The Search for the Perfect Mate Continues on 'The Bachelor'

"Some people are probably engineered to be alone, but I'm not one of them," says 31-year-old Jake Pavelka, the 14th in a line of well-built, solid-earning, nice-guy hunks who've anchored ABC's reality franchise, The Bachelor. Promos for the latest season of the show, which premieres tonight at 8 PM ET, present Jake's two most important assets: He is stunning without his shirt, and he is gainfully employed as a commercial pilot (a career that pays well and includes a spiffy, important-looking uniform). What else could a woman want in a man?

This show always tickles me, because it takes that ineffable idea of romantic happiness--the dreamy ideal we're all grasping for but not quite sure exists-- and puts an actual human face on it. (And a glorious body, of course.) Oh, yes, the perfect romantic partner does exist, and here he is. This one's from Denton, Texas. And just like the others, his emotions are as available as his million-dollar smile. His greatest fear is hurting others' feelings. Yes! ABC found the perfect man! (Again!)

Of course, tonight's 25 contestants don't have time to swoon; they must be aggressive (if not scheming) to get Jake's attention. This crop of Caitlyns and Alexas and Ashleighs all claim vague-sounding "careers" like account managers or entrepreneurs. Skeptical viewers like me might argue that they're actually models and aspiring actresses. (Do you know any account managers who look like Miss California?) After The Bachelor, some might say, these women will audition for Big Brother and The Apprentice.

Sure, that sounds cynical. But just last week, we learned that a finalist on the show had an on-set affair with a member of the crew. It begs the question: What were these women vying for? Jake's affections, or screen time to beef up their clip reels? I'd go with option two.

Here's what's great about The Bachelor, though. Even cynics like me know that love can happen anytime, anywhere—even on a dating show. There have been two love connections on The Bachelor. (Two out of 13 may not be a great batting average, but still.) Season 7's Charlie O'Connell chose Sarah Bryce, and they've had an on-again, off-again relationship ever since. (Latest scuttlebutt says they're on again.)  And even though the last Bachelor, Jason Mesnick, dumped contestant Melissa Rycroft, he did end up with the other finalist, Molly Malaney. (They're now engaged.)

Common sense says that no one -- not even Jake Pavelka -- is an actual, perfect guy. But Jake is an amiable, good-looking reality star who's willing to play the part. Viewers of The Bachelorette already know him as the contestant that Jillian Harris rejected on her way to choosing Ed Swiderski. (That pair will appear on tonight's episode to help Pavelka narrow the field of women.) And Jillian and Ed are now engaged, so that's one more match made on reality TV. Sure, the show is silly. But you never know.

Plus: Spoiler Alert: The New Bachelor Scandal!

Do you think contestants on The Bachelor are really vying for Jake's affections? Chime in below!

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