After two hours of learning very important lessons about the past Bachelor stars during 20/20‘s Inside The Bachelor: Stories Behind the Rose: Yes, We Seriously Want You to Consider This as News infomercial special this Monday, ABC’s next Bachelorette, Ali Fedotowsky, popped her head into the show for a minute to show us her new pretty dresses and tell us about her perfect man.
But First: Get to Know Ali Fedotowsky
“I am looking for a guy like the character Tom from (500) Days Of Summer. He is my dream guy!” said Ali, who left The Bachelor to keep her job at Facebook, only to quit that job when ABC came calling with the Bachelorette gig.
More Bachelorette Details: Ali Fedotowsky Looks for Love Beginning May 24
Later this month, Ali will meet the 25 guys who will compete for her love, but will any of them be able to live up to her Joseph Gordon-Levitt-lofty standards? What does it even mean to be like “Tom” from (500) Days of Summer? Let’s investigate.
In case you haven’t seen it or simply need a refresher, the premise of (500) Days of Summer is that it is the anti-romantic romantic comedy. The narrator tells you at the beginning that this love story does not have a “happily ever after,” and continues from there, in a nonlinear fashion, to show you the relationship between Tom, a hopeless romantic who thinks he’s found Ms. Right, and Summer, a withholding realist who has merely found Mr. Right Now. We see each event from Tom’s perspective as he slowly learns, but painfully resists, the fact that his fantasy of true love is just that–a fantasy. They break up, and he is heart-broken.
That is not a spoiler. It is the premise of the film. Which is why Ali’s choice in “dream guy” is a bit troubling, but charmingly appropriate, given the way in which she’s chosen to fall in love. Because what is The Bachelorette, if not a fantasy?
Critics sound off: Who is “Tom”?
Film critics across the board lauded (500) Days of Summer for its realistic portrayal of the excitement, anger, confusion and precious moments that make up all relationships, doomed or not. But even the critics who most praised the movie were bemusedly frustrated by Tom’s “ardent and immature” position toward love. As much as they liked him, they worried about him, too.
Tom is… emotional.
“He writes greeting cards, and you suspect he may believe his own cards,” writes Roger Ebert in his review. Tom is “a believable, likable guy, hopeful, easily disappointed, a little Tom Hanksian.”
Tom is “an unapologetic believer in true love, soul mates and other touchstones of greeting card mythology (and romantic comedy ideology),” A.O. Scott writes.
So Ali wants a romantic. A man “in touch with his feelings.” Fair enough. But if she really wants a guy like Tom, chances are that he’ll be vastly ill-equipped for a stressful experience like The Bachelorette, full of half-affirmations, masculine stand-offs and high-risk rose ceremonies:
Tom is… an open book.
He “â€¨lets you read every glimmer of hope, pain, lust, and befuddlement beneath his nervy facade,” says Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly.
Ali has described herself as an optimist when it comes to love, so it’s no wonder she wants a Tom, whom Richard Corliss of Time described as “the sunniest sap in the history of unrequited love.” He’ll fall and fall hard for the right girl. For Ali, if his doppelganger shows up in her chosen 25 this May.
Tom is… a fool.
But perhaps Ali tuned out, or turned off, the film before its conclusion, when it becomes increasingly clear that Tom “may be less in love with Summer than he is with the very notion of love,” Corliss observes.
Like so many people flying high on a feeling (and headed for a fiery crash landing) Tom is the type of guy whose “mood, curiously, never really changes — he’s too infatuated with [the girl] to have moods that don’t directly relate to hers. You get that he’s more in love with the fact of love than with an actual person,” says Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter.
Tom is… perfect for The Bachelorette?
“In love with the fact of love”–isn’t that exactly what it must be like to be on The Bachelorette? You’re plunged into a fantasy world with your “dream girl” (or so everyone around you keeps telling you). You have to move quickly, superficially, because you only have a matter of hours and days and weeks to meet, get to know each other, fall in love, propose. And she’s choosing you, so it’s in your best interest to mirror her emotions, her values, her modes of communication. She’s perfect, so why wouldn’t you change yourself for her–and the cameras–anyway? It’s a pre-built romantic dream, just waiting for you to jump in and play the role of the prince.
It’s all well and good for Ali if Tom is her “dream guy.” A fantasy is just a fantasy, and she probably doesn’t expect to find his replica in the ABC casting department’s final roster. Maybe she just meant the comment physically, or quite generally: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a good-looking guy, and charming to watch. He made Tom’s most suffocating, semi-stalker moments seem sincere and sensitive: two qualities women desire in any guy.
But one hopes that, before she embarks on the real-life fantasy of The Bachelorette, Ali will throw the (500) Days DVD in for another spin. Because even if she doesn’t find her Tom, she could learn an important lesson from his character in (500) Days of Summer. And that lesson is, as another film critic said better than I ever could,”not that love is blind but that it can blind us to ourselves.”
A lesson easily forgotten by hopeless romantics, and by those under the blinding lights of a reality TV show set.