You Can’t Always Get What You Want– So Be Prepared to Settle for a Crappy Backup Instead (or, Rachel’s Engaaaaaaaaged!)

Well Rachel, you did it. You’ve completed your journey.

You’ve boated on Hilton Head and dogsledded through Norway.

You’ve flown a blimp and rappelled down a building.

You’ve stolen the hearts of plenty of dudes. You’ve agonized over who to give your own heart to. And now, well, you got what you were hoping for. You’re engaaaaaaaghed!

I hope that every time you look down at That Finger and see that big-ass sparkly rang, you feel joy. Triumph. Relief at having found a mate. I hope you don’t feel a numbing blanket of dread at the thought of spending the rest of your life staring into Bryan’s vacant eyes…..

But I’m pretty sure you will.

How did this season end up so depressing? It wasn’t supposed to be like this! We started with penguin costumes and creepy ventriloquist dummies, and ended with the startlingly realistic disintegration of a real connection between two imperfect people.

Look, I’m not surprised she picked Bryan. I’m bummed out by it…. but by the end of the season, it was pretty clear that Rachel’s insecurities and inner narratives were going to triumph over real life. And what Bryan offered was an unwavering dedication to the fantasy that Rachel wanted to buy into. Of course she picked him, cheek implants or no.

And if it hadn’t been for the surprisingly meaningful connection with Peter, I wouldn’t mind that Rachel + Bryan = twue wuv. It’d be standard issue fare for the Bachelor, disappointing given Rachel’s intelligence but also not difficult to accept.

But whoa. That breakup.

Let’s establish a few things:

  1. Rachel and Peter were actually in love (or at least, were well enough on their way there to approximate actual dating).
  2. Rachel and Peter both still had feelings for each other at the finale, despite Rachel’s engagement to Bryan.
  3. Rachel and Peter ultimately could not make it work because they were each trapped in their own conflicting narrative loops, which they could not transcend in time for the final rose ceremony.

That’s what made this so hard! Peter was “wedded” (bad pun, sorreeeee) to his idea that the only wanted to be engaged once and didn’t want to commit to Rachel before he was certain he wanted to be with her. Rachel was committed to wanting to leave her season with a fiance, not a boyfriend. Neither was willing to budge. At first I was sympathetic to Peter because, well, realism, but then I kinda came around to Rachel’s side, because let’s be honest. Peter knew exactly what show he was going on, and if he felt so strongly about the sanctity of a proposal, he shouldn’t have come on the show in the first place– or at least, shouldn’t have stayed voluntarily, once it was clear that the feelings were real. Because you can’t sign up to go on national television to date a woman on a show where the entire construct is a proposal, and then humiliate her by getting picked and *not coughing up the proposal.*

Still, Peter had his principles, and he stuck by them… until he realized that by doing so, he’d lose Rachel entirely, and said he’d propose if that was what he needed to do. Which wasn’t enough for Rachel, who didn’t just want him to propose because *she* wanted him to propose, she wanted him to propose because *he* wanted to propose. She couldn’t face the resentment he’d feel about being forced to take a step he didn’t want to take, and couldn’t live with what would feel like a coerced relationship step.

So they broke up. And– no matter how much jumping up and down and shrieking happened after Bryan showed Rachel the giant Neil Lane Rock– they are still both heartbroken.

That, my friends, is the most realistic relationship dynamic ever seen on this fakey fake reality franchise. And it gave me a real case of the feelings.

It might be time for me to switch to HGTV.

****

Final thoughts:

Where were Rachel’s eyelashes? Why did no one pick them up off the floor of Peter’s hotel room? Gross.

Have had multiple heated debates about whether Bryan is a sociopath or just a sincere dum dum. Some say that his focus on telling her exactly what she wants to hear is manipulative and sociopathic. Based on my careful review of the evidence, it seems to me like he’s sincere– and just not that smart. You are encouraged to weigh in in the comments!

I hope someone is pointing a secret hat-cam (remember when 20/20 used to do “investigative journalism” by putting concealed cameras in hats and/or handbags?!?!?) at Bryan’s mom when she hears about the breakup that will inevitably happen!

I feel like Rachel jumping up and down and squealing at the sight of the rock set womankind back several decades… and this is coming from someone who spends her free time watching, and writing about, an ABC reality dating franchise.

Best comment on this season came from a friend. If I may quote: “I like Rachel a lot, but clearly her therapy didn’t take.”

That’s all, ladies and gents. I’ll be taking the next few days to set aside my self respect and principles, and then I’ll see you in Paradise!

One Comment

  1. Ugh. I mean… Rachel, girlfriend, darling, sugar… Just…. Ugh.

    And as to Brian’s wits or lack thereof–I was imbibing and just yelling out “what do you expect, he’s a chiropractor!” because I trust nothing that comes from an 1800s seance.

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