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There is no one who keeps up with the goings on in Bachelor Nation who isn't aware of the fact that the shows which make up the franchise can be a messy bunch. People do a lot of questionable things during (and after) each season, particularly with regards to romance. But, there is one season remembered for taking things in a completely new direction, and Molly Mesnick, who married Season 13 Bachelor Jason Mesnick a year after their season aired, thinks they deserve some credit for paving the way for future series leads.
While 2009's Season 13 of The Bachelor wasn't an especially dramatic time overall, it was the After the Final Rose special which cemented Jason's season as something very unusual for the franchise. Jason, who'd chosen Melissa Rycroft over Molly after their fantasy suite dates and proposed to her, went on to break things off with Melissa a few weeks later and ask Molly if they could try a relationship again during ATFR. According to Molly, it was this bold move that set a new tone for the franchise, telling Entertainment Tonight:
I think our season certainly paved the way for people to break the formula. If someone were having reservations on, 'Oh did I make the right decision?' Like, 'OK, just change your mind, because that can work too.'
Molly Mesnick makes a good point. While it's true that we haven't seen this move of Jason's from every lead of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since Jason's time in the hot seat, it has become more common for leads to skip the formula of getting engaged to someone by the last episode and trying to stick with that person no matter what. In fact, there has been a recent run of leads to turn the usual franchise formula on its head when attempting to find true love.
Arie Luyendyk Jr. rather infamously pulled the same move as Jason during his 2018 season of The Bachelor. Arie became engaged to Becca Kufrin but, after the cameras were supposed to be done rolling, he broke things off with her very publicly and went back to his second choice, Lauren Burnham. Just last year we saw Colton Underwood dump his final two women to go after Cassie Randolph, who had dumped him despite landing in his Top 3, and Bachelorette Hannah Brown break things off with her problematic fiance and try to start something with her runner up, Tyler Cameron, on ATFR.
And, of course, just earlier this year we watched as Peter Weber became engaged to Hannah Ann Sluss, tell her he was unsure a few weeks later so that she'd do the work of breaking things off with him, then try to date his runner up, Madison Prewett. They broke up days after their appearance on ATFR, but he's been seeing a woman who came in fifth on his season, Kelley Flanagan, for several months now. As if that weren't enough, this upcoming season of The Bachelorette will supposedly see Clare Crawley abandon filming and quit the show in just a couple of weeks, because she's already fallen for one of her suitors and become engaged.
Damn, Molly and Jason. Look what y'all started!
Even though fans tend to hate leads when they make these kinds of moves, we can't argue with the fact that several of the leads who broke formula are still happily with their partners. Molly and Jason celebrated their 10-year anniversary earlier this year, Lauren and Arie have married and had a child, and even Peter and Kelley seem to be doing A-OK right now. Meanwhile, many of the other people who got engaged on their seasons and tried to stay together, ended up breaking up shortly after and aren't with people from their seasons. Maybe if they'd been more willing to reconsider their second (or fifth) choice, things would have worked out differently.
All in all, Jason and Molly believe that everything happened for a reason, and things turned out as they were supposed to, with Jason adding:
Coming full circle, I think we're better off because of all of this. I think Melissa's way better off because of all this, and I think we're all where we're supposed to be in this crazy story...I think what the world needs to realize is this is two months of our lives...we're just regular people trying to figure this thing out.