On Monday night, it was finally revealed who Kaitlyn Bristowe will presumably spend the rest of her life with. Unfortunately for ABC and The Bachelorette, that secret was out of the bag a long time ago.
During last night’s episode, Kaitlyn waited until Nick—a now twice-rejected Bachelorette contestant—was in front of her to tell him that he wasn’t the one for her. But we knew she’d do that; a month and a half ago, Kaitlyn was caught sending a video Snapchat of her in bed with Shawn, giggling and happy. The Snapchat even revealed that Reality Steve’s typically perfect end-of-the-season spoiler was wrong, as he’d predicted that Kaitlyn would pick no one.
Kaitlyn broke a rule with her fuck up, spoiling the end to her beautiful journey before ABC had decided it was time. “You’re the first Bachelorette ever to accidentally reveal the ending to the show,” Jimmy Kimmel helpfully pointed out on his show last night. “I will tell you, they were very very mad at you here at ABC.”
“Oh I know, I’m fully aware,” Kaitlyn replied, playing it off like she hadn’t gotten reamed out for her mistake.
This mistake was unprecedented, though unsurprising in our increasingly interconnected world, which is perhaps why the producers didn’t spend much time this season on which man Kaitlyn would choose (if any), but instead explored the rivalry between Shawn and Nick. That Kaitlyn chose someone was already an open secret. The circumstances of how it happened, however, they could play with.
There were a few other ways this season was different. Kaitlyn’s reluctance to accept the strict rules the show has laid out for when certain steps are taken in a relationship made for a slightly more realistic (but still complicated) depiction of the sex lives of most 20-and-30-somethings living in America today. And for whatever reason, financial or otherwise, ABC’s decision to spend most of the season in cities like San Antonio and New York, with the most exotic visit being Ireland (Kaitlyn’s proposals, bizarrely, were held back at the Bachelor mansion) made things a little less “exotic” aka unrealistic than they usually are. There was slightly more of a focus on people and their personalities than the distractions of a bizarre date.
But the thing that really drove home what a machine this show has become wasn’t a thing, it was a person. Nick Viall, a man who has almost proposed to not one but two Bachelorettes, was sent home again. Is he a glutton for punishment or a man obsessed with getting attention on this reality rollercoaster ride—or both?
“I really did need to take it this far to figure it out,” Kaitlyn pleaded with a crestfallen Nick, after it became clear that she wasn’t going to let him get down on one knee and they weren’t going to live happily ever after. Despite the fact that Nick had said earlier that episode that he thought he “might be an acquired taste” and that he was “fully aware that this could end either way,” he did not look aware. What he did look was calmly furious, a man who has done this before and who knows how to react—and how not to.
“I’m the world’s greatest joke,” Nick said in the limo afterwards, dramatically but not too bitterly throwing a promise ring he appeared to have bought for himself across the car, along with the box holding his NEIL LANE engagement ring. But by the time After the Final Rose was taped last night, he’d managed to get himself together. He and Shawn had a shockingly polite conversation about why they didn’t like each other, both admitting that they behaved in a juvenile fashion.
“Watching back, I’m so upset that we both took away so much from our relationship with Kaitlyn,” said Shawn, more than implying that their drama made it easier for the producers to focus on them and not “the love story” of the show. “There were so many good moments that I know I had with Kaitlyn, and I’m sure [Nick] had good moments with her as well, that weren’t shown because they wanted to, you know, get this big feud with us.”
Nick’s conversation with Kaitlyn went far better than his confrontation with Andi had gone the last time he did this—he’s clearly learned a lot. (Coincidentally, as Kaitlyn spoiled this season with social media, Nick accidentally spoiled his season by being videotaped discussing the finale while on the phone on an airplane.) But as we saw this season, the thing he’s learned the best is how to work this show, and MAN is he deep in it. “I didn’t really care about this show,” he told Chris Harrison last night, claiming yet again that he just came on it for Kaitlyn, whom he had gotten friendly on Twitter with because of the show. Nick also, as he’s done before, easily referenced the machinations of the show’s process and history, mentioning how he “didn’t want to be a Chris Bukowski,” another contestant from a previous season who had come back during Andi’s season and been seen as a joke.
Nick coming back was painted as a dramatic thing that he just HAD to do because he wanted a shot with Kaitlyn. Watching his heartbreak at the end of the season made it clear that if he hadn’t felt something for her, he’d be the world’s best actor. Or maybe it’s that this show has created such a powerful pull that people who participate in it have no choice but to fall, cult-like, into its embrace. Kaitlyn even told Jimmy Kimmel that Becca and Whitney, two women who were in the final three with her competing for Chris Soules’s heart, will likely be in her wedding party.
“I think that’s what happens in this world,” Kaitlyn told Nick, trying to explain how she could have said “I love you” to him and pick another man. Was she talking about the world of The Bachelor and Bachelorette, or the world the rest of us live in? Who can say. Maybe she doesn’t even know. Her and her two suitors, plus many of her other rejects, occupy a new world now.
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