A Final Lesson for a Final Rose
We hate to say we told you so, but the uncomfortable fact of the matter — a fact that once again validates the ruthless efficacy of our Bachelor School learning program — is that we were right. We told you after the premiere episode, and we're reminding you now — not for ego-gratification purposes, but out of our solemn commitment to helping you win that final rose at all costs:
Don't wear a wedding dress on your first day.
It's the simplest of lessons. When you step out of the limousine delivering you to the threshold of Bachelor Mansion, wear anything but a wedding dress. Even now, the morning after Sean chose his ForeverLove, you might wrongheadedly question the logic of this rule, dismissing us as a rose-petal-devouring Cassandra while thinking, That wedding dress got Lindsay noticed. She made it all the way to the finale. Seems like it worked.
It did not work.
When Sean failed, repeatedly, to generate any kind of closure-bestowing reason for choosing Catherine over the "incredible" Lindsay, long our front-runner to win the whole thing, both at the Thailand altar upon which he made a sacrifice of her freshly extracted heart and in the "After the Final Rose" studio, it wasn't because he didn't have the answer. He had it the entire time, in the form of a nagging voice in the back of his head reminding him, over and over again, in whispers and in shouts, That girl wore a wedding dress her first day. You're not going to actually marry any of these people, no matter what you tell Chris Harrison on that stage, in front of an audience craving your empty promises. That's the deal. Pick the other one. Any other one.
And so it happened. He picked the other one.
Let's say it one more time, with feeling. With learning:
Don't wear a wedding dress on your first day.
Why It's Almost Impossible for This Thing to Work
The Bachelor is about as natural a habitat for the nourishment of love as the Bronx Zoo is for a polar bear. In both cases the environment in which the subjects are put offers enough of a hint of reality to allow you to suspend disbelief. You enjoy the display in front of you, but inevitably, there is something that snaps you back to the reality that what you were just witnessing did not exist. These bears don’t hunt. There is a man in rubber boots who throws fish from a bucket. These people don’t have a loving relationship there are two months after which they are still "meeting" each other on a TV show. And, oh yeah, in those two months they also become super famous and can barely see each other. (What really happens in those two months? I have considered carefully, and can’t think of a way that the time isn't exclusively spent obsessing over each episode and arguing on the telephone.)
Imagine: You're dressed up like an Oscar trophy, the captain of the country’s proverbial football team is sliding a ring on your shaky finger, and now you're engaged to be married. Now imagine it’s two months later and you found out that just minutes before he proposed, he confessed his love to another woman. How do you not hate him? Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that battles lasting even longer than this damn finale have been waged over nothing more than some socks on the floor. Any woman worth dating is going to break up with you when she watches that. Imagine the fear Sean felt during last week’s "Women Tell All" episode as AshLee quoted Sean essentially assuring her of the Neil Lane frozen finger in the Fantasy Suite. When he sees Catherine's name pop up on his phone, he knows what's coming. He went through it before: After he considered whether letting Des go was a mistake, he went through it when AshLee ice-grilled him at the door of the limo, and he went through it when he warmed Tierra back to life in Canada. Anyone who has been in a relationship knows that each episode was followed by a two-hour phone call that entailed a lot of Catherine questioning, a lot of Sean reassuring, and absolutely zero makeup sex.
This is not natural. It is so outside the remotest possibility that a couple would get engaged, say good-bye, not tell anyone, and then watch themselves build a “goofy” relationship based on giggles and snuggles on a television show. Oh yeah, at the same time they are getting super famous for building this “goofy” relationship that they have to hide from everyone, and they can’t talk about it to all these new people who now think they know them. If my wife watched me tell some dumb chick named Lindsay that I loved her and then turned around and, minutes later, asked for my wife's hand in marriage, she would murder me. I would not be shocked if this program someday leads to a homicide. I would also not be shocked if the first person the police questioned was AshLee.
Also, why is AshLee not the Bachelorette? Is there a Kickstarter for this or something?
For Your Reconsideration: AshLee Frazier
Chris Harrison: Do you see a spark with the two of them that you and Sean didn't have?
AshLee: They were both more laid-back than I was Needless to say They were more playful than I was.
All season long I've been maligning AshLee. It seemed like she was trying to position herself as the sane one among the crazies, but the excessive use of the phrase "this man," the creepy blindfold kiss, and her demand of a flotation device in Thailand all were evidence otherwise. But after last night's live finale and last week's "Women Tell All," I think I need to reevaluate. AshLee is still crazy, but at least she knows to acknowledge it when Chris Harrison is pushing her to admit how deficient her relationship was in comparison with her competition. AshLee reclaimed the narrative from Bachelor producers. Yeah, she is more reserved and a control freak. So what? The very qualities that got AshLee sent home have allowed her to become a traveling personal organizer. Multiple public cross-examinations from Chris Harrison can't hold her down. So, kudos to you, AshLee, for being too serious, but not letting the
terrorists producers win.
Also, Chris Harrison: When did you get so tough? Poor AshLee had to undergo your brutal line of questioning two weeks in a row (this and last week's "Tell All" special, which was actually filmed a month or so ago). Did you stop believing in love?
Wish Lanterns: Still a Thing
If I had any money on last night's finale, it wouldn't have been on Lindsay. Actually, it wouldn't have been on Catherine, either. It would have been on wish lanterns. And had anybody taken me up on it, I would have been almost as rich as the VP at Oriental Trading Company who has managed to get these things onto every middlebrow-poignant television moment for the last two years.
This is how it happens:
One day you walk into work and a few miscreants are gathered in a corner, twittering about some "wine magnate" and a model who has hypnotized him. You shake your head in pity and move on.
But they won't shut up. Every goddamned Tuesday, you hear snatches of conversation about "roses" and "those ridiculous highlights" and a mythical avatar of boredom named "Chris Harrison." What's worse, their numbers are growing. Sensible people. People you would never dream would fall for this televised exercise in (non-gender-specific) whoredom are hypnotized — elevated to a state of giddiness by this dumb, dumb show. And as the chatter grows louder, you start learning things. Us Weekly covers make sense. You discover there are more ways to spell the name "Ashley" than anyone could have possibly imagined. Through some hideous process of osmosis you find yourself aware that The Bachelorette is a poor substitute for The Bachelor, and something called Bachelor Pad is basically Revelation 6:12, brought to you by ABC and L'Oréal.
But you are smug. You are separate. You are safe.
And then, a precipitating event. (For me, having a baby.) Tired, weak, spouse asleep — animated by some twisted sense of seventh-grade desire to belong — you watch. And the next week, you watch again. And then again. Suddenly you're part of that chattering group — you have opinions on Sean Lowe and his dead, vacant stare, and Catherine's sisters and how evil they were, and why the fuck did he not pick Dez who was OBVIOUSLY the choice, even if you were sort of partial to Lesley yourself.
Then one day, finale day, you get done with bathing the little ones, cleaning up dinner, walking the dog. You answer work e-mails and settle into your couch. Your wife goes to bed. You turn on your TV and discover The Bachelor has not taped, and you nearly break your remote.
And then you are finished. You are done. It is over.
The Deshodding Heard 'Round the World
If I ever get dumped in front of millions of people — especially when I'm expecting a proposal — I'll immediately take off my high heels too. Beauty is pain, but having your heart broken on national television is probably enough pain for one night.
Sean Is a Dick
At first glance, Sean is a conventionally nice (and mostly boring) guy — very inoffensive. He cares a lot about his family, likes to make out, and has a really extensive collection of V-neck and henley T-shirts — pretty standard nice-guy fare. But in reality, and maybe this is even more jarring because on the surface he is so vanilla and/or uninteresting, it seems like Sean is sort of dick to these girls, namely because he will clearly say anything to them to make them happy in the moment.
I'd like to present these two pieces of evidence:
1. What Sean said to AshLee in the Fantasy Suite. Let's get one thing out of the way: AshLee looks really great. Now, granted, we're seeing her at her very best: Is there any greater motivation for a person to make sure they look awesome than when they know they're going to see someone they used to date? But even still, these last two weeks at "Women Tell All" and then in the live portion of last night's finale, she really took it to another level with her whole Young–Connie Britton–meets–Gisele thing — but back to what happened between her and Sean in the Fantasy Suite.
While the staunch Sean defenders will say that AshLee was lying about her accusations that Sean told her he had no interest in the other two girls whatsoever, when he defaulted to the, "Well, maybe I don't remember " excuse, it was all over. Between that, and then the footage they showed where Sean and AshLee seem to think the cameras aren't rolling and you hear Sean try to stammer out a response but with no good explanation while AshLee looked at him with that, "C'mon, son!" face, it was clear that Sean had most likely said that to her — and then promptly kicked AshLee out at the next rose ceremony. Not a great look for her, or for him, really.
2. Everything that went down with Lindsay in the entire season, but specifically the finale. Full disclosure: I was on Lindsay's side from the very first episode. I thought she was cute and attractive, even on the first night when she stumbled out of that limousine, drunk and wearing a wedding dress, slurring, "You may now kiss the bride!" Now, aside from that, and that over the last few weeks Sean has really treated Lindsay like a front-runner (not to get stat-heavy about matters of the heart, but I believe she got the first rose the most times this season, especially in the second half of the season), the worst thing Sean did was tell Lindsay that he loved her WHILE THEY WERE IN THE MIDDLE OF BREAKING UP. Just to be clear, at this point he has yet to tell any girl on the show he loves her, but now, while in the midst of breaking this girl's heart into a million pieces on national TV, he decides to slip in that he "loves" her. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT, SEAN? I'm no love expert, but I DON'T THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU DO TO A GIRL YOU LOVE.
2b. But what about Catherine? Imagine you're Catherine (OMG, you are so wacky and fun — also, how "beefcake-y" is Sean?! All of this [feels all up on his body] is yours!!!), right before your fiancé proposes to you, he JUST told the other girl he was making out with a few days prior that he loved her. Girlfriends of mine have gotten madder at me for opening e-mails that ex-girlfriends have sent me. I'm not sure how the "right before I propose to you, I'm going to tell another girl I love her" thing doesn't have more extreme repercussions.
Now, I'm sure Sean in real life is, for the most part, what he appears to be on the show: just this dopey, buff dude who has no real malicious intent with regard to the behavior mentioned above. But make no mistake, future ladies who are going to pursue Sean after he and Catherine inevitably break up a year or so after the ABC-produced and -aired wedding special (for whatever reason, I don't really believe in this couple — maybe it's because they met on this reality show and she seems overly obsessed with his looks and/or muscles), sometimes a guy who doesn't try not to be a dick is just as bad, if not worse, than a guy who's just a straight-up dick.
The Un-Style of Sean Lowe
There are two Bachelors every season: the man in the dark suit with the cinched cuffs and flowering pocket square, and the guy who dresses for a trip to Señor Frog's. For Sean Lowe, the division was pronounced, and damaging. Here are some of the things Sean wore in Thailand during his final dates with Catherine and Lindsay: a fuchsia T-shirt, flip-flops, navy cargo shorts, a deep-V the shade of eggplant, a salmon-colored tank top, board shorts, elephant-riding pants, laceless Converse sneakers.
Sean Lowe, vacationing Bachelor who happens to be on a television show, abuses "relaxed." This affliction begins as a choice and wends its way to disease — it asks nothing of us, except maybe tolerance. When holding a rose at a ceremony, Sean defies "relaxed" — his suits fit well; they're tasteful, too, accented by slim ties and the occasional flourish in that breast pocket. Last night, at the very important "After the Final Rose" special, he wore a subtle foulard patterned tie and an ash gray suit — smart stuff. Here's the thing about that: He didn't dress himself last night. Those suits, pressed and tailored, with clean lines and a kind of intelligent design, are the domain of the producers. That purplish deep-V? That's right out of Sean's closet. What does all of this mean? Nothing; this is a roundup of thoughts about The Bachelor. But you could say that The Bachelor, where style lunges off and onto its avatar, sometimes mid-episode, teaches us what's wrong with how we look, and how to change that. Sean and Catherine will be back on-camera when they get hitched sometime this fall. And that will be the last chance Sean has to reject "relaxed."
Why Is Sean Wearing Lipstick on the ABC Website Today?
I bet Chris Harrison is responsible for this.
— Mark Lisanti
"I can picture you being a hot old chick," said Sean Lowe to his not-future-wife Lindsay. "Uuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhh," I responded from my couch, as I thought about all the reasons I will not miss "goofy" Sean.
Bachelor conspiracy theorists are already on to the most unenthused chauffeur on the show to date for perhaps sending one too many withering glances Sean's way during his gooftacular exchange with Lindsay, planting the seeds of doubt and insecurity that would eventually blossom into a beautiful rejection tree. After all, Sean did say he knew during his last date with her (and that snarky boat man) that they weren't meant to be together. Don't worry, ABC has set him up in some cushy witness protection appointments in one of the at least dozen abandoned tree houses the crew left behind in Thailand, and Vulture has already tapped him to recap next season.
— Emily Yoshida
An Elephant (and/or Producer) Never Forgets
I’ve watched A LOT of reality TV in my day, way more than I can blame on my role as GRTFL Super Scorer. Has there ever been a more improbable final two in the history of The Bachelor? Truly, it was the season of the dark horse, and will be known to aficionados as the James J. Braddock season from this day forth.
Poor Lindsay. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride except of course for that time when she showed up for her blind date in a wedding dress, completely sloshed, promptly cried, and forced Sean to make out with her. Every week I told Jacoby, “I can’t believe that girl in the wedding dress is still there,” and every week she survived. In fact, not only did she survive, she somehow emerged as the clear front-runner. How did this happen? She was the Tom Brady of the Sean the Boring Bachelor combine, except instead of running an unimpressive 5.28-second 40-yard dash, she somehow giggled and snuggled her way into Sean’s abs heart. In the end, however, the substitute teacher who once asked, “Is that a helicopter?” while staring DIRECTLY AT A HELICOPTER was kicked off, leaving hope for Catherine and full-time teachers everywhere.
As for Catherine, I have yet to see any video evidence that she was even on the show before Week 6, and at that point, all I learned about her was that she could double as a Cirque du Soleil performer. Could the only woman in America under the age of 55 to still use the word “hunk” really win The Bachelor? Would she pull off the inconceivable, like Marisa Tomei in the 1993 Oscars? Had the vegan who “loves the beef” really won the you know ?
And then I saw this. When asked, for her ABC bio, what were the top three things on her bucket list, Catherine responded, “To eat traditional pasta in Italy, to go skiing in the Alps, and to ride an elephant in Thailand.” I repeat: TO RIDE AN ELEPHANT IN THAILAND.
If that’s not destiny (or prebooked travel and producer intervention), I don’t know what is.