When you’ve found that special someone, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Unless you’re Juan Pablo Galavis on a reality show about love, in which case you prefer to “keep things to ourselves.”
“I’m sorry this show didn’t end up like you wanted it to,” he said.
And so the weirdest finale of the most hated Bachelor season ever ended, with complete disregard to the rules that we’ve all agreed upon. No engagement, no declaration of love, just an old-fashioned dumping, a sour grapes grasp for dignity, and an awkward couch proposal to “go get a burger, and eat in a restaurant, and do what we want.”
Juan Pablo was unapologetic, at times seething, as he sat by Nikki, the “winner” of season 18, on the live After the Final Rose special. If you were playing a drinking game, the most toasted phrase would easily have been, “It’s hard for me,” as the first Latino Bachelor bemoaned his fall from fan favorite to worst reality star ever. He won’t play our game anymore.
But Juan Pablo did play with our emotions. He refused to tell us if he loves Nikki—though she insisted he does. He let Chris Harrison build up a big surprise then said flatly, “I don’t have a big surprise.” He called his haters out with an “I don’t hide behind a computer.”
It was weird and uncomfortable and in the end, somehow everyone was wrong. But really, how else could this debacle have ended?
The episode began with the remaining women, Nikki and Clare (immediately compartmentalized as Madonna and whore, respectively), spending some time with Juan Pablo’s family. This is usually when the bachelor’s loved ones grill the final contestants, and make judgments on who would be right for their brother, cousin, or son. But last night’s meet the family was less like a tryout and more like a warning.
“He sometimes is very rude,” Juan Pablo’s mother told Clare before admitting that he’s made her cry. To Nikki, she warned, “He is charismatic, but Juan Pablo is not easy.”
Juan Pablo’s cousin said the most important quality for success with him is a willingness to stay when he’s terrible.
While a normal person would bristle at such obvious red flags, our girls ran like bulls towards love. They left the family dates more confident than ever that he was the Juan for them.
But he’s not. On Juan Pablo’s last one-on-one date with Clare, he offended her again. As their final helicopter ride ended and the mics were off, Clare asked her part-time lover to whisper something real—that wouldn’t break the show’s rules of no I love you’s until the final rose—and as she explained, Juan responded that “he really doesn't know me, and some sexual thing I didn't want to repeat. It was insulting and it was offensive and it just made me feel awful.”
“I’ve been down this road before,” Clare said of men that want her only for a hookup. And we know she’s telling the truth because we saw this happen just a few weeks ago, when the same man had sex with her in the ocean, then made her feel like a slut for it.
She emptily threatened to be “outta here,” but was persuaded to stay when Juan Pablo said he wants her and if he picks her they would have a baby in a year. She swooned. Love is real.
Nikki’s date wasn’t singularly offensive, but it was strange all the same. They sat on the beach and dreamt about the future. Juan Pablo tellingly spoke about his love of television, and how he plans to watch alone. She wanted more from him, some acknowledgment of feeling, but he gave her nothing.
Both dates ended with the women in tears. But with the sun came a new confidence and both Clare and Nikki were sure they were the one.
And then the house burned down.
Clare went first. When she was rejected (because who didn’t see the blatantly sexist Juan Pablo dumping the woman who had given it up too early?), she flipped. During what is usually a time for anger, but also grace, as your last moment on television, she pounced and stopped him as he went in for a hug. “I’ve saved this moment for the man of my dreams and I thought that was you and I thought I knew you,” she said as she walked away. “I would never want my children having a father like you.”
“Whew. I’m glad I didn’t pick her,” said Juan Pablo, charming as ever.
“That day was pivotal for me because I had never been able to stand up for myself to a man before,” Clare told Chris Harrison later, after the final rose. “So many women relate. You want to have hope, give chance after chance. It was so liberating to stay this is how I feel and its not ok...That enough was closure and I don’t want to sit here on this couch and get fed anymore BS…He’s plain and simple not the man I thought he was.”
We all might delight in the opportunity to tell off the worst Bachelor ever, but Clare’s mistaken if she thinks this is her feminist moment. In fact, she did give Juan Pablo chance after chance after chance. If he had chosen her, she probably would be picking out china patterns. Clare’s problem was that Juan Pablo didn’t pick her.
But he did pick Nikki, sort of.
And whether his intentions were noble or not, Juan Pablo finally did something that you can’t hate him for. He didn’t propose, even though it would have redeemed him in the minds of millions.
"I have a ring here in my pocket, and I’m not going to use it,” he said. “No Mmmm. I’m not 100 percent sure that I want to propose to you, but at the same time, I’m 100 percent sure I don't want to let you go. I like you a lot." WINK. “A lot.”
It’s no fairy tale, but at least she knows what she’s getting.
Nikki took the final rose and agreed to his final request. “Don’t get cranky now,” he said, thumping her nose with his finger.