Rachel Lindsay is a practicing attorney who once took the LSAT. And you, dear reader, are an aspiring attorney who will soon take the LSAT, Rachel Lindsay is also an aspiring married person, serving as the bachelorette on this season of The Bachelorette, the love story these depraved times deserve. And you, dear reader, may also be an aspiring married person? Either way, you definitely have at least a few things in common with Rachel. So every Tuesday, we’re going to be tracking Rachel’s romantic journey on The Bachelorette, and see what we can learn about love, loss, and the LSAT. Bienvenidos a la Sección de Logical Rose-ning.
Last time: The Men Told All. As long as your idea of “All” mostly entails people confronting a guy for, let’s call them, racist tendencies, then eventually kind of letting him off the hook for saying some horrible stuff and doing some dumb stuff. It was uncomfortable. It was boring. So much so that we decided to use the special as a springboard to talk about the LSAT’s writing sample. But now we’re back to the real deal. The uncut stuff. The Bachelorette finale. We’ll be picking up right where we left off with Eric’s late season surge and fantasy suite victory lap, with Peter’s awkward one-on-one date in Spain, and with Bryan, lurking in the shadows like the Spanish-flaunting, open-mouth kissing quasi-villain he is. Finally, let’s get back to La Rioja, Spain …
… Except we’re actually starting in a studio in Los Angeles, filled to the brim with Bachelorette fans who want the contact high of romance that only a contractually-mandated proposal can bring. We’re going to be watching the finale along with these fans, and with Chris Harrison, and apparently Rachel, who will be offering live commentary along with Harrison. Rachel, let us bloggers cook. You get the love. We offer the commentary. That’s the natural order. You can’t take that away from us. It’s really all we have.
Except it doesn’t even really seem like Rachel wants to be there. “Can I leave?” she implores. “You can’t leave,” Chris Harrison replies. “If I’m here, you’re here.” And our finale is immediately starting to feel like a hostage situation. Will Chris Harrison start yelling “Attica!” outside the studio? Do we need to call Denzel to negotiate?
Oh also, there’s a Juan Pablo marriage announcement made, which receives a recepción muy frio from the audience.
Anyway, after some chit chat between Chris Harrison and Rachel, we finally get back to Spain, where we meet back up with Peter and Rachel on their overnight date.
Peter, stuck in the inevitable middle position on these overnight dates, is not exactly enthused about the whole proposal thing he’s inching towards. He asks her what would happen if he didn’t propose to her at the end of this. Like, what if he just asked her to go steady instead?
Rachel, understandably, is not stoked on this. I mean, does Peter not understand the premise of this show? It’s not The Bae-chelorette, my mans. You’re here to propose (and to get a People magazine cover and go on Kimmel and, if you’re lucky, star in a failed reality spin-off on a lesser ABC network affiliate, and then, at some point, between six and eighteen months from the finale, break up).
Anyway, Rachel compares this to a long-term relationship she was in before the show that did not end in a proposal. Solid comparison, except she has only known Peter for a couple months and they’ve been on like four or five dates at this point. She must be better at spotting false equivalences on the LSAT and in the courtroom.
Now, if there’s a common thread to how Rachel deals with Peter in this finale, it’s that she really gives him every opportunity to win. I’d hate to evoke white privilege after last week, but the one remaining white boy is given a lot of opportunities here. Even after Peter hems and haws his way to an explanation of why he doesn’t want to propose to her, she still invites him to “talk” this through in the overnight fantasy suite.
Their talks must have been productive, because they wake up without a care in the world.
Peter feels good enough after the fantasy suite time to do this goofy bit with the windows, to fry an egg shirtless, and to say that some of his doubts have gone away.
But these dissipating doubts have nothing on the all-in, ready-to-propose-in-Spanish-right-now-and-follow-it-up-with-a-sloppy-kiss Bryan, who’s batting clean up on the overnight dates. Bryan and Rachel ride horses to yet another picturesque vineyard. They recap family matters, an apropos topic given that Rachel’s family immediately sensed Bryan’s insincerity. Bryan says it was weird, but “I think I handled myself pretty good.” Whether it’s his bad grammar or tenuous grip on reality, Rachel doesn’t look too enthused by this.
She’s a little chilly to Bryan during this date, a topic that is very much broached by Chris Harrison back in the LA studio, who is fashioning himself a bit of a Ted Koppel in this sit-down interview with Rachel (or, given that we’re dealing with the fantasy suites, a Ted Koppel-ate). Rachel admits that Peter messed with her head and that she let that affect her time with Bryan. Serious Chris Harrison presses. She talks about what she “had” with Peter being important. Uh oh, this past perfect tense is not promising for Peter.
Back in Spain, Bryan picks up on Rachel’s “different energy” and notes that he doesn’t feel as “pumped up” as he could be–which, well, let’s say that’s a poor choice of words on the precipice of the fantasy suite. Nonetheless, Rachel is assuaged by Bryan’s positivity and promises (disingenuous as they may be), and invites him back to the fantasy suite.
And given their vibes the next morning–Bryan shirtless, feeding strawberries to Rachel–it appears that Bryan didn’t have any trouble pumping himself back up for Rachel. He feels like he did good work, bragging that their chemistry is “hotter than ever” and that he’s a shoe-in for the final rose.
And now that she test rode the three guys, Rachel is onto the Rose Ceremony. She’s dressed like Cersei Lannister, and is ready to set fire to the Sept of Bachelor. In the voice over, she goes on and on about how she wants to be assured that at the end of this she will get a proposal and a marriage and a life-long commitment. She says this as she looks right into the eyes of Peter, the one guy who hasn’t given her such reassurance.
So naturally she cuts Eric, who seemed like the coolest, most normal dude here. Eric could not have been more generous or forgiving to Rachel when they bid their adieus. He says, to quoth Dolly Parton c/o Whitney Houston, “I will always love you,” but he nonetheless hopes that she’ll find what she’s looking for. Back at the studio, we learn that Eric has coped with a fantastic break-up beard.
Anyway, we’re down to two contestants now. And these people couldn’t look any more madly in love and ready to commit their entire lives together.
So Rachel has one last date with each of these two happy guys to see which one she’ll give permission to propose to her on natural television. First up is Bryan, who takes her on a hot air balloon, which will be powered solely on the sweet nothings, hokum, and palaver he’ll be feeding her on this date.
So what does she see in Bryan? She thought he was a douche bag at first, her entire family thought he was a douche bag at first, and every person I’ve spoken to about this show has also come to the conclusion that he’s a shifty douche bag. But he sometimes talks to her in Spanish? It’s cool that he’s proud of his Colombian heritage, but he really leans on the Spanish. And look, I have at best an Intro to Spanish understanding of the language, but as a guy who has tried to authentically pronounce “carne asada,” “chile de árbol,” and “huitlacoche” to unimpressed Mexican restaurant proprietors for years, I can sort of sense when people try a little too hard to flex with their Spanish skills. And let’s just say that Bryan doesn’t exactly make the strongest case for himself when he gifts Rachel a homemade Spanish dictionary. Take it away, Twitter user @osnapitscri …
And then we have the date with Peter. Rachel takes him to a monastery. Yes, nothing like a little Catholic guilt to put the pressure on Peter, especially now that they are officially living in sin.
So what does she see in Peter? He’s devilishly handsome and, as a former model, takes a mean picture. His reaction to getting married to someone after only knowing them for a few weeks kind of proves he’s normal and level-headed?
Except when she again confronts him on his reluctance to propose, he makes some pretty crazy claims. He starts by saying that he can picture a life with her. But it’s a boring-ass life filled with “football games” and “baseball games” (she’s a basketball fan, dude), and “the farmers market” (again?), and “wine night with painting” (?).
He then claims that, “I have no fear for marriage”–just marriage with you, Rachel, being the implication.
She accuses him of contradicting himself. He says, “I am not contradicting myself. I am going against what I believe.” Which means he’s pretty much contradicting himself.
And then things get really nasty. He tells her to “go have a mediocre life with someone else.” She responds, “Why does that mean I will have a mediocre life?” To which he says, “Because I will give you an amazing life.” That’s the inverse fallacy, guy.
He then says “I don’t know what I want to do tomorrow. Because that’s one day that means the rest of my life.” That’s a temporal fallacy, my dude.
In their heated confrontation, he makes enough fallacious claims to for the next ten LSATs.
Eventually, Rachel has enough. They break up over tears. Rachel cries “her eyelashes off.” Peter is positively shook. So much so that he just has to rip off his shirt off one last time.
And that’s it, basically. Bryan has won this show, not by being someone Rachel affirmatively wanted to pick, but by being the one guy that Rachel didn’t break up with. In argumentation, we call that “rejecting alternatives.” It’s not the best way to make an argument. Or find a husband.
And I think Peter realizes how much he really blew this back in the LA studio. He could have been a little less harsh and demeaning to Rachel in their break-up, and been all-but-guaranteed the role of the next bachelor. He could have been just a tad more emotive throughout the entire season, and maybe could have made that difficult transition from model to actor. Or he could have accepted the premise of the show and wound up with an engagement to a really cool, smart, funny, and successful person.
But instead, he looks dejected, tired, and confused on the couch in the LA studio. All that’s missing is “Jesse’s Girl,” firecrackers, a cracked-out Alfred Molina, and a minute-long close-up on this face:
So we’re left to go through the motions. Bryan picks out a ring from Neil Lane and walks up to a Spanish church (where apparently there was an ongoing wind storm) where he will propose, inaudibly, to Rachel. The full-fledged cyclone going on makes everything tough to decipher, but apparently Bryan says the same Spanish phrase that he said to Rachel when they met, so many moons ago, just to reinforce how empty and bereft of ideas he is at this point. He proposes. She accepts enthusiastically. They at least seem happy.
Forgive me if I’m not giving this holy union the sentiment it deserves, but it all feels like kind of a let down. I hope the best for these two! But Rachel was one of the smartest, most personable, and confident bachelorettes this show has ever had. Plus, as the first African-American bachelorette (which, let’s be clear, is a first only because of this show’s extremely limited POV, and not because America wasn’t ready for this or anything. Between Girl’s Trip, Insecure, and Shonda Rhimes single-handedly keeping ABC’s drama department afloat, and countless other works, black women have and will continue to kill it in pop culture), the show had the opportunity to have an interesting, fresh season.
But this feels like she’s settling. And the season as a whole feels a bit off. It was boring for long-stretches, except for the parts when it was extremely uncomfortable. And Bryan? I mean, he seems nice enough. He looks great for a 37 year old. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what seemed so off about him, until I saw him shamelessly mugging to the camera, backstage at the LA studio.
This guy doesn’t belong on The Bachelorette. This is the behavior of a contestant on some third-rate MTV dating show. This isn’t the veneer of class and prestige we want in our happy couples on The Bachelorette, this is the cheap knock off.
In other words, we thought we were getting the LSAT, but we wound up with the SAT.