*Disclaimer: in an effort to get this post up ASAP I've written it straight from memory and very quickly. I have not reviewed for incessant rambling, duplication of thoughts or accuracy. Please forgive my sloppiness. I’ll go back and fix things later.
On to the recap….
I feel so…
Last night’s finale of The Bachelor was a lot of things. Strange, awkward and uncomfortable are the first words that come to mind.
Our Bachelor was conflicted right until the end. And talked about it a lot. On camera. And to his family. And to Becca.
I hope Whitney was telling the truth when she said she didn't watch the show. But part of me thinks it was a fib. That she just (rightly so) doesn't want to subject herself to the barrage of questions about how Chris’ lack of certainty that she was in fact, the “one” makes her feel about their relationship and their future.
Ugh, I feel gross. This show is a lot of things: unrealistic, old-fashioned, probably sexist; but there is usually a sense of cohesion; everyone knows the rules and plays along (more or less) to the end…or sends themselves home. This time we had an outlier, Becca, who wasn't playing the game ABC wanted her to play. The game where you submit to their terms. Those terms being: you eventually let your guard down, you tell the Bachelor you are in love with him and want to get engaged and live happily ever after.
Nope, Becca don’t play that. She (understandably and realistically) had doubts about the “ever after” part. She questioned the core premise of this show and didn't play along with the rules, which in turn caused Chris to waffle and worry, right up until the end. To me this means that Becca was his first choice. We don’t know that for sure; we do know ABC engages in creative/manipulative editing. But it was definitely a season without a foregone conclusion, i.e. without a clear front runner.
So when I say I feel gross, it’s mostly for Whitney’s sake. I actually feel appreciative that Becca represented herself as a real person, with real doubts, questions and fears about what a relationship stemming from this show means. I mean, sure, she could have played nice in the sandbox, said what she needed to say, then refused to move and/or dumped Chris in the privacy of their after-show relationship if it didn't work out. I am assuming that is what most contestants do on this show. I think the rewards for making it the end are attractive enough to ensure compliance with these rules. Usually, anyway.
But nope. This time we got to see behind the curtain of this show’s façade – the faux reality that it’s perfectly normal to "date" someone for 6 weeks, fall in love, get engaged and leave your life and career to move for him, all wrapped up nice in a pretty red rose colored bow.
Becca wasn't playing those reindeer games. She has a good head on her shoulders and is poking holes in the entire premise. But unfortunately in Bachelor world, she’s not seen as brave or smart or realistic. Instead I think they (ABC, Chris, even Becca herself) are making it out like Becca’s questions and fears come from being inexperienced in the areas of love and sex. When in reality her fears and questions come from being a normal person who is saying to herself “This is crazy. I’m not going to say I’m in love with him yet. I’m not going to say I’ll move to Iowa. I want to continue dating him because I’m falling in love but we need to see how things progress after the show is over.” Sounds reasonable to me! But unfortunately this show doesn't work that way. The formula only works if everyone drinks the same Kool-Aid.
I’m going to separate my finale recap with the “After the Final Rose” recap because I think we need to tackle ABC’s Bachelorette announcement on its own.
Let’s take this from the beginning…
Chris is back in Iowa after whittling the group from three to the final two, Whitney and Becca. He’s mentally preparing himself to have both girls meet his family and see his home. And by mentally preparing I mean to tell us again that he has no idea what he’s going to do. He joins his big, beautiful, happy family and tells them as much too.
Whitney’s up first and she makes a great impression. She brings Chris’ mom lilies (her mom’s fave) and wine. Smart move – we know how much Mrs. Soules likes her wine! She seems to fit right in with the family and says all the right things to make them fall in love with her. She tears up telling them how much this all means to her. Home run right?
After Whit charms the leather pants off his sisters, Chris gets a chance to answer their questions. This is where we see Chris for the first of many times in the finale turn his family's attention to Becca in an almost defensive way.
Next we find ourselves in the garage, where the men of the family gather to have a meeting of the minds. (Sidebar: have you ever seen such a vast array of wrenches? And they are ginormous!)
Again we see Chris bring up Becca and defend her in an “I know you think Whit’s great, but wait ‘til you meet Becca!” way. Is it safe to assume Chris sees Whitney as great on paper but really has the connection with Becca? I mean, seriously - unless they are doing some heavy duty editing, how could we not all think that? It perplexes the family, once they hear about Becca’s skepticism, that Chris could prefer her over the perfect Whit. One of Chris’ brother’s in law asks if Becca's "hard to get" act is what is really attracting Chris to her. A legitimate question and one we can all relate to at one time or another.
Moving on…next up is Becca.
Becca shows up at the house with…a tray of cookies. As my friend Beth pointed out, “bringing wine and flowers means ‘love;’ bringing cookies means ‘like.’” Great point. Strange choice.
Chris’ family meets Becca and she proceeds to crack them all up. Good sign! Then she has one on one time with the sisters and gives them the same spiel we've heard time and again from her: she’s not sure, she doesn't know, she’s not ready…yet.
And again, I have to rant again here. I’m very surprised Chris’ family has bought in to the concept of this show so readily that they aren't more understanding or accepting of Becca’s position. The don’t seem to question the obviously asinine idea that someone can know, know for certain, after two months and probably only 2-3 real dates that they not only love someone but are willing to give up their life and move for the person.
Or maybe they've bought into the idea that they want Chris’ chosen one to play the game and say what she needs to say to give Chris his happy ending? I don’t know, but it’s curious, considering how mature, normal and put together they all seem.
Becca then has a really touching moment with Chris’ mom Linda, who points out several times that perhaps the feelings Becca is having are actually feelings of love that she’s just not registering. It brings tears to Becca’s eyes and I’m guessing she is probably right and that Becca has chosen – consciously or unconsciously – that she will not fully let her guard down on this show like all the other girls in the final two before her. Which is both admirable and a shame if she and Chris have “real” feelings and chemistry above and beyond living situations and Neil Lane rings.
On one hand Chris went through all this shit, he deserves to have his chosen ones play the game and not make it so difficult on him. On the other hand, he should certainly shouldn't toss someone aside just because they WON’T play the game, when he/we all know the game is bullshit. RIGHT?!
Oh it’s all so confusing.
It makes me think again – more than ever – that Becca would be his natural pick if she was saying more of the right things. Chris’ dad sure seems to think so, interviewing “Whitney is the sure thing, but Becca’s the one Chris wants.” Yikes.
For Chris and Becca’s final date, he shows up at her hotel room in Dubuque to chat. This is where we see Chris again pleading with Becca to give him something he can go on. We hear Becca say “I don’t know” a couple more times and nothing new is resolved. It gets to be so frustrating, even from the viewer perspective, I wanted her to throw the guy a bone. Perhaps she was self-sabotaging because she was afraid that he WOULD pick her, and then she'd have to be in a real (i.e. scary) relationship? Who knows.
I'm totally over-analyzing this, I realize that.
For Chris and Whitney’s final date he takes her to his fields to drive her in the big tractor thing. His dad is also there and I find this to be an awkward “final date” before the rose ceremony. But then they get some alone time at his house where they can drink wine, Whitney can take room measurements and then have a fireside chat. Whitney reiterates her position of being 100% sure he’s the one and that she’s happy as a clam. They are sitting sort of far apart during this and considering Chris' love language is lots of touching, I find it a strange sign.
It looks like we are going to get engaged in a barn! And what a barn it is! The ABC interns have bedazzled the hell out of it, down to the tchotchkes and stained glass windows!
I think someone forgot the heat though because throughout the ceremony we can totally see Chris’ frosty breath.
First arrival is Becca, which is normally a bad sign. Becca shows up in what is probably the only limo they could find in Iowa, in a tight red velvet number (great shoes!) that matches Chris’ tie exactly (did they plan that to throw us off?). She climbs up to the top level of the barn where Prince Farming waits.
Long story short: Chris' hesitations and fears about Becca's hesitations and fears get her a ticket back to San Diego (not a bad place to go IMHO). And not surprisingly, she doesn't seem that broken up about it in her limo interview.
Next up is Whitney (is that the same limo?). She is also wearing a long velvet frock - this one in navy. She gets the good speech, then Chris drops to his knee, declares his love for her and pops the question.
ABC ends with Whit and Chris sitting out the side of the barn (in 20 degree weather!) kissing and hugging and celebrating. So far so good.
Stay tuned for my "After the Final Rose" recap!