While it’s certainly a part of their story that Arie and Lauren got engaged in this fashion, and it may well have ultimately strengthened their relationship (as Molly Mesnick said the experience had done for her and Jason), I personally don’t think it did them, as a televised couple with millions of eyeballs scrutinizing them, any favours. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, analyzing how Lauren had next-to-no early-season airtime (which by the way, is totally standard for runners-up on this show—remember my comparison to Becca Tilley on Chris’s season?). It’s clear the start of the season was funnelled into the editing sausage maker before Arie’s change of heart (or perhaps during), and thus we saw a season geared towards Arie and Becca’s happy ending, not Arie and Lauren’s.
This is detrimental to our potential to understand what Arie and Lauren share. Without seeing the crucial early (and lighthearted) moments between them, before Lauren became so invested and thus increasingly insecure and distraught, it’s easy (and natural) to assume there just wasn’t much there. For example, we hardly saw any of Lauren on Night One. How nice might it have been to have seen them meet, or as Lauren recounted, to have seen them realize that they’d met before, in Dallas, or seen her trip while walking into the mansion? (You guys know how much I hate it when happenings are referenced when we were never shown them!) Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen at least a few sentences between them leading up to their first kiss in episode 3? (Instead, all we heard was Arie say, “I want to kiss you.” The whole thing was blended into the segment about Bibiana’s telescope set-up in front of the mansion, as one of the many moments an unwitting Arie spent with other women there instead of with Bibiana herself.) We didn’t know Lauren was even on Arie’s radar until episode 4, when Lauren referenced another earlier conversation between them that we never saw (urgh!!). We caught a glimpse of a lighthearted Lauren here when she said, “I want the kind of relationship where when we’re super old and gross-looking and we’re still spanking each other’s butts and telling dirty jokes,” but that was about it. Those first few words, the memory of having met, their laughs along the way… all of these little unremarkable occurrences could go a long way toward painting a bigger picture, a picture we might judge less and understand more.
I would be remiss to not be brutally honest and point out the many foibles on Arie’s part throughout this finale. I don’t feel too bad pointing them out, either, as I’ve been a major Arie supporter and still do think he’s one of my favourite Bachelors ever. (I know this is probably shocking, but it’s true! I ate up this season.) However, just as my honesty had me in his corner for so many weeks, it will now serve to critique. I’m not willing to brush off these details as unimportant because doing so doesn’t do our intelligence, as viewers, justice. Just as this show—and its stars—continue to evolve, they need to cover their bases better, because we too are evolving.
First, I am in the camp that believes while the breakup being televised was undeniably informative, it went way too far (having Arie return to lure Becca out of her private hiding place was just sick and mean). On the whole, this was better suited to being done in private. On last night’s second half of the finale, Chris Harrison asked a lot of the cast about this. He asked the women from Arie’s season, most of whom carefully said it didn’t go too far, and Becca herself even said she got closure from it and that she’d known what she signed up for, also careful answers. Meanwhile, when Jason Mesnick, speaker of truth, said that if Arie had asked his advice: “I would say, try to do it privately.” (I just LOVE how Jason Mesnick doesn’t give a crap about what the show—the very show he’s on—thinks!) Look, I get that the televised breakup was likely a predominant reason Becca was chosen as Bachelorette, which I’m thrilled about, but I don’t appreciate the dumb, insulting justifications as to why it was done. It was done most likely because producers saw it as a juicy, “Most Dramatic Finale Ever”-worthy ending to a poorly-rated season. Of course, Arie had to be in on it somewhat (Bekah M even went so far as to say “he had that choice”), but he is neither 100 percent to blame, nor remotely 100 percent faultless. Thus, I rolled my eyes when Arie said he chose to have that breakup televised so that everyone knew it was all on him. To me, that was a subtle way of suggesting well-meaning, as though the intent behind that whole scene really was something so innocent. It wasn’t. I see the show itself as 60 percent to blame for this, and Arie 40 percent for going along with it every step of the way.
Second, Bekah M made an interesting point when she said Arie “says whatever he needs to say to the person in front of him to get what he wants.” Now, I don’t think it’s quite as sinister as that, nor do I think he does it manipulatively or even intentionally. But she’s right in that I too get the sense that Arie says what he thinks he needs to say in the moment, and which, for a Bachelor hailed for his honesty (this was actually one of the things Lauren said she loved about Arie when Chris Harrison asked her on the live special), is a concern. Lauren said the first thing she asked Arie when they spoke was if Becca knew he was reaching out. Based on the way she spoke about this, it is safe to assume he told her Becca did know. But Becca had just told us she didn’t find out about this phone call until a week after the fact. She had encouraged him to speak with Lauren if it would alleviate his guilt, but the timing of his revealing this phone call to her was suspect. (Don’t even get me started on how, when he broke up with Becca, he made it sound as though he didn’t already have Lauren waiting in the wings.) Also, while he was having doubts with Becca (and was nurturing the possibility of a reconciliation with Lauren), he continued to make long-term plans with her, even looking at houses with her. This reminds me of his looseness with saying the L-word on his season (apparently there is such a thing as too many Words of Affirmation), in that those quiet reassurances only served to make the breakup itself more of a blindside. Obviously, these details aren’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but they do demonstrate that aforementioned tendency to say whatever sweet nothings he needs or wants to in the moment, even if and when those sweet nothings end up resembling white lies.
Finally, I have no issue with Arie and Lauren together and think they seem genuinely happy together, but I do think the proposal last night was in poor taste. Not only was it completely overshadowed by Becca’s announcement as Bachelorette, but Arie should’ve read the temperature of the room and known it would be seen as an odd choice more so than a romantic one. In my humble opinion, if I were Lauren, I’d want my proposal to be as far away from that mess as possible, and as with the breakup, I think it would have been better done in private. I know it’d been a few months for them together and they were evidently ready for this (plus I know there’s a massive ring at stake), but for us—the very players who made this gesture a grand and public one—it was very soon. Too soon. Far too soon for us to be expected to be super gung-ho about it. Remember, this was mere moments after Arie admitted he shouldn’t have proposed to Becca and that he’d felt rushed to propose in general because of the pressure of the finale. The way I see it, rushing to propose at After The Final Rose is not so different. Why could he not just propose to Lauren in, say, the kitchen? It felt too fast, too soon, and like it didn’t do either relationship, his past one with Becca or his future one with Lauren, justice.
As harsh as all this may come across, I swear it comes from a place of affection for both Arie and Lauren. On the whole, I have thoroughly enjoyed this season. It was kept me guessing and has kept things very interesting. Arie himself has been a human, if not perfect, lead. I’m sure many people can relate to him whether or not they’d like to admit it. And as I’ve mentioned numerous times over on the blog, I’ve enjoyed and applauded Lauren’s endearing discomfort on camera. I personally relate to her in that, and even though I know I’m not in the majority with this opinion, I’ve found her stoicism and carefulness very compelling. Above all, I am downright thrilled that Becca is next season’s lead, and without this happy couple, we wouldn’t have gotten such a triumphant and redemptive Bachelorette crowning. Congratulations to both Arie and Lauren, and to Becca, whom I for one cannot wait to watch finally “do the damn thing”!
And that’s a wrap for Season 22 of The Bachelor! Thanks for following along; join us back here on May 29 as we kick off Becca’s season of The Bachelorette with Sharleen Joynt’s always on-point recaps and more!