The Bachelor 23.10: Finale: The Honesty We Crave

The viewers of The Bachelor franchise in the Year of Our Lord 2019—or at least the viewers that are the target audience for this recap—don’t want to be insulted. We are modern, egalitarian Americans. We don’t want to be pandered to. We don’t want to be blindfolded. And we especially don’t want to be hoodwinked.

The trouble is, this is antithetical to the original formula of The Bachelor. In the beginning, there was darkness. The viewer was never supposed to see behind the curtain. The producers didn’t exist. There were no omniscient powers guiding relationships this way and that. It was just The Bachelor feeling his emotions through dozens of contestants until he magically felt his emotions the strongest with one person. Love is supposed to be unknowable and appear from nothing. But it inevitably will appear in this two-month power program that ABC has expertly designed. And then when you know you know and you know for life and this one is it. It’s simple, it’s easily digestible, and it fits perfectly into the construct of “love” as it was seen at the end of the 20th Century.

Now, ABC’s not stupid. They know that times have changed. They aren’t going to keep trotting out the exact same product year after year and expect to keep their market share. They know they have to move with the culture and move with their audience. The history of reality TV is littered with the ruins of empires that were unwilling to adapt. The best example of this is American Idol. The behemoth of American television desperately clung to their golden age, failing to innovate as the industry innovated around them, and they paid the ultimate price for it. (Please ignore their brief (and you can quote me on ‘brief’ even though it has yet to air) resurrection on network television.) But ABC and, more specifically, the producers of The Bachelor, could read the room.

We, the audience, want the facts. We, the audience, want the whole picture. We, the audience, want them to pull back the curtain. As so they did.

We open Monday night’s episode with Colton bounding over the fence and into the Portuguese night. They pepper the scene with the recording of the crew’s radio transmissions. The ‘Someone get Chris Harrison’ and the ‘We need to open the fence’. We see the van pull up to the cameraman and we get to be the cameraman jumping in. We hear a phone call to superiors back in LA about how the principal just ran the fuck away and there is a full on manhunt to find him. We are in the van that sees a dark figure in front of us. We pass the figure, and then confirm that it is Colton, we hastily tell the driver to stop, and then jump out. We see a producer catch up to Colton and try to get him to talk, to which he refuses. We see our colleague radio to the van that has Chris Harrison.

We see Chris Harrison arrive and then we panic, because what can Chris Harrison possibly say to get Colton to come back? Chris Harrison catches up with Colton and Colton says that he’s done. Chris Harrison says, “Okay, well we can be done, but you’re not going to walk back to the hotel.” And Colton capitulates.

Then Chris Harrison asks, “What do you want, you want to be done with the whole thing?”

“Yeah.”

“Done, done.”

“Yeah.”

And that’s it. They let him be.

This is 2019. A two-month power program to find the one love of your life is insane and everyone knows it and it’s about goddamn time someone said it. And, the incredible thing is, ABC is letting everyone talk about how stupid the show is ON THE SHOW!

Four people quit the show this season, which is a record. And then Colton quit! The principal quit! So five people quit. Five people were honest with themselves about this relationship, about this show, about this situation and decided to quit. And that’s the shit that we, as the audience, are here to see! We thirst for honesty the way Don Jr. thirsts for his father’s attention. This season, the contestants didn’t just ‘trust the process,’ they didn’t just do the show to do the show; they trusted themselves and that made all the difference.

I’m not going to go too deep into his goodbyes with Tayshia and Hannah G, but there are a few things that I want to bring up.

Can anyone even fucking believe the grandiosity and generosity of Tayshia’s soul, because I absolutely cannot. Colton came to break up with her and SHE was comforting HIM. SHE was comforting HIM. And then when she had finally expended every last drop of selflessness that she could afford in that moment, she broke down as well. “I don’t want to go through this again,” she admitted to him exasperated. “I don’t want to go through this again.” And she knows what ‘this’ is better than anyone else there.

And then Colton went to say goodbye to Hannah G and boy was that a whole other experience. She was clearly more blindsided than Tayshia, fully confident that she was going to finish with the final rose. Her signature line of their break-up was, “This is what I do. I make everybody better and they don’t want to stick around.” And to Hannah… to Hannah, I would encourage self-reflection.

I think the most telling moment of the episode in regards to the two break-ups was back amidst the live studio audience. Hannah G sat before Chris Harrison and said, “I don’t know. I think I was just so blindsided, and to see his reaction was like that was really hard for me, because it showed that he was struggling too, because I thought he left and it was just easy for him, but it doesn’t really help with, like, flipping the page, you know?” So the thing that Tayshia did immediately—see the situation from all sides, understand the painful decisions that Colton was making and empathize with him in the moment—Hannah G didn’t do until his perspective was literally played back to her right in front of her eyes. Hannah G is egocentric to an Olympic level and she should be admired for her peerless ability to disregard the world around her.

Our screen was then graced with Jason, Blake, and Ben Higgins, but also Garrett. Can you imagine what Becca was saying to herself backstage after watching Jason thoughtfully articulate the moment we all just witnessed followed by Garrett throwing words together with about as much consideration as a caveman? And that beautiful scene is how we end Part I.

We pick up Part II with Colton going to Cassie and telling her he broke up with Hannah and Tayshia and quit the show and she laughed in his face. She LAUGHED IN HIS FACE. And, incredibly, that felt like the right reaction in the moment.

Look, this was the most likely scenario in the aftermath of what had happened previously. Colton had told Cassie that he was in love with her and that he wanted it to be her at the end. There is just no way he could have just moved on from that. How unbelievably embarrassed would Tayshia and Hannah G be when they found out had he continued on with them? Imagine being the person who ‘won’ after that! So Colton went back to Cassie and Cassie accepted him back.

And what was SHE supposed to do? The Bachelor just broke up with 29 other women to be with her even though she already left him. If she wants to hold onto any scrap of popularity in the court of public opinion, she is going to take that offer. And it’s not like the offer is horrible. She gets to continue to date the person she “loves” (whatever that means to her) with no looming deadline and no expectation and also they get a couple more network television funded dates in yet another country. That feels to me like a solid deal.

So I don’t want to totally buy into the political game theory and cynicism, but I think it’s worth examining a more sinister possible plan behind her actions. Picture this: Cassie knows she’s done too well. She says when he’s trying to win her back that she was scared because she felt behind the other girls and that’s part of why she left, but imagine she knew that that excuse was a lie. Cassie has twisted the emotions of those around her her whole life. She can dictate even the thoughts and feelings that run through the minds of her targets. Normally, she can push love interests right up to the edge without them crossing over into madness. But, in the world of The Bachelor, she had to open the throttle all the way. If someone as powerful as Cassie is competing against 29 other people, top gear will statistically put her in like third place. And, to be clear, the goal is to finish in third place. Third place is the perfect place to finish if you want to be the principal for the next season. And holy shit would she be a good Bachelorette. She’d be one of the best Bachelorettes ever. Strikingly charismatic, unbelievably gorgeous, and enough of a blank slate for everyone to project their hopes and dreams onto. So then Cassie makes it to the Top 3 and she can clearly, clearly, CLEARLY see that Colton is falling madly in love with her. She has done too well. Her chance of being the Bachelorette is slipping away.

So she makes the one move—the one crazy, risky move—that gives her her best chance at becoming the Bachelorette. She leaves him. She tries to play it off as her being honest with herself and her emotions. I mean, that’s how Colton became the Bachelor, in a way, right? In Paradise, he quit because he said he just didn’t feel like it was the “real thing” with Tia and then he became the Bachelor. Cassie knows that if she stays, she’s going to win, so she leaves because, to her, it’s not the “real thing.”

And maybe, maybe, it could have worked. Her credibility was already compromised by all of the other women who had warned Colton about her false intentions, but that’s a relatively small hurdle (or fence) for ABC to jump over when casting her. But the plan doesn’t work. Colton freaks out and tells her he’s in love with her. Then he breaks up with everyone else and quits the show. And she has no choice anymore. If she says no again, especially after he lays out this no-commitment compromise, then it’s going to look opportunistic. So she says yes. And, though her chances of ever becoming the Bachelorette dwindle even more, they remain existent. They could still break up. She could give it a few years and become older and wiser (because she’s twenty-three years old right now) and they could name her the Bachelorette. It is still possible. Her hope is still alive.

But, of course, that is the most cynical possible take on Cassie’s actions. Perhaps she really is in love with him and really was just not ready at that moment to commit to an engagement and really did decide that leaving was the best option for her personally and then taking him back was the best for her personally. They are back together and the world is their oyster.

But first she had to MEET HIS FAMILY, the poor woman. And the family was certainly not thrilled about the whole situation. But Colton’s mom and dad made an excellent tag team as the guardians of Colton’s fragile heart. His mom expertly interrogated Cassie’s intentions. The precision with which she probed Cassie’s thoughts and decisions was exhilarating. Finally, we had someone to hold Cassie accountable for her actions! And Colton’s dad, who looks extraordinarily like Woody Harrelson, was there to take care of his big boy. He worked with Colton to clear his head. He made sure Colton wasn’t in love with Cassie because he just wanted what he couldn’t have (though I still think that’s a credible critique). So when Woody Harrelson’s voice started to crack and his eyes welled up with tears, we knew that he was going to be there for Colton 100% no matter what Colton decided, because he’s so proud of his big, beautiful, bouncing boy.

Then Cassie and Colton went on a date where they repelled down a cliff and it was clearly designed to be Colton’s date with Tayshia, but whatever. Let’s skip forward to the best part, which was the fantasy suite. They made out on the bed for like two minutes and then kicked the crew out. They kicked us out. And they did so with such infectious joy. “I love you. I love you. I love all of you people. But there’s a door right here and I’m going to need all of you guys to get out,” Colton said, beaming. And you watched the crew pack up and leave their jobs for the night. And then they closed the door. And then Colton and Cassie realized they were still miced up! And so they opened the door and we watched the sound team de-mic them while laughing with them and interacting with them and then they got everything else taken care of and the last thing we here is one of the sound guys saying, “Good luck, guys,” before leaving and Colton responding, “Thank you, Tom.”

IT WAS HONEST. It was honest. ABC’s The Bachelor has abandoned the blindfold and, instead of taking away from the “magic,” it instead makes it feel real. The moments feel real. The relationships feel real. The interactions and connections and jokes and mess-ups all feel real. And isn’t that the real magic? Not the manufactured two-month love formula, but the genuine, honest, human connections between not only the principal and contestants, but also the producers and the crew and the institution that is this show. That’s the kind of connection we crave when we tune in each week.

And now, as you are all basking in the joy that is the most positive take anyone could come up with in response to this season of ABC’s The Bachelor franchise, it’s time for me to tear this mother fucking program to the ground.

WHAT in the ACTUAL FUCKING WORLD could the producers of The Bachelor POSSIBLY BE FUCKING THINKING? ON. WHAT. PLANET. DO THEY THINK HANNAH B COULD BE THE BACHELORETTE? No, no, no, I’m being too generous to them. ON WHAT PLANET DO THEY THINK HANNAH B COULD EVEN BE CONSIDERED AS A VAGUELY VIABLE OPTION IN ANY SENSE OF THE WORD TO BE THE NEXT BACHELORETTE?

I almost didn’t watch this season of The Bachelor. I didn’t trust Colton to be an authentic principal. And I sincerely didn’t care for ABC framing the season around this man’s virginity. He had performed horribly in Paradise until literally the final week. Public opinion was aggressively not on his side. But they chose him anyway. After delaying a few days after the first episode initially aired, I capitulated and jumped in.

I can say with confidence that Hannah B is an exponentially worse selection than Colton was. I am truly worried about the safety of the show’s ratings going into next season because of this choice. Now, I assume most of my readers agree with me, but, if you don’t, please give me leave to try to convince you otherwise.

Hannah B was given the first one-on-one with Colton. The first one-on-one is supposed to be a slam-dunk. But Hannah B repeatedly failed to attach new words to the ends of words she had just spoken in a pattern most anthropologists call “having a conversation.” She could not give a toast. She could not give a toast. She could not give a toast on their first date. Roll tide.

Unfortunately, repeating ‘roll tide’ is not a personality.

She should have been sent home. I am shocked to this day that she was not sent home at that date. You know someone who was sent home during an early-season on-on-one? Lauren S in Arie’s season. Lauren S was gorgeous and charming and it honestly wasn’t a bad date overall. Do you want to know why he sent her home? She talked too much. Arie sent her home because she talked too much. I would 1,000% prefer to watch Lauren S as the next Bachelorette than Hannah B. I would rather roll the dice on this random contestant who we watched for 15 minutes before she was unceremoniously kicked off than have to sit through this season with Hannah B.

But alas, Hannah B got the rose that week and then became the focal point of the mid-season infighting storyline that consumed weeks more of this season. North Carolina Caelynn and Hannah Alabama just dragged each other under the bus in date after cocktail party after date. It was exhausting. And, if we know anything about mid-season infighting storylines, it’s that those who participate definitely aren’t frontrunners for the final rose or becoming the next principal. She was supposed to be a source for drama, not someone we have to focus on as an actual love interest.

Now you may be thinking, yeah, okay, Doug, but the South deserves a representative as the principal every once in a while. Those fly-over states will stop tuning in if they think they’re being tuned out. To that I’ll first say that Rachel was from the South, but I guess she doesn’t count because she’s Black and only White Southerners can appease the neo-confederate terrorists that are trying to ruin The Bachelor for me. But if we really need a woman from the South, then why the fuck are we going with Hannah B? She is the worst delegate in the Southern caucus. Let’s go through the list of our other well-known options. First, Raven. Sure, Raven’s taken at the moment, but she’s a perfect example of someone who everyone loved and was also from the South. I did not understand everyone’s love for Raven as I have mentioned repeatedly on this blog, but she was popular enough to merit her consideration. Second, Tia! Tia is from the same trash Southern town as Raven, but she’s more objectively attractive and she has a doctorate degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy, but “doctor” is still in the title). If we really needed someone with a grotesque Southern accent to placate the plebeians, then give Tia the staring role. Hell, let’s not stop there though. Don’t want to go back beyond this season? Fine! Give it to Hannah G! Hannah G is ALSO FROM ALABAMA. SHE CAN ALSO BE HANNAH ALABAMA. And she can—and hold onto your seats for this one folks—she can form complete sentences! She didn’t get bogged down in any of the drama all season, not even the Cassie drama that everyone else was whipped up in. Hannah G should absolutely have been chosen before Hannah B.

I sat there watching the finale in true disbelief. I thought about how they could reverse this with the same frantic concentration that I used to stop President-elect Trump from taking the oath of office. But then they brought the men out.

Listening to five men introduce themselves to you is a frustratingly simple task. Luke’s jacket was too big and he gave his best guy-in-the-rom-com-who-is-such-an-asshole-he-gets-slapped-in-the-face-at-some-point impression. Dustin gave an incredible toast and was the best of the group, but he’s Black, so she can’t bring him home. Cam came on as the most awkward White man in existence and decided it was his time and place to perform a rap that he wrote. It was the worst thing that’s happened to this country since 9/11. I hadn’t written any notes since they had officially announced Hannah B as the Bachelorette and after that introduction I wrote, “I’m going to kill myself.” Connor, who has the voice of a valley girl, got her a step stool so that he could be his height and they could “be on the same level,” which was cute. Or at least a massive step up. Lastly, we had Luke (another Luke, this one we’ll just call Nick Viall’s nephew, because he looks like he should be Nick Viall’s nephew) who made a cunnilingus joke: “I don’t go down South often, but, for you, I’d go down anytime.” You know what, fuck you Nick Viall’s nephew. And congratulations for signaling to everyone that you’re fucking asshole. “I don’t go down often,” he says. So he’s explicitly informing to Hannah that he does not like to go down on women and, if he ever does go down on her, then she should be grateful for it. So now every time that he goes down on her she should feel guilty for making him do something he doesn’t like exclusively for her pleasure. Fuck you, Luke, you fucking piece of shit.

Then Hannah got to hand out a rose. She successfully stood there and did nothing without destroying her career as The Bachelorette and all she needs to do is give this rose to someone who didn’t totally embarrass himself. Her order should be 1) Dustin, 2) Connor, 3) First Luke, 4) Nick Viall’s Nephew Luke, and 5) (5, as in last, as in for the love of God not this person, as in it’s so simple you can really honestly pick anyone just not this one sole person) Cam. She picked Cam.

 

Scoring

Am I the greatest Fantasy Bachelor player in the history of the game? Now, now, I wouldn’t say that. I’ll just say that we have filled out our brackets for two seasons of The Bachelor and I won both seasons. (I’m not going to count The Bachelorette. We’re not talking about Fantasy Bachelorette right now.) In both seasons, I defeated six opponent brackets. Y’all want numbers? There is only a 14% chance of winning in a seven-bracket league. There is only a 2% chance of winning two out of the two years of a seven-bracket league. And your boy is that 2%.

Both seasons’ wins are disputed. In Arie’s season, Becca won the competition, but he left her for Lauren B after the final rose. After intense debate, the grand arbiter, the all-powerful commissioner of our bracket Kristina handed down an opinion that gave everyone points for selecting either Becca or Lauren B. Fortunately, I was in first heading into the final week and so I stayed in first to secure the win.

Then Colton just quit. The last points given out were post-hometowns. I entered fantasy suites with a 10-point lead. I’m sure some oppositional figures who had Cassie winning would argue that Cassie “won” the competition and they deserve their 30-point allocation, but Colton did quit the competition (and also there was no ring), so those points are not disseminated. The points that I concede could be given out though are the After The Final Rose points. The league instituted this 5-point addition after Arie’s season. Those who put Cassie for After The Final Rose boost their total by an extra 5, but, alas, no one reaches my score, and so I still finish first… again.

The final standings are:

1) Doug – 239

2) Caitlyn – 234

3) Bonnie – 229

4) Kristina – 224

5) Kelsey – 221

6) Jenny – 204

7) Justice – 183

Congratulations again to me for being the best in the game, better than all the rest.

Thank you all for tuning in to another season of my recaps. And welcome to those who have been reluctantly added by their friends. I really can’t tell you whether or not I will be doing this again for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette. I really don’t want to see a season of Hannah B. But also, more importantly, if I get a job in the 2020 election cycle I will likely not have enough time to watch two hours of this horrible, beautiful, frustrating, intoxicating show every week and then write the subsequent recaps. So we’ll see.

As always,

Best as aye,

Roses without thorns,

Douglas