Shawn Glinis and Robin Turnblom react to The Bachelor finale
Shawn Glinis: Ugh. Whitney a.k.a. The One Who Knows What She Signed Up For."The Bachelor" ended up with Whitney because she’s an absolutely dazzling salesperson. The whole three hour finale revealed what a polished, researched and practiced executive Whitney is for the Love Account. Chris was faced with the famous game show proposition: take the $100,000 and be fortunate for a bit, knowing you at least left the show with more than you came with...or go for what may be a MILLION DOLLARS! He chose Door #1. You know what you’re getting with Whitney—like, I could project their marriage in an Excel document.
Robin Turnblom: I feel like I just watched a close friend make a rash, silly decision...just as you said a game show contestant would be likely to make. At the same time, Chris tends to seem more sure of his choices after the fact, e.g. his interaction with Britt at the tell-all and his discussion with Becca after the final rose. And it is hard to reject a person who says things like, “You better not forget how much I love you,” especially when Becca is in the midst of Juan Pablo-ing.
S: I agree, Chris does seem more sure of his choice, presently, but years down the boring line, not knowing what could have been with Becca may kill him.
R: Having not watched more than two seasons of the show, I still agree with Chris Harrison’s generalization that Chris Soules was the most sincere bachelor ever. You can just tell. Or, Chris is just an amazing actor—if that’s the case, please put him in the next Fifty Shades of Grey movie, Hollywood. Let him show his...range.
Chris was a perfect juxtaposition to Juan Pablo (or at least the Juan Pablo we saw). Where Juan Pablo was callous, Chris was caring, and where Juan Pablo never showed emotion, Chris would get teary on screen.
He seems like a genuinely good guy, but we should talk about the idea of “American-ness” that was packaged in the marketing for the show. Chris, a white, Midwestern farmer who sometimes goes to church, just happened to be on "The Bachelorette" last season. So it was in part chance that he became the next bachelor after Juan Pablo. However, we now have the problematic juxtaposition of the “Foreigner,” who last season did not follow the show’s premise and audience expectation and did not get engaged, and the “American,” who seems to be all in for love and got engaged when he was supposed to. One Bachelor print ad in particular brings to mind Chrysler’s “American Import” TV spots, which start out with a Japanese or German narrator speaking about his respective country’s tradition, before realizing the car he is narrating about is in fact American made. The Bachelor ad shows Chris standing in a red barn doorway, and the print to his left reads, “Traditional. Classic. All-American.” "The Bachelor" is capitalizing on the timing of Chris’s stint on the show with Juan Pablo’s, echoing Chrysler’s celebration of some supposed return to form and what “real” America supposedly looks like. Let us not forget, too, that ABC was actually sued for racial discrimination on The Bachelor. According to NPR, in 2012 a judge dismissed the case in favor of ABC on First Amendment grounds, but it’s obvious that ABC was getting called out on some bad decision-making that was going under the radar for too long.
S: Chris is certainly a nice human being who displayed a capacity for empathy, care and concern for all of the women. More importantly, as you mention, he’s visibly sensitive. He wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable throughout the show. His care for the women seemed to manifest in ways that transcended what ABC might have wanted him to do for the sake of ratings (e.g. not putting women through rose ceremonies). For these reasons, the show’s All-American marketing scheme are perhaps subverted. Chris embodies plenty of quintessentially Heartland American qualities that unfortunately play into the larger inter-textual narrative that ABC is cultivating between last season and this one that you mention, but I’m willing to take the good with the bad here...or blindly focus on the good. One step forward for having a subtly feminine All-American farmer man, one step back for xenophobia?
As far as "The Bachelor’s" treatment of race, season 19 offers Exhibit Amber. If you remember her, you get the point. If you don’t remember her, you get the point.
R: A casual viewer or even non-viewer would probably be able to pinpoint what is the biggest logistical problem of the show in general: time. Becca’s journey emphasized that this season. She wanted to feel what she could call love sooner, but for whatever reason—I’m guessing mainly time—she wasn’t there by the final rose ceremony and was not ready to drop everything in her life and move to a remote farm in the middle of Iowa for a guy she liked but wasn’t sure about. What a crazy woman! Even though Chris may be the most sincere yet in his Love Quest, and I really feel more invested in his happiness than I should be for a stranger, this doesn’t mean that he and Whitney will last. Maybe I’ll be putting my foot in my mouth 40 years from now, but I say the odds are stacked against them. Then again, some people say you either “know” or you don’t. Still. A couple months just isn’t long enough to get to know one person well enough to spend the rest of your life with them in wedded bliss. Especially if you’re dating between one and 25 additional people during that process.
S: Agreed. As much as Chris seemed flexible and understanding about Becca’s time issue, that seemed to be the deciding factor for him. But more than that, I just didn’t see enough chemistry between Chris and Whitney, especially juxtaposed with him and Becca. When someone says “I love you,” and you reply, “I reciprocate those feelings,” you don’t stay in love forever.
S: It’s really a two-woman race between Ashley I. (a.k.a. the Kardashian) and Kelsey (a.k.a. the Black Widow). What makes the race exciting is that they offer two diametric types of "drama." One cultivates drama amongst her while appearing quite put together: Kelsey. She’s a master manipulator. The other seems to have a genuinely dramatic attitude that lacks self-awareness: Ashley I. She’s childish. These dynamics are what made the 2-on-1 date so...well, dramatic. That and a gaggle of helicopter shots that I hope was homaging the denouement of Solyaris. Just like Kelvin is forever left to toil on a hopeless planet that terrorizes you with your own memory, Ashley and Kelsey are left to the desolate Badlands alone, together with the person that represents their opposite. My answer: Ashley I.
R: My choice is closer to Kelsey on the spectrum of dramatic personalities: Carly. You step out of the limo singing on a pink, portable karaoke machine and you know some drama will go down. Carly’s reactions with and without the other women around may not have seemed as thought out as Kelsey’s, but what Carly seemed was honest—to the camera alone and to the women who thought they were confiding in her as a friend. This to me is the most destructive type of drama queen: the frenemy. She managed to crumble the relationships of other women and Chris, of herself and other women, and of herself and Chris.
S: I’m so glad you mentioned Carly and her widespread destruction. While she isn’t someone I want to spend time with, to me Carly was strangely and sadly Shakespearean. She was never meant for the show; she doesn’t fit the existing algorithm for contestants and she knew it. The only thing she could do was hope for some finite but much needed attention before conceding failure to play recon for Chris. Someone draft a screenplay.
R: Leaving Ashley I. and Kelsey out in the middle of nowhere in the Badlands was pretty bizarre. I think I get what the show was trying to do, but I couldn’t really appreciate it because I was just wondering who was going back for them and how they were going to get out of there. The lake camping was also a weird choice. One man and a camp full of women in bikinis is too close to the premise of an exploitation horror film to be a fun group date.
S: While I had the same problems of logistical concerns during the Badlands and an underwhelming feeling toward the sad-excuse-for-a-lake date (the only time I sympathize with Kelsey, as a co-Michigander), I was turned off by 1) how insistent the show was on competitive farm-related group dates, and 2) the on-brand transparency of Disney’s synergistic Cinderella date...as beautiful as Jade looked.
R: Although, the Disney date was the catalyst for one of my favorite-but-slightly-manufactured moments from the season: Ashley I. lounging in her own princess garb while gnawing on a corn cob.
S: Mine is pretty simple: Becca quietly saying “I’m a virgin too.” The meek, shy woman in the shadows comes out slowly to tell THE VIRGIN that she’s a virgin too. Becca swiftly and necessarily undercut Ashley I.’s entire constructed identity in one true afterthought.
R: I like that. I'll go with a Carly classic about Ashley I., "Her mouth isn't a virgin."
S: Ashley I. Hands down. I feel kinda bad with this answer, but it’s painfully obvious how virginal she is whenever she went in “for the kill” (as Jordan calls it). Ashley tried to envelope Chris’ head every time they kissed. She doesn’t know how to play it cool on the way around the bases.
R: I’m going to have to say Jordan. Mostly because she was so bad at kissing when drunk that she didn’t even make it to the kiss. And then talked about it. To Chris.
J: ‘How ya feelin’?’
C: ‘I am doing good.’
J: ‘I was gonna go in for the kill but now—’
C: ‘The kill?’
J: ‘Yeah. Like, makeout, like, I’m like, I gotta do it! Like, I need to go in for it! Now it seems awkward...um, anyway.’
S: That’s a good point; I thought people were usually better at kissing when they’re drunk.
R: Usually they at least make contact!
S: Britt. Those Chucks look dynamite on her.
R: Chris Harrison’s pocket square/Kleenex.
S: While I have a clear winner for this one, it’s complex because more than past seasons, the last five or six women were quite civil and tightly bound in a way that merited respect. As much as I respect Whitney, to me she says “good co-worker.” As hip and cool as Britt is, she has some major center-of-attention type shit to figure out. She’s the type of person everybody wants to be friends with but when you become close, you find out how little she cares about you. As fun and relaxed as Carly seems, frankly she’s depressing. She’s the friend that you can never tell about anything good happening in your own life because they’ll just compare it to their own failures.
It has to be Kaitlyn. From her first appearance, Kaitlyn has been consistently awesome. Sometimes, ABC’s paradigm for contestants breeds low expectations, so when Kaitlyn came on the scene, I was like, “Whoa, she’s like, funny!” And she has her head on her shoulders, handling all of the tough situations in admirable fashion. She’s fun, low maintenance, relatable and by far the smartest person I’ve seen in any season of "The Bachelor." I’d hang.
R: I think most people on a reality television show probably have center-of-attention issues to figure out...and Britt actually seemed like a loyal friend to many of the other contestants. But, you stole my pick! I would say Kaitlin too. She seems to be able to find something fun about any situation. That being said, if I’m in the right mood, I think Ashley S. would be pretty fun to hang out with too. Kelsey Poe did call her an “evil genius” on Grantland’s The Juliet Show. Mesa Verde is a pretty cool-looking place, you should Google it sometime. Welp, I guess I’ve identified my three potential new best friends. A relaunch of Paris Hilton’s reality show with me as the star?
R: The audience response in the "After the Final Rose" special was overwhelmingly for Kaitlyn, so I don’t even know why there is any contest between Britt and Kaitlyn as the Bachelorette. I can’t read producer’s minds so I figured Britt had something of a chance, but was not enough of a contender to go head-to-head with Kaitlyn. The fact that the guys who make it on "The Bachelorette" are going to be the ones deciding who gets the rest of the show based on their flash impressions from the first night is maybe the worst idea I’ve ever heard. The fact that the Bachelorette already seems to have such little agency on the show (she is expected to seriously consider moving to where her potential husband works and lives instead of vice versa, the final two dudes pick out the ring instead of her proposing) is amplified by this decision, which is driving me away from wanting to watch it at all.
S: As dubious as the revised format is, I think once Kaitlyn inevitably beats out Britt, she will make the program exponentially more interesting than ever before. Kaitlyn is the closest contestant this franchise has ever had in the way of an audience surrogate—in every situation, I would look to Kaitlyn to try and navigate what was going on. It’ll be nice to have that type of personality in the constant spotlight.
R: One thing that stood out to me was the attention paid to the relationships between the women, who, as you mentioned, by the end of the show were more tightly bound as friends. There is always drama between certain women on "The Bachelor," but there was more time spent this season on the positive interactions between them. Just after she was dumped, Britt seemed more upset about Carly’s comments to Chris than the breakup itself. Kaitlyn legitimately seemed to have fun just hanging out with the other women at the lake. Jillian even stood up for Kelsey at the tell-all. But there is still a confusing double-standard being held for the women on the show. When Britt confronted Carly at the tell-all, we heard the classic, “This isn’t about making friends” and “Why do you need friends?” from the other women. But when Kelsey took the hot seat, the tone became, “There’s a reason you don’t have any friends here.” It’s almost as if a contestant is supposed to be in it for herself and to forge a relationship with the Bachelor, but must also be so “naturally likable” that she just happens to make friends along the way, as if she just can’t help it. You can’t have it both ways, people!
S: Because the women were so comparatively close knit, the show’s drama derived more from the trauma of the show’s scenario (the emotional toll this show takes on these women) as well as the downright poignancy of the show. This season was kind of strange in that way because it meant that the middle chunk of the season was more interesting than the finale—it sounds odd on paper, but it was just nice watching these women bond.
As milquetoast as the finale was, Becca’s situation offered viewers a glimpse of subversion. My girlfriend and I both thought Chris was going to choose Becca; their chemistry was palpable...or at least evident. But Becca “lost” because she wasn’t willing to submit to Chris and therefore the central concept of "The Bachelor". As my girlfriend smartly pointed out, Becca wanted to know if Chris was willing to change for her instead of the other way around. She didn’t adjust her needs in the face of silly time restraints.
I’m on record saying last season of "The Bachelor" was the best yet, but where that season made for spectacle this season’s emotional dynamics were compelling. Here’s to hoping ABC continues to seek out more bachelors that embrace their feminine traits and ditch the machismo.