What's that? It's not? Was Chris Harrison lying to us? Misrepresenting things? Being intentionally ambiguous about what, specifically, was a "first"? Here's a quick run-down of past non-engagements:
- Season 1: Alex Michel did not propose to winner Amanda Marsh, but they entered into a relationship (that didn't last).
- Season 4: The beloved Bob Guiney (the fat Bachelor) did not propose to winner Estella Gardinier, but they decided they'd still date (it didn't last).
- Season 5: Jesse Palmer, the Canadian NFL player, did not propose to winner Jessica Bowlin, but continued to date (but not for very long).
- Season 7: Charlie O'Connell, the actor, did not propose to winner Sarah Brice, but they started an on-off relationship (that ended in the off position).
- Season 8: Dr. Travis Lane Stork did not propose to winner Sarah Stone, but they entered into a relationship (which didn't last).
- Season 9: Prince Lorenzo Borghese did not propose to winner Jennifer Wilson, but they entered into a relationship (that fizzled out).
- Season 11: Brad Womack did not propose to either of the two finalists.
So there you have it. There is precedence. Now, all those relationship above didn't last, so the odds are Juan Pablo and Nikki will call it quits in the not-too-distant future, too. But if we're going with stats and percentages, of the other 10 Bachelor finales that resulted in proposals, there have been two marriages (one only recently and one with the runner-up, not the winner). Of the remaining 8, only one lasted longer than a year. So chances are these latest two are doomed anyway.
So what did Chris Harrison mean when he kept telling us it was the most controversial finale in Bachelor history? Well, for starters, nothing because he says that every year. But I don't even see how it's in any way arguable this was the most controversial, given the other seven I itemized above. Truthfully, I don't remember if the other fellas avoided the L-word, but they certainly weren't subjected to the same question over and over again. Why was it so inconceivable for Chris Harrison (and the viewing public) to think someone might not be in love after only ten weeks yet still really like the person and want to continue a relationship?
But let's backtrack and rehash the episode because that's what I do.
Clare was the first to meet Juan Pablo's family in the exotic locale of Saint Lucia, which, Juan Pablo's mom insisted, looked so much like Venezuela. Clare proved she had the right motherly instincts by remarking, "How adorable was Juan Pablo with his daughter? So hot, though. I feel like it makes him that much sexier." Meanwhile, the villain Juan Pablo is just so shallow.
Throughout the dates, we were shown an almost black box in the corner where, if we looked carefully, we could see the disapproving head shakes and sideways glances of the live studio audience, all fed raw meat.
Juan Pablo's family was there to support him 100 percent. "He's hyperactive," his mom told Clare. "He's sometimes very rude," she also said.
JP's dad had a bit of a crush on Clare, I think. He held her hand throughout his talk with her and told her he loves her. Clare was swept up in the emotion: "He's a true gentleman. I see where Juan Pablo gets it," she said. Or so she thought.
Then it was Nikki's turn. To meet her new in-laws, she wore a cute little halter-top-type thing that showed off the tattooed bird flying into her armpit. No hand-holding with the dad for Nikki. He told her that Juan Pablo is "not an easy guy" and "he thinks he knows the truth in everything." JP's cousin told her that JP will "walk away when things get rough." The mom asked Nikki how she envisioned a weekend with her man. Nikki talked about taking Camila to the beach or other such fun activities. JP's mom set her straight: On the weekends, she'll be staying home watching TV. Very simple, she said.
The studio audience was predictably aghast, already ready to see everything through Andi's tinted glasses. One female told Harrison "this is going south fast." Kelly the dog lady thought both contestants were "ignoring red flags."
Here's how it played out. The infamous Bachelor chopper made its season debut. It used to be an almost weekly sight. Now it's brought out just for momentous occasions like this.
Even though the two are wired all the time with body microphones and a cameraman accompanied them on their flight, apparently at some point there were no cameras or mics and Juan Pablo used this moment to whisper something inappropriate to Clare. She wouldn't reveal all, but a big part of it was that he felt they didn't know each other. I know, right?! The nerve of him! Very offensive. The other part was probably along the lines of something a male might say to a female he's already had sex with that could be interpreted as sexy or flirtatious in most circumstances. But regardless, Clare found it so offensive she didn't say anything about it to him on the date.
She was confused because she felt like a physical object. "If he can't tell me that he knows me well and this relationship goes further than a physical connection, I'm outta here," she threatened.
When Juan Pablo dropped by her hotel room, no besitos for him. Clare meant business. She sat him down and expressed her concerns. As much of an excuse as it sounds like, I really think this was a language issue again. When he said, "The parts of Clare I know, I like. Maybe parts of you I don't like," she took it to mean there were particular parts of her he didn't like. What he meant was that once he gets to know her more, there might be parts of her he doesn't like, just as there might be parts of him she doesn't like.
If this season has taught us anything, it's that people with different mother tongues should never hook up!
And why is it wrong to admit they really don't know all that much about each other? In fact, wasn't that Andi's whole complaint? Juan Pablo was just voicing that. The guy can't win.
He told her he likes what he's seen and it's not just physical. Then he said, "You're special to me." He said if they end up together, he just knows they'll have a baby in "a year and two months, I just know it." Also, "I feel great about you."
All encouraging words and Clare was calmed.
Now, was it right for him to lead her on like that? First, every Bachelor and Bachelorette has said things to the other finalist that could be seen to be leading them on. Every single one! Juan Pablo was no exception. And why we excuse it is because they're not necessarily lying. They believe it when they say it. They haven't made up their mind. It's gotta be tough having been intimate with two people and going on a bunch of romantic dates concurrently and then having to pick one of them when the other one is also pretty great. But with the way these three weeks have been framed, those innocent statements come off looking like dastardly douchetastic scumbaggery.
And Clare was fine with it in the moment after doing a complete 180: "He may not know me 100 percent but I know that we have something special."
As I've written, he told her she's "special to me", "I feel great about you," "I like what I've seen" and "it's not just a physical attraction." When he said he took her home to meet his family, a more generous interpretation would be that he thought of her enough to be one of the two remaining women who he felt comfortable enough with to introduce to his family. I'm disappointed the usually clear-thinking Shar-Shar would get swept up in the lynch mob mentality.
Sean also used the producers' talking points, saying it was "painful to watch". He thought Juan Pablo was "talking in circles" adding, "Shoot 'er straight, man. Tell her what you're feeling." Anyone consider that maybe that's what he was doing? Maybe what Sean meant was, "Tell her what we all want him to say."
Next up was the date with Nikki. She called Juan Pablo "one of the most amazing people I've ever met." When he asked her if she had any concerns, she suggested he might be "a little guarded." Burn the heathen!
They went out on a catamaran and stopped off on a private island. While lying in the sand, Nikki asked what he'd do once there are no more private islands and reality hits. No problem, he said. He has a bed and a TV and an office. In other words, exactly what his mother warned her about. No lying – straight-up honesty. Crucify him!
That night, Nikki gave him a picture frame and a card, which ended with the words, "I love you." He kisses her as she stares off in the distance, nervous about the fate that awaits her. When he left, she sat and cried understandable tears. Of course, Chris Harrison tried to misrepresent those tears, too. On a season with no obvious villain contestants, they had to create one.
Thankfully we didn't have to see Neil Lane hocking his jewelry. We cut to the chase with Juan Pablo already with the ring. Clare was the first off the boat to the rustic meeting spot. I actually felt she'd be the one he picked. Goes to show what I know. When my wife said Juan Pablo looked uncomfortable, I saw it as content. Maybe it was a bit of both.
He talked about their ups and downs and how their talks fixed them. He threw around adjectives like unbelievable and amazing. Then he said he wished the Earth would suck him in because this was the hardest decision he's ever made. "I appreciate you being here," he said. He talked about how he'd always spoken about how people are going to go home. Then finally, "I have to say goodbye to you." He goes in for the comforting hug but Clare puts up her hands stopping him. Not so fast, fella.
She walks off, turning around to say, "I stuck around because I believed in you." She needed reassurance and he gave it to her, just as every other finalist in the history of the show got on the last date. I guess she wanted him to send her home on that date. But according to him, she was still in the running and he didn't decide until that night. He was about to tell her that but she didn't care. "Doesn't matter," she said and fumed off. Just goes to prove what mothers have been saying for years: Why buy the milk when you can get the cow for free?
After she was gone, Juan Pablo said, "Whew! I'm glad I didn't pick her!" Clare gave us a hint as to the whispered offence: "Don't tell me you love fucking me. Don't tell me that. Don't tell me you could see yourself in Sacramento and how much your family loved me. Don't tell me that." Fair enough. Maybe the sex comment was over the line, but maybe he also mistakenly thought they were at that point in their relationship since, you know, they had sex at least twice. And it's quite plausible he really could see himself in Sacramento and that his family loved her. At that point, maybe she was the frontrunner.
Then he had to wait for Nikki as he fingered the ring. Nikki said she wanted to hear all he couldn't say to that point and that she couldn't wait to tell her mom she's engaged. As per show rules, when she showed up, she had to speak first and she spoke like it was a foregone conclusion. If she didn't know she was the one, it was a very gutsy speech. She talked about wanting to be a part of his family and "can't imagine spending my life without you." Imagine if he then sent her home. Ouch.
Instead of hearing those magic words she longed to hear, Juan Pablo said, "I love so many things about you." He talked about her honesty, her caring about others, and how she'd be a good step-mom for his daughter. "One-hundred percent I don't want to let you go... I like you a lot."
Nice enough taken in a vacuum. But when you expect only an unabashed declaration of undying love, it seemed to many like a huge slap in the face. When he offered her the rose, she paused before nodding and saying, "Absolutely."
Juan Pablo said her father made him think. He had told him he wants whoever it is to propose to his daughter to be 100 percent sure. And Juan Pablo wasn't 100 percent sure. Just as, I'm sure, a good number of other people who've thrown proposals out there willy-nilly.
At the After the Final Rose segment in the studio, Clare still wouldn't repeat the offensive words Juan Pablo passed on to her. She said she let her guard down and trusted the process. You know, the process that's produced 2 marriages in 18 seasons.
Clare didn't have anything more to say to Juan Pablo, so he wasn't invited out to sit with her. More applause. She said she didn't want to "get fed any more BS." She's moved on, she said.
When JP came out, there were no boos, but the applause was tepid, to say the least. He acted like nothing was unusual or wasn't aware of the backlash towards him. He said he did the math and figured out approximately 600 hours were filmed and we saw 20 hours of it. A convenient excuse, perhaps, but also one we should always keep in mind.
Chris Harrison worked his butt off trying to rephrase the same question over and over again. Let me count the ways:
- After saying she was still in love, Harrison asked her if the feeling was reciprocated. "I dunno. I hope so."
- "Has he told you?" Harrison continued, obviously not aware what "dunno" and "hope" mean.
- "He hasn't ever said those words to you?" he asked, incredulously. Nikki said no, but that JP wouldn't be there "if he didn't care about me."
- "We'd love to hear it for your sake," Harrison continued. Chris, you can't force these things. I'm sure Nikki only wants to hear it if it's true, not coaxed out of him.
- After JP said, "I feel fantastic about this woman," Harrison pressed, "But how do you feel about her?" An understandably exasperated JP said, "Chris, I feel great!"
- "So you love her?"to which Juan Pablo responded, "I'm not going to answer that to you." And "This is real life. We're done with the show... I appreciate the opportunity... What I'm feeling with Nikki is fantastic."
- "So you're not gonna say you love this woman?" I got it the first time, Chris. What's with the Spanish Inquisition?
- "This is the good part. You can actually express your feelings. So did you (fall in love)?" Um, I'm gonna guess no. But I'm a quick learner.
- "I don't know what I'm looking at!" He just couldn't wrap his head around the fact a couple who'd known each other for 10 weeks might not both be fully committed and in love and that they might enjoy each other's company and try to see if they can make a go of it in real life. To her credit, Nikki said, "Time will tell. This is a real relationship to us." She said they were "taking it really seriously."
- "Nikki's in love; Juan Pablo's in love but won't say it."
- "How long would you give him?" Again, Nikki gave a very reasonable answer: "I don't know. It's not something you put a time limit on... As long as it feels right, I'll give it that length of time... For now it feels right."
Because... everybody does, indeed, work differently. Unfortunately, they want cookie cutters on this show. Everyone must feel the same and express those feelings the same. If you don't play along, you will be made the villain.
Okay, that was that. Now can we just let Juan Pablo and Nikki alone to break up in private?
She had a personal distaste for the phrase "It's okay" used frequently by Juan Pablo. If her segment is any indication, her pet phrase is "at the end of the day" which she said about 5 or 6 times in the course of two minutes. The absolute best use of it was, "At the end of the day, I don't have anyone to come home to and share the day with." That is a perfect literal use of it. Well done.
Talk to you later.