Monday night saw the end of an incredibly boring and mildly confusing season of The Bachelorette that eventually turned into a game of Last Man Standing that was disguised as a Shakesperean tragedy the entire time. Since his self-elimination last week, contestant Greg Grippo has drawn the ire of Bachelor Nation for allegedly being an actor and putting on a show, before ultimately pulling the plug on his performance because he didn’t want to meet Bachelorette Katie Thurston’s family or pursue the relationship any further. While I personally don’t believe that’s entirely true, what became clear on Monday night is that the person who may have been doing the most acting was Katie Thurston.
From the beginning of her journey as the Bachelorette, Katie chose to present herself as a “real” sex-positive fun-loving cool girl, who just wanted to find someone who was also “real” and fun-loving. She made constant overtures about not keeping anyone around who wasn’t there specifically to marry her and start a life together, although what that life could look like, she never truly explained. She also made huge productions of eliminating men when it was brought to her attention they might not love her. It didn’t matter that she also didn’t love them, or that their removal from the house wouldn’t affect her journey in any way.
But Katie was truly committed to the role she’d been given and played it out to the best of her ability, only cracking the shell once this season when she chose to share her experience with sexual assault, a revelation the show blatantly mishandled. While something never quite sat right watching Katie try to connect with these men that she clearly didn’t find attractive or interesting, all of the puzzle pieces came together on Monday when Bachelor Nation was introduced to Aunt Lindsey.
Katie’s Aunt Lindsey was very clearly not there for any of the bullshit as she unabashedly pressed Blake about the future and how he planned to handle issues in his marriage to Katie. Granted, marital problem-solving is often on a case-by-case basis, but the overall point she was trying to make is the same one people have been making about this show for years: the couples get engaged way too soon. Lindsey clearly didn’t care that she was on TV and was expected to be warm and welcoming to Blake. Instead, she chose to absolutely decimate him by explaining the Thurston family is full of independent women. “If you’re in this family it’s because we want you here, not because we need you here,” Lindsey told Blake as his oversized mouth hung open. Katie’s mother gave a similar stump speech but was more accepting of Blake’s manufactured love for her daughter. Mama Thurston told Blake straight up that she raised Katie to never need to rely on a man because she could do everything herself.
And yet, coming from that background, Katie still went on this extremely heteronormative show whose entire premise is women need men and men should fight for the affections of women. When she finally had the chance to talk to Greg during the painfully long finale, she approached the conversation with the tough girl attitude that her character required, throwing around phrases like “gaslighting” and “you’re not really a man.” “You had the nerve to look at me and say you deserved better,” Katie said with fury in her voice. “Is that how you would talk to your supposed future wife?” she asked.
Unfortunately, Greg steamrolled the points she was making by simply saying, “If you wanted me to stay you would have stopped me,” and he is a thousand percent right. Katie could have given Greg what he wanted and made him stay but as Katie said during the finale, she wasn’t going to respond to an “ultimatum.” Ultimately, Greg, or the character of Greg, didn’t fit into Katie’s idea of what she wanted to leave the show with, and she chose the only other guy that was still there. Unless a producer decides to drop some behind-the-scenes footage we might never know the extent to which Katie was being gaslit or how much of what Greg was doing was an act or his actual self. It is a mystery best left to be resolved by time.
Of course, Katie and Greg are not the only actors at fault here. Blake “I’ve Dated Three Bachelorettes” Moynes played his role to perfection and added the extra twist of trying to make it seem like he was not going to propose to Katie in the end. But despite the fact that Katie couldn’t keep her story straight on when she realized she loved him—which illustrates that she is only going through with this engagement to save face—I hope all parties involved are happy with their body of work and that it brings them the career success they all desire.