The words "Ben" and "idiot" seemed to be show up a lot in comments sections around the web during his season. It's safe to say a lot of viewers didn't agree with Ben Flajnik’s actions on The Bachelor Season 16, specifically when it came to Courtney Robertson.
During the airing of Ben's season, Rosemaster Chris Harrison appeared to be surprised by the Flajnik panic. "You never know how America is going to react, and even during filming, I wouldn't have predicted they'd feel this way," Chris told TVGuide.com as the season was playing out. "People say, 'Why haven't you warned him about her?' But he hears what she's saying and plenty of the women tried to caution him."
DON'T WORRY, BEN — AMERICA HATES ALL BACHELORS/BACHELORETES AT ONE POINT
If Chris was truly surprised, he shouldn't have been. If history serves, just about NO ONE gets through The Bachelor or The Bachelorette unscathed. Fan favorites are cast, then get put through the wringer and end up chastised by the public, only to be accepted back into the Bachelor Nation fold after a happy ending, some kind of public statement, or just time-healing wounds. Sometimes it never heals back into the same shape. (Emily Maynard, are you sure you’re up for this?)
For example, Brad Womack was despised for choosing himself at the end of The Bachelor Season 11. DeAnna Pappas was America's Sweetheart for being the girl everyone expected Brad to pick, but fans turned on her during The Bachelorette Season 4 for her extreme emotional reactions — and some disagreed with her choice of wild snowboarder Jesse Csincsak over sweet single dad Jason Mesnick. Now DeAnna is married to a non-Bachelor contestant and enough time has passed that it’s like none of it ever happened.
Meanwhile, Jason was a respected sweetheart going into The Bachelor Season 13, then he took over the role of most hated Bachelor when he shockingly changed his mind from Melissa Rycroft to Molly Malaney during the After the Final Rose special. Now Jason and Molly Mesnick are a beloved Bachelor Nation couple — still going strong years later.
Keeping along the same lines, Jillian Harris wasn't the #1 choice to be the Season 5 Bachelorette — it was supposed to be Melissa before she went on Dancing With the Stars — and Jillian took lots of heat on her season for her actions and choices, especially welcoming Ed Swiderski back (tabloid drama and all) and picking him over favorites Reid Rosenthal and Kiptyn Locke.
Like Ben and several others, Jillian blogged for People.com after her show. Here's a taste of one of her Bachelorette blogs from 2009:
There are many other places on the Internet to call me an idiot and call down my decisions. For those who are supporting my journey, thank you so much! I love you all and can't wait for you to see the outcome! For those of you who continue to say hurtful things here, please understand that I am a human just like you with a heart and feelings. Yes, I struggled with a lot of decisions this season. Again, I admit that I'm human. But I still stand by my statement that I am VERY HAPPY. I have had two months living with ALL my decisions and am STILL VERY HAPPY with ALL of them. That is what matters right? I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I do wish some would be a little easy on the words. :(
Sound kinda familiar?
Ashley Hebert seemed to feel the same way. Like Jillian — who is now one of the favorite Bachelor/ette alumni — Ashley wasn't fans’ first choice to be The Bachelorette, and she really got put through hell on Season 7, especially when America turned on her during the "Bad News" Bentley Williams saga. The producers also felt the wrath for not warning Ashley, but Ash herself seemed hurt and surprised by the fan backlash. Now she and JP Rosenbaum are a beloved Bachelor couple and one of the only "success" stories to date.
Remember how much Jake Pavelka was loved at the start of The Bachelorette Season 5? Many fans couldn't believe Jillian dumped him. By the time he was cast as The Bachelor for Season 14, a lot of that fever had cooled — and when he picked Vienna Girardi over Tenley Molzahn, Gia Allemand or even a potted plant, fans couldn't believe it. Jake and Vienna didn't help things with their ugly televised breakup, but Jake somewhat redeemed himself on Bachelor Pad Season 2. Unfortunately, the more the both of them put themselves on TV the less fans have a chance of getting over their past dislike of them. Give us a chance to forget!
THERE'S STILL HOPE
Eventually, everyone can find redemption — even Brad Womack, who got a second chance at love on Season 15. He found it, then lost it, but fans seem to openly love him now (some quietly always did), especially when he's shirtless.
So the lesson is: If fans don't like you, be honest in explaining why you did what you did on the show and how you feel about things as you watch the show back; lay low and wait a while for someone else to be a bigger target (it won’t take long); then re-emerge in some positive forum.