Well, here we are, about to watch one man break the heart of one woman in the name of true love with another woman that he’s known for approximately six weeks. Love, American style! Harrison informs us and the huge crowd of women he’s brought into his studio lair that there are shockers to be had in the finale, which, sure, of course, he’s going to electrocute everyone there. There are only two men in the entire studio: the reanimated body of Neil Lane and Jimmy Kimmel, about whom the less said the better.
This is the closest thing to romance-themed gladiatorial combat we have. Harrison spends a lot of time tonight pretending that he’s going to force Ben to make good on his statement last week that he’d marry the girl he proposed to ASAP, and has brought out both of the final women’s families AND Ben’s hometown pastor, who is waiting in the wings for most of the episode, rereading his bible and making notes like he’s mere moments from a test. Kind of!
The finale episode of this show is always an overstuffed affair where what happens is less important than who gets picked. But let’s go through the motions until the magic is gone, like Harrison would want us to. Ben tells his parents he’s in love with both women. Ben’s mom finds this “disturbing.”
I keep forgetting that everyone is taking Ben’s declarations of love to two women is supposed to be this season’s big shocking twist and not the inevitable result of Stockholm syndrome.
Ben’s mom and dad meet with Lauren, who Ben describes as “gorgeous, sweet, loved Warsaw when she visited.” The ability to tolerate your midwestern hometown is deeply important! They like Lauren. The next day they meet JoJo, who effusively shares her love for Ben. She tells his mom she thinks of him as someone who makes her feel “safe,” and Ben’s mom says he said the same thing about JoJo. THIS IS BECAUSE YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH JOJO, BEN. I stick by my theory that Ben is confusing feelings of deep friendship with deep love re: JoJo. He keeps saying he’s been through “hard times,” with JoJo, which, you know, one ex-boyfriend induced meltdown that the both of them got over relatively quickly doesn’t exactly prepare you for real-life hard times, but ok. He (and his mom) don’t know how the hard times would be with Lauren. Probably fine, Ben.
His parents do the Kanye shrug about his choice; they like both women. Ben’s mom seems to like JoJo a little more. They waive goodbye and goodluck to their boring son.
Ben goes on dates with both women. With Lauren, he hangs out on a boat and talks feelings; with JoJo he hangs out at a waterfall and talks feelings. Pretty much the only shocker is that Ben and JoJo have a semi-secret conversation in the bathroom while they’re wearing microphones, so we can hear as JoJo figures out that Ben also told Lauren he loves her, and he confirms it.
This would be my cue to moonwalk out of here, but that’s why they don’t want me on reality shows!
Anyway, Ben goes through the motions; picking rings with the terrifying Neil Lane, seemingly wavering in his choice. The show puts us through a lot of JoJo confessionals about how deeply she loves Ben and how much she hopes she doesn’t get hurt, so in the end he picks Lauren. Surprise? I take a thousand screenshots of Ben’s expression as JoJo gives a monologue about her love for him before he dumps her; it can only be described as “nauseated.”
After she leaves, he cries for a little bit before promptly calling Lauren’s dad to ask for her hand in marriage. Lauren and Ben have a Grey’s Anatomy moment of declaring each other their mutual “person,” and are engaged now. Romance. Also, the ring is gigantic. Ben carries Lauren off as she warns him “if you drop me you’re toast,” so there’s your answer for how it’ll be in the hard times, Ben.
While I appreciate the show trying to create some drama around the final two, the chemistry between Lauren and Ben was obvious from the get go. And also, JoJo is a brunette and Lauren is a blonde so… Even JoJo mentions the chemistry in her after the final rose interview, where she doesn’t have much anger left because she has newly received the title of Bachelorette. Despite all the stories about Caila filming her intro package and being the next Bachelorette, apparently a few days before this show they gave the Bachelorette crown to JoJo instead! It’s both an exceptionally good choice because JoJo is a lot more compelling on TV and the sort of heartless manipulation the clown wranglers producing this show do so well. I for one look forward to Caila and her bouncy hair on Bachelor in Paradise.
What this episode highlighted is what a gifted liar Ben is. There’s a great moment on the after show where JoJo talks about his chemistry with Lauren and says she’s happy for both of them, and Ben tries to regurgitate his usual talking points about how hard being the bachelor is, and also decisions, they are hard aren’t they, and has to stop because the audience, who was actually listening, wants to clap for JoJo’s magnanimity. He’s also very good at ducking situations, so instead of giving Harrison the hoped-for wedding he proposes to Lauren again in front of both of their families. As the Bushnell-Higgins clans mingle onstage, Harrison promises us the fun of a JoJo Bachelorette show, and of course there’s Bachelor in Paradise, proving that this show will endure forever, a reality television show cockroach for the ages.