Remember back in 2002 when The Bachelor first premiered on TV and we all thought it was such a novel concept. A man finding love on TV right in front of our very eyes! It was like watching a grown-up Disney fairy tale. Except even sadder. Because instead of a parent dying in a tragic accident, a heartsick woman got sent home, back to her spinster quarters, fated to have to meet a husband the traditional way — by getting pregnant after a one-night stand and doing a shotgun wedding so no one would know the truth.
Then 629 seasons later, we discovered the truth. The Bachelor wasn’t about falling in love or meeting your soul mate, it was about getting national TV exposure and hooking up. Like MTV’s Real World, but on network TV — so our parents felt comfortable watching too.
This past season proves that the show’s original concept of finding true love is really struggling. After a two-hour season finale Bachelor Ben Flanjik proposed to the resident crazy Courtney Robertson, only to admit during the After the Final Rose special that they’d actually broken up while the show was still airing. Say what?!
“It’s been a rough ride,” Ben told host Chris Harrison about everything that’s happened since the finale was taped. What went wrong? As Ben began to watch his season of the show, he witnessed the catty behavior of his new fiancée. She later apologized.
“The woman that I saw on TV isn’t the Courtney that I know,” he said, adding, “Those are the moments and the instances that led to Courtney and I not talking for a time while the show aired. We were essentially broken up.”
While 100% of the past Bachelor couples eventually broke up, they at least waited a day after the finale to make the big “actually, turns out we’re totally not in love, or even like” announcement. Kinda kills the entire season as well as the franchise to find out he broke up with the woman he fell in love with and proposed to on top of a mountain soon after the cameras left.
I guess ABC also agrees that it’s a total buzzkill and bad for the brand. That’s why (I’m guessing) they called Ben and Court before the special talked to them about contracts and publicity and their public image.
Why do I think this? Because this is how the reunion ended last night.
Ben said he was sorry for “not standing by you throughout this entire journey. It can be really difficult, and I messed up in that regard. As an engaged couple and as a man, I feel like I should have stayed with you the entire way as opposed to taking steps back and needing time apart. That wasn’t fair to you. That was my coping mechanism, but you know me. That’s not how I operate in real life, and we’re about to start real life.”
And before the end of their time with Chris, Ben put the Neil Lane platinum and diamond engagement ring back on her finger.
“There was never anything wrong with us,” Ben said. “What’s wrong was everything that surrounded us.”
Nothing more romantic and less-scripted than reconciling on TV. Or more forced?
The odds are not in Ben and Courtney’s favor when it comes to staying together. Especially since Ben didn’t just not stick by her, he stuck it in other women. While I apologize for my middle school reference, I will not apologize for my theory that ABC’s forcing them to stand by this “we’re working it out story.”
There’s no way they’re going to stay together. The only question now is how long will they have to pretend to still be engaged. How many photo shoots will they have to do? How many “candid” kissing photos will appear in Us Weekly?
Only time (or a leaked contract) will tell.
(Photo: ET Online)