Peter Weber was never going to be good for The Bachelor. Since virtually the moment the Delta pilot’s season began, fans have watched in horror as his season crashed and burned in slow motion. To be clear, the spectacle has not been fun; it’s been sluggish, excessively produced (even for The Bachelor), and, most sinfully of all, predictable.
Peter’s failings as a Bachelor have been both numerous and widely discussed—but really, the problem is bigger than that. In Peter, The Bachelor found a star who drank its Kool-Aid years ago. But the show actually works best when its star knows the difference between what he wants and what producers want. That reality has sunk Peter’s Bachelor season—but it might also hint at good things to come with newly announced Bachelorette Clare Crawley.
The Bachelor’s two-part finale began on Monday night—and the most remarkable thing about the two-hour kick-off was just how little happened. Peter’s obvious frontrunner, Madison Prewett, took herself out of the running because Peter slept with her fellow contestants after she’d asked him not to. She wasn’t judging Peter, she said. “When you want something so badly, I think a lot of times, you can't see clearly,” she said. “As much as we want this, I don't know that we can give each other what we need.” Hannah Ann, meanwhile, seemed to notice that Peter doesn’t seem to be matching her enthusiasm for their potential engagement. At this point, Hannah Ann is Peter’s only remaining option—but it still somehow feels more likely that Madison will re-appear on Tuesday night, allowing Peter to make the obvious choice of the season. Then again, he could choose Hannah Ann—a perfunctory decision that would feel entirely of a piece with the rest of this season.
It can be hard for any Bachelor to keep his wits about him once the candles are lit and the cameras are rolling; as noted in Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman’s tell-all book Bachelor Nation, part of the show’s production strategy is to isolate the cast, cutting everyone off from the outside world and confiscating their phones. Plus, throughout production, you’re riding around in helicopters, cuddling kangaroos, and hot tubbing in random fields. The show’s rose ceremonies—once light affairs where contestants laughed and joked—are now serious rituals where women make hilariously angry faces and, in some cases, cry.
The best Bachelors can often be the ones who are able to look past the show’s bizarro world setting—the endless helicopter rides and strange lingo about “journeys” and “breaking down walls” and being there “for the right reasons”—and focus on what they want. Just look at Colton Underwood, who notoriously jumped a fence when he realized producers had meddled in one of his relationships—rejecting the narrative producers had tried to force him into and forcing the show to give itself the villain edit. The result? His finale brought The Bachelor its best viewership in three years.
Peter is just not that guy—and he was never going to be. The native Californian famously grew up minutes away from Bachelor Mansion, and once confessed to having tried (and failed) to sneak into the mansion as a teen. He speaks in that monotone “Bachelor” voice and, even when attempting serious conversations, sounds like an AI that learned how to speak from a glossary of the franchise’s catchphrases. And Peter, it seems, is not the only member of the family who either lives his life like a reality show or is willing to turn it on for the cameras. During Monday’s episode, his mother sobbed and begged that Peter bring home Hannah Ann Sluss—a perfectly nice but relatively unremarkable 23-year-old whom she’d just met.
Beyond that, though, Peter also just seems to have a spine made of jelly. He’s eliminated women with whom he had chemistry and stuck with multiple contestants who seem unable to hold adult conversations without bursting into tears. Choices like these invite the question of producer meddling—but could also just signal that Peter doesn’t know what he wants or how to stand up for it.
Producers, meanwhile, have supplemented all of the empty drama with some meddling of their own. While this is nothing new for the show, their efforts feel more frequent and obvious than usual—especially with regard to Victoria Fuller. She and Peter went on a one-on-one date, for instance, where the performer just happened to be Victoria’s ex-boyfriend Chase Rice. Later on, an ex of Peter’s also somehow ran into the two—and told Peter about Victoria’s rumored affairs weeks after fans had begun gossiping about them online.
It’s no wonder, then, that all of the most compelling drama of the season has occurred off-screen. In addition to Victoria’s rumored affairs with friends’ boyfriends and spouses, there was the controversy over her old modeling gig for a racist fish conservation campaign. There was also the viral theory that Peter winds up with a producer from this season. And there was, of course, Peter’s off-screen accident with a golf cart, which branded him with a sublimely dorky Harry Potter scar on his forehead—the only real hero of this season.
The good news? Clare Crawley’s upcoming season on The Bachelorette could be a lot better. The 38-year-old Bachelorette is at a different stage in life than the 28-year-old Peter and contestants. And as we saw during Clare’s franchise debut on Juan Pablo Galavis’ season of The Bachelor, she has no problem speaking her mind; when Juan Pablo broke up with her, she famously told him, “I thought I knew what kind of man you were. What you just made me go through? I would never want my children having a father like you.”
Whatever decision Peter makes on Tuesday, fans—and his mother—will likely be disappointed. And it’s hard to imagine any outcome that could make up for this disastrously boring season overall. Clare’s appointment as Bachelorette is no guarantee that things will improve—but it at least feels like a sign that producers might have already figured out what went wrong with this season. For the sake of Bachelor fans everywhere, let’s hope they have.