The good news: “The Bachelorette” finale — in which the star, Rachel Lindsay, got engaged to Bryan Abasolo — was not boring. In fact, the three-hour episode on Monday night was pretty good TV. Well done, ABC!
The bad news: “The Bachelorette” finale was an actual nightmare.
Allow us to explain why.
1) It involved a painful breakup on television.
It’s an unfortunate fact of every “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” finale — one person gets dumped. (Sometimes, two people get dumped.) But the breakup between Rachel and her runner-up, Peter Kraus, was one for the ages.
Rachel, a 32-year-old attorney from Dallas, and Peter, a 31-year-old business owner from Wisconsin, had chemistry from the first time they met in the “Bachelorette” mansion. As the season continued, there was a major flag: Peter was candid that although he had strong feelings for Rachel, he didn’t feel comfortable proposing to someone he had only known for six weeks.
In the real world, that’s normal. In “Bachelorette” world, well, that’s just unacceptable. “The Bachelorette” is supposed to end with a ring. As Rachel made very clear, she did not give up her job and her life to come on the show and find a boyfriend — she wanted a fiance. Even if they didn’t get married anytime soon, a proposal would signal that he was serious about her.
Rachel and Peter’s final conversations were consumed by this impasse. Peter tried to reassure her that he loved her and saw their future together: date nights, farmers markets, sharing bottles of wine, the works. He just wasn’t ready to propose, especially given that she might choose another man over him. Rachel wasn’t having it, particularly because she had recently been in a five-year relationship that didn’t lead to an engagement.
“My fear is that, okay, you don’t propose and I agree to just date you and be committed to you. What guarantee do I have that it’s ever gonna leave that stage?” Rachel asked. “Because my past has shown me that it won’t. I’m in this because I want someone who wants what I want. I want someone who wants to move towards marriage. And my fear is you don’t have that same level of commitment. ”
“I’m sorry that it’s taking me this long,” Peter said tearfully. “But I’m not able to act on impulse.”
They went around on the issue until they both broke down crying during a brutally honest conversation. For viewers, it was both riveting and deeply uncomfortable. Peter finally relented and said he would propose, just so he wouldn’t lose her — but Rachel didn’t like that idea, because she felt he would resent her. So they decided to say goodbye. As Rachel walked out the door, Peter was wracked with sobs. “What’s wrong with me?” he asked, as the camera eagerly lingered.
2) Rachel and Peter were forced to watch their painful breakup on live television.
“The Bachelorette” producers made Rachel watch the entire episode next to host Chris Harrison and the live studio audience — usually, the finale airs and then the star arrives for a postseason interview. But no, Rachel had to relive the horrible breakup in front of hundreds of people and endure Harrison’s probing questions after every few scenes.
As contractually obligated, Peter was also forced to attend the live special — after watching the episode backstage, he had to sit for an interview with Rachel. Peter, visibly shaking, said he cried backstage while watching the footage. Harrison twisted the knife further (“Do you wish you handled that night differently?” “Peter, do you still love Rachel?”) as he grilled them on their choices. In the end, Peter wished Rachel all the best; she said she hopes he finds what he’s looking for. They both looked absolutely miserable, with far more emotion than usually exists between the star and runner-up.
3) Bryan had to sit and watch his fiancee be heartsick over another man.
Bryan? Oh right, Bryan! Bryan, the 37-year-old chiropractor from Miami. Rachel’s new fiance, the love of her life, who got about two seconds of screen time during the live finale. At least, that’s what it felt like, especially compared to the intense emotion of Rachel and Peter’s reunion. Anyway, Bryan proposed and Rachel accepted. They seemed genuinely happy, though as they cuddled together on “The Bachelorette” couch and talked about their future, viewers couldn’t help but notice the difference between the couples.
So, to recap, from Rachel’s perspective — horrific breakup plus being required to relive it all on live television with your ex plus your new fiance on hand to watch it all? All the makings of a literal nightmare. But again — a very entertaining three hours of TV.