It's over! A trip around the world and a garden full of roses later, "the most dramatic television event of the summer" came and went. And with pretty much zero drama. Thanks for the empty promises, Chris Harrison. The Bachelorette Season 8 finale was a fitting end to a disconcertingly normal season filled with mild manored sentiments and sensible suitors. Emily picked her man, and if After the Final Rose is indeed the final chapter, they lived happily ever after. This show always has around an hour and a half too much content, but this episode really took the cake with two hours and forty five minutes too much.
And live, from Los Angeles, Chris Harrison welcomed us to the finale, interviewed inarticulate women in the studio audience, and created a general interruption of the flow of watching the show. Not to mention his teasing of "shocking secrets" that were either never revealed or were so incredibly not shocking that I have no idea what the hell he was talking about. With a twinkle in his eye and a twinkle in his ear (like, not an earring, but something actually twinkling inside of his ear), Chris took the finale to a whole new level of bad.
Emily's fallen in love with two different men and isn't sure of who her guy is. Her family arrives in Curacao, and Jef's the first to meet Ma, Pa, brother and future sister-in-law. Jef brings Mama and Sis flowers and is wearing his best clothes: jeans and the kind of white t-shirt that comes in a three-pack. Speaking of three-packs, Emily's mom sounds like she smokes that much a day, and her forehead doesn't exactly move when she laughs. But she seems to like Jef just fine. Even Ernie, Emily's brother, likes him. Or at least I think he does. The man mumbles like nobody's business, and between his Southern accent and the fact that he talks entirely out of the side of his mouth, I can't tell what the hell he's saying. I think he says that Jef's intentions are good. That or "Jef's hypertension is food." You know, either one.
Jef asks for Emily's dad's approval should he decide to propose. He gets permission. Yay. Arie's up next, and Emily wants her family to stay open minded because "Arie deserves a chance more than anybody." Not sure what that means exactly, but sure.
We're back in the studio. Chris just can't get enough of his own voice. We get a recap of Jef's meeting with Emily's family, and then he reminds us not to count Arie out. Then he says, "First things first, let's find out." Pardon? Who wrote this crap? This narration is bordering on the non-sensical.
Arie needs to make an amazing impression on Emily's family. He looks strangely orange and nervous. He dominates the conversation with the fam, making awkward fishing small talk. Fishing small talk: the worst small talk of all! Arie gives Emily a box with all of his roses in it. Cute..? Emily's mom likes Arie and so does Ernie. Ernie thinks that Arie is very smooth and practiced in his speech, and he must be talking about a different Arie, because, really? Then Ernie confesses that he's confused, and the studio audience busts out laughing. What in the hell? Chris Harrison, control your minions!
Arie asks Emily's dad for marriage permission. And there's more laughing? Like one woman's cackle is heard over the soundtrack. I do not like watching this show with the "millions of people across America" as Chris Harrison keeps reminding us. I like to watch this show in private out of embarrassment and shame.
Arie leaves and Emily's family tells her that they have either "no buts" or "no butts." It's hard to tell because they're all sitting down. They like both of the guys and can't pick one over the other. Emily's dad doesn't believe that she can be in love with two men at once, but Emily insists. She is terribly confused, they are terribly confused, they can't stop talking about how confused they are. Maybe they shouldn't have gotten drunk before doing this.
Chris asks the studio audience who is best for Emily. In a very scientific survey, the crowd claps and cheers for each man, and it's clear that they like Jef best. Ever the politician, Chris says the audience is split down the middle, just like Emily. So diplomatic, that one. It's time for Emily's date with Jef.
To make a good final impression, Jef wears his greenest shorts on his date. Not to be outdone, Emily is wearing an acid green skirt. They look pretty ridiculous walking hand in hand down the beach dressed like someone tripping's interpretation of fashion. Colors! Jef is eager to meet Ricki, but Emily has her doubts. She's been thinking about "a lot," and she's not comfortable introducing the men to her daughter.
Jef insists that he's been thinking about Ricki every day, and he seems completely genuine. It's like all of the warmth has been sucked out of Emily for the moment. But honestly, good for her being so protective of her daughter. Maybe thinking this whole dating-on-national-television-twice thing through a little more would have been a more sound decision at first, but in her defense, she's acted about as appropriately as possible for a mother on television. Emily has a guilty conscience about introducing Ricki to Brad sincce things didn't work out.
Jef tells Emily to think of things from his perspective -- what would she do if she hadn't met a significant other's child? She admits that it would be weird and she would be disappointed. This is treading on serious territory, and not to start a discussion on the whole thing, because I am wholly unqualified to talk about it, but when do you make that introduction? How do you make sure your significant other fits into your family? I guess the answer is you introduce everyone ASAP, because Emily decides to bring Jef back to her villa for some pool time with Ricki right away.
Jef and Ricki get along swimmingly, PUN INTENDED. It's all nice family stuff, and they round out the afternoon by feeding a hermit crab in a wine glass (fancy!) and discussing Ricki's stuffed animals. Emily hilariously asks Ricki if she's been eating Cheetos, because I guess Ricki's stuffed monkey is covered in orange dust. Gross. Jef loves that the moment feels like real life. There will be a lot more Cheetos dust where that came from, Jef. Kids are always covered in a fine layer of cheese dust and pencil eraser. Yum.
Jef and Emily meet for dinner, but in typical show fashion, there is no food involved. He gives her a book about Curacao in which he's drawn their stick figure likeness into various pages. He's ruined the book! Emily loves it and says that she feels more comfortable with him than with anybody else. She says that not a lot of people get her and that she doesn't think a lot of people get Jef either. Well, that's kind of rudely romantic, I guess. She thinks it's cool that they've found each other. They say their goodbyes and Jef walks out into the rain. Forever..?
...No. Not forever. But first, Chris must interview a woman in the audience named Paisley. Paisley? This woman was certainly destined to be on a Bachelor franchise show with a name like that. Maybe she'll end up with Kiptyn. I don't remember what Paisley had to say about the show, but another girl hopes Emily chooses Arie so that the rest of America can have Jef. How will that work, exactly? Jef will travel the country sleeping with thousands of women in each state? It's tiring work, but somebody's got to do it. Also, please send instructions for how to get on that list.
An iguana slithers across the screen. Lucky bastard, slithering away to sleep in the sun while we still have four hours of this show left. Emily says that she woke up with a sense of peace about what she needs to do, but not with a sense of peace over what to do with it. What? She meets with Chris and tells him that she knows that Jef is everything she's looking for. She just doesn't know how to break the news to Arie. Chris recommends honesty. Emily gets all teary and all I can think is how on earth does her eye makeup stay on so well? Television magic!
Poor Arie arrives for his date with a grin on his face and a bounce in his step. He meets up with some woman who teaches him how to make love potion from flowers. Why the producers let him do this is a mystery to me, because it is at once cruel and not very interesting television. This is also awful publicity for the magic potion woman, because her potion quite obviously doesn't work.
Emily pulls up in an SUV looking miserable. And for the first time I notice a giant wing tattoo peeping out of Arie's sleeve. Fly away, Arie! He cluelessly says hello and asks her how she is. She lets him put the potion on her arms and thanks him. Arie can tell that somethng is wrong, and Emily breaks down. She doesn't know what to do or say, so she breaks the news that they're over in a rambling sort of way. She's very kind about it, or about as kind as you can be in a situation like this, but she isn't terribly direct. Arie takes it pretty well all things considered. He looks upset but not angry, and he thanks her for sparing him the embarrassment of a proposal.
And good for both of them, really. Arie handles it all very well, and kudos to Emily for having the guts to break up with him as soon as she knew that Jef was the one. She and Ali Fedowsky win points for honesty and humanity in this otherwise totally dishonest and inhumane arena. Arie interviews that he's confused and feels stupid, but he keeps it together. And the show fades out into a shot of the audience, whose brows are knit because that's probably what they've been told to do. "Look concerned in a womanly way." And all the middle aged women's brows knit in feigned concern. I guess the moment is sad? Sort of? Chris says it's one of the toughest breakups he's ever seen, but Chris is also full of it. It isn't particularly emotional, and for god's sake, we were expecting this, Chris Harrison! Just read what's on the teleprompter and collect your money bags.
It's time to trot out the old contestants. Here's Ashley, who has a haircut filled with layers that are a little too short. She says some things supporting Emily, and JP is there, too, in all of his adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt-ish glory. Deanna's there, too, and commends Emily for not introducing Ricki to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Michael Stag is also there for no reason whatsoever. Chris reminds us that Michael hasn't been very lucky on the show. Michael says that a good thing for Arie is that he won't have any trouble finding a girl now. What a classy guy. Ashley Spivey is also there. Ugh, can we just get back to the actual show?
Emily woke up with love in her heart and she's so excited to tell Jef that he's the only one. Jef meets with Neil Lane who presents him with an assortment of rings considerably less hideous than in previous years. Jef chooses an enormous emerald cut stone set in pave with a thin pave band. It's quite nice and a far cry from the chunky ass rings that are usually selected. Jef takes a walk on the beach and has many contemplative moments. At least he wasn't instructed to hold the ring up to the sun and consider his life for the cameras.
Emily is examining a totally cheesy dress covered in crystals for the final rose ceremony. It's not her best sartorial decision, but in the world of floor length gowns, your choices are limited. More of Jef contemplating things, this time on a balcony!
Emily arrives at the site of her impending proposal. It's a platform 'round back from a few houses. This is a decidedly less dramatic setting than in the past. Usually these things happen on a cliff overlooking the water so that there's always the possibility of someone "slipping." No such luck this time. Emily isn't sure whether or not she'll accept a proposal. She doesn't want to be the girl of a thousand proposals and no marriages. A legitimate worry I'm sure, but maybe something she should have considered before being on this show twice.
Jef arrives wearing a slim suit and skinny tie. He looks pretty adorable and Emily likes it too. She says, "Well..." and the audience cracks up. Shut up, audience! Let us enjoy this totally natural romantic moment! Emily tells Jef that he's her soulmate and that she loves him. She tells him that he's the only one that day. No Arie or anything! Jef thanks her and she thanks him. Next, Jef says some lovely things about how much he loves her and that what he's about to do isn't just an empty promise but a "forever thing." And then he proposes. Or, rather, he opens up the ring box and prominently displays Neil Lane's name for the camera. After about five minutes, Emily says yes. The audience is thrilled, and Emily and Jef say a few muffled things to each other that you can't hear over all the damn chatter.
And finally, the requisite nauseating montage of the couple's journey, including Jef shooting an arrow while wearing a skirt, set to a really wonderful song with lyrics like "I am the man who will fight for your honor." And then Emily gives Jef the final rose. Ricki appears, and boy is she underdressed for the occasion. They all walk off hand in hand.
Back to the studio. There are some shocking secrets in store for us, plus a shot of Michael Stag looking pissed off in the audience. Emily comes out looking all glowy and happy, and Chris stumbles over his lines. He's not at his best on this live TV thing. Arie comes out, and I guess the big "secret" is that he went to Charlotte to talk to Emily after the whole thing was over so that his questions could be answered off-camera. I am truly shocked. But Arie thought better of the whole thing and instead left his journal from the season on Emily's doorstep. Emily didn't read the journal, though, and returns it to Arie. Everyone is acting terribly adult about all of this, which is, indeed, somewhat shocking. Arie even says that he and Jef talk on the phone because they're besties. Normal people really don't make for very good TV, do they?
Jef comes out. Chris wants to be the first to publicly say congratulations.That Chris. Always wanting to get the first and last word in. Jef looks really good but possibly even younger than he normally does!? He says that Emily is really funny and witty and he wishes that that side of her had been featured on the show more. That's a very cute thing to say, and it's really a shame that Emily was edited to be this sort of plain, nice and sometimes kind of boring woman. The two of them have seen each other every weekend at secret locations.
And that's pretty much that. Jef will be moving to Charlotte so as not to uproot Ricki, and they're planning for a wedding in Charleston, maybe in the spring. And like everything else related to this show, I'll believe it when I see it, but not really then either.
Thanks so much for reading, and see you in the fall for what is hopefully a much more ridiculous season filled with a loathesome cast of characters!