It is with great shame that I, Lo, admit to having watched almost all 17 (!) horrendous seasons of The Bachelor on ABC. But last night’s “After the Final Rose” special (an in-studio event where the betrothed and the rejected appear together 3 months after the final rose is handed out) finally made it all worthwhile. At last, pay-off!
In case you haven’t been initiated into this particular reality sorority, The Bachelor is one of the most emotionally choreographed and formulaic shows on television — the same shit always happens: the Batch pretends he can’t make up his mind between the two finalists (out of 25) who’ve somehow fallen in love with him over the course of a mere 6 weeks, it’s the hardest decision he’s ever had to make, how’s he gonna do it, blah blah blah; then miraculously, on the morning of the final rose ceremony (that’s how he picks “winners” each round: he gives his faves a rose), he’s gotten a sign from god and woken up sure of whom he’s meant to spend the rest of his life with; he pummels the heart of one and proposes to (or promise-rings) the other; the happy couple, who are contractually obligated to prance their coupledom on national television one last time, show up on the post-game special holding hands, making goo-goo eyes and fart jokes to prove their closeness; then they enter the real world where it takes about 6 to 9 months for each of them to realize that the other is a soulless shallow twit who — no way! — isn’t actually “the One,” as we read in the tabloids. (Now you understand my shame.)
Host Chris Harrison (who surely must drink himself to sleep every night in order to live with what he does for a living) is fond of promoting every single show as “the most dramatic episode ever.” It’s a baldfaced lie I’ve come to expect from him. The only time he’s come close to delivering on that promise was when, a few seasons earlier, bachelor Brad did the unthinkable and rejected both finalists (of course, after having led both of them on with overtones of the the sincerest love and deep heartfelt tongue probings). It was a rare and surprising upset to the order of the Bachelor universe. But nothing compared to what happened last night!
So single dad Jason, who was the broken-hearted runner-up on a previous season of The Bachelorette (the female-centric version of the show), is in the driver’s seat this time — apparently so he can get some misdirected closure by putting someone else through the exact same horrible scenario. This entire season he’s appeared to be the “good guy,” willing to cry on camera whenever he sees his son or has to let some sucker go. He narrows it down to Molly (a.k.a. Kappa Kappa Kappa) and Melissa (a.k.a. Freckles), two sweet and adorable women who are way to young to get married or become stepmothers. I and my fellow viewers (who wish to remain anonymous) were convinced all season that Jason was fer sure going to pick Molly, the seemingly more mature one of the two. But then in the two-hour season finale, something changed (perhaps due to some clever editing): Molly seemed cold and Melissa seemed warm like the sun. And so he picks Melissa!
Okay, not a huge surprise. But Molly’s warnings that he’s made a big mistake soon turn prophetic. The finale immediately segues into the “After the Final Rose” special, where there’s usually an audience of lonely, romance-novel-reading, middle-aged women who all married the wrong man themselves and need to believe in unrealistic fairy-tales like the Batch in order to get through the day (I’m not talking about myself, I swear!). But this time the studio is empty (save for the 30-person crew), because some seriously heavy shit is about to go down:
Jason comes out, head hung low (either because he’s sad or he’s got bad posture, I’m still not sure), and admits to Chris that things aren’t working out with Melissa, they’re not going to work out with Melissa, and he’s still in love with Molly. He hasn’t officially ended things with Melissa and he hasn’t seen Molly since they shot the finale, i.e. when he dumped her ass. Both of them are back stage (apparently in soundproof booths or something). Melissa comes on out, Jason dumps her, she somehow keeps it together calling bullshit on his capricious flights of fancy (“here’s an engagement ring; um, on second thought, let me take that back”) and then gets sent home in a limo (natch) where she tearfully delivers quite a mature and generous speech about hope and good will, proving that she’s either a saint or a soulless shallow twit who just wants to be picked for the next Bachelorette.
Meanwhile, back in the studio, Molly is interviewed alone by Chris, to whom she admits she still has feelings for Jason and that every day she hopes he’ll call her saying he’s made a mistake. I thought she’d definitely been prepped by the producers, until I saw the look of shock on her face when Jason comes out and asks her for a second chance, “a shot” — she really looked like she thought she was getting Punk’d or put on that lame Howie Mandel hidden-camera show.
By the end of the special — and here’s what’s really gross (i.e. really compelling) — the two of them are practically making out of the couch and he’s telling her he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Um, hello, you just said that literally (at least to us viewers) a few minutes ago to Melissa?! He keeps rambling about how picking Melissa was what was right at the time, and how he needs to live in the moment and without regrets. But what’s to stop him 3 months from now saying the exact same thing about this very moment in the studio with Molly? And so we see, before our very eyes, Mr. Good Guy turn into the most selfish, immature, impatient douche that ever became a Bachelor (even worse than Charlie O’Connell).
Now that’s drama.