I’m not sure this is the popular opinion, but I could get used to having the lead watch the finale live with us. Despite the fact that Rachel was visibly (and endearingly) uncomfortable at times, it was a nice touch to have her on hand to give us her ITM-esque play-by-play—anyone notice how she fell into present tense at times?—of how she was feeling during filming. It was especially nice to have each eliminated man come out directly after we’d seen him eliminated (or self-eliminate) as it felt the most relevant at that time. It also didn’t detract at all from the happy engagement at the end. Traditionally with finales, we’ve just watched the happy engagement and then have to backtrack to the runner-up sitting across from the lead, demanding answers, particularly to the ever-popular, “When did you know?” It always feels like a slog for the lead, a final, painful hurdle towards the finish line of coming out of hiding and unapologetic happiness. Last night, after Peter’s live moment, it was 100 percent about Rachel and Bryan until the end and I felt this change did the happy couple justice.
I enjoyed Peter all season long. Aside from him being so easy on the eyes and an A+ dresser, it’s been refreshing to have an intelligent, eloquent contestant clearly invested yet not willing to bend to the rules of a highly unnatural process. It’s difficult to hear his reasons for not wanting to propose and not nod in agreement. My favourite line of his was when he said, “I feel feelings of love, but those feelings are recent.” Why shouldn’t he want to wait to be 100% sure? And conversely, why shouldn’t Rachel want someone who is 100% sure? I’m reminded of an astute comment left over on the blog: “I get that Peter is handsome, kind, easy to talk to—but wow—it seems overwhelmingly obvious to me that Peter is not emotionally available.” This rang especially true last night. I do believe he felt those emotions of love and that, had Rachel insisted, he would have proposed to appease her. But that is with the Bachelor bubble—remember, an environment by design meant to make you fall head over heels, and fast—blowing wind at his sails. What would happen a week later, or a month later? As his own mother put it, Peter is ready for commitment and a relationship, but he’s not ready for marriage. He wouldn’t be the first man to feel this way. Rachel was right to mention her ex, a relationship of five years that felt like it should lead towards marriage but never did. An ex of mine was the exact same way. There’s a permanence to marriage that scares many men (and women!), and I think not only do they have to meet the certain lady who can unlock a willingness to go there, they have to already be beyond ready for it. Neither of those conditions were in place with Peter.
This was my favorite Bachelorette season in a long time. As with many Bachelorettes, Rachel is beautiful and charming. But what I love the most is her is her overriding pragmatism. You could feel her calculating the long-term into her every decision (I laughed when she joked about grilling the guys about their health insurance and credit scores), painfully aware that the Bachelor bubble is temporary. Also, perhaps because I’m also a woman in my early 30s, I felt for Rachel’s needs. The life trajectory needs, of course, but additionally the traits she needed in a partner: self assuredness and unflappable confidence, both in himself and in them as a couple. What was also interesting about realistic Rachel, though, is she’s proof that any of us would get teary-eyed and confused at the prospect of sending men home. I’ve spoken to enough leads to know you really do fall for more than one person and you really do get confused, though it’s easy from the comfort of our sofas to assume it’s either an act or they’ve just lost their wits. We’ve seen that Rachel can’t fake anything (another favorite feature) and, as she’s stated more than once, she doesn’t say anything for the sake of it. Under these special circumstances, a reasonable, discerning, intelligent person can feel romantic love for four different people, and Rachel is proof of that.
Finally, what a beautiful couple Rachel and Bryan make! I love that they’re both mature, career-oriented individuals who know what they want. I love the idea of them setting up shop in either Dallas or Miami and continuing their careers and investing their energy in their relationship and future family. I really do have high hopes for these two and I wish them all the best. Congratulations to the happy couple!
That’s it for The Bachelorette this season, now it’s time for the beach! Watch Bachelor in Paradise Mondays AND Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. EST on City. Then, head on over to FLARE.com/themorningafter every Tuesday and Wednesday for recaps from Sharleen Joynt, GIF recaps and more!