Monday, August 5, 2019

The Bachelorette: Season 15 Review & Reactions



I've been quietly watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for years now, and have seen so many of the tropes and dramatics that it's rare for any particular season to keep me engaged through its run. I dropped the franchise for a bit after the horrible bore and pointlessness that was Nick Viall's season (he couldn't even stay together with his finalist for a couple months), but then fell back in when I heard of the change-decision drama with Arie's season. After that, I sat through the retrospectively PAINFULLY BORING Becca season, the overhyped and very annoying Colton season (sorry, but never liked him or Cassie and never will, especially after seeing their very immature and fame-hungry Instagrams), which brings us to the just-completed season with Hannah Brown.

I have to say upfront, I was a believer in Hannah's potential as a lead from the very first rumors of her being the next Bachelorette. I don't understand how people could judge her so much for her toast mess-up with Colton, when she proved so real and entertaining the rest of his season (a bright light in a sea of rather superficial characters). I have certainly fumbled my share of speaking events, and related very much to the pain of it all. And as expected, her season didn't disappoint, though as with any season there were some draggy points in the middle when the Luke P drama overstayed its welcome. While I wouldn't call it the most watchable season ever (that honor belongs to either Chris Soules or Kaitlyn Bristowe), it was refreshing and pushed very much against the tropes that this show too commonly suffers from. The ending was certainly unexpected and Hannah was such a perfect lead for it all.

The early episodes were, as they almost always are, quite forgettable, and I don't have much to mention except that I'm still sad that Pilot Chasen from episode 1 didn't get a rose (what a gentleman throughout his scenes, you could just tell he was a genuine character). Starting around the Riga episode when the Luke P drama started to really grind on my nerves is where the memorable characters started showing up.



Mike Johnson is one standout that's worth mentioning before we get to the Final Four. I think it will be criminal if ABC doesn't make him the next Bachelor, and no it's not just about his race. He honestly seemed like such a sweet guy (that smile could melt anyone!) who is truly ready for marriage (at 31 he was one of the older and most mature guys in the house) and with a fulsome personality that would be truly entertaining to watch. I'm glad he got a good showing during the Men Tell All, and we'll see how things go down after Paradise airs.



 


Moving on to #4 on the list, Luke P. I usually land on the side of sympathy for Bachelor/Bachelorette villains (as you'll see further down), but I honestly have nothing positive to say about Luke nor do I ever want him to amass a social following. He is full of hot air, his comments on women were demeaning, and he clearly hasn't learned much from his time on the show (likely due to the fervent set of extreme fans that seem to hold him up). He was also just a constant annoyance to watch. There's drama that's truly entertaining (think of Kelsey Poe from Chris Soules' season) and then there's dead load drama that teaches nothing and takes up too much unwarranted screentime. I always hate when Bachelor producers choose to make episodes about the cheap dramatics rather than the development of relationships, and because of how long Luke P remained on this show we were subjected to so much empty space in which he talked and talked but nothing came out.

That said, his elimination was probably one of the most satisfying reality TV moments I've ever seen (Hannah's impassioned and pitch-perfect response, paired with the beautifully timed wind and rain). No, it still wasn't worth watching all the crap to get to that imo, but at least it was a slight redeeming piece, and once he was gone we got some of the most interesting remaining episodes of any Bachelor season.

I don't have anything particular to say about Peter (strikes me as a bit of a staged guy, though I'm sure he's relatively nice). I don't understand the Bachelor hype around him, even before the ex-gf hate came out, as he just isn't at all interesting. He's bland like white bread, and I can already see what a season of him would be like and it wouldn't be worth watching.



Moving on to Tyler, I certainly get his appeal but seem to feel it a lot less than the rest of Bachelor Nation. He's handsome and suave and has this drawl that makes you overlook the cheesy lines he's saying. He also was definitely my preferred choice of the Final Four, and had an undeniable screen presence and likability (the horses fear is too cute!) That said, he like Peter feels far too pat and butter for my taste in a star, and I would not want a season of him. In fact, I suspect giving him a full season may very well ruin him for us much as it did Juan Pablo, who came off an edited, low screen time heartthrob role in Desiree's season to reveal his true colors as the ultimate horndog once he was cast and had the ability to chase after 25 women at once.  



What I like about Tyler is how much he genuinely seemed to like Hannah, and her drink request at the end of the finale was probably my favorite moment in the show. The backtracking may be too late now, which breaks my heart, but I still root for them together and think I will for a while. For him to spin off and then start a very PR-driven process as the Bachelor just undermines everything that made him appealing to me in the season, and for that I definitely do not support him as Bachelor (especially when we have Mike ready made for the role). He's gained his followership (1.9M Instagram followers), so if he's smart he'll ride out the good waves to close rather than risk messing it all up. I see little but downside for him as The Bachelor, as the premise itself is inherently skeevy and ripe with room for error. Not saying Tyler isn't probably a stand-up guy in real life, but you just can't expect to get the same perfect sheen as you did from being the heartbroken best man standing in a sea of fallen do-baders.

Update: Ugh, it kills me to have been proven right (the gloss you see on some of these contestants is often thin and false). With the recent Gigi Hadid news coming literally back to back with the news that he had spent the night with Hannah in her apartment (days after the Finale), I'm left feeling really icky and really disappointed in all men. Seriously dude, you couldn't even give your sorta-ex a week to recover before trying to hook up with a famous model? Hannah was rather clear in her post-apartment-stay interview that they spent the night just talking, but it's the optics of this whole situation. You were just on TV where you got raucous applause and support when the star of the show asks you for a drink. You then proceed to go and not only get a drink, but stay up all night "talking" in her apartment (and get photographed doing that, which may or may not have been a ploy for support). A couple days later (barely enough time to rest after your cross-country plane ride), you go out to a VERY public club venue in NY (Soho House, a crowded club full of gossipy New Yorkers) where you meet up with a very famous model who almost definitely has paparazzi on her tail.

You then go home with said model after very openly having drinks with her at the club. Then two days later you go to another very public venue in New York (Frames Bowling), and get caught going home with her again. And you also very stupidly don't attend your court summons and rack up a fine (so, so immature I can't even).

I'm not saying he doesn't have a right to date around if he chooses to, but don't try to play Mr. Perfect Man on one side and then not even bother with the semblance of it just because your show stopped airing. No matter how you slice it, he had to have known that going home with someone else merely a couple days after you catch-up very publicly with your heartbroken ex is just in poor form. He went through and posted such a fake-nice message to Hannah on his Instagram, but then gives her "a million upper cuts to the gut" by hooking up with a top model mere days later. Gigi may be perfectly nice, but it's not like he had a chance to really know her or build a relationship with her before the whole Hannah reunion. No, he was probably enticed by 1) how hot she is and 2) that she has 50M Instagram followers to his 2M and wouldn't be a bad supporter to his modeling career, given they're in the same agency.

Just all in all disgusting behavior. I'm very over Tyler, and I sure hope Hannah is too. Poor girl, having to deal with so many fakes her season. This was an entertaining season, but the amount of fame-hungry monkeys joining the show is getting absurd. Casting, you need to start taking a harder look at this stuff and maybe hire more people with real careers rather than these shallow f*** boys. */end update



Finally, our season's finalist (and perhaps the one who suffered the biggest negative repercussions of being on the show), Jed. I can't say I ever liked him, but I did see what drew Hannah to him. He seemed so genuine and easygoing, and their chemistry was natural and best-friend-like in a way that few relationships emerging from this show are. But of course, the whole lack of honesty regarding his previous relationship, and the big, public way in which his ex chose to blow him up (which was in itself really distasteful) was too big a punch to overcome.

I don't think though that he deserves even a fraction of the hate he's getting, especially after listening to his 1-hour interview on the Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous podcast which was truly humanizing. For sure, he did some rather sleezy and despicable things, but it's also not like he committed a criminal act. I encourage others to listen to the interview and then share your thoughts, but I heard in it a guy who learned from his time on the show (unlike Luke) and who is enduring a truly life-altering and painful amount of judgement and hate for a poor decision that seemed exacerbated by the media.

I'm reminded a bit of all the judgement that was laid into Arie when he made his decision from Becca to Lauren. Bachelor fans have a tendency to react really strongly to a poor decision. Condemnation of repeated faults I totally get (aka Luke P), but a single mistake made on a whim with poor judgement on its own does not warrant such levels of negativity. I actually find it the most interesting to watch when we see people not end up with a perfect ending - there's nothing more informative than to learn from others' mistakes, and it's also so humanizing. I do believe Jed had true feelings for Hannah and I believe him when he says he loved her and got swept up in the relationship.

That said, I also don't think they were right for each other in the end, and his ease with dishonesty just further showed how poor a match he was for someone who values openness as much as Hannah. Hopefully this has been a good life lesson for him, and he can recover and continue to pursue his career in music and be more true in his relationships going forward. I thought Hannah's final words to him were absolutely perfect, as were all of her speeches in the live audience portions. Honestly, I'm jealous of her ability to be so clear and articulate even in the face of hundreds of eyes staring down at her.



All in all, this was a good Bachelorette season by all definitions. The fashion was good, the men were interesting, and the Bachelorette herself was so innately likeable (a rather rare quality unfortunately). I truly wish Hannah all the best, and think it's about time one of The Bachelorette seasons ended with the lady still single and strong. I'll continue hoping things go well with Tyler, but that said regardless I'm sure she'll find a great partner for the future and she shouldn't try to rush it. In fact, all the better to be single, as it's about time people in our world realize it's ok for women to be single and to be comfortable with that.

The Paradise promos have also done their job, and for the first time since the rather boring first season, I'm going to tune in to see what goes on in this trashier offshoot of the main franchise. Will keep this blog apprised of any opinions!

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