vulture lists

Everything We Learned by Watching Ashley I. and Jared’s Story of Us Documentary

Yes, it’s true: Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon are a real-life, actual couple and their blessed union somehow didn’t happen under the watchful eye of Chris Harrison.

If you don’t know who these two people are, why are you reading this? Close the tab and go watch C-SPAN or whatever people who aren’t active members of Bachelor Nation do. Ashley I. and Jared are two former contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette who met on the second season of Bachelor in Paradise in 2015. Ashley became immediately smitten with Jared, but her “overzealous” romantic style both attracted him and scared him. They didn’t end up together that season, or the next season of Bachelor in Paradise.

Until this week. On Tuesday, the couple went public with a People article announcing their happiness … and a 44-MINUTE-LONG VIDEO as part of Ashley I.’s The Story of Us series.

Forty-four minutes. Forty-four minutes of Ashley I. and Jared sitting on a blue couch in front of some awful floral wallpaper delivering a stream-of-consciousness account of their entire relationship. There are cell-phone videos of Ashley I. and dramatic readings of text messages and three-page handwritten letters. It is a lot. It is 44 minutes. I cannot stress that enough.

By the time I finished watching the video, I felt like I knew every little hair in Jared’s scraggly-ass beard and I was sure that Ashley I. was wearing the wrong shade of highlighter (it’s too bronze and looks muddy on camera). But I had also learned a few other more significant things. Shall we go through them all?

It all was Jared’s fault

The only reason to watch Ashley I. and Jared’s video is to get the answer to two questions: How did these two get together? And why on earth did it take so long?

The answer to both is the same: Jared had a lot of feelings. He was immediately attracted to Ashley I. in Paradise and stunned by how comfortable he felt around her, but he couldn’t stop himself from overthinking everything. Both Ashley I. and Jared knew their story wasn’t over, as they both had feelings for each other.

So, why didn’t they get together a long time ago? Because Jared had a lot of feelings. On several occasions, he also decided that leading her on and sending mixed messages was exactly what he wanted to do. See: When he put his arm around her and cozied up next to her at an event BUT DIDN’T ASK HER OUT OR MAKE A REAL MOVE, or when he would stay at her house and sleep in her bed but WOULDN’T ASK HER OUT OR MAKE A REAL MOVE, or when he would send her a text that he tried to send her a dozen red roses BUT NEVER ACTUALLY SENT THEM. Jared knows that he was acting like an asshole.

But did he ever stop being an asshole? Did he ever acknowledge his confusing behavior? Kinda, I guess. He says that he had too many feelings, so instead of attempting to express one of them in a healthy way, he decided to have no feelings at all. This created a situation where Ashley I.’s affections were constantly set up and shut down, so her reaction to Jared’s behavior on the third season of Bachelor in Paradise makes a lot more sense.

Who thought I was ever going to get to that place, but that’s what this 44-minute video hath wrought.

They sure do love corny media

Ashley I. and Jared use movies and music to communicate important truths about themselves, and that reveals a very important truth: They are two white-ass people.

• A formative moment in their “courtship” is when Jared told Ashley to watch Superman starring Christopher Reeve. He knew she was the one for him when she watched Superman because that’s how men pick their romantic partners, I guess.

• In the three-page letter where Jared finally confessed his feelings, he said their love story could either be When Harry Met Sally or 500 Days of Summer. You know, the only two options for film romance.

• Ashley describes going to see Hanson as her yearly worship. I’m just gonna put that right there and keep walking.

Neither of them popped in a Beyoncé CD or watched Love & Basketball? Nope? Oh, okay.

They think their lives are a romantic comedy

Speaking of films, the truly miserable thing about this 44-minute video isn’t the fact that it is 44 minutes long. It is how Ashley I. and Jared try to desperately shove their meandering and unsatisfying romantic history into a cute narrative structure. It’s all grand gestures and waiting until the last possible moment to confess true love. The problem with that? Grand gestures and declarations of true love don’t make a relationship. Sure, Ashley and Jared talk about the deep conversations and arguments they had, but they light up most when it comes to talking about Jared kissing Ashley when she had a boyfriend. They wrap up their interview by discussing why chick flicks are adult fairy tales and how they really do come true. Jared’s romantic letter to Ashley even includes his version of Harry Burns’s speech at the end of When Harry Met Sally.

What’s the problem with seeing your life as a romantic comedy? Romantic comedies usually center around two people withholding their feelings from each other and revealing them when it’s convenient, instead of taking the other person’s situation and feelings into account. Or they’re two people manipulating each other and scheming their way into a relationship. The stuff of true love!

If this really is a rom-com, Tanner Tolbert is the sassy best friend

Who do we have to thank for these two crazy kids getting together? It’s Tanner Tolbert. They refer to him as their Fairy Godmother and we have him to thank for keeping Ashley’s sister from interrupting Jared confessing his feelings to Ashley on a group vacation (and encouraging Jared to kiss Ashley). He’s also the one who told Jared that confessing his feelings is the fair and conscientious thing to do so Ashley has all the information before choosing between Jared and her boyfriend after Bachelor Winter Games. Even though no one asked Ashley to make a choice and both Jared and Tanner could have just minded their own business and let Ashley live her life.

Jared loves leaving hickeys

I’m not sure if we know the official status of Ashley I.’s virginity, but if she’s with an adult man who gleefully leaves her with hickeys, I’m not optimistic.

What We Learned in Ashley I. and Jared’s Story of Us Video