Last night’s episode of The Bachelorette kept me on my toes, and that says a lot coming from a superfan like me. In my other posts about the franchise, I’ve referred to how ritualistic the show is which, sometimes, leads to boredom and predictability. And although I was right about who Katie Thurston would pick, other aspects were giving me whiplash.
Katie shook things up this season. Whether it was actually sending villains home early, or threatening to leave the process, she made sure she was running the show, and not the other way around, and it made for great television. The usual formula of last night’s episode would include the final two men meeting Katie’s family, and end with a final rose ceremony resulting in heartbreak for one dude, and an engagement for the other. So you can imagine my confusion trying to piece things together when Katie sent runner-up, Justin Glaze, home saying “I love you” to Blake Moynes (Canada represent!) the night before. I found myself wondering how the show would fill the rest of the time they had left, and they resorted to what they know best: drama. Blake’s meeting with Katie’s family was tense, especially with her aunt. Although this is speculation, I have an inkling that production either influenced her to be tough on Blake, or just straight up told her to be.
Tayshia also got into it. She told Blake that if he’s not sure about the engagement, he should just “let her go.” However, we just saw Matt James leave the show with his winner without proposing, so it’s not like it had to be a proposal or nothing. It's totally normal to be nervous about proposals in the real world, but if you’re nervous in this franchise, it’s a crime-- especially when the show needs the suspense. What better place to play this up than a season where we already know who the lead’s final person is halfway through? When you watch reality TV as much as I do, you start to realize if the show is trying to make you think one thing, it’s usually the other. After seeing them milk the whole “I don’t know if I’m ready to propose yet,” thing for half an hour, I was fairly confident it would end in an engagement. Yet, there was still a little part of me that was holding my breath at the last second, and I think the change of routine is what made that possible. It was nice to be nervous for a change.
Tayshia and Kaitlyn’s hosting this season made Chris Harrison’s absence non-existent to me. Not only were they able to play up dramatic moments, but they also brought a genuine sparkle that Chris couldn’t add to the show. Whereas Chris has a jaded view on the process he’s been a part of since 2002, these ladies had a fresh aura that came through in their bubbly attitude and delivery. There are some things that they have to work on, like making their script sound a little more natural while reading the teleprompter, but that will come with more experience. No matter how many times Chris has hosted, he will never know what it’s like to be the lead. Tayshia and Kaitlyn have direct experiences of their own which ended up having an impact in Katie’s journey. After all, Kaitlyn was there to talk Katie out of leaving the show because she knew what it was like to be in the same headspace, and Tayshia was the one who introduced Katie to her now fiancé because he was a contestant on Tayshia’s season. So yes, Blake did end up getting down on one knee, and the two of them had their happily ever after. Unfortunately, the “After The Final Rose” special wasn’t all that happy.
The special featured interviews from the newly engaged couple, and the two runners-up of the season, Justin and Greg. Justin’s conversation with Katie was standard and seemed to provide the closure he needed after being let go so early in the finale. I’m disappointed the show didn’t air much of their relationship because I was surprised to see him so emotional about the breakup. Usually, I would say the emotional-yet-supportive-ex role is played by our next Bachelor, but after learning so little about Justin this season, it’s highly unlikely. Greg, however, may be in the running, but I am not happy about it.
For some back story, last week we saw Greg leave the show after an explosive argument between him and Katie. He felt Katie did not properly respond to him opening up to her in the way he wanted and claimed that Katie wasn’t giving him enough reassurance in their relationship. The argument ended up splitting fans into #TeamGreg and #TeamKatie, which is why their conversation last night was one of the most dramatic parts of the show. Here’s the argument from last week for context:
Last night, Katie made sure to let Greg know that she was not going to let him get away with it that easy:
During last week’s episode, so many people defended Greg for his rude and manipulative behaviour towards Katie because he poured his heart out and was devastated she didn’t give him anything of substance back. However, the same energy wasn’t given to Katie when she stood up to Greg for how he treated her. The reaction on social media exposed more toxicity in the franchise, as words “crazy” and “petty” were thrown around about Katie. Why is it that when a man speaks up about something, he’s considered strong, but the second a woman speaks up, she’s a bitch? There were also tweets saying Katie must not be over Greg if she is still that upset about the situation. But she made it clear that she isn’t mad because he left-- she’s mad about how he left her (which involved him saying “I deserve more,” to her as he looked down at her pleading on the ground in front of him). She’s clearly happy in the relationship she is in now, and I think it’s alarming to see people make sense of her pain by assuming she must have romantic feelings for Greg. Not only does that invalidate her rightful anger, but it also perpetuates a dangerous narrative of negative feelings equating to romance.
The frustrating part about it all is how the show has enabled Katie to be looked at as a villain by playing a romantic montage of their relationship at the end of last week’s episode, which is why people are speculating he’s in the running for the next Bachelor. Katie was angry, and might’ve been able to say what she wanted to in fewer words, but what’s upsetting is how the frustration of a man is better received than that of a woman when it should be equally understood and validated.
Despite the messy Greg moment, the show ended on a high note with Blake and Katie talking about what their future together is looking like. She was smiling ear to ear, he was smiling ear to ear, and it was cute. Overall, I think Katie was a good Bachelorette who brought the drama and balanced the role while also making it her own. We also got a premiere date of Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette (October 19th!) which just began filming, and Tayshia and Kaitlyn have been announced as the hosts for that too.
And, of course, for those of you who are like me and feel like October is forever away, you’re in luck because the Love Island-esque spinoff, Bachelor In Paradise, starts next Monday, and I am so pumped.