Another season of The Bachelorette has come to a close, and while the ending of this one wasn’t exactly surprising, the way the show’s producers tweaked the program to handle that non-surprise was, once again, more interesting than the alleged love connection formed.
Even those who didn’t read the spoilers could tell JoJo was going to pick Jordan; no edit to make it seem like she was super conflicted could distract from his degree of defensiveness about his shady past dating practices (or his own brother accidentally almost spilling the beans a few weeks ago). Most of the finale was devoted to JoJo wanting to make sure Jordan wasn’t going to break her heart (she missed the memo that in life there are no guarantees); even her parents pointed out that when they suggested Robby seemed more ready for marriage, she did not seem happy about that. On that note, there was also considerable drama about the fact that Jordan didn’t ask them for permission to marry her, which he skipped because (red flag!) he didn’t feel comfortable doing so without being sure of JoJo’s feelings about him.
Whatever, all’s well that end’s well—until we got to the After the Final Rose live special, which was, as usual, a masterpiece of untruths and a study of manipulation. Robby, accompanied by his new veneers, did a terrible job pretending he had been hurt when JoJo rejected him (it wasn’t even believable when she sent him home), while host Chris Harrison did what the show has gotten very good at: allowing JoJo and Jordan to rail against “the media,” while A) not acknowledging that the show was responsible for much of their unhappiness and B) publicly celebrating ties with “legitimate” news publications like People and Us Weekly, while ignoring their nemeses, the online spoiling community.
It’s hard to take Harrison seriously when he sympathizes with JoJo and Jordan for having to deal with media scrutiny over lingering gossip about Jordan’s dating reputation, and his relationship with his famous football-playing brother. After all, Harrison brought it up twice in teasers during the episode.
“Relationships are hard in the easiest of circumstances; this is not,” he said. “You talked about the tabloids, and we pulled some of them, and this is what you guys had to deal with week in and week out, the headlines, the accusations.”
“Neither one of us understood why it was happening,” JoJo said in response. “What I have learned is that I can’t read this garbage. I can’t let it affect my relationship, because he’s done nothing to give me a reason.”
“Jordan, your character was called into question, your family was drug into this,” Harrison said, again ignoring the fact that those things were brought up by the show’s producers as well. “The good news is that was yesterday’s news; tomorrow’s headline, I think, will look like this.” Cut to the new cover of People magazine:
But that still wasn’t the end! “One thing that everybody kind of went through with you Jordan, was your family,” Harrison later went on to say, apparently trying to make up for the fact that he’s gotten limited screentime again this season. “I know you were reluctant to talk about it—we’re talking about the rift with your brother Aaron. Has anything come of that? Because you and I have talked about it and I said, you know, maybe something good will come of this. Hopefully maybe some things will be mended. Has anything changed?”
Here’s Jordan’s perfect non-answer, something he’s very very talented at giving:
You know anything with my family, JoJo has been a part of, and any conversations we have moving forward are with us, about us, and we’re excited about starting that journey with our families.
Harrison was not deterred. “I just thought after the show, you know, the way you handled that was class, I thought you handled that really well, so I was hoping maybe something good can come of this whole thing. Anyway, my fingers are still crossed,” he said. Once JoJo clarified that she has not yet met Aaron, Harrison went as far as to say, “And hopefully maybe Aaron can make it to the wedding!”
That’s the line those who make The Bachelorette must walk—pretending they’re above the fray of the gossipy tabloid culture, sympathizing with their leads for having to deal with it, while never admitting that they use such drama to further their own agenda. (Remember the edit they gave Kaitlyn, before pretending they cared she’d been harassed on social media for having sex too early in the show). While it might seem then that JoJo and Jordan would be at odds with the producers of the show for essentially repeatedly throwing them under the bus, they’ve decided to take the good with the bad. Because if you’re in the Bachelor universe—as recently engaged couple Ben and Lauren has learned—you take what is doled out to you. And the sooner you realize you should do same with the press, the more well-adjusted you’ll be. Fifteen minutes goes by in a flash.