Going into The Bachelorette final Monday night the general feeling was that Rachel would pick Peter and this would be followed by much joy across the land. We would spend a short amount of time basking in their happiness before turning our attention to the incoming storm of drama and cringe-inducing moments that is Bachelor in Paradise, followed by speculation as to who would be the next Bachelor. Would Dean have a change of heart? Would Dr. Abs get the call? Would Nick somehow come back again? This how the night would go.
At dinner I asked my daughter who she thought would win. She’s two. She said Dr. Abs. We didn’t put much stock into her answer.
Apparently we should have.
Monday night’s finale was a long slog of conflicting emotions, extended bouts of discomfort and a final third that was harder to watch than Bronn taking aim at Daenerys. It was effin’ rough man.
But how did it end up that way?
We’ll get this out of the way first and say that she was never going to pick Eric. They were too close to the Friend Zone and I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but Rachel was looking for a fiancee, not a buddy. Eric was a buddy. Although props to Eric for winning Most Improved this season because that dude came along way. I was on board with Eric from the jump, but bailed rather quickly because he didn’t seem up to the challenge. It turns out that like you, Eric wasn’t used to dating a woman who was also dating 10 other dudes and the feelings of insecurity and dings to his self-confidence left him shook. With the benefit of hindsight, this seems perfectly understandable. Eric rebounded and I think his third place finish should be celebrated.
He was never going to win, though.
So that left Peter and Dr. Abs, two dudes that couldn’t be more farther apart on the dude spectrum. In one corner there was Dr. Abs with his Miami swagger and surface level passion and over-bearing Mom and lingering questions like yo, why is this 37 year old chiropractor from Miami on a dating show. Dr. Abs had been the clubhouse leader in make-out sessions from the first night and that “passion” had carried him to the finale, even though it also carried him far away from anyone’s hearts.
Quick little word association. I say Dr. Abs, you say…
As for Peter…well, here’s the thing about Peter and I say this as a Peter fan, but I’m not sure Peter should have gone on this show. And this is where things get complicated.
Peter became the defacto front-runner pretty early on. He was polished and mature, he was a grown man adult, something that we all felt Rachel was looking for. Peter would stay above the drama that was inevitable, Peter wouldn’t play games, Peter would last. It was a lock. And we didn’t just feel that way, Rachel felt the way. They had a chemistry that was reminiscent of JoJo and Jordan on JoJo’s season. Jordan looked like the winner from early on and that never changed, despite some editing tricks by the show. This felt that same way.
Of course the problem was that at the end of all of this, Rachel wanted a ring. Rachel wanted a proposal. Rachel was here to not just play the game, but win the game. Peter on the other hand – Peter had the audacity (relatively speaking) to repeatedly say that in his mind a proposal meant engagement and while he felt very strongly about Rachel, that he was falling in love with her, he wasn’t ready to propose. It didn’t mean he didn’t see a future with Rachel, it just meant he wasn’t ready to commit to that future. In the final string of episodes, every conversation between Peter and Rachel kept coming back to this and again, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps we should have seen their break-up coming. Rachel is a lawyer, she follows directions. She signed up for this shit show sham knowing that the directions said to do A-B-C-D and then say yes to the proposal at the end. In her private moments she might have admitted that it was unconventional, but it was also the deal they made. Rachel doesn’t seem like the kind of person who backs out on deals.
Peter’s rational for not proposing was pretty straight forward until you realize that this was a television show and not real life. That same reasoning is why you could counter by saying that Rachel’s rational for breaking up with him was mind-bogglingly absurd until you realize that this is a television show and not real life. If this wasn’t The Bachelorette, I bet they’d still be together. But that’s not the case and that’s why Rachel is with Dr. Abs, not Peter.
The break-up and Chris Harrison-moderated conversation was so uncomfortable for a couple of reasons.
Reason 1: We were watching two mature adults trying to handle a very immature and twisted situation the best way they could. It should have been boring, but it wasn’t due in large part to Rachel’s steadfast belief in the game she was playing and the rules that came with it and Peter’s almost bizarre denial of his current situation. Peter got to such a point of near-frustration that he was ready to throw his beliefs out the window, saying that he’d propose if it meant they could continue. But that was a hollow offer because Peter is a man of principle and he wasn’t going to throw those principles out the window, which is one of the reasons why Rachel liked him. Good God this is confusing. In any other scenario, Peter’s desire to adhere to what he believes would be a win in Rachel’s eyes.
Reason 2: We were faced the slow realization that Dr. Abs was going to win and that was…well, it wasn’t good.
Reason 3: We started to realize that despite everything we loved about Rachel, she was still a contestant on a television dating show. This has happened before, we’ve been duped into thinking someone is somehow better than the show, but ultimately they willingly elected to participate on the show so really, they’re not. Rachel went on the show twice. Again, we should have seen the Dr. Abs outcome coming. Look at all the media and press she had done. Rachel isn’t going to be the kind of Bachelorette to go back to her life after this. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it does speak to her motivation. She was all-in, a fact that doomed her relationship with Peter and helped her relationship with Dr. Abs.
Reason 4: We began questioning our allegiance to Rachel and that hurt. We’ve been on board with Rachel since she first exited the limo on Nick’s season and going into this season, we had high hopes. How could we not? Rachel is awesome. Not once had we been given a moment to question our allegiance. Until last night that is.
At some point during their talk with Chris Harrison, as Peter was trying his best to explain his actions and come to terms with the results, something turned and Rachel became almost…well, almost a villain. To be fair, they broke up. Peter told her she was going to have a mediocre life. That’s going to stick with you. But there was a body language there, a razor sharp edge to her words that stung. Again, Rachel had every right to act the way she did. Subsequently so do we. That’s the problem with emotions – they aren’t always right, but they’re always there regardless. Seeing Rachel do somewhat of a heel turn was disconcerting though and made me wonder if it’s how we might feel if some Internet nerds are right and Game of Thrones is lining us up for a Daenerys heel turn. Heroes fall all the time, but things get tricky if they fall in directions that aren’t considered positive.
This season was supposed to fresh and exciting, something different and not just because it would be the first season with an African American topping the bill. But in the end though, there was the same old drama, the same old bullshit (albeit skewed slightly thanks to Lee’s racism) and a conclusion that when looked at through the prism of the show, kind of made sense. Maybe we should feel like we’ve been played, we could feel betrayed but that says more about us than the show. We knew what we were getting into when we started watching. A roller coaster is still a roller coaster, regardless of how it’s dressed up.
This season was just a boring old wooden roller coaster. No loops, no special tricks. And when it was over, we walked away disappointed.
We walked straight towards a different, more exciting looking roller coaster in the form of Bachelor in Paradise.