When Bachelor historians look back on the fourteenth season of The Bachelorette, dissecting vintage final rose ceremonies from their couches on Mars, they’ll find a fascinating record of doomed romance on a dying planet. Whereas past seasons have constructed an elaborate fantasy, Becca Kufrin’s Bachelorette stint resembles something a little bit closer to “reality,” as an undateable cast of losers competes over an emotionally-traumatized woman who’s ready to settle for anyone who doesn’t immediately ask for the ring back.
Finally, tragically, fittingly, the average Tinder user can relate to the Bachelorette’s struggle, juggling a guy who likes alt-right memes on Instagram and a bunch of other jabronis whose best quality is that they’re not her ex.
Becca Kufrin is the face of The Bachelor franchise’s evolution from “meet your prince” to “men are trash.” Either ABC producers are just too exhausted to try and make heterosexual romance look like fun, or they’re betting that casually cruel viewers will tune in to watch women get their hearts broken and make bad decisions. Alternatively, The Bachelorette big-wigs have simply been overwhelmed and rendered powerless by a deluge of bad men. There are just so many of them, swarming the set with their commitment issues, bad politics, and assault and battery convictions.
As a contestant on The Bachelor, Kufrin originally accepted a proposal from one of the most boring denizens of Bachelor Nation, only to have her engagement broken on national television when he decided that he was actually meant to be with the runner-up. As you can imagine, getting dumped by ABC’s last-resort Bachelor didn’t do much for Kufrin’s self-esteem, and led to trust issues that made the poor casting of Kufrin’s season, deliberate or not, feel even more cruel. As Kufrin works to rebuild her sense of safety, the television audience is well aware that she’s dating a handful of covert assholes who will inevitably disappoint.
Going in to this season’s finale, our #Resistance romantic lead had a 50/50 chance of ending up with a guy who has liked social media posts mocking the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and Parkland survivors, among others. That man is Garrett Yrigoyen, who’s been a frontrunner ever since he took home the first impression rose. When news of Yrigoyen’s problematic Instagram trail first went public, The Bachelorette contestant issued a statement, writing, “I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my ‘likes’ on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive.” More notably, Kufrin felt the need to weigh in on the controversy, which avid franchise followers took as proof that Yrigoyen was going to go all the way in the competition.
“I can’t fault anyone for what they believe, and who’s to say that anything that anyone ‘likes’ is truly what they believe in if they just double tap,” Kufrin told Entertainment Tonight, clearly still trying to convince herself. She continued, “I am a strong woman and I do believe in certain things, but again, that’s what’s so great about our country is that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”
Ever since, Kufrin, who presumably didn’t know about Yrigoyen’s Instagram presence while they were filming, has been exercising her patriotic right to date a man who probably thinks that David Hogg is a crisis actor. Watching Kufrin’s season with all of that in mind has felt like a slow-motion car crash, culminating in the slowest motion, most cringe-worthy episode of all: the finale proposal, a three-hour-long event that attempts to soften the blow of a not-so-happy ending with a free trip to the Maldives.
The episode cuts between footage of the Maldives showdown and a live taping in Los Angeles, where Chris Harrison teases the upcoming breakup as “the television event of the summer.” While The Bachelorette is known to fall back on cookie-cutter dates and filler footage, the three-hour finale quickly crosses the line from cliché and repetition to full-on Westworld. Over and over again, we see the requisite shots of the hotel, glimpses of Becca looking off into the ocean, jumping into a man’s arms, and bikini Becca underwater. I swear the same freaking bat gets at least a minute of cumulative screentime. The question of how and why this finale is so damn long is far more pressing than that of who Becca will end up with, which has been pretty obvious from the first episode of the entire season. Couples who you vaguely suspect might be Trump supporters should be relegated to Facebook, where you can quickly scroll past their engagement album, not encouraged with a three-hour-long television event that’s 10 percent bat.
Becca loves Garrett and Blake, but she’s waiting to divulge that information to the man she ends up with. To help her choose, she’s enlisted her entire family, and they’re clustered in a Maldives villa waiting to meet the final two. Garrett impresses the assembled Kufrins by crying a ton. He cries so much that everyone gets over the fact that he split from his first wife after only two months, and that his ex looks exactly like Becca (emphasis mine, and entirely warranted). Garrett speaks exclusively in bland platitudes, so it’s pretty impressive that he manages to make himself cry so often. He feels like he has a lot of love to give, and says that Becca is beautiful inside and out. And look, he’s crying again. Garrett swears to a miscellaneous Kufrin that, as Becca’s betrothed, he will “make sure she’s safe and guarded.” How dangerous is it to be a medical sales rep in Reno? How many threats to his safety does Garrett face on a daily basis?
Next up to meet the would-be in-laws is Blake, who looks exactly like Garrett, except he has sort of a weird haircut. Still, as soon as Blake uses the word “exponentially” correctly, it’s clear that he’s the superior candidate. Becca’s wise sister puts in a good word for Blake, telling her that while Garrett would be a “wonderful father,” “I feel like Blake would challenge you, and he would be more of a teammate.” She probably got that impression from the fact that Blake emphasized his admiration for strong independent women, while Garrett hypothesized that Becca would make a great wife and mother. Maybe try marrying the guy who really loves and admires you over the one who repeatedly pledges to protect you and your precious womb.
At this point—and it’s pretty early on—Blake is already on the verge of a meltdown. He senses that something is “off” with Becca, and he’s totally shook, insisting in his interview that “she’s going to pick Garrett.” Spoiler alert! But before she can do that, Chris Harrison needs to welcome the stars of Crazy Rich Asians (?) and ask them for their takes on the first act of the finale.
Back in the Maldives, one of Becca’s relatives remarks that Garrett is a “poet”; Garrett, seemingly unaware of his creative potential, proceeds to go on a date with Becca where they spend most of the time talking about dolphins and pointing out different dolphins to each other. At one point, an incredibly blissed-out Garrett exclaims, “Maybe it’s the girl, maybe it’s the equator, but I’m on top of the world right now.” The question here isn’t if Garrett understands where the equator is (he clearly doesn’t), but if Becca even cares that Garrett doesn’t understand the equator. Becca, please have a single standard. Later on, The Bachelorette’s new poet laureate tells Becca that she gives him “eagles” instead of butterflies, at one point alluding to a “Fourth of July in my chest.” I do not understand a single thing that Garrett is saying, but it does all seem very sincere—including a monologue he delivers about Becca’s accent, which culminates in: “I love the way she says bag.”
With Blake, it’s pretty apparent that Becca’s heart just isn’t in it. It’s hard to watch, especially when Blake breaks out the time capsule. Meanwhile, Chris Harrison keeps teasing the “devastating” breakup to come, at one point giving the audience a sort of trigger warning for male tears: “Prepare yourselves for what you’re about to see.”
Both of the guys are approaching Becca on tiny boats. The first one to reach her is Blake, which means he’s about to get super dumped. He delivers a very sweet speech, telling Becca that “when all this is gone, it’s just going to be you and me baby.” Becca confesses that she had always pictured Blake proposing, but that, ultimately, “There’s just one piece with somebody else that I am not ready to say goodbye to yet.”
After she walks a crying Blake away from the romantic proposal spot, Becca starts having a small panic attack in a tree, gasping, “I really thought it would be him for so long.” Meanwhile, in another tree, Blake is sobbing into a hand towel and torturing himself with visions of an ecstatic Becca accepting Garrett’s proposal. It’s honest and painful, but not half as painful as the live footage of Blake, who has just watched himself get dumped for the first time and now has to talk to Chris Harrison about his humiliation and see his ex again. When Harrison does bring Becca out, it’s more awkward than explosive. Blake asks her if there was a specific moment when she realized they weren’t going to end up together—there wasn’t. At one point Becca seems to be saying that she was worried Blake would be too anxious if one of them became seriously ill, which seems like a weird and overly specific concern, but Blake takes it in stride. In fact, they’re both incredibly kind to each other, and Chris Harrison is definitely pissed that everyone wasn’t a little more traumatized by what went down in the Maldives. Still, Harrison insists that outpourings of support for dumped Blake have “broken the internet,” which is just delusional.
Garrett proposes to Becca, and the couple makes their official debut. They seem really happy together, which is great for them, but doesn’t make their banter any less boring. Garrett and Becca even manage to make Garrett’s social media controversy—the most interesting thing about them—insanely boring. They recycle an endless list of talking points meant to put the scandal to rest once and for all. They admit that the likes, and the resulting shitstorm, caused an early rift in their relationship, but that they got through it together. Now they’re planning to move to California together, where they’ll doubtlessly produce a lot of sponsored content and enjoy an extended engagement.
But don’t worry if all of that left a bad taste of dull in your mouth—Bachelor in Paradise starts tomorrow.