This Monday’s Bachelorette finale episode was not everyone’s favorite.
There are lots of reasons for this, but one of the main phrases I saw people using on Twitter was “winner by default,” implying that Bryan Abasolo only won because Peter Kraus didn’t want to propose.
It’s easy to see why people might think this way. After all, the episode focused much more closely on Rachel and Peter’s breakup than it did on Rachel and Bryan’s budding relationship. And any scenes of tension between Rachel and Peter throughout the season were centered on his readiness to propose, so the audience walked away feeling like this was the only thing standing in Peter’s way.
In reality, that’s probably not true.
In one of the many (often awkward) interstitial live interviews during the finale, Rachel said that the proposal issue was not the deal breaker, and that she had seen cracks in the foundation of the relationship weeks before her breakup with Peter. I’m inclined to believe her.
While we only saw conflict over the proposal between Rachel and Peter, there’s a lot we didn’t get to see. And more importantly, we have to keep in mind that producers are telling a story, and we get the story they want us to get. We were fed a narrative about Peter’s unwillingness to propose and its juxtaposition to Bryan’s complete willingness, and that led viewers to think that the proposal and the ring were the only factors Rachel used to determine who to choose.
But have you guys even paid any attention to Rachel? Rachel is self-aware, self-possessed, confident, secure and probably smarter than 95% of people. Do you really believe that the only thing she ever discussed with Bryan is how much Bryan loves her and loves her face and loves everything about her? There’s no way.
Still, the general consensus is that she only chose Bryan because Peter was hesitant. No matter what Rachel said on After the Final Rose or how sweet and straightforward her post-show social media posts were, people are still reluctant to trust this adult woman to make her own decisions.
Some examples of what people are saying in the Twitterverse:
I wanted Peter to win too. I liked him from the beginning, and it was really sad to watch him say that gut-wrenching goodbye to Rachel. But Rachel chose Bryan, and I’d bet good money she was going to choose him either way. If you’ve seen more than one season of this show, you know the misdirection the producers like to pull to make it seem like someone else is going to win. It’s become so common now that when someone has a less-than-stellar meeting with the family, I just assume that person is the winner (Jordan Rodgers, Vanessa Grimaldi, Bryan). It’s all part of the television trickery that makes you think the contestant with the perfect hometown date (Peter, Raven Gates, Nick Viall, Lindsay Yenter) will surely win because that’s a more perfect love story.
Sure, some actual tension occurred when Bryan and Rachel met one another’s families, but editing played a hand in this too. When Bryan excused himself from the table, viewers saw him leave right after he was asked a question that he didn’t answer. He posted to Instagram the next day that he left the room not in the middle of a discussion and for the purpose of meeting Rachel’s dad. Hardly dramatic.
While I wanted Peter to win, I felt a little sad for Rachel and Bryan that people were reacting so negatively to their engagement. Twitter was flooded with people saying Rachel only cared about a ring and that Bryan is phony. They just got engaged and want to celebrate, but everyone wanting Peter to win put a little bit of a damper on their first public appearance together.
I blame ABC for this. Following the Peter breakup and those really sad “I love yous,” the audience then had to watch Peter and Rachel talk about it just moments after they watched it back for the first time. It was hard to watch. After fans cried and felt pretty shitty after seeing a bad breakup and a still-broken Peter, they got to watch Bryan’s date. No one was really in the mood anymore.
This format caused the ending of the show, which is almost always joyful, to be kind of meh. I hate that for Rachel, who is clearly very happy with Bryan. That feeling of disappointment people were left with got turned onto Rachel in the form of accusatory and belittling tweets, questioning her values and not trusting her ability to make her own damn decisions.
As an adult woman and a person who has let millions of people into her life, Rachel deserves trust here, or at the very least, the benefit of the doubt. People have gone on and on about how smart and capable she is all season, but when she makes a decision that contradicts their own, they pounce and call her stupid.
Newsflash: she’s still smart and capable, and she chose what was best for her. She’s the one who gets to decide that, no matter what ABC wanted you to think. Maybe just try being happy for her? Or not letting it affect your life to the point that you tweet mean stuff at her? Remember, she “keeps it 100” all the time. You should trust that her choice of partner is her keeping it 100 in the biggest way possible.
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