It’s not a “Bachelor” season finale if you’re not cringing by the end, and Monday night’s episode was no exception. However this time, the awkward moments had nothing to do with the newly-engaged couple. (Yawn — Chris Soules picked Whitney Bischoff over Becca Tilley. Yeah, yeah, good for them.) Instead, the uncomfortable scene occurred when host Chris Harrison announced the new, awkward twist for the upcoming season of “The Bachelorette.”
Harrison really built it up; the show traditionally chooses the star of the next edition on the “After the Final Rose” special. “Who’s it going to be?” he asked the studio audience. “Who will be the lucky woman who gets to date 25 of the most eligible men in America?”
Twist! Apparently, the staff was completely divided down the middle this year when they narrowed down casting choices to two women from this past season: Britt Nilsson, the California model who melted down and became one of this season’s villains. And Kaitlyn Bristowe, the Canadian dancer who was unexpectedly cast aside in the penultimate episode.
So what’s a reality show producer to do? “We actually decided not to decide,” Harrison said. “For the first time in ‘Bachelorette’ history, we’re going to have two bachelorettes!”
Cue wild applause from the studio audience that trailed off into a “Wait, huh?”
Harrison clarified. “That’s right, it is going to be Britt AND Kaitlyn. So the 25 men on night one are going to have the ultimate say about who they think would make the best wife.”
So — that would sound especially wrong except that the show has pulled this move before. Way back in 2004 when ratings faltered, the show cast two bachelors for Season 6. The 25 women chose between Byron Velvick and Jay Overbye in the season premiere, giving a rose to the man they preferred. Byron got the most roses and went on to be “The Bachelor” that resulted in an ultimately disastrous relationship.
But viewers didn’t get that history lesson: Harrison welcomed Britt and Kaitlyn on stage, both wearing incredibly sparkly mini-dresses and looking undeniably not-thrilled to be there.
“Everybody is floored about this and I’m sure you are among those that are just as surprised,” Harrison gushed as the women forced smiles.
“No, this is totally normal,” Kaitlyn said.
“Yeah, not weird at all,” Britt chimed in.
Harrison tried to make small talk as there were many pauses and awkward laughter between the two women, who will now go on national television for a second time to essentially compete for a husband. To their credit, they tried really hard to appear thankful for the opportunity (national television!) that is also admittedly quite demeaning.
“I’m super grateful, I think it’s an amazing opportunity,” Britt said. “I mean, it’s more than I can comprehend. I’m still having a lot of trouble processing it. And I love Kaitlyn, so we’ll just see how it goes!”
Harrison pressed: “These guys are going to show up night one, double trouble. Is there a strategy? Have you guys talked about how this is going to go?”
Kaitlyn and Britt looked at each other. “I think we discussed we’ll end up in the same hot tub at one point,” Kaitlyn deadpanned.
“Yeah — right, yeah!” Britt chimed in.
“Some lucky damn guys, that’s all I can say, lucky men out there,” Harrison sighed. “I can’t imagine now that we’ve made this announcement, what the reaction’s going to be from men all across this great land clamoring to have a shot to get on this season.”
It went on like that as Harrison peppered them with questions. “What do you think the first night’s going to be like?” he urged.
“Fun?” Britt guessed.
“A lot of things. Fun might be one of them,” Kaitlyn said, starting to look even less enthused. Then as Harrison asked if they were sure they wanted to get involved in this madness, Britt answered “Yes!” just as Kaitlyn responded “I question it.”
Wild guess: Kaitlyn is going to regret this almost immediately. But do producers really care? Last season’s “Bachelorette” starring Andi Dorfmann didn’t get great ratings, and this twist promises to bring drama — and that should easily lure viewers.
Speaking of Dorfmann, she clearly has some thoughts on “The Bachelorette” squared, though she only teased it on Twitter:
I'm gonna keep my mouth shut right now ;) #TheBachelorettes
— Andi Dorfman (@AndiDorfman) March 10, 2015
Meanwhile, Harrison asked Kaitlyn what she thought when she found out about the double-bachelorette news — and Kaitlyn didn’t hold back. “I think what went through my mind was ‘Well, that’s not ideal,'” Kaitlyn said, as Britt tried not to look offended.
“Nothing against you,” she quickly said to Britt. “I mean, that’s not really what I pictured. But, I mean, if that’s what it takes to find somebody …”
She trailed off, but no words were necessary.