Episode 11: Finale

The aftermath of being on a reality show can be frustrating. Since you haven't played an actual role or acted a part, but rather just been as close to normal as you could be, viewers think they know you. (When, and I cannot stress this enough, they really don't.)

I often think it would be a whole lot easier to write these recaps as a non-former contestant. I realize how silly that sounds. I'm aware few people would care what I think and my perspective would probably be a lot less interesting without the behind-the-scenes intel. But sometimes it's difficult to be as honest as I'd like when recapping this show and putting it out there for the world (read: #BachelorNation, the members of which can be very passionate) to see. I pride myself on saying it like I see it and stand by everything I've written. And I think most of you appreciate that and that's why you come here. But (too) many people take this show VERY SERIOUSLY. They get very attached to certain contestants (who, again, they think they know) and very disdainful of others (ditto).

Much like my actual experience on the show, though the positives with this blog have generally outweighed the negatives, the backlash is at times tough to stomach...

I love the dichotomy of #supportwomen and the implication that being single is a terrible affliction bestowed on bitter bitches. Notably and inexplicably, Jody Rice Gallagher still follows me.

In the latest season's heyday and with all the rabid (and likely tween-aged) #TeamBritt fans out there, you can only imagine how pointed the insults got. I'm also well aware that many, many people receive far more hate than me. But no matter how off-the-mark they are or how many spelling errors there are to keep you from taking them seriously, it takes a special sort of thick skin to not be affected in the slightest.

Also, to these people...

... I have a job but this blog is not it. I started this blog as a fun hobby because I like writing and, being analytical to a fault, it gave me a surprisingly rewarding outlet. But to those people who think it's okay to be downright rude and feel entitled to something they get for free and which I do for next to nothing, I implore you (for application in all arenas of your life) to watch this Louis CK clip (watch from 1:50 to 2:25).

Finally, to my many lovely readers who are supportive and kind and who read this blog for entertainment (versus ammunition) purposes, I must apologize to you whole-heartedly for hanging this post out to dry for so long. I totally get that this stuff is only interesting when it's relevant, not weeks/months after the episode airs. As I've mentioned to several of you via Twitter, I've had this post near-complete since the week after the Finale aired. But I just couldn't bring myself to finish it. 

Bear with me as I attempt to explain: Even if I have not met most of the Bachelor Family in person, there's still a connection there. We direct-message each other on Twitter, in many cases we're Facebook friends, sometimes we trade phone numbers. So, unless I write the sort of blog which is all rainbows and unicorns, where I say everyone behaves well and I like what everyone is wearing, I cannot NOT ruffle feathers. (A commenter once gave me hate for my love of double negatives. I hope he/she doesn't not stop reading this blog.) 

This isn't the first time I've struggled with a Finale recap. The show's over and the couple is happy and the runner-up has hopefully moved on. (In this case, I think the runner-up was nothing short of relieved.) But what if my observations cast some doubt on the outcome, or my opinion on someone's choice of dress for a very important day of their life isn't favorable? I can't help but ask myself: What good does it do to voice those thoughts? I know my opinions don't necessarily matter to them, nor do I think they should. But it's food for thought. For me there's this battle of wanting to be truthful—which is very much me and which I know is an appeal of this blog—and navigating the feelings of people who aren't so many degrees of separation from me.

So that's where things stand right now. Maybe when Monday rolls around I'll be bursting with so many thoughts that I'll be tripping over myself to word-vomit a recap here. Maybe I'm being way too sensitive in letting the evil Internet trolls get to me. Maybe I'm just in a dark mood as I write this. But lately I feel like it does more harm than good.

Okay. SERIOUSNESS OVER! The following is the Finale recap I finished all those weeks ago. I know it's now out of date but I'm putting it out there for completion's sake. For those of you who have continued to support and understand me, thank you. You know who you are!

 

MEETING CHRIS' FAMILY

The most notable part of the family meet-and-greet was how much more "sold" Whitney was than Becca. Whitney seemed strikingly confident. But, while a contestant's conviction when there are still other people in the game usually rubs me the wrong way, Whitney's convinced me. I believed her when she said it just felt right.

Becca's meet-and-greet highlighted the great flaw in this show's premise:

Becca: "Coming into this, I was like, 'I can see myself liking this guy.' And now, I'm falling in love with him and I'm not there yet and I've been so honest with him. Because I feel like I'm supposed to be there, you know, at this point. Am I supposed to feel a certain way? And I'm scared that if I'm not [at] a certain place I'm supposed to be at, does that mean that this has to end? Whitney's ready to get married and have babies and move here right away. Like, where does that leave my relationship with him?"

I don't think we've ever had a Final 2 contestant feel quite this way before. There have been men and women quite far along (usually anywhere from Final 6 to Final 3) who leave on their own. I think Becca's mindset is very realistic, yet it's somehow unique. She likes the guy. A LOT. Too much to just walk away. But does she know she's ready to marry him and completely uproot her life? No. And nor should she have to be. Try as it might, this show cannot replace quality time together with elaborately romantic settings and scenarios, hence why so few couples last after filming. It's not a failure on the couples' part; they simply don't know each other, warts and all. And there is no way in 2 months, their limited time diluted by other people and filming, that they could.

I can't help but wonder if Becca would have felt differently if the end game wasn't Arlington, Iowa. Part of me thinks she would have been more likely to be all in. The other part of me thinks Becca is generally very apprehensive when it comes to dating in real life, and that translates to remaining realistic and keeping even-keel during this process.

I had to make a .gif of this exchange between Becca and Chris' mother...

... because it is verbatim what Andy's mother told me the first time I met her and asked what was wrong with him. :)

 

LAST EFFORT WITH BECCA

If I'm honest, watching this segment back for this recap made me uncomfortable. Knowing that Chris ultimately proposed to Whitney, it struck me that Chris really (and I mean really) liked Becca. I don't see him doing and saying the things he did this episode (eg:  defending his connection with Becca to his family, repeatedly saying he thinks Becca "can get there"—meaning to the point where she's sure, and making this last ditch effort to assess the risk factor in choosing her) if he wasn't legitimately torn. And looking back over past seasons, I don't recall a lead still this much on the fence at this point. Andi didn't even let Nick pick out a ring. It's safe to say Juan Pablo didn't truly see a future with Clare (beyond boning). Des let Drew go early (there was that whole Brooks thing, but I digress)... None of them were visiting the ultimate runner-up's hotel room just a night or two before the looming proposal, asking:

I'm not saying this detracts in any way what Chris had/has/will have with Whitney. They're obviously good together and they're still going strong. But I still can't help but think, if I were Whitney, I wouldn't be totally cool with this hotel room chat—and I'm not even a remotely jealous person. I get that he wanted to make an informed decision, wanted to be absolutely sure, etc. But come on. It's days before a PROPOSAL. Call me harsh or unsympathetic, but I think one should seem more sure.

KUDOS to Becca for airing this concern : "[A reservation is] I guess the uncertainty of me needing to figure out what I'm going to do when I move to Arlington and not just take on what you do there."

She's SO realistic. Too realistic for this show: "Getting there and moving there and then wondering if it's for me. Because I can go and I can say that I see myself there—and I can—and I can see myself getting married and having a family. But, what happens if I get there and... it's not [for me]."

Chris answers: "I don't know what's going to happen, but... we could go back and figure it out." 

Did this whole exchange make anyone else a bit uncomfortable?

Add to that this most Truman Show-esque transition from Chris crying with his head in his hands to the audience applauding:

Nice.

Nice.

 

WHITNEY'S LAST DATE

My favorite thing about this date was how Whitney articulated "knowing": "There are some things that are just unspoken and that you can't verbalize, that are just felt. And I feel that with you. When I'm not with you I want to be with you. I can't describe it. I just do. I feel like when you say things I can finish your sentence or... even when you [just] look in my eyes, I know what you're thinking. It's just little things like that. Sometimes you can't explain. It just is."

Can I just say, Whitney is SO well-spoken. Seriously. Dictating some contestants' (they will remain unnamed) quotes from this show can make me want to rip my hair out, but she's very thoughtful and measured in how she speaks. Me likey.

 

THE PROPOSAL

Is it just me (since I trudged through this whole episode twice) or did Whitney get an extra date? Each girl met Chris' family, then Chris showed up at Becca's hotel room (which doesn't strike me as very date-like, at least not by Bachelor standards), and then Whitney had a full day of corn-harvesting and sipping wine by the fireplace at Chris' house. Did I miss something?

The proposal is set in the very same barn where Chris raised his first pig. That's nice and all, but with it like this out...

... you would think the powers that be might have had the foresight, resources, and manpower to set up a heat lamp or two...

... especially since they had the foresight, resources, and manpower to decorate to this degree:

priorities.

priorities.

As Becca approaches, Chris musters the creepiest, most twitch-tastic smile IN ALL OF BACHELOR HISTORY. Such things must be captured for posterity:

As for Becca, "letting her down" looked a lot like letting her off the hook...

what relief looks like.

what relief looks like.

I've always really dug Chris and Whitney together. I think Whitney's a mix of being outgoing and resilient yet ladylike and demure, all of which I think Chris recognizes. (I think he particularly saw it on her hometown) Now, Chris' proposal speech was very sweet. I'm not disputing that. But his speeches tend to sound a little ADD, as though he starts off each sentence with poetic aspirations but loses his train of thought midway, only to end up using generic, now meaningless words like "perfect" and "amazing." How about using SPECIFIC ADJECTIVES to describe how you feel?

The following is his actual proposal speech. The ellipses are not there for dramatic effect. He really does pause for a long time:

"From the moment that I met you, and the moment that you got out of that limo... (Did her beauty take your breath away? Was there something about her?) ... I still remember the time we spent together. (Womp, womp.) Probably one of the best days of my life [was] when we got to crash that wedding. And being able to go through that together, I remember thinking, 'Holy cow, this woman is... (Spontaneous? Adventurous?) ... perfect for me.' (That's nice, but WHY is she perfect for you?) Being able to have you here today, and being able to have you here in Iowa, meeting my family and seeing how they reacted to you, there are so many things about you that I am so excited about. (What things? NAME THE THINGS.) And... it's not work. It's natural. It's like we both want the same thing. It feels so right. And it feels so perfect. And that's what I want for the rest of my life. I love you."

I mean, yes, it's sweet. And I'm admittedly word-obsessed. Perhaps one of the things that makes Whitney so "perfect" for Chris is that she's well-spoken. :)

In all seriousness, though. I've liked them together since day one. They've got fantastic chemistry and are well-suited to one another. CONGRATULATIONS to the happy couple!

AFTER THE FINAL ROSE

I always find it hilarious when this show plays sweeping orchestral music while a ten episode love story climaxes in an engagement, only to be followed up with Chris Harrison, in the now, asking: "What if she [Becca] had given you that affirmation and said, 'I love you' and 'I'm ready for this.' Would that have changed things?"

Chris: "I... don't know. I mean, there's a lot of "what if"s throughout this whole entire journey. And I am excited about the decision I made and I'm not looking back. I'm ready to move forward. That's all I want to do, is move forward." 

Perfect answer. He doesn't belittle or deny anything he felt for Becca but instead emphasizes his confidence in choosing Whitney and his excitement about their future. This is the most effective way of shooting down that stupidly unnecessary question.

THAT ANNOUNCEMENT

I took up my entire word count ranting about it in my Flare column so there's no reason to rehash this. However, there have been several opposing arguments floating around the interwebs, so I thought I might respond to them:

1.  The choice to cast two Bachelorettes can't be misogynistic because they've done it with men on a season of The Bachelor before. 

It's a key point that on Season 5 of The Bachelor, neither Byron nor Jay had ever been on the show before. This means they didn't bring along with them any viewer prejudices or favoritisms. The men coming on Season 11 of The Bachelorette have already watched Britt and Kaitlyn on television and formed ideas of who they think they are based on a television edit. This impression is not easily undone, certainly not in the one night they have to make their decision. I honestly feel like the Two-Lead thing makes more sense if all the players are strangers. It's not so different from a speed dating session; there are no factors other than true first impressions at play. 

But both Kaitlyn and Britt were already seen by millions "competing" for the Bachelor. They've already gone through the rigamarole. The Bachelorette is one chosen lady's turn to grab the bull by the horns. So, it makes me feel a little sick to think that they've been pit against each one another yet again, and that this fantastical once-in-a-lifetime experience still hinges on the preference of men.  

I realize this isn't a black or white discussion and that people have differing views on this. I'm not saying the word "misogynistic" is right. It's just not fair, is all. It wouldn't be if it were two men, either. But considering the many ways in which there is still a lack of gender equality today, it would have been more prudent to try this out with men from a former season first.

2.  It can't be any more sexist than the entire Bachelor premise in the first place.

The mere existence of The Bachelorette discredits this. I'm the first person to point out sexism on this show, but for every Bachelor bikini-clad tractor race there's a Bachelorette group date where the men have to strip. And while I'm certainly not saying two wrongs make a right, we're all watching, aren't we?

3.  The two women agreed to it.

This I cannot disagree with. I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision for either woman to make. In the end, there was a lot of discussion and contract-signing put into this conclusion, so it's true that they deserve whatever glory, embarrassment, and moola subsequently come their way.

 

It's safe to say Chris Harrison's announcement at the beginning of the finale sums up the sole reason behind their decision:

"Tonight's show features a shocking turn of events that the entire country will be talking about tomorrow morning."

At the end of the day, it always comes down to ratings. 

 

BEST DRESSED

I really liked Chris' sister Lori's ensemble when Whitney met the family:

A cozy but stylish oversized teal sweater with ribbing? A long gold bar necklace? BLACK LEATHER PANTS? Well-played, Lori. Well-played.

I loved Becca's easy outfit for when she met the family:

I'm all about chambray shirts. There is no easier way to look simultaneously stylish yet like you didn't try. Her Stella & Dot jewel necklace dresses it up subtly. Really well done. I'm also impressed that she manages to pair the chambray shirt with jeans; no easy feat. My favorite chambray shirts at the moment can be found here, here, and here. (I own the first two; it's all about the lyocell)

I loved Kaitlyn's glittery Bachelorettes announcement dress:

Her Mac Duggal cocktail number was a show-stopper. That high neck and those mesh cutouts! It almost looks like armor. The dress was a win for me, though I would have liked to see her pair it with a slick ponytail or some sort of cool updo. 

My best dressed of the episode was Whitney with her proposal dress:

I love off-the-shoulder dresses, especially ones with interesting asymmetrical ruching like Whitney's Bagdley Mischka navy gown. (on sale here and it also comes in lace) The exposed shoulders add a touch of sex appeal while everything else about the dress is understated and elegant. Her earrings add interest without being overpowering. (They're Alexis Bittar) Best of all is her exquisite woven updo. I've mentioned before that Whitney knows when to wear her hair up versus down. This is a perfect example. To have worn her hair down would've derailed the effect of that dress and dragged the whole outfit down. Really lovely styling. (Insert clapping emoji here)

WORST DRESSED

Like many, I wasn't swooning for Becca's velvet gown:

Remember, we know the barn was freezing, so I understand the function of choosing a warm dress. I also respect the risk of this dress. (I know the final dress is something they're given to wear—not something they've brought—and she probably didn't have a massive selection, but this was still a risk.) 

I mean, she looks nice. I just have an issue the lack of youthfulness here. The girl is only 25 but this dress ages her. I wonder if a bit more skin, like a daring slit might have helped it not seem so... bundled up-looking. However, the worst offense in my eyes was that she wore her hair the exact same way we've always seen it. (Do not wear your hair with a formal velvet gown the way you would with a chambray button-down and jeans) I do think a dress with this level of drama requires dramatic hair.

 

That's a wrap! Thanks for following along this season with me, fellow pandas!