Juan Pablo Galavis has a fan in Renee Oteri.
The single mother from Sarasota has become a fan favorite during Juan Pablo's season of The Bachelor, mostly because she's managed to avoid the drama and still remain totally watchable.
Who's been unable to avoid the drama? Juan Pablo himself, as the ABC reality star made headlines after making controversial remarks about a possible gay bachelor, as well as for his treatment of another contestant, Clare, after a steamy makeout session he felt went too far.
But Renee, a real estate agent, is quick to defend the Bachelor, telling reporters on Thursday, "He's a class act. I feel bad for the criticism."
And Renee, who has an 8-year old son named Ben, says her opinion of the Venezuelan single father hasn't changed. "I definitely know him and obviously people are going to write things and say things that may or may not be true, but I mean honestly, you do get to know each other really, really well and I still feel the same about him now that I did the moment I met him," she explains. "I have nothing negative to say."
So what is Juan Pablo really like?
"He's super calming, he's super funny. He's a great guy," Renee gushes. "Getting to know him, I had no idea he was so funny. He's hilarious."
Still, Renee can understand some of the criticism from viewers about Juan Pablo seeming confused about what he wants from a relationship. While he refused to kiss her because she was a mother, Juan Pablo made out with many of the other women, including Cassandra, a single mom (Juan Pablo eliminated her in the most recent episode).
"Watching it, it does seem like that. I don't know what goes on when I'm not around, so seeing the other conversations unfold…it does seem like he's a little bit confused," she says. "However, when he's with me, we are on the family level. When he's with the other girls, it's just different. I think each girl is bringing out something different in him, and yeah, he seems confused as to what he wants. It's a different lifestyle whichever way you look at it."
And Renee says she wishes Juan Pablo had been more upfront with her about his kissing concerns during filming.
"The only thing I wish that he did was communicate with me upfront about the whole no kissing thing, because had I known that I would've just done it myself instead of waiting so long," Renee explains. "I totally understand why he felt that way and why he did that. I do respect him a lot for that, but watching it back, it was like, ‘Well, that kind of stinks. You said no to me and then two minutes later you're kissing Clare.' But I understand his reasons, for sure."
Renee reveals she never had a conversation with Juan Pabs about Ben having issues with her kissing him on the show, so she was "relieved" when she found out her son was the reason JP held back. "I didn't know that was the reason at the time, in the weeks leading up to it. I knew when he confronted me about it. Leading up to that, I didn't realize it was about Ben. I thought it was about me. I was like...‘Am I not kissable? What's going on?'"
Oh, and Juan Pablo will be happy to know Ben isn't watching this season ("He's too busy, he's too cool!"), though he watched all of Desiree Hartsock's season of The Bachelorette and "loved it."
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.