The Bachelorette is a show I accidentally became deeply invested in. At first for the sheer “this is incredibly stupid and thus enjoyable” factor. But then the first part of the finale happened. And I practically wrote a goddamn dissertation on it. I could easily get a doctorate in Bachelorette studies.
It’s long, so I’ll sum it up as best I can: The Bachelorette (Desiree) fell in love with one particular candidate (Brooks), and he dumped her. And it was brutal. Basically Brooks realized how fucking ridiculous the whole premise of the show is, and while he really liked Desiree and cared about her, he wasn’t in love, and did not want to propose marriage, which he was expected to do, being one of the final three remaining men. She was heartbroken. She told the host of the show that she was in love with Brooks. She also mentioned she was “falling in love” with remaining candidate Chris and could see herself falling in love with the other candidate, Drew, but it was pretty clear that Brooks was the one she wanted. She said as much when she told Brooks, sobbing, “I didn’t want to share my heart. I wanted to give it to you.” And then Brooks cried.
Thus, the second part of the finale picks up right after Brooks dumped her.
Warning: this will also be long. It will also contain a few Arrested Development references and at least one more intentional Simpsons one.
She is going through a real breakup. But instead of being able to discuss it among her closest gal pals in her apartment over a bottle of white, a bottle of red, a bottle of Billy Joel tears or however the song goes, she only has the show’s host to talk to. “How are you?” he asks her. She smiles weakly. “I’m okay.” He pauses. “No…you’re not.” And she bursts into tears. “I’m okay until anyone asks.” Classic breakup stuff. Great television, horrible in real life.
The host, who I’ve taken to calling Giant Stone Head, asks her what she wants to do now. He was quite obviously pushing her in the direction of, “Stick it out with the remaining guys and see if your feelings develop because we have a show to finish and we’re nearing the season finale and you really fucked it all up, so you can’t go home, or we’re fucked, and I like having a job, fucker.” Desiree says that her heart was broken but, “my spirit isn’t” and so she decides to continue the process of finding a husband with the two dudes left.
To give Desiree credit, I honestly believe that this girl had enough feelings for one of the remaining guys to go on, because she’s not a cruel woman. She gathers Chris and Drew together, explained that Brooks decided to leave and that it really hurt her, but that she wants to continue and if they didn’t, she understands and they should just tell her and go home. And since both men told her, repeatedly, that they love her, they stay.
(It’s just so classic. She’s said on the show that her biggest problems were liking men who wouldn’t admit their feelings and/or say “I love you.” So of course she falls for THAT guy.)
She realizes pretty quickly that she’s not in love with Drew and that she has to break up with him, now. Drew does not realize this, because as they sit down to their picnic on the beach, he raises a glass of champagne and toasts, “To being madly in love.” It was like a scene out of Arrested Development or something. But Desiree doesn’t let that deter her break up plans. She’s honest with him about her feelings; that she’s not in love with him, and apologizes profusely. And Drew says the most mature thing I have ever heard anyone say when they’re being broken up with:
“You don’t have to apologize for not being in love with me.”
Which is a genius concept and a great thing to say, and contrasts sharply with my classic, “FUCK YOU, I LOVED YOU!” break up response.
So Desiree sends Drew home, but without telling Chris. Chris thinks he’s “competing” with another man to “win Desiree’s heart.” This point in the show is when the final two guys meet Desiree’s family. But Chris was the only one to meet them. It’s just Chris now.
Let’s do some math, which I suck at. At this point, Desiree has known Chris for about ten weeks. In those ten weeks, she’s spent maybe a solid 81 hours with him. Prior to Chris meeting her family, ready to ask her dad for her hand in marriage, Desiree broke up with someone she was in love with about five days before.
We’re not sure what the fuck is going to happen. Chris has no idea how upset over Brooks Desiree is. And Chris is ready to propose. He was ready two weeks ago. And while Desiree has feelings for Chris, they’re not nearly at the level as her feelings for Brooks.
How did I write this much about this show already?
Chris and Desiree have their last date together before the proposal scene. (Yes, scene, this is a TV show. In the proposal scene, The Bachelorette stands on a cliff and the guy she chooses proposes to her. Because God forbid a woman propose, I guess.) On this, their final date, Chris sits down with Desiree and is Boyfriend Material Incorporated; he is The Anti-Brooks. He tells her that he saw how hurt she was when she spoke to him and Drew and that he wanted to go hug her but, “out of respect for Drew” did not. And then he shows her something. And it’s his penis. No, I’m kidding. It’s a journal, containing all of the poems he wrote for her over the season, a sweet note inscribed in the cover, and written on the first page,
“The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are but the direction of where we are going.”
And you see the motherfucking lightbulb going off in her motherfucking head. It’s like the room suddenly gets as bright as a Home Depot. She starts crying. You actually see her start to fall in love with him. Because she’s realizing the difference between love and infatuation, and what it’s like when someone loves you more than you love them, and how that’s not a bad thing, and that real relationships need time to develop.
Had the show stopped here, and Chris and Desiree decided to move forward together, as boyfriend and girlfriend, it would have been a great ending.
But no. It can’t end without a proposal. Because here’s Neil Lane with his guady-ass rings, and he paid for his advertising, damnit. So the next day, Chris picks out an engagement ring for Desiree. Desiree gets into a very pretty dress to go stand on a very pretty platform overlooking a very pretty ocean to wait for a very handsome man to propose something no one is sure she wants. Chris doesn’t even know. Desiree hasn’t even said “I love you” to him. But that’s kind of how the show works. The Bachelor/ette is not encouraged to say the “L-word” until the finale. Which is why it was so shocking that she said it about, and to, Brooks.
It’s not that there isn’t any chemistry between Chris and Desiree. Chris was a frontrunner. You can tell she really likes him. But enough to marry him?
Chris shows up. He does a speech. About how much he loves her. And as he’s about to get down on one knee, she stops him. She says, “Stop.” He’s mid-proposal stance. He says “uh” and chuckles at the same time, in that “well this is awkward how the fuck do I respond” way. Again, it’s the best/worst episode of Arrested Development ever.
“I want to be honest with you,” Desiree says. People always say they want honesty in a relationship, until someone announces, “I want to be honest with you.” Then you’re like, “Whoa, this sounds serious, I don’t wanna hear this shit.” Desiree tells Chris that she sent Drew home, because she knew she didn’t love him, and that Chris has been the only one left. Chris starts smiling, he really can’t help it. She tells him he’s the only one who’s met her family. Bigger smile. Then she tells him she’s been having a rough time and that Brooks really hurt her. Yes, she brings up another man’s name during another man’s engagement proposal. Chris is not really sure what sort of facial expression to make here.
But she goes on. She tells him (to paraphrase), “I think I was so blinded by my feelings for Brooks that I didn’t see what was in front of me the whole time. You have always been by my side. Thank you for never giving up on me. On what we could be. I love you, Chris. I love you so much.”
He says, “I love you too, and this way too much pressure on us. Let’s run away, right now. Let’s date. Let’s take this slow.”
Just kidding, he kisses her and asks her to marry him. She says, “Yes, a thousand times, yes!”
Almost the end. There’s a live show after the finale airs, in front of an audience with Giant Stone Head interviewing the newly engaged couple and other contestants. Brooks comes out first. They talk. Then Desiree comes out. Brooks has no idea that Desiree is engaged. This is the first time they’ve spoken or seen each other since he broke up with her on national television. And weirdly, she seems fine, and he seems like the one in “I’ve made a huge mistake” mode. Giant Stone Head wants Desiree to tell Brooks everything that happened after he left. “Things actually got really good after you left,” Des says. She realizes how mean that sounds as the audience laughs. She tries to explain. Finally she just says it. “I’m engaged. To Chris.”
I swear, it’s like that famous scene in The Simpsons when Bart shows Lisa the recording of her breaking up with Ralph and Bart says, “You can actually see the exact moment his heart rips in half.” We see that in Brooks. Briefly. And then he says, very gentlemanly, “That’s great. That doesn’t surprise me. I could see how you guys were with each other.” (Paraphrasing.)
And then Brooks leaves and Chris comes out and sits next to Desiree, and I swear to God, they actually seem really happy together, and they talk about how they are moving to Seattle. It’s like Brooks never even existed.
So here’s what has people divided on this finale. Was Desiree settling or did she realize the person she loved was there the entire time?
All I know for sure is that I’m glad most dudes don’t watch The Bachelorette, because this episode would only encourage the guys who believe that if you have a crush on a girl and she doesn’t feel the same way, you shouldn’t give up because she’ll eventually realize you’re the one for her.
And one other thing:
Photo credit: Screen caps of The Bachelorette, ABC, via Zimbio