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Bachelor takes off its Tierra: the sparkle is gone

“My beliefs are shattered about what he wants,” Catherine cried during promos for this Monday’s episode of The Bachelor, and it seemed like Sean Lowe would keep Tierra LiCausi and cause the other women, like us, to wonder just what the hell was wrong with him.

But no: Sean surprised us by voting out dismissing Tierra midday, before the rose ceremony. In an ingenious bit of phrasing, he told her, “because I care so much about you I just think it might be best if you go home now.”

Before she left, Tierra gave us plenty of blinding sparkles, from the advice her parents gave her (“Tierra you have a sparkle, do not let those girls take your sparkle away”) to a diatribe about her face (“I can’t control my eyebrow. I cannot control my eyebrow. I can’t control what’s on my face 24/7. If I could walk around with a smile on 24/7, I would, but my face would get tired.”)

The truth is that she’d grown tiresome, especially because just one year ago there was someone very, very similar on the show: Courtney, who also earned the scorn of the other women and talked with a baby doll voice.

Also, even on one-on-one dates, she didn’t seem all that amazing, despite what Sean kept telling us. I’ve always suspected that producers at least encourage the bachelor/ette to keep certain people around for entertainment. If the bachelor likes A, B, and C, and is indifferent toward D, E, and F, and F is a person that causes crazy drama, why not get rid of D first, and then E? That makes sense, and doesn’t do much more than delay the inevitable.

Sean’s sister ended up being the catalyst for his break-up with the sparkle. “I don’t want to be an idiot and keep choosing the girl that was bad for me, but at the same time, I enjoy being with her,” he said. But he also recalled her advice before the season began: “Don’t end up with the girl no one likes.”

In perhaps the most convenient (I’m being generous here) moment of the season, Sean interrupted his conversation with his sister to fetch Tierra, who was just a short walk away–and in the middle of a huge fight with the other women. What timing! How dramatic!

Finding her in tears, Sean gave her the bad news, and told us later, “Today it just finally clicked that she’s not the one for me.”

In the car, crying and shielding her face from the camera, Tierra said, “I can’t believe they did this to me. I just want to go home.” While she later said, “I hope the girls got what they wanted,” I first heard the “they” as “the producers.”

Because again, what a tremendous coincidence that the one time the bachelor shows up unannounced is exactly when there was a crazy fight regarding the very person he was discussing at that moment.

For all its absurdity, The Bachelor is an exceptionally well-produced show. The producers create fantastic and romantic contexts and see what happens; it’s not unlike Survivor, except the game is dating. There’s nothing about the world here that isn’t carefully orchestrated, down to producers dressed up as dancers.

What matters, of course, is the authenticity of what occurs inside those constructed contexts, and I have no problem believing that Tierra was real and genuine on every level, just as the combination of her personality, the pressure of the situation, and the other women’s responses would have led to real conflict.

But while it’s real and entertaining, it’s hard to not see everything that happens as a product of the production. Remember, this is a show that unnecessarily humiliated a woman last year just to inject some drama into the season.

The blinding sparkle of the drama may blind and dazzle us, but always remember what’s behind it.