Are you still with us? The finale has arrived, a conclusion to this boring of boringest seasons of “The Bachelor,” the 22nd in a franchise that grows by the year with new spin offs, engagements, babies — and, of course, breakups.
Speaking of splits, we don’t have a best or weirdest moment from last night, only worst ones. We pick up in Peru, where the final two women, Lauren and Becca, meet Arie’s family and go on their final dates before he picks out a Neil Lane ring and gets down on one knee.
The first worst moment: Becca meets Arie’s parents, who can’t stop talking about Lauren
Arie begins the episode telling his parents that he’s in love with two women and just can’t decide. First up is Lauren, whom everyone seems to also love, despite her lack of personality. Arie describes Lauren to his parents as “quiet and sort of introverted” but also occasions of being “super funny” and “[dancing] around.”
Then it’s Becca’s turn, whom Arie calls more “outgoing,” and who unfortunately has to listen to everyone in Arie’s family compare her with Lauren. Arie’s father puts it bluntly: “Looking at him around you, I — I don’t know. It’s hard to compare him around Lauren yesterday and you. Right now, I haven’t been able to pick up any vibes where I say, ‘well, I think he’s leaning more towards Becca or Lauren.’ So, I’m sure you’ve met her and kind of got to know her a little bit.”
Uh, yes, they have met — they lived in a house together and have traveled to Tahoe, Calif.; a scuzzy bowling alley; Paris; Italy; and now darkest Peru — all the while competing with one another for Arie’s love and devotion.
Ever the Midwestern diplomat, Becca plays it coolly. “We’re just vastly different, as I’m sure you noticed,” Becca says, adding that Lauren is “a great girl, just so kind. But there were just other women in the house that I got to know better, just because they were just a little more open, and it was just easier to get to know them.”
A great girl. Kind. Synonyms for boring but in a gracious way. Becca is a bit more direct in her in-the-moment interview with producers later, saying: “Lauren and I are so different. It’s like trying to compare an apple to a starfish.”
By the end of Becca’s visit, Arie’s parents are rooting for the starfish. “I think Becca would be better for your future,” Arie’s father says. And Arie agrees. For now.
Another worst moment: Arie breaks up with Lauren, chooses Becca
When someone says they’re in love with you and can see a future together, it’s understandable to think that they might propose — so, who can blame Lauren for thinking she was in the clear?
“I don’t think Arie would’ve let me tell him all those things about how much I care about him and talk about our future all day if he knew he was picking Becca,” she says happily after their final one-on-one date, on which they cuddled on a couch and talked about their future date nights that involved drinking wine and going for walks in the park. (Hey, no one accused them of being original.)
So that made it all the more devastating when Lauren was the first contestant out of the limo on proposal day, which is a sure sign that she would be sent home. Wearing a flapper chic silver gown, she strolled confidently to a majestic spot overlooking the Peruvian countryside, where Arie awaited in a snazzy blue suit, surrounded by grazing alpacas.
“I’m freaking out!” Lauren gushes, before launching into a speech he’s the man she’s “been looking for my whole life.”
Arie just looks sad.
“Um,” he starts, tears in his eyes. “Last night I was awake all night thinking about this moment, and I wanted it so bad for us. But there’s something that was holding me back, and I just can’t go through with it. And it’s not anything that I can explain, other than I gave it everything I had to see if it could work.”
And … that was pretty much it. The normally stoic Lauren finally has an expression on her face. “I don’t even know what to say,” she says. “I’m extremely confused.”
“I did fall in love with you,” Arie protests. “I didn’t know fully until this morning. I was in love with her; I was in love with you. I’m sorry I had to put you through this.”
They walk in stony silence to the limo, where Lauren finally breaks down: “I feel betrayed. … he just completely blindsided me,” she says tearfully. “He had no idea what he was going to do till this morning. Does that not terrify him? How could you get down on one knee if you weren’t sure until three hours ago? I really think he made a mistake.”
While Lauren’s words would prove prophetic, first, the cameras had to show his romantic proposal to Becca, who showed up in a sleek black lace gown.
“This morning I woke up, and I thought about you, and I thought about you and our kids together. I thought about us when we’re old. I choose you today and I choose you every day from here on out,” Arie says, which would soon be a very awkward sentiment. “I love you so much. Becca, will you marry me?”
Then they spun around gleefully in a field. “I can’t wait to dance all the time with you now,” said Becca, deliriously happy. “What is life?!”
No, THIS is the worst moment: Arie breaks up with Becca, chooses Lauren
It’s generally hard to feel bad for people who go on “The Bachelor.” To do so is to willingly acquiesce to a scenario in which you know your heart could be broken, you could be humiliated in front of the whole nation, and your reputation could be irreparably harmed. People do it anyway, and they know what they’re getting into. But never before has being on “The Bachelor” seemed as much like selling your soul to the devil.
Arie: A monster! Chris Harrison: A sadist! ABC: The absolute worst! After the show is over, the cameras keep following our couple through their weeks of post-engagement bliss. Becca seems deliriously happy. Arie, it is revealed, is even less sure than he was before.
“I go to bed, and I think about Lauren, and I wake up and I think about Lauren,” Arie says to the camera before things start to unravel. Becca “knows that I think about Lauren.”
We can understand why Arie felt pressure to choose one girl and propose — the entire show pushes the contestants toward that inevitability. The fact that he proposed isn’t what makes Arie a bad person: “Bachelor” couples get engaged and break up all the time.
No, what does it is the fact that Arie told Chris Harrison that he was going to break up with Becca before he told Becca, thus setting the entire ABC machine in motion. What makes Chris Harrison and ABC the worst is that they lured poor Becca to this rented L.A. house under the pretense of a nice “couple’s weekend,” and the poor girl was completely blindsided.
“I feel like I can finally relax,” she says before Arie comes to the house. Oh, God, no.
Arie sits her down and explains that he is still thinking about Lauren and wants to give it a go. Becca says what everyone is thinking: “Are you f—ing kidding me?”
“I know that you’re an incredible woman —” Arie starts to say.
“I know you were conflicted, but you should have thought about if you were ready to get engaged, and you weren’t,” says Becca, who is processing this in real time, in a sequence that ABC is airing as raw footage. You can see the gears turning in her head as she thinks about how this humiliation will play out for us, the viewers. “So f–king embarrassing,” she says.
She tells Arie to leave no less than FIVE TIMES, walking to various parts of the house to keep her crying off camera. He doesn’t go. In fact, he even knocks on the bathroom door and asks, “Hey, are you okay?” NO, SHE IS NOT OKAY, ARIE, YOU VILLAIN. There are approximately five minutes of crying. It feels like much more. The only good part about the fact that ABC is airing the raw footage is that it shows how Arie keeps trying to make himself look like a good guy. Editing can’t help him here.
Back in the live studio, Chris Harrison can’t help but gleefully point out that, “To say this is trending and blowing up on social media right now is a gross understatement.” Gross is right, Chris.
Yes, Becca went on “The Bachelor” and knew that humiliation could ensue. But this is far beyond what other contestants have been forced to endure, and that’s why it feels so sleazy. It’s captivating television, obviously. We’re all complicit! Naturally, the breakup has a cliffhanger: Tune in tomorrow to see Lauren, Becca and Arie talk about what happened.
In the words of Lauren, poor, sweet, beige Lauren: “Wow.”