at the beginning of the season, which made him uncomfortable — Arie's personality hasn't fully come through. And since we weren't already invested in him, we were less willing to cut him some slack.
But Arie's not really such a drip. Ashley says that when she interviewed him on her podcast, he talked to her and Ben Higgins for 40 minutes and was funny and lighthearted. "If you go ahead and listen to that, you'll feel more attached to him," she says. "You'll feel like you just saw him on a season."
And the season has gotten better as it's gone on and we've gotten to know the girls. Ashley loves Bekah, whose short hair is emblematic of a personality that's different than the usual Bachelor contestant, and appreciates the entertainment that the villainous Krystal provided before she was eliminated. And she thinks some of the other remaining girls are viable contenders to capture Arie's heart, like Becca, Lauren B., Tia and Seinne.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
Ashley Iaconetti can be seen playing winter sports and looking for love on The Bachelor Winter Games, which premieres Tueday, Feb. 13 at 8/7c on ABC.