It wouldn’t be reality television if there weren’t drama, questionable decision-making, and a little bit (or a lot) of unreality.
The three-hour series finale of The Bachelorette had all of those elements in amount. It also had the expected controversy that comes with any competition show, with fans split on The Bachelorette’s final decision.
This season’s bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, seemed almost forced by the premise of the show to choose a man she didn’t love because he was willing to propose—the ideal outcome for the series—over the man she clearly did love because he wouldn’t.
Rachel ended up engaged to Bryan Abasolo at the end of the night, but the fact that #TeamPeter was trending on Twitter says it all. The runner up, Peter Kraus, had been open aqbout the fact that he wasn’t comfortable proposing after only knowing someone for six weeks, no matter how much instantaneous chemistry they had or how strong his feelings for her were.
“In the real world, that’s normal,” Emily Yahr of The Washington Post wrote; “In ‘Bachelorette’ world, well, that’s just unacceptable.”
Rachel gave up her job and life as an attorney in Dallas to come on the show and find a fiancé; she didn’t want to leave the show with a mere boyfriend.
She and Peter hashed and rehashed their primary roadblock between them leading up to the finale, with Rachel arguing that they didn’t have to get married immediately and that an engagement would show her that he was serious about being with her. Peter continually reassured her that he imagined and wanted a future with her, but he wasn’t ready for an engagement yet. Rachel’s most recent relationship had lasted five years without an engagement and had soured her on delaying that step.
“I’m in this because I want someone who wants what I want,” she told him, “I want someone who wants to move towards marriage.”
She wanted a guarantee and he wanted time to be sure he could give it to her.
That doesn’t jive with the expedited, heightened “reality” of reality tv.
Their final conversation was some of the most painful and compelling you can get on such a show; they both broke down crying as Peter said he would propose so that he wouldn’t lose her and Rachel said she didn’t want him to resent her for pushing him to make a decision he clearly didn’t want to make.
They said goodbye and Rachel left Peter sobbing.
“What’s wrong with me?” he asked rhetorically, to no one but a roomful of producers, crewmembers and cameras—and the millions watching from home.
One Twitter user tweeted: “Sorry to any of my exes that follow me on twitter… but Rachel and Peter was the most emotional and painful breakup I’ve ever been part of.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the show’s producers then forced Rachel and Peter to watch the entire episode in front of a live studio audience—including their painful and heart-wrenching breakup—and then submit to probing interrogation by host Chris Harrison. Peter was shaking noticeably and said he had cried backstage while reliving the painful moments with Rachel.
Harrison couldn’t leave well enough alone and asked Peter if he wished he had done things differently and if he still loved Rachel—questions that would normally be categorized as tactless if not for the fact that that’s what they signed up for.
They ultimately wished each other the best and Rachel told Peter she hoped he could find what he was looking for. “They both looked absolutely miserable, with far more emotion than usually exists between the star and runner-up.”
The “winner,” Bryan, also had to endure watching his fiancé “be heartsick over another man,” and probably deal with the fact that he was playing second fiddle to Peter—something that could easily live with he and Rachel for the rest of their lives together.
There was a distinction between the emotion of the two couples, even as Bryan and Rachel looked and spoke like a happily engaged couple.
As another Twitter user put it: “Peter and Rachel’s breakup had a lot more passion than that proposal tho.”
As Yahr described it: It was compelling reality television; but, it was also a complete and total nightmare.
Um…congrats Rachel and Bryan?