Is Love Alive? Processing The Bachelorette Season 13 Finale
08.08.17
Photo via Disney ABC Press

The Bachelorette ended last night not with a bang but with a hours of whimpering and I am unsure how I’m supposed to process. I’m just sitting here in the middle of my mediocre life, gobsmacked. It’s not that we didn’t know this was going to happen, but the way it happened makes me question whether I knew anything at all.

Here are what seem to be facts in this alt-facts, post-Whaboom world we live in.

Last night, Rachel Lindsay, stunning lawyer Bachelorette, and Peter, salt-and-pepper snack, broke love. After a grueling 45 minutes of conversation and a truly pearl-clutching read from Peter, they decided that they couldn’t reconcile their differences, essentially kissing love on the mouth while wearing poison lipstick.

The finale was like a three-hour rendition of “Winter Song” and I’m stunned.

The two dog-lovers with teeth gaps argued once again over Peter’s desire to have a normal courtship despite the fact that both of them went through a very lengthy audition process and signed a massive number of legal documents so that they could appear on a show that could be called Black Tie Speed Dating. Peter decided that the hill he would die on was the “I won’t be pressured into proposing” one. Which, fine. That’s a great hill. Again, you’re on a television show called Proposal Pressure Cooker so maybe read the room.

Rachel also held her ground, which basically amounted to “Don’t propose because I want you to, propose because you want to (and the producers are legally requiring it).”

Neither budged because that’s how real arguments between real couples work sometimes. Sometimes you have a meltdown at a Macy’s over Wedgewood china; sometimes you debate the semantics of engagement on a television show called Don’t Think About It; It’s Just The Rest of Your Life.

Things got heated. Rachel accused Peter of not knowing what he wanted. Peter countered that he actually did know what he wanted, thanks much, but he’d be willing to go against his own wants if that meant keeping her.

Rachel still wasn’t mollified. “I want someone who knows what they want to do!” she shouted. Peter shot back, “Great, then go find someone to have a mediocre life with.” And every pearl in every oyster in all of the sea got clutched.

And that was the end of it, wasn’t it? When they kissed goodbye, Peter said, “If you change your mind, you know where to find me.” In a romcom, that line lets up know that at some point before the credits roll, someone is going to go running through the airport to catch someone else before they get on a plane or whatever it is that people do nowadays when they want to make a grand romantic gesture but don’t want to get tased by TSA.

Yet in place of grand gestures, we got awkward body posture as Rachel and Peter reunited on the live finale and sat as a far apart as possible on the sofa.

Elsewhere in the three-hour show, Rachel had a conscious uncoupling with physical trainer Eric, who grew a breakup beard and seems to be living his best life.

And lastly: Rachel chose cheeky chiropractor Bryan and was rewarded with the proposal she seemed hellbent on receiving. There is no wedding on the horizon, however. After haranguing Peter about making a commitment, Rachel revealed on the finale that she and Bryan would be “taking it slow.” Ah yes, that new “slow-engagement” movement. It’s crock pot couplehood. Everyone’s doing it. Except, apparently, Rachel and Peter. Bryan, the sous-vide suitor, has finally won her heart.

I think the lingering question from last night’s episode is whether we were expecting the wrong thing. Bryan and Peter were front-runners from the beginning. Bryan has a large fan base who like noisy kissing and Olga, his phenomenal/terrible mom-wife. The choice of Bryan over Peter isn’t super surprising, nor is it all that bad. In an emergency phone session with my therapist this morning, we reaffirmed that Rachel is a grown woman and she can do what she wants. Even if what she wants is getting engaged to a man for whom her sister Constance wouldn’t cross the street. We cannot control our hearts nor the hearts of our friends, according to my therapist. So, chew on that.

Nevertheless, the story of The Bachelorette is ultimately a romance and romance is built on big moments of magic, on coincidence and confluence, on sudden rushes of feelings and long-simmering desire. And last night we didn’t get that. Instead, we watched a picture-perfect couple go through the very real, very relatable process of discovering that they weren’t going to be compatible. There’s no magic in that. That’s as flat-footed and Muggle-born as they come.

This was a romcom as directed by Werner Herzog. Peter and Rachel’s breakup took up a full third of the episode. That’s like devoting half of Sleepless in Seattle to Bill Pullman’s character.

Thanks to the new live format, Rachel got to relive all three hours of footage like she were starring in a Lifetime movie version of A Christmas Carol. I’m obsessed with myself and yet if presented with the opportunity to watch a super painful breakup followed by an engagement that seemed a bit like an afterthought I’d have to give it a hard pass. “I’ll just scroll through my own Instagram feed until I OD on narcissism, thanks.”

But Rachel did it. She did all of the sometimes challenging, sometimes maddening things the show threw at her this season. She came back after having her heart broken by Nick.

She did it all for love, which means big moments of magic and small fights about semantics. It means proposals in front of scenic vistas and sometimes, a gap between two people that will never be closed. It’s not always romantic, but it’s pretty damn real.

Get more Pop Culture ?
  • Andrea Raymer

    I was so emotionally drained during this episode that I ate pasta for the first time in years. Carbs were the only thing that could console me. Having never been through a breakup it was very shocking for me to watch one play out so intensely like that. I thought Brooks leaving Desiree was a difficult experience for me, but this tops that. It is usually at this point in the season that I get angry at the mathematical improbability of two people both being in love with you (one already seems impossible), but I was so distracted that I never even got there.

    I do feel like part of the problem is that Rachel already knew she wasn’t going to pick him. When he asked her if she could guarantee that they would for sure get married if he proposed and she said “I can’t answer that” it seemed to have an undertone of “because I’m going to pick someone else.” I think she already knew she was going to pick Bryan but they still had to break up and her feelings for Peter were still strong so it was messy. If she was going to pick Peter I don’t think that argument would have lasted more than one date.

    Also. I am living for Eric’s breakup beard.

    PS. I miss Dean.

    • Marcela Sp

      YES TO ALL OF THIS

    • Cristina

      Have you started your submission for the Bachelor? It’s gotta be Peter. Everyone loves Peter haha.
      I AM curious to see the caliber of women they cast if he is named Bach. I feel like the drama laden, standard perky blonde bombshell at the ripe ol age of 22 isn’t gonna cut it!

      • Amelia

        I honestly don’t think Peter would want to be the Bachelor!

        • M Rae

          He would absolutely not…easy on the eyes but a whole season of his carefully metered robot speak, no thanks. Bachelor Eric though with that beard…BACHELOR ERIC!!!

    • LEM

      I watched this episode with my parents (who are both in their late 60s and LOVE it) and I had to explain to them Desiree and Brooks and how she ended up marrying the guy who was kinda the runner up. But now they seem pretty and happy and have a baby so… maybe there’s hope for Rachel and runner-up Bryan?

      • Andrea Raymer

        this ending felt like a combination of Desiree and Andi’s seasons

  • Hannah Warner

    you’re hilarious – love these recaps!!

  • Alison

    “This was a romcom as directed by Werner Herzog.” — Eric, you are amazing.
    “And every pearl in every oyster in all of the sea got clutched.” — ítem

    I will miss these recaps! Just have to fill my lunch hour with “Eric Reads the News.”

  • Molly Brunk

    i’m going to miss these recaps more than the show, PLEASE do recaps of bachelors in paradise, i’m going to need that.

    • Betsy

      Yes, PLEASE recap BIP! I can’t watch it (I got grossed out by the preview) but I really need to keep up with Dean. And your recaps are amazing!

      • Cristina

        I dunnoooo.. I feel like I’d read his recaps of Life of Kylie hahahaha those would be EPIC.

  • Ally Frankel

    This was a great article. This episode literally made me feel so many things-and while I respect Rachel’s decision, it did feel like such an afterthought. She wanted a ring more than she wanted love! Sad 🙁

  • phillyspice

    I laughed so hard I set off an asthma attack. That’s the highest praise I can give to a recap.

  • Sharon SilentStylist Cyrus

    Maryland state: “Come on home boo. We gotchoo. lol”

    • Amelia

      Hell yes to this. Baltimore boy!!

      • Sharon SilentStylist Cyrus

        Eric was too good for all that!

  • Amelia

    Rachel’s “omg gimmeeeee” reaction when she saw that ring just reaffirmed that she wanted a ring and an engagement before she wanted anything real!!!!!!! team Peter forever

    • Cristina

      Literally what everyone else i know that watched it said. I started watching it but then got so bored and so mad at the producers for the ridiculous casting and scripts that I read the spoilers. But it sounds like her and Peter had the real deal and she just wanted that ring. Which we all know in Bachland, means nothing.

  • Martha Pietruszewski

    I give them a year, tops. Team Peter forever

  • “a gap between two people that will never be closed” is honestly giving me the closure I needed for this season. thank you.

  • The great news is now Peter can marry ME! I mean, just date. We’ll take it slow, Peter.

  • Sarah Jill Bashein

    Couldn’t agree more. The breakup with Peter was the most real thing I’ve ever seen in TV, it was a real life breakup. Real love that just doesn’t work, it was horrible to watch, but somehow gratifying to see something on TV that actually mirrors situations in real life. Once again, thank you to Rachel for the most realistic TV that the bachelor franchise has ever given us.

  • Hansika Vijayaraghavan

    1) I just really want this to continue for these recaps
    2) Why did this episode of the Bachelorette make me so emotionally drained? Like ABC that is not your job

  • ErinPaige

    I do not and have never seen this show but I am obsessed with your recaps because of sentences like this: “This was a romcom as directed by Werner Herzog.” I do not even care what you watch now, just watch anything, and write about it. Or read the news more often on Elle or come to my work meetings in place of me and send me summaries. PLEASE.

  • “you’re on a television show called Proposal Pressure Cooker so maybe read the room” – this is pure genius. I nearly snorted out my coffee through my nose.

  • Eric!!! I LOVE these alternative titles! Spot on. This was my first time watching the bachelorette (I still haven’t seen the bachelor). Your recaps are exactly what I needed to get through this show. Please recap bachelor in paradise. I’m scared.

  • These are my feelings and I feel the need to share them on the internet:
    1. The episode made it feel like she was “settling” for Bryan but in a way, she would’ve been “settling” with Peter since she was so hardcore adamant about she wanted (a proposal) since Day 1 and he didn’t want to give her that.
    2. Peter is 110% logical and legit with his reasons for not wanted to get proposed after 2 months, but like, what did he think he was getting into? It was as though he made it to the Superbowl and then right before the game started was like “actually, I’d really rather play basketball.” Like, yeah basketball is great (less concussions, longer career) but maybe you should’ve thought about that before you got drafted in the NFL.
    3. Despite my personal disappointment in the ending, Rachel and Bryan did have solid chemistry and a relationship since the very beginning. I think the show didn’t focus on him because he’s kind of a bland Backstreet Boy with cheekbones you just can’t trust.
    4. All of this Peter/Bryan foolishness could’ve been avoided completely by her embracing Eric’s love which was 100% pure and good. Eric’s smile could literally broker peace in the Middle East and solve all the worlds energy problems because he is electric. He better be the next Bachelor.

    • Kittybat

      Rachel you should voice over each episode of the bachelorette. I would watch. Every week.

      “he’s kind of a bland Backstreet Boy with cheekbones you just can’t trust.” Yes.
      Altho I thought he also reminds me of the guy who tries to sell you his house but gives you the suspicion that he made that up so he could hit on you.

      Eric should be the next Bachelor, not Peter. He is too obvious, and honestly, I don’t trust him. I’m teetering between being madly in love with him and also wondering if he is the veiled example of the stealth fuckboy.

      And lastly, the black and white cookie in me would like a simple answer. As in Peter’s a Sag and Rachel’s a Taurus, and thusly, they will never match.

      • Deedee

        Girl. I too suspect some stealth fuckboyerie. Her breakup emotions were all the way genuine, but he seemed a little Days Of Our Lives. It was still good TV though, I ate it up while giving side-eye at the same time. I wonder if Rachel realized this once outside the bubble and watching the show back. That would explain her vibe on the live show. I kinda wish she picked no one.

        • Kittybat

          Me too. I wish she picked no one. He WAS being very days of or loves. I didn’t like how he said go have a mediocre life with someone else. Don’t threaten her peter. It’s so spiteful. Tell her she’s the love of your life but you’re not ready to get married. But he couldn’t go that far. He reminds me of a Mr. big type. Veiled in a Gq model.

    • lisa586

      I love this and you, even though I am #teamdean for next Bachelor. “These are my feelings and I feel the need to share them on the internet” – LOL!! Girl, you are hilarious.

  • KaterinaClauhs

    Your mediocre life… bitch please ;-P
    I need to talk to your therapist, too, please give her my #.

    The Peter thing was so hard to watch, but I am of the opinion that if he’d had an overnight change of heart before their last date, and was ready to propose, she 100% would have chosen him. But Bryan was ready and timing IS very important in relationships, so using her analytical mind that was how she made her decision. I once thought Bryan didn’t deserve Rachel, until she made that choice and THEN she was so flip to Peter at the talk show thing. Jeez! Awfully defensive for having gotten what she “wanted.” I feel bad for Bryan actually.

    BUT REALLY – it was the break up with Eric that had me sobbing at my computer screen. Bless his heart. Reeealllllyyyyyyy hope he is the next Bachelor!!!