Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Finale: “A Small Victory for Feminism”

Sharleen Joynt—FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant—shares her insider’s POV on last night’s finale!

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I’ve realized that, while I love the climactic proposal ending of any given Bachelor season, I always take issue with the finale episode itself. The hour and 45 minutes leading up to that proposal has never sat well with me as the concept of the lead flip-flopping until the very last second just isn’t remotely believable. I believe that he might care very much for his runner-up and sending her home may be heart-wrenching, but I don’t, nor have I ever, bought that it’s a true toss-up.

Thus, Nick sending Raven home with a (albeit tearful) “This morning I figured out where my heart was” had me groaning. I realize that for the façade of this show the final two women are meant to appear neck-in-neck until the very end. I also realize that the lead is meant to make his decision sound like a last-second epiphany in an attempt to not appear cruel. But what I would love to see is a season where the lead just said, “I do have a love for you, but I simply can’t live without so-and-so. And I have known this for weeks now, but the format of this show and my contractual obligation to it has forced me to keep you in the dark and wait until the very end to break it off.” Okay, so maybe not verbatim, but you get the gist of how refreshing that would be. It felt like a wasted opportunity to have Nick of all people (the contestant famous for being runner-up twice!) not address how he now understands the position of the lead and that it pains him to do to someone else what was done to him twice. This many years in, and with the show constantly evolving (I’ll get to that in a bit), I think they can afford to begin blaming a few things—especially dragging the runner-up to Final 2 only to drop them like a sack of potatoes—on production.

Related: Former Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher’s Best Advice for Nick and Vanessa

Raven was a very kind and gracious runner-up, and I found it interesting that her “stoicism” was a focal point of her After The Final Rose time. Throughout the season I did gather that she wasn’t as effusive as many of the other women, but that was something I always liked about her. Watching her struggle to say she loved Nick on her first Finland 1-on-1, when so many women tend to blurt it out almost on cue, was very endearing. On AFR, however, she did strike me as the tiniest bit stoic—and I do NOT mean this in a bad way. She seemed to have put a lot of thought into what she said and there was even a carefulness to her demeanor, all of which are just observations and not criticisms. On the whole, Raven was a class act and, if anything, possibly a too understanding runner-up. I have mixed feelings about her appearing on Paradise as I still can’t help but see that show as beneath her, as I do with many other lovely people from this franchise. But with the still-strong Carly and Evan and Jade and Tanner, the fact that Nick became Bachelor from a strong Paradise showing, and Instagram’s career-altering power, Paradise really can be a game changer. So, hell, what do I know?

Now about this show’s evolution. What I did like about last night was how the engagement decision really was every bit as much up to Vanessa as it was Nick. The storyline that Nick could end up heartbroken yet again (wow, did they ever milk that) was way more interesting than the age old, “Who’s he gonna pick?” theme. I said on the blog last week that, regardless of whether or not Vanessa packs up and moves to L.A., I’m happy it’s not assumed that she would. I feel similarly here; I like that it’s not assumed Vanessa would say yes; why should she have to guarantee something that she herself can’t be guaranteed? A couple made up of two thoughtful people who have seriously considered the challenges they’ll face yet still love each other despite them, and enough to face those challenges together, is far more investable as a viewer. Vanessa’s own hesitation and healthy skepticism, in my opinion, represented an evolution in this show. Her apprehension shows she’s a intelligent and practical person and lends way more credibility to her decision-making skills and the fact that they ultimately ended up engaged.

Sharleen Joynt on the Bachelor finale: "Congratulations to the happy couple!"

(Photo: Courtesy Omni)

One more thing: Vanessa more than once expressed wanting to feel special and different, for her to be chosen not because their relationship was “slightly better” than another, but because it’s on a whole other playing field. So many people—people who shit on this show for being sexist—somehow took issue with this mindset of Vanessa’s. In what world wouldn’t or shouldn’t she want to feel special or different? It’s not about her thinking she’s special or different, but rather her wanting the man she ends up with to see her that way. It’s the very essence of wanting to be seen as a panda in a room full of brown bears, you guys! Sure, you can poke fun at the irony of her for wanting these things while “competing” on The Bachelor, but what we should be doing is applauding her for voicing those valid, reasonable requirements, especially while still on the show. The Bachelor has a long history of inside-the-box formatting and building up expectations in their contestants only to pull out the rug from under them. Vanessa managed to both “win” and maintain control over her self-worth along the way. So, the way I see it, on a show usually bereft of them, her critical thinking in and of itself proved to be a small victory for feminism.

Related: The Bachelor Finale:We Talked to Nick & Vanessa (& Raven!) Today

Lastly, I’ve heard mixed reviews about Vanessa and Nick’s AFR showing, but—and you know by now I don’t hold back on my opinions—I truly thought they aced it. Viewers and Bachelor alums alike seemed to find it “awkward” that the two weren’t beaming the entire time. What I saw was two very pragmatic people talking about a wonderful relationship that had its challenges but that was entirely worth the work. I was reminded of what Nick said to Vanessa earlier in the episode, before the proposal: “I could come here and tell you everything you want to hear. I know what you want to hear.” Believe me, Vanessa and Nick could have gone up there, smiled until their cheeks hurt, and talked about how easy everything is because they’re so in love. They know what we want to see and hear. And frankly, if they weren’t happy but were faking it, that’s what they SHOULD have done. (How many couples have we seen now, smiling and raving about how great everything is, who were broken up soon after?) Instead, Vanessa and Nick made it very clear how in love they are, but that everything from logistics to being “insulated” have been difficult hurdles. Realism shouldn’t be mistaken for unhappiness, especially while the folks in question talk about being realists.

On the whole, I am beyond happy for this couple in particular. I do feel like Nick has found his match in Vanessa. She’s her own person with her own opinions, knows her worth, is analytical and self aware—and gorgeous to boot. She’s everything I envisioned Nick finding happiness with and more. Congratulations to the happy couple!

For more from Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor, visit her blog, alltheprettypandas.com.

Catch up on past episodes of The Bachelor at www.omnitv.ca/the-bachelor.

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32 comments on “Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Finale: “A Small Victory for Feminism”

  1. Nailed it as always Sharleen. I couldn’t agree with you more when you say viewers shouldn’t mistake Nick and Vanessa’s realism for unhappiness. Countless times you hear AFTR couples tell everyone what they want to hear only to break up a few short months later. I love how both of them didnt sugar coat anything, acknowledged the difficult situation they are facing but in the same token more than willing to sacrifice and make their relationship work. If anything I respect that more than hear them talk about a wedding date and if it will be televised!

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    • Hi Eva Moore,
      Totally agree! The wedding talk will be taken WAY more seriously and mean a whole lot more because they’ve been so frank about everything thus far.
      Thank you for commenting x

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    • Yes, yes, yes to all of this. The unabashed AFR beaming is not often a good predictor of anything! And Vanessa has been consistently open and upfront with Nick this season – why would she be any different when asked questions by Chris Harrison? Who, let’s face it, is not the most skilled interviewer despite his many years at the job. I saw plenty of beaming but also a decision not to sweep the realism under the rug. This is a girl who admitted she’s barely watched the show, so she’s just being honest when asked directly, and I actually think she doesn’t know how to – or see the point of – playing the game. She’s serious about this relationship and she’s not going to put on airs. I finished watching the show more confident about them as a couple than most!

      When people thought it was “awkward”, I think that’s because we’re so used to the formula. Also many people are uncomfortable with real feelings and straightforward acknowledgement of difficulties, so I guess I get that people would read into that a bunch. It also does just sort of seem default for people to assume the couple won’t last, though the track record lately has been a bit improved. Still, it was far from Emily Maynard and Brad Womack, where the tension was off the charts (I think they’d already broken up by then?), or even Niki and Juan Pablo who were pretty doomed by the time AFR came around. I saw lots of gushing and happiness from Nick and Vanessa in their own way, interspersed with real considerations about starting a relationship, not just a Bachelor relationship. Best of luck to them.

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  2. As I said elsewhere. I had recorded it and heard hints before I watch that ATFR was awkward so I was surprised when I did watch that I didn’t think it was awkward at all. I found Jasmine and Kevin’s far more so and they are still together. I found it very down to earth and more realistic and they had lots of little couply moment (glances/touches) that I enjoyed. I’m surprised they said She didn’t look happy. I found her to look very happy in her way. Haha maybe that’s the Canadian in me being able to read her more reserved demeanour.

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    • ahh good point about Kevin and Jasmine. I heard Jasmine recently on a podcast and she was so upfront and practical about the entire courtship that if on US tv, she would come off as a buzzkil…whereas I thought it came off refreshingly honest and self aware. And yes they are still together and she is apparently moving to Toronto in Spring to be with him full time. I applaud Vanessa (and Nick) for being so honest. This show is weird, the format is odd and it makes sense as to why couples dont last……so i thought it was great that they both pointed that out. I do wish them well.

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    • Hi Lisa,
      I wondered the same thing, if perhaps I read Vanessa’s not needing to smile 100% OF THE TIME as actual, genuine happiness. There is a reservedness there that I hands-down take more seriously, and I do wonder if it’s a Canadianism.
      And I hadn’t made the connection with Bachelorette Canada but you’re totally right. They were also more reserved at AFR and they got a ton of backlash for it, but lo and behold, they’re still going strong today. Only time can prove the haters wrong, it seems.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment x

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  3. You are such a great writer! Thoroughly enjoyed the recaps as always! Your insight and point of view is always extremely refreshing. Cheers to Nick and Vanessa! Xo!

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  4. I wish them luck. I really hope it works out since Vanessa is sacrificing a lot of real tangible things for Nicks uncertain future. That said, they do seem like they want to make it work. Raven did not fail to impress, and I think she can also find a better suited match.

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  5. Also even though they didn’t work out Brad on his second season made it pretty clear that Emily was the one well before the final decision. He even told her he loved her. So the leads don’t always give in to producers or play along with the script.

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  6. I always seem to agree with you perspective, Sharleen. Their proposal alone and the way they look at one another was enough for me to see their love for one another. I think the notion of them having to be chipper and cheery throughout the whole process is so shallow. Look at Raven’s story in the show, she stayed happy and optimistic for Nick (as she stated on ATFR) and that alone was not going to be enough for him to propose to her. So, I think the ATFR interview was sincere and genuine, which is more refreshing.

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    • Hi Marcela,
      I also found the way they looked at each other to be the best evidence of their mutual love and understanding. And yes, the more chipper and cheery the exterior, especially when what they’ve gone and are going through is OBVIOUSLY difficult, the more skeptical I am. I thought they struck the right balance: Optimistic with a side of pragmatism.
      Thank you for commenting x

      Reply

  7. Raven was too young for Nick but she sure came across as mature on the finale. I wish Vanessa and Nick well but relationships are tough enough — living in different countries adds major complications. And especially if one has a job although it sounded like Vanessa had plans to give hers up.
    Overall I found this season quite boring but loved seeing Finland.

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  8. Amen!

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  9. Nice recap Sharleen! Kudos to Nick and Sharleen for being real and honest. I wish them loads of luck and love. Raven is strong and steady person, a class act. Nick was smart to pick her to ‘take to the end’ and I don’t doubt that he cared about her very much. I wonder if that was part of his decision making process – picking someone he truly admired but who was not fragile, and would not fall apart and was drama -free (in spite of the red herring of the stiletto story!).

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  10. As always Sharleen, your opinions and your “take” on the episodes are refreshing. I believe that you speak the truth and I get what you are saying. I truly hope you are right and I wish the happy couple nothing but the best.

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  11. Not to mention that everyone said the same thing about JoJo and Jordan on ATFR and they seem to still be going strong….

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  12. I felt so bad for Raven when she got the “I love you, but I don’t think I’m IN love with you” comment! Ouch.

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  13. I feel like someone really had it out for Vanessa in editing- they never did the recap of all the lovey moments between Nick and Vanessa.

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  14. Sharleen, thanks for the great recaps all season. Your recaps are the only ones that really explain how things happen on the show. I remember earlier you not seeing the chemistry between Nick and Raven and I had agreed. So I was surprised as time went on and that they were getting closer. I guess I didn’t see Raven as a strong woman which is the type he is typically attracted to. Like his Dad said, maybe Nick would do better with a different type. I guess time will tell. I was rooting for Vanessa the whole time though and I’m so glad Nick explained how the 2nd Rose ceremony was where he started to fall in love with Vanessa. There are still 2 things that I don’t understand and I hope you can give some feedback on these 2 points. I think other viewers wil be wondering the same things. The first is how Nick was so into Rachel (enough to say he was 100% falling for her) and then he sent her home and kept Raven. I pictured the final 2 to be Vanessa and Rachel even after The Bacherlotte announcement. What do you think happened? It did make me think that Nick possibly thought an interracial relationship would be too difficult. I know Rachel can’t say or ask questions of Nick at WTA because of her being the new Bachlorette but I sure wish there was someway to get those answers. Not fair of the producers. Maybe the Vanessa/Rachel fight had something to do with it.
    The 2nd thing is Raven not asking Nick any questions on ATFR. She had to be totaly blindsided and I can’t see how she wouldn’t have wanted some clarification. They missed some drama there. Were you surprised that Raven didn’t ask Nick at all?
    When I was rooting for Vanessa early on I realized they were going to have major issues to deal with. As a fellow Canadian I know for Nick to move to Quebec with the French language and Vanessa’s family speaking Italian that it would be doubly stressful. Unfortunately with Vanessa being a special needs teacher I think she wil have trouble getting a job that pays as well. I get the impression that the USA doesn’t pay and value their teachers the same as Canada does. Hopefully I am wrong about that because she is giving up a lot already by moving to LA.
    I really hope Nick and Vanessa can make this work!

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    • I’ve seen it suggested elsewhere (reality steve, credible source) that since Nick already knew Vanessa was the one, he got rid of Rachel before final two because Rachel and Vanessa did not get on and that would have been a real sore point for their future relationship had Rachel stayed on any longer.

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      • Thanks! That makes sense. Something just seemed funny especially after Nick said he was 100% falling for her. Today I was wondering if the producers knew they wanted Rachel for next Bachelorette by that point and if they ran it by Nick to see if he knew for sure she was the one or not.

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  15. Hey, Sharleen! I’ve been obsessively reading all of your recaps for I don’t even know how long. Just one quick observation. I noticed when watching the proposal–and even Ashley I pointed it out during an interview with Access Hollywood–that it may have been cut up. It’s pretty easy to notice that when Nick, fairly unconventionally, talks first during the proposal, Vanessa’s lipstick is off but when she follows up, her lipstick has magically reappeared. It seems pretty obvious that the producers edited the proposal to build upon the theme of Vanessa having doubts/possibly rejecting Nick (which was honestly getting a little annoying after a point) – but as a viewer, and especially after I noticed it, it took away some of the magic from an otherwise beautiful and authentic proposal. Again, I absolutely love your recaps and as a fellow over-analyst, I always appreciate how thorough your analysis is! Can’t wait to keep reading your recaps xxx

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  16. One thing I found interesting was that Vanessa hadn’t watched an entire season of the show before and seemed to not really be familiar with “Bachelor world.” I think her actions came across as refreshing and subversive because she didn’t go into the show with a preconceived idea of how she should act. She even said in several interviews afterwards that once she learned to think in terms of “Bachelor world” she had an easier time focusing on her own relationship and accepting that her boyfriend was dating other women. But I think viewers appreciated that she didn’t do that. It’s interesting that it took somebody from outside the world of The Bachelor (who doesn’t know how the show works, the roles she’s supposed to play, the producer tricks many of us take for granted, etc.) to spark this “evolution.”

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  17. I LOVED Nick’s talks with Vanessa on their last date. For the first time ever I had to rewind to hear that again. It felt so authentic and meaningful, and it was the most eloquent we saw Nick all season. There seem to be fewer and fewer real, stirring moments like that on this franchise. And this convo if anything makes me see the positive in Nick and Vanessa’s AFR trepidation – their unwillingness to fake what must obviously be an unbelievably difficult scenario in which to start a relationship.

    Nick: “I came here tonight knowing that Vanessa has questions and if I wanted to I could come here and tell her everything she wants to hear. I know what you want to hear. I know that bothers you sometimes. But I’m not going to do that..you’re asking me to know my decision.”

    Vanessa: “I think about that and it just makes it less romantic”

    Nick: “That’s a matter of perspective. All I know is I just want to be with someone who doesn’t need it to be perfect but wants to try to make it perfect for us – and talk, and work through things, and nothing is off the table because our biggest priority is each other. I care about finding someone I’m madly in love with and then getting engaged to them. I want to get engaged to someone that I love so much that if someone said ‘you’re going to face a lot, it’s going to be hard, do you still want to get engaged to this person?’ I’d still say yes. I think that’s pretty romantic!”

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    • I loved this convo too! It reminded me of Nick on Andi’s season saying something like how romance for him isn’t knowing that two people are meant to be together forever, but choosing to be with another person each day. I watched that years ago and thought, yes this guy is unique. Haven’t seen much of that Nick lately but it was definitely there in that last date with Vanessa.

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      • I remember Nick saying that on Andi’s season too and it made me really like him.

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  18. I agree w/ all of your observations. I thought Raven was a class act (& so beautiful & full of personality!). My 1st reaction upon hearing that she’ll be on Paradise was that it was “beneath her”. I also think it’s lame that the lead is forced to pretend that he just can’t decide between the final 2 until the last min. I don’t blame Vanessa at all for feeling frustrated by that. Of course you want your fiance to be dazzled by you & think you’re The One. The lead should just be able to say it like it is. I think we are all aware this is a TV show & that he’s being forced to keep it close to the vest.

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  19. This whole moving from Montreal thing seems a bit overblown to me. If staying in Montreal was truly a non-negotiable, then she would have probably just gone on the Canadian Bachelor. She knew Nick was the Bachelor and so she must have had her own internal dialogue about the real possibility of moving to where he lived or somewhere else in the states. Canada is great but moving to Montreal would be a huge cultural adjustment for any American, due to the language.

    Do you know why Nick kept mentioning why he “tried to fight” his falling in love with Vanessa?

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    • I think he said he was fighting it so that he would still be open to feelings for the other women. He has to elminate women pretty fast as it is so don’t rule them out until he made his decisions.

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  20. YES!! You completely nailed it. Best recap I’ve read. Thank you for recapping this season, they’ve been BY FAR my favorite to read. Your analysis and take is always spot on and intelligent! I’ll will definitely miss them in future seasons if you don’t continue!

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  21. Always love your recaps Sharleen! While watching the finale, I kept on hoping that Nick wouldn’t propose to Vanessa. I wanted him to postpone, promise to get to know each other more, and then surprise everyone at the AFR show and propose then to seal the deal. I was so sure that the historical moment would be that. I was wrong! Either way, I’m happy to hear that the couple is happy…I’m a realist too and was also surprised at the skepticism they received. Hopefully they can ignore all the haters!

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  22. when you watch the proposal segment, you will be able to see how many times it’s been edited. I cant believe that only a few people noticed that vanessa’s lipstick was neutral, then pink, then neutral again, then pink again. I thought I was crazy but then watched the proposal two more times. but how they spliced all that was an absolute miracle, and just confirms that it wasn’t a proposal where everything was left in. that totally left a bitter taste because we would all hope that the producers would just let the proposal be natural and filmed all of it, instead of giving us what they wanted to. if anyone has this segment still in their possession, watch it and find out what I’m talking about. makes the whole thing very disappointing!!!

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