Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelor Finale!

The opera singer, FLARE columnist and former Bachelor contestant shares her take on last night's finale

sharleen joynt bachelor recap

Ben and Lauren have found their people (Photography: ©2016 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.)

I watched last night’s episode with the lovely folks from Jezebel at their head office in Union Square. I’ve always loved Jezebel, not only because they’ve been very kind to me in the past, but because of their unabashed feminist voice. (If you’ve never read their Bachelor pieces they’re definitely worth a peek.) Watching The Bachelor with a room full of staunch feminists gave an interesting perspective. Here’s the thing: I certainly watch this show in a tongue-in-cheek way, laughing at moments which probably aren’t meant to be funny. And now that I write about it, there’s a seriousness to how I watch as well. (I’ve been known to rewind and rewatch segments to take notes.) But I’ve realized I’m a bit more of a romantic than I thought, as while some people last night might have laughed at an over-the-top romantic moment, I caught myself grinning, moved by the scene. I suppose it doesn’t matter how we watch; we’re all still watching.

I always struggle with writing about the finale. I’m very conscious of sounding like I know what I’m talking about when I don’t, and in the case of The Bachelor finales, none of us know truly what it was like unless we were there. However, watching the two meet-the-parents dates and all the ILYs, followed by Ben’s seemingly sudden decision while with Neil Lane (diamonds will do that to you, apparently), and his subsequent (and present) clarity, that Bachelor bubble I’ve mentioned struck me.

Don’t get me wrong; several leads have stated that it’s possible to fall in love with two contestants, so we know there must be some truth to it. However, it’s truly to the credit of a team of producers, not innocent compatibility or circumstantial bonding. After all, that “bubble” is designed to breed confusion. We see now that Ben is sublimely happy with Lauren and with his decision, yet mere minutes before, he was shown torn and confused and seemingly unsure of what to do. Part of me thinks it would be fascinating to watch this social experiment for what it actually is; one man, 25 women, 0 manipulation. What would happen? Would it still have come down to Lauren and Jojo? It’s safe to say he would have still chosen Lauren, but would he still have “fallen in love” with Jojo? I suppose we’ll never know.

The Bachelorette announcement was a surprising one given the hype around Caila, her prime position as second runner-up, and the promise of the franchise’s most distinct foray into more “diverse” territory. Not only was Caila’s Bachelorette intro package very recently filmed, but Us Weekly officially announced her as Bachelorette, and Us Weekly (unlike some other gossip rags) is usually to be trusted. (When Michael G and I met with them last week, he and I expressed our doubts about the final choice being Caila, based on how her Women Tell All segment had gone. Their response: “Our source is reliable and very confident.”) Does any of this matter? Of course not. I’m thrilled it’s Jojo—is anyone not?—and think she has the cool girl factor where women want to be her friend, combined with the je-ne-sais-quoi that will have men fighting over her. (Plus, she’s half Persian, so there’s a modicum of diversity!) However, though it’s safe to say the decision was a game-time one, the degree to which Caila was led on doesn’t sit well with me. Even long after filming ceases, the powers that be are not afraid to toy with their contestants’ emotions.

As for the happy couple, I could have done without production’s bright idea to pressure them to get married then and there (based on this show’s track record, that sounds like the worst idea EVER), but Ben sidestepped it gracefully. And despite my misgivings over manipulation and the Bachelor “bubble,” seeing Ben and Lauren glowing up on that stage was a reminder of why we watch. They look so genuinely happy to have found each other, and since we all feel like we went on that journey with them, there’s an attachment to them as a couple that can’t be replicated. Case in point, you’ll never see the public as emotionally invested in a celebrity couple as a Bachelor/ette couple.

That’s a wrap, folks. Thanks for reading along all season and sharing your thoughtful comments. And last but not least, congratulations to the happy couple!

For more on this season of The Bachelor from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, All the Pretty Pandas. And stay tuned for our Bachelorette recaps, coming in May! 

All Episode Recaps From The Bachelor Season 20
I Tried It: Bachelorette Hottie Shawn Booth’s Weight Loss Plan
Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe Refuses to be Slut-Shamed
Bachelor Match-up: Who They Should Have Picked
Sharleen Joynt Is Also Our Dating Columnist! #AskSharleen