Of course, it was Bryan all along. By the third time that Bryan sucked the life out of Rachel’s face, it was clear that this season needed to ditch the whole dating concept and rebrand to The Rachel and Bryan Show.
Rachel and Bryan’s sickly sweet rom-without-the-com has been chugging along from the moment he stepped out of the limo and stole her
heart First Impression Rose. And yet, it’s all so oddly disappointing. Something about Bryan seems…off. Even Rachel felt that between the candlelight dinners and Bryan’s cliché lines, it was possibly too perfect—but she was willing to hear him out.
I, however, am not.
This is trash. I had to watch the finale not once, but TWICE in order to believe what I had just witnessed—which, considering its three-hour runtime, was a serious commitment. The second time I watched, I pressed mute once Bryan started picking out a ring. Not even the Spanish hills wanted to hear his proposal, sending a fierce wind to drown out this sorry mess.
But hey, Rachel got herself a ring and a man. If nothing else, watching this season of The Bachelorette taught me the value of staying focused on one’s goals. Rachel wanted a ring, a proposal, a fiancé—and she wanted to get it done in two months. I have piles of laundry that I haven’t done in that much time.
Rachel set a standard: the man of her dreams would whisk her off her feet and marry her. She’s been humiliated and broken before, but not this time. Bryan fit that criteria—he even literally picked her up on multiple occasions.
The irritating thing about this show in its driving march towards a proposal is that, as a viewer, you don’t really get a sense of what the Bachelorette truly wants in a man. In the live portion of the show, Rachel tells Chris Harrison that the Fantasy Suites were where she got down to the nitty-gritty things like health insurance, kids and careers. You know, real-life concerns outside of figuring out which Swiss watch or vintage Spanish wine to pick. It’s a damn shame that none of these discussions, and the real metrics that people use to evaluate their futures, were put on display in the show.
This isn’t a complaint that “reality TV isn’t real;” but without that tangible information, the show had a tunnel effect on our vision. Peter looked brokenhearted, but Rachel was clearly rankled about something. In her live interview, she claimed there were flaws about Peter (*TWIST*) apart from his commitment challenges. Where was all this information?
The net effect is that Peter appears to have been cruelly disadvantaged and neither Rachel nor Bryan come off looking particularly interesting. That is the fault of the showrunners, not their stars.
Despite being a casual member of Team Dean, I am not interested in judging Rachel for picking Bryan. I don’t think she said yes to him just because he was willing to propose and Peter wasn’t. They have had undeniable chemistry since the very beginning. It makes me sick, but so do lots of other people’s relationships. Unless it’s Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, other folks’ romances are awful to witness.
The best moment of the finale was also its realest: when Peter and Rachel ending their relationship in a teary, heart-rending evening. In the way of true, deep but ultimately impossible loves, that breakup felt, as Chris Harrison said, incomplete. And that is how I’ve related to this whole show. It’s been messy, emotional and deeply unfinished.
To be frank, as a newcomer to this series, I found the whole thing frustrating. For weeks, I have been yelling “OK, but it’s 2017 though!” at my screen. The Hometown Dates in particular perpetuated this idea that a woman’s family grants her permission to live and marry. Like, OK, they were nice family dinners and everything but there’s been a Black president. This isn’t the 1950s anymore.
(The regressiveness doesn’t stop on the sexy offshoot either. Don’t get me started on the way the producers chose to evade and dance around the Bachelor in Paradise stop and re-start. It made me queasy. Questions about consent and safety have been glossed over as titillating television drama. It’s unconscionable.)
Here, in the future where your cat can become a famous internet star, I don’t understand what the appeal of “Marriage as A Goal.” This is not the Amazing Race to the Altar. I do, however, understand the appeal of judging people—it’s a survival instinct from our caveman days.
That said, marriage is one of those things that we should just let people do. After all, Rachel and Bryan are the ones who need to live with it; for the rest of us, there’s always next season.
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!