As the world watched Cam Ayala on Hannah B's season of "The Bachelorette," followed by "Bachelor in Paradise," I gauged the general response to a fellow Aggie with bated breath. The overwhelming consensus was negative, getting feedback that his new motto should be, "Always Be Cringy/Competitive/Creepy."
And I'll admit it: I grimaced as he crashed others' dates, my toes curled as I heard his rapping, and my nose turned up at his overreactions to not getting asked out. Just like you, most men in the house, the people in Paradise, and eventually the Bachelorette herself, I found Cam unsuitable for television. After chatting with him about college, career, courting, and Chris Harrison, though, I conclude that statement as half-valid.
Cam is a fine person whose overzealous personality fell victim to reality show producers and editors. In fact, Cam is the type of well-intentioned, self-proclaimed "hopeless romantic" who equates diligence to success — educationally, professionally, and relationally. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.
His Journey To Bachelor Nation
The producers must've had the same thought I had when it came to Cam: either his "bold" competitiveness was perfect or awful for the atmosphere. Either way, his spunk and his dropping of bars proved to be good television. And that's show business, baby.
Contextually, Cam went on the show in a curiously down-to-earth manner. He "never was the type of person who would want to be on 'The Bachelorette.'" Yet after he was selected and while he was "drinking, (he) said 'yeah, whatever,'" to the "unique opportunity of the show." When he got it he shared that he'd thought to himself, "Let's do this and give it my all, go in and be myself while trying not to overanalyze things."
Besides his job, he had no personal ties and was "beyond ready for marriage…two years ago." His previous girlfriend was "essentially deported" back to Canada and the two decided to call it quits nine months before Cam went on the show to pursue Miss Alabama Hannah. Funnily enough, Cam was wanting a different beauty queen to be the Bachelorette, and "was disappointed that it was not Caelynn." (Ouch). Despite everything, he was at the point in his life where he wanted to settle down. He wanted "the stereotype of love… in the South… but it just didn't happen" for him yet. So, he "took a chance" and jumped in a cannonball of faith into the cesspool of emotion on "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor in Paradise."
Those various conditions combined in a perfect storm leading to the Aggie, standing in front of millions, earnestly vying to win a final rose by dropping bars.
The "Edit" For A.B.C. = Always Be Cautious (Of Producer Manipulation)
After sitting down with Cam, I came to the stunning realization that, as the crafter of this article, I could frame his quotes in a way to create an unflattering narrative of Cam, just as the show did. While Cam is contractually not permitted to speak on his "edit" – we all know that ABC did A.B.C. dirty.
I am not going to continue the cycle of bitterness to perpetuate an unearned narrative. But in defense of Cam, his story could simply be of one well-meaning guy who didn't realize how his actions would be received. He "was destroyed on 'The Bachelorette'… but it got slightly better during Paradise." This feeling of being disliked by millions is backed by digital evidence. Cam is acutely aware of how people see him. "Just take a look into my DMs and you'll see the darkest offerings of humanity, with only a few specks of light." Still, Cam takes the heat in stride. He acknowledges that he went on the show and "signed away the rights… of his portrayal to eight million Americans." It's just part of his round of "musical chairs" in love.
Before Paradise aired, many fans expected a sort of underdog redemption arc for Cam in Paradise, as many "villains" get. However, instead of coming out as a prince who slayed the dragon of his edit, he was a pitiful side character. While audiences no longer hated him, they just felt bad for him. He was shown acting too serious, too quickly with the women he met, making audiences squirm at his crazy eyes in discomfort, even though the show is technically designed for serious(-ish) marriage proposals at its conclusion.
When I inquired if all of this trauma was worth it, he reckoned, "I would definitely do it all over again… but I'm not planning on returning to the franchise to look for love."
Through it all, Cam held onto his starry-eyed faith in love, keeping a "maybe I could meet my soulmate tomorrow" fervor that we all can respect. While he still might not be your cup of tea, Cam is a cautionary tale of how easy it is to spin overcompetitive personalities into "awful" edits. Speaking of over-competitive…
Where Everything Went Sideways For A.B.C.
The point at which things get wonky lies not in Cam, but in the poor dating advice the show feeds America.
Cam subscribes to the same philosophy that "The Bachelor" gives audiences. That, with enough gusto and a spark, you can be profitable in the game of love. The idealistic gain, in this case, is a rose that leads to marriage. If you just put yourself out there, in due diligence, love will find you. This capitalistic version of infatuation represents the romantic American dream over which we obsess every week. "The Bachelor" universe has a similar mindset when it comes to love that it does life, accentuating "aspirations" by means of winning intimacy in a public manner.
Given that information, Cam *should* be perfect for this "environment." According to his bio, he is a "competitive personality." Not to mention, the extreme gender imbalance, in which thirty women are competing for one man, or thirty men compete for one woman, exacerbates the cutthroat spirit of the show. While he ought to have thrived in the rat race, he seems to have crumbled. When I asked him about what was really going on, he cleared up what his mental space was like.
Imagine going through what Cam did: being "cooped up in a house for a week" while watching your competition make connections with the person whom you're pursuing. Sure, that can make you feel "stir-crazy" and like you are losing out on precious time. He had a "keen awareness" of not-winning at something as important as love, so he "tried to be bold, which is what Hannah asked for" and he unconventionally and unfruitfully attempted to weasel his way back into the ranks.
"The Bachelor" makes chemistry into a contest, so Cam thought if he worked hard enough, he could win Hannah's heart. Maybe that's where he went wrong, but maybe not.
Perchance it all goes wrong in the Bachelorette's foundation. With broadcasted wooing, Cam was fighting to win life's greatest prize: a mating partner. However, romantic relationships are more complex than professional growth patterns and juicy TV. "Working hard and being bold" for your significant other does not necessarily mean that you'll get promoted to husband. Your partner is not a sales goal. People are messier than that. This tricky reality is seen in the "low success rates" of couples from the franchise (somewhere between 11 to 30% marriage rate).
"The Bachelor" Franchise is to dating what the Olympics are to swimming. An activity, initially done for happiness, becoming a sudden-death clash for the gold. Except that comparison shouldn't be made... America shouldn't keep score in love and practice (no matter how much we want to).
So yeah, Cam's hyperactive approach to dating is principally unsuitable for both reality and TV, but I, for one, wouldn't actually want to be suitable for this kind of televised entertainment anyway.
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