To our continued disappointment, anxiety and horror, we don’t yet know who will be the next Bachelor. And if you believe what the network’s mouthpieces say, neither does ABC.

But we do know a couple things about the man who would be king of sex mountain based on historical trends and just plain common sense (both of which, funnily enough, one would need to ignore altogether in order to convince oneself that becoming the next Bachelor is a good idea):

– He will be a contestant from Ashley Hebert’s season of The Bachelorette.
– He will have appeared in at least one of the final three episodes of that season.
– He will need to possess if not a majority, at least a fair sampling of the following traits: Handsomeness, business and/or financial success, positive attitude, charm, 6-pack abs, the ability to talk about his feelings ad nauseum and ad infinitum, photogenicity, and (this last one is not to be discounted or underestimated!) willingness. Willingness to date lots of women; to broadcast his polyamorous exploits in the public domain; to do and say anything that ABC wants him to do/say about said exploits; and so forth.

Now, before you go hole-poking, I can already poke my own hole in that set of criteria, as one particularly devastating rumor says that Jake Pavelka might be asked to hand out thorn-sticks (if he’s at the business end of it, I wouldn’t call it a “rose”) again next season. That seems worse than a last resort. And Reality Steve is saying that Michael Stagliano is an option, though a long-shot for the slot. But let’s do what ABC is probably doing right now, and weigh the pros and cons of their three best options who (mostly) fit the criteria I just laid out: Ben Flajnik, Ames Brown and Ryan Park.

ben-bacheloroption1.jpgBen Flajnik

Would he do it? Maybe. As this season’s heartstring-pulling, proposing runnerup, he’s almost certainly got first dibs on the gig if he wants it. A few weeks ago, he was undecided — but open enough to share that indecision on Twitter, writing, “Plans to be the next #thebachelor? I don’t know…lots to ponder.” He also openly denied a rumor that he was dating Jennifer Love Hewitt — perhaps to keep his single-status intact for ABC.

What would he be good at? His backstory and business must have those ABC execs’ mouths watering: Not only is he a successful winery owner (how roMAAANtic!), but he went on a journey of emotional self-discovery this season on The Bachelorette since his father’s recent passing — a journey that ended with Ashley breaking his heart and rejecting his ring. His would be the “No one is more deserving of a second chance” story. He’s quiet but not closed-off; easy on the eyes, but in an approachable way. And his wryness and quick sense of humor would bring some much-needed personality to those grueling two-hour feelings-fests. (After Jason, Jake and Brad, they may as well call it The Blandelor.)

What would he need to work on?
Enthusiasm, mostly. Or, more accurately: Expressing that enthusiasm in the excessive, bombastic, flowery, thoroughly abnormal way that is the norm on The Bachelor. I worry he’s a bit too reserved, a tad too monotone, a little too plays-it-close-to-the-vest. Though when I imagine a bunch of psychotic, insecure women trying to “figure him out” by sticking their tongues down Ben’s throat, it does sound entertaining.

Overall: He’d be a solid and likable bachelor, though we’d probably need to rely on his ladies for the stupid quotes and crazy drama. But I’m sure they’d oblige! (And maybe JLH would be one of them?)

ryan-bacheloroption1.jpgRyan Park

Would he do it? You betcha. He refused to come out and say that he wanted the gig at the Men Tell All, but that’s probably just because he didn’t want to look (more) desperate, and his every action on The Bachelorette, especially that dramatic “surprise” return to ask Ashley for another chance, said it all: He was never auditioning to be Ashley’s husband. He was auditioning to be the next Bachelor.

What would he be good at? Everything — unless you like your Bachelor with a side of actual humanity. He’s Mr. Sunshine, the ultimate “on paper” perfect candidate with abs of steel, an imperturbable positive attitude, a million-watt smile and a successful solar energy company (ABC would undoubtedly turn at least one episode into a “going green” special). He is a non-Southern, non-pilot Jake Pavelka — before the fall and with a better vocabulary.

What would he need to work on?
Not succumbing to the second-half of the Pavelka analogy and coming off as “fake” or “creepy” with his energy — something the other men on The Bachelorette accused him of, multiple times. To his credit, Ryan never wavered in saying that yes, he really IS that happy all the time. But that doesn’t make it any less off-putting, especially in large doses. Look at the sun too long and you’ll go blind; the same worries me about Ryan as the Bachelor. Plus, there was that whole thing about how he memorized three books of “getting to know you” questions before The Bachelorette. Whatever that indicates — OCD? — he should probably work on it.

Overall: If you loved Jake Pavelka’s season of The Bachelor but wished that every pilot metaphor were replaced with a reference to the sun, you’d probably love Ryan’s season even more.

ames-bacheloroption1.jpgAmes Brown

Would he do it? People keep asking him that (though not the people who really matter, apparently) and, like everything in Ames’ mind, it’s a question wrought with philosophical weight, so let’s hear it from his own mouth: “I can honestly say nobody has even mentioned the possibility of becoming the Bachelor to me. I imagine by now, somebody would have mentioned something. So I think for better or for worse, that’s something I don’t have to think about.” I smell a diversion! Get to the point, Ames, darling. “I’m at the point in life where I totally do want to get married. And I’m one of those people who says you can’t really go and say ‘no’ to anything if that’s what you want. Somebody said, ‘Come on Bachelor Pad,’ and I just said ‘yes’ because I think you just have to say ‘yes.'” So if producers said, “Come on The Bachelor?” “Then I would probably say, ‘Yes.'” Ah, there it is. So: Yes.

What would he be good at? Depends what you mean by ‘good.’ Would he be entertaining? God, yes. He’s Ivy League educated, ridiculously well-traveled and well-off, but neither pretentious nor overly polished. On the contrary, he often looks like the adorable offspring of a deer (the ‘in the headlights’ kind) and a robot, and his sweet sincerity makes his speeches about Italian Renaissance poets and that time he learned to cook in Thailand endearing, not insufferable. His personality is probably too “unique” to appeal to every woman on the show (let’s not mince words: he’s a weirdo, but a lovable one), and the pressure of dating 25 women at once would probably fry his hardware. I doubt he’d make it through the first night and its many identical, asinine conversations without silently standing up and abruptly walking away at least a few times. But oh, how entertaining it would be to watch him valiantly try! And his soundbites would be second to none.

What would he need to work on? Everything I just mentioned (though, for entertainment’s sake, I hope he doesn’t change a THING!), plus the added wrinkle that America just watched him fall in and out of love… twice. First with Ashley — that dumping was her decision — and then again with Jackie Gordon on Bachelor Pad, whom he apparently dumped on good terms, but abruptly. As Jackie, who’s clearly still not over Ames, said recently, “I think [Ames] would make a fine Bachelor. I think he has a lot of qualities that women are looking for, but at the same time, I would question if he’s ready for that at this time. He fell in love with Ashley. He fell in love with me. If I were in that situation, I would maybe want some time.”

Overall:  He would be one weird and nontraditional Bachelor, but potentially in an awesome way. If ABC embraced that with the way they staged the dates and edited the episodes, I think it could be great.  

The Bachelor doesn’t return until January, and we’ll learn who will be ABC’s sweet sixteenth guy for the gig sometime this fall — probably close to the Dancing with the Stars premiere, if other historical trends hold up as well. In the meantime, cast your vote:

(Images courtesy of ABC)

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Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.