Episode 11: Finale

Dear lovely readers!

A couple of fun notables. First, as I mentioned in my Flare recap for this episode, Michael G, Andy, and I watched the Finale with the Jezebel team. There were tons of the best kind of Bachelor viewers (those critical thinkers I love so much), cupcakes, roses, a raffle for Kate Dries' personal copy of Chris Harrison's romance novel (it doesn't get much better than that), and of course, champagne. Some funny (and artsy) portraits are below, and more photos of the event are over here.

Second, a fun tidbit that you Canucks will appreciate! 

I'm very flattered to have been featured on Roots' Instagram. (Turns out they have a store in New York, which is good news for my wardrobe and bad news for my wallet.) I grew up with Roots being THE brand, so to have them reach out and want to "profile" me was—I'm not going to lie—kind of a big deal. :) To see more looks from our shoot, head over to the blog HERE.

Part of Roots' interest was in these recaps and how I blog, so we shot some photos of me writing. (And by "writing", I mean attempting to look photogenic while typing ASDFJKL; over and over again.) So, in case you ever randomly wondered where I can be found writing these, it's usually somewhere in Manhattan during weekdays (when I'm not out of town singing), at a coffee shop with wifi (the sort that lets you loiter), a cappuccino and biscotti at hand, with my legs crossed like a little kid (for real). 

Fun fact: Interestingly, I've found I get "recognized" a lot when I'm recapping. I've learned from experience that I get recognized either when I'm dressed up and out on the town (I suppose that's when I look my most Rose Ceremony-like), or in a quiet coffee shop writing... in the latter case I'm most often approached by my own readers, which makes me SO HAPPY. So, if you ever see me curled up in a coffee shop, please say hi. I can't tell you how awesome that is.

Lastly, I'm very sorry for the delay on this post. My long-time readers know by now how it takes forever for me to get this Finale post out. I think it's partly to do with the lack of a hard deadline (an impending new episode each week does wonders for keeping you on your toes) and the fact that I find Finales difficult and sort of uninspiring to discuss. (More on that later.)

At any rate, thank you for your patience, and I look forward to your thoughts!

 

"In order for me to fully love one woman, I have to say goodbye to the other." —Ben

 

These 3-hour "specials" are not for the faint of heart. It's episodes like this that make me reminisce about a simpler time when I wouldn't have to re-watch the whole damn thing. Right off the bat, Chris Harrison says the following, which is yet another subtle example of the show having evolved to the point of poking fun at itself:

We've seen Bachelor in Paradise openly mock itself since day one, but usually when Chris Harrison calls a Bachelor/ette Finale dramatic, he says it with as straight a face as he can muster. The thing is, it's simply impossible for any Finale to be more dramatic than Jason Mesnick's so they might as well stop trying. :) We're all going to keep watching anyway.

 

BEN'S PARENTAL UNIT

Remember back on Andi's season when I raved about her dad, Hy? I'm about to do the same about Ben's mom, Amy. Man, I couldn't be a bigger fan of how this woman reacts and emotes...

I know the lead's parents are always shown to seem "intimidating" since it's the home stretch and obviously their input is so important, but rarely are any of them as openly skeptical about the whole thing as Ben's mother...

 RIGHT?!!

RIGHT?!!

 

LAUREN MEETS THE FAM

Frankly, both ladies' meet-and-greets go so smoothly that there's hardly anything to be said about them. We learn after 10 weeks with him that Ben is his own worst critic (which I can totally envision). I loved Lauren's response to that...

She doesn't presume to know Ben well enough to know how to deal with this. She asks a considerate question to the woman who would best know the answer. Smart lady.

And then I fell in love with Amy just that much more when she proved to not be another braggarty or my-child-is-perfect sort of mom and responded much how I think my own mother would...

... and which I think sums up why Ben is as modest and well-adjusted as he seems to be. 

 

JOJO MEETS THE FAM

Since both dates go so well (and there's therefore no drama), we're given the tiniest smidge of comparison between the two women. It's hard to imagine the following snippet would have been shown if Ben's mom hadn't just told Lauren the same information. (I can't help but think we're meant to think that his parents saw Jojo as a better fit for Ben based on the inclusion of this.)

Everyone at Jezebel (including myself) laughed at Amy's silent, knowing nod to Jojo's excitement that Ben had said ILY...

 You and Lauren both, honey.

You and Lauren both, honey.

The entire meet-the-parents segment is wrapped up with Ben saying the following, which you know I just had to put side-by-side with the big post-Finale People magazine cover...

Okay, one more .GIF of Ben's mom and my Ode to Amy is over, I swear:

 I'll grow up one of these days.

I'll grow up one of these days.

 

LAUREN'S LAST DATE

Knowing that Lauren ultimately "wins", this date reeeeally seemed producer-manipulated to me. And I don't necessarily mean with regards to editing (although I probably do mean that, too) but just in how darn CONFUSED Ben was the whole time...

If you think about it, the relationship being "perfect", the feelings "immediate", and an overall lack of hardship are really very silly reasons to question things. Especially since everything's contained within a maximum-romance prison which is by design meant to make the relationship seem perfect, the feelings feel immediate, and keep potential real-life hardships from entering the equation. And since Ben has seemed self-aware and self-assured this entire time yet now seems so distraught, the above ITM has "producer-influenced" written all over it.

Compare the above with Lauren, who as a contestant receives the exact opposite sort of producer attention. In contrast with Ben, who has been made to feel confused and uncertain, she's been made to feel as confident as possible. (We know know this ends up being for good reason.) It stood out to me when she said...

... because I feel like those are the classic words of the eventual "winner". When you know, you know, I suppose—no need to overthink anything. I can't speak for this show but I can say from experience that that saying is true in real life. And though I harp on the contrived environment of The Bachelor a lot, I do think nothing will keep the best suited, most compatible pair from making it to the end. 

 

JOJO'S LAST DATE

One of the things I've noticed (and love) is that lately the show hasn't shied away from showing the contestants referencing that fact that, well, they're contestants on a television show. On my season, a lot of people claimed I "broke the 4th wall" by mentioning the cameras (and my discomfort with them). Really, I said a whole lot more than just that, but of course none of it aired. If you think about past seasons, it's very rare that a contestant would be shown saying the following...

Jojo has a talent for pointing out things frankly and sort of askance, so you almost miss her 4th-wall-breakage. (I missed the above on the first watch.)

To me, there was some telling body language to be observed on this date, such as when Jojo started talking logistics after the show. Note Ben's face expression...

 How encouraging.

How encouraging.

 

NEIL LANE VISITS

While poring over 6-figure rings, editing makes it seem like Ben still doesn't know who his final lady is yet. Look closely at the following .GIF and watch Neil Lane's body language while Ben is shown looking all unsure... 

It seems WAY more likely that the shot of Ben grimacing was taken from a discussion about ring styles than from a casual heart-to-heart with a total stranger about not knowing for sure who he's proposing to. But, for good measure, there's a voiceover from an ITM of Ben claiming, "Looking down at the ring, I know who I'm going to propose to". Suuuuure.

 

PROPOSAL TIME

At the big proposal location, as has become tradition, both ladies do the talking first. Jojo repeats something Ben told her earlier in the season (I don’t think this aired?)…

… aaaaand this is something I don’t agree with. Okay, so it goes without saying that love is supposed to be worth it. In this case I think “it” means “the effort”, but I personally don’t believe love should be difficult. I think marriage is the one that’s not easy, but loving each other—especially this early on (maximum-romance prison, remember?)—should be the effortless and easy part.

Jojo is the epitome of class when Ben dumps her. There’s something so human about the way she takes stock of the cameras surrounding her and assesses her position before mustering together a nod...

I believe past contestants would have more likely responded with something along the lines of, “Obviously you never did [love me]!”, yet she doesn’t turn vitriolic. Call me sick, but the above clip is truly compelling reality television. Not so much the "heartbreak" factor, but more how a human like you or me—not an actor—behaves under these special circumstances.

The big proposal comes and once again Lauren proves why she’s been a favorite of mine. She’s been very self aware of her position (as a contestant on an iconic but still ridiculous reality dating show) all season, and the fact that she couldn’t stop laughing through the whole proposal—while never seeming like she didn’t care—won me over yet again...

Compare the above to this clip from her hometown intro...

From day one to the present, there’s something about Lauren that takes the parts of this experience that matter seriously, while inwardly laughing at the rest. 

And my goodness, are she and Ben cute together…

 ADORBS!

ADORBS!

Okay. So, at the top of this post I said I found Finales difficult and uninspiring to discuss. I think I sufficiently explained last season why they’re difficult from a personal standpoint, but I’ll attempt to explain the lack of inspiration…

Recently I was talking to a fellow former contestant from the franchise about how some former contestants tend to analyze what they could have done differently, or what chances they don’t feel they were given, either out of bitterness or self-preservation or what have you. The conversation reminded me that this show begins and ends with casting. Meaning, regardless of whose names are on what dates cards or how aggressive a girl is, as long as that same one man and those same 25 women are cast, nothing will change the outcome. (eg. As long as Lauren was a contestant, no other woman this season was ever going to “win”. Regardless of the limo exit order or what dress she wore, what topics they discussed in their first conversation, or whether they went skydiving or shopping at Costco on their first date, he would have always chosen Lauren.) As I said above, nothing will keep the best suited, most compatible pair from making it to the end. So, in a sense, it’s not at all “anyone’s game”. (The way it is in, say, Survivor, which many of you know by now is my personal favorite reality show.) And while there’s a comfort to that certainty—considering the premise of the show, I should hope that’s how it is—it doesn’t make for the most exciting, nail-biting television. Don’t get me wrong; it’s fascinating to watch the relationships develop and I’ve watched for as many years as I have because of what a unique social experiment it is. But in terms of elimination-based reality television (of which there is plenty), this show isn’t exactly compelling. After the finale, with the intrigue of wondering who he chose gone, there’s little sport in analyzing what the “winner” did to win. (Again, versus Survivor, where there are always countless choices, big and small, in and out of their control, which contributed to the winner winning. A Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, if you will. I always loved those!)

Anyhow, it’s just food for thought, and I’m still a viewer after all. I’m just curious if you guys agree or disagree, and whether or not that affects your interest in this show.

 

AFTER THE FINALE ROSE

I’m often asked what Chris Harrison is like in real life. I’m really not one to say because I wouldn’t say I “know” him. As a regular contestant (not a lead), there’s really not much of him to be seen. He’s very elusive, only appearing to ding glasses, make ominous announcements, and clarify that this is, indeed, the final rose of the evening. However, what I can say from my limited exposure is that he is very, very funny. Like, hilarious. The minute the cameras stopped and his serious face dropped, his wry commentary would always have us in stitches. 

I laughed out loud at the following discreet segue of his...

Now about that Bachelorette announcement. I know that traditionally the Bachelorette is either the 2nd or 3rd runner-up, and though there have been very eligible candidates in the past, a 1st runner-up lady has never even been considered for the gig because of the shooting schedule. (This is according to Reality Steve. I'm not pretending to be an authority on this.) I have to say, whether or not that's true, I really like the concept of the runner-up as Bachelorette. Yes, you sacrifice the drama of a truly confrontational AFTR conversation (what Bachelorette-to-be would ever sternly demand answers or harp on WHY she was led on?), but perhaps that’s what I liked about it. To become the lead of your own season, in this world, is the best consolation prize a dumpee could ask for. It just seemed, well, just. :)

Despite the lack of confrontation and drama, you can always rely on shit-disturber Harrison to at least attempt to stir the pot…

Of course, it was heavily rumored that Caila would be Bachelorette, so Harrison even gestured in the opposite direction of Jojo. I missed this on the first watch, but it was amusing to watch Jojo's carefully composed expression was while Chris Harrison was about to announce her. 

 she's in on it.

she's in on it.

If you've been reading all season, you know I've been a big Jojo fan. She's been the Voice of Reason and purveyor of #truth all season long, so I really look forward to seeing her (and her sick taste of clothes) at the helm of her very own season.

Finally, on to the happy couple. These two are CUTE. As I said above, my favorite thing about the Lauren/Ben relationship is the awareness of it all. While they’re obviously gorgeous and perfectly fit the America’s Sweethearts bill, there’s a subtle irony to their interactions that gives an “it could happen to you” vibe and makes them incredibly relatable….

I love these two together. Wishing the very best wishes to the happy couple! 

 

BEST DRESSED

The final two ladies have consistently been some of the best dressed contestants this season (probably tied with Amanda). I usually only include my personal favorite looks, but I've had a lot of requests for other pieces, so I'll list those first...

A few of you wrote in asking about Lauren's bikini from her final date. It's from Victoria's Secret and sells HERE (on sale!).

From her final date, Jojo's tank is by Bebe and is sold out in the green (HERE), but is still available in black (which has my name on it) HERE. Her shorts are from American Eagle but that specific style is sold out. There is, however, a very similar alternative HERE. Her necklace is a Rory Ashton rosary (not pictured) which sells HERE. (The pictured pave lariat necklace sells HERE) Jojo's neon yellow bikini is sold out (HERE), but there's a neon yellow alternative HERE, as well as a near-identical silhouette in either neon pink or turquoise HERE.

I give you guys credit for spotting the quiet elegance of this maxi. I totally missed Lauren's evening look from her last date on first watch and in general we didn't see much of this look, yet several of you wrote me asking about it. Lauren purchased her black dress at LF but they don't sell anything online. I found a near-identical alternative (on sale for $19!) selling HERE.

Okay, onto my favorite looks. First up is Jojo with the romper she wore in the evening of her final date...

Plunge, check. Backless, check. Billowy and effortless to offset the exposed skin, check. What can I say? Jojo knows how to dress. Her Modlook 29 romper sells HERE and there's a very similar one (with less of a plunge down the necklines) selling HERE. Her two-tier horn necklace (which I'm near-positive is from Express) is also sold out, but there are two very similar alternatives selling HERE and HERE.

I really dug Jojo's easy floral romper she wore to meet Ben's parents...

Effortless yet feminine are what this romper is. I would buy this in a heartbeat and wear it all summer long. Jojo's BB Dakota romper sells HERE and HERE. In my search I also found some other pretty purple-meets-floral rompers HERE, HERE, and HERE.

My VERY CLOSE runner-up for Best Dressed is Lauren in her After The Final Rose dress...

Just. Stunning. Honestly, it's closer to a tie between this and Best Dressed this week. I love how there's a subtle bridal quality to the dress but not at the expense of style, silhouette, or creativity. I've never seen anything like it and Lauren just looked radiant in it. My ONLY beef? (You know what's coming.) I ONLY wish that with that dramatic high neck, she might have swept her hair back in some way. I don't mean as severely as the stock photo above, but something romantic and feminine and soft, while letting the dress shine. But that's really splitting the proverbial hairs. She looks gorgeous. Lauren's Jonathan Simkhai "Tower Lace" dress sells HERE and HERE, but will unfortunately set you back $1200. There some decent and wallet-friendly alternatives, however, HEREHEREHERE, and HERE.

Jojo's T by Alexander Wang is current (yay!) and sells HERE and HERE. There's a similar dress in black (at a much friendlier price) HERE, and if you're open to lace sleeves, you can get the look for (way) less HERE. She's already getting the Bachelorette treatment in the jewelry department, meaning her pieces are by fine jewelry line The Woods and are next to impossible to get. (I couldn't even find anything about the pieces online.) I did, however, find some solid (and more wallet-friendly) alternatives. Earrings similar to Jojo's can be found HERE (and for a cute, similar-ish, and smaller pair, HERE). There's a similar armor ring (and a total steal at $15) selling HERE, and one in a pewter color (like Jojo's) selling HERE.

 

That's a wrap, dear pandas! Thanks for reading along.