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The weeklies all agree that Ben Flajnik is being “Tricked!” (InTouch) by “Maneater” (US Weekly) Courtney Robertson on this season of The Bachelor. The girls on the show keep wondering when he’s going to find out “who she really is.” But the evidence suggests that Ben knows exactly who Courtney is (she hardly conceals her “negative” attributes around him), and that he likes it. Which is not so difficult to explain—he would hardly be the first man to speak of true love but choose the transactional kind (he gets a model; she gets the Bachelor, at least until the cameras go dim). King Lear also chose artificial love over the real thing, and so did Matthew McConaughey in The Wedding Planner (I’ll just assume you also re-watched it during TBS’s Valentine’s Day romance marathon). The second of those is a comedy because Matthew changes his mind in time to jump ship for J-Lo. The first is a tragedy because the aging king realizes he wants honesty only after it is too late, and Cordelia is dead. One of The Bachelor’s subtle fascinations is to show how men so often, under the guise of wanting a “real” relationship, choose a false one. The drama of the last few episodes of this season will be in whether Ben goes down as a comic hero or a cautionary tale, risking love with Kacie B., or avoiding it with Courtney R. Of course Ben, unlike Lear, has time on his side, but alas his future may not be (entirely) televised.

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