The final rose has been handed out, and I'll say - the ending was a doozy.
After my Hunger Games analogy last week, several people told me or commented that they had not yet finished the series. In an effort to preserve the ending of the books (which are totally worth reading, by the way), I will not comment if my Gale-Arie/Peeta-Jef comparison was accurate. But I will say - I may have been an Arie fan all season, but I think Emily totally picked the right guy. I think she had two great guys and she would have been happy with either. Nice work, casting department. The last three guys - Sean, Arie, and Jef - all seemed like such normal, down-to-earth men. Maybe my cynical nature toward this show is cracking. More on that later.
The final episode starts off in - where else? - Curacao. I now know how to both pronounce it and spell it correctly. It only took three weeks. And Emily's family rolls into town, which includes her dad, her mom, her brother Ernie, and her future sister-in-law. Ernie was a bit of a surprise. Considering how pretty Emily is, Ernie, well...Ernie was Ernie. He certainly seemed nice enough and was quick to make both guys feel welcome. I'm not sure if he's older or younger, but he did appear to show genuine interest in both of his sister's suitors. Emily's dad had this staunchy-old-guy thing going on, and he told her he didn't believe someone could be in love with two people at the same time. Emily seemed a little off-put by this statement, but what really got to her was when no one in her family would pick a guy. She whined to the camera about how much harder this made her decision, but I have to hand it to the Maynards; they were leaving this choice up to Emily and Emily alone.
Anyone notice the ridiculously long pause that happened when Arie asked Emily's dad if he would give them his blessing if Arie proposed? I held my breath. But Mr. Maynard eventually relented and said he would welcome Arie into the family with open arms, which allowed me to start breathing again. I really thought for a moment he was not going to consent. Interesting how that would have played out. Also, I love how Arie talks and talks and talks when he gets nervous. He should meet the Bear. Neither would allow the other to get a word in edgewise.
What happens next seemed almost too real. After the family meets both guys, Emily has her last one-on-one date with Jef. They have, what appears to be, this very serious, totally normal, conversation on the beach about Emily's concerns if Jef were to meet Ricky. It was like watching two logical people talk through a situation on reality TV, which, I'm sorry, maybe I've been watching too much Real Housewives, but that does not happen nearly enough. They didn't drop any Bachelorette buzzwords, like "open" or "heart" or "love." It was an honest-to-goodness mature discussion about when is the right time for a single mom to introduce her new boyfriend to her child. I applaud Emily and Jef for being so emotionally mature and thoughtful. It kind of elevated reality TV from sleazy nonsense to borderline poignant. But just a moment. This is the same network that is airing Bachelor Pad tonight, no?
And in the end, Emily brought Jef to meet Ricky. Jef's reaction appeared so sincere and so earnest, it was sweet. He confessed later that he was little nervous, which made him appear even more adorable. He didn't come on too strong, he didn't tell Ricky what to do or be a big goof ball. He simply gave her some space and she slowly opened up to him. Wearing the pink goggles was a nice touch. Despite Emily's concerns about who Ricky meets, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, "You do know you are allowing your daughter to be seen on national television, right?" I mean, I understand her protection concerns, but I think one-F is the least of her worries. I'd be more concerned about the random people out there that just started a Facebook page in honor of your daughter's stuffed animal, you know?
The day after her date with Jef, there was a knock at Emily's door, as she told the camera she had a big announcement. When Emily answered and it was Chris Harrison, Brian and I said at the same time, "OMG! She picked...Chris Harrison?!" I don't know why we both had that thought (maybe we're rooting for him to find new love?), but it turned out that she summoned CH to tell him...dramatic music here...she's made up her mind. It's one-F or bust, baby. She figured it out yesterday as she watched Jef and Ricky play in the pool, and she saw her future clearly in front of her. Chris encouraged her to tell Arie what she just told him, and Emily cried very delicate tears. She must have stock in water-proof mascara or something, 'cause that girl is not an ugly crier. Of course she's not. She's like the exact opposite of me in every way.
As this was going on, Arie, completely unaware that the sword was about to fall, was making a love potion out of some dried flowers with one of the locals on the island. Again, for one brief moment when I saw the lady in the green head scarf, I thought there was some weird plot turn and green-scarf-lady had been sent by Emily to deliver the bad news.
Maybe I need to stop watching AMC since I keep trying to out-think the show.
But our heroine did not outsource her dumping; she did it herself. Arie seriously looked like he had been punched in the gut when it finally dawned on him that she's breaking up with him even before their final date, and I don't blame the guy. He was confident going into this, and no one likes to be blindsided.
After Arie was out of the way, we had our obligatory diamond porn (I jumped up and down on the couch shouting, "Neil Lane! Neil Lane!" and then cheered when they brought out the rings). Jef picked a good one. On the other side of the island, Emily wrote in her journal and contemplated what she was going to tell one-F. She slithered into her bronze-and-salmon dress while Jef nervously tied his tie. When they finally met up in that silly courtyard with the obviously-placed greenery, I realized that I was actually happy for this couple. They were cute. They seem sincere. And real. And then after Jef proposed (yet another long pause! Geez people, I'm going to have to go on anxiety medication if this continues), they played Peter Cetera's "The Glory of Love" and then - I just completely and totally lost it. Just cried. And cried and cried.
Why so emotional? I have no idea. I mean, okay, maybe I really like that song. And the whole 80's vibe just kind of fits this couple, from Jef's little pompadour to his skateboarding moves. Or maybe it was because I really think this couple has a shot, and pretty soon, ABC will be televising the nuptials and it's going to be this big, elaborate Southern wedding which I am totally going to watch. Or maybe it was because the Bear was upstairs sleeping in his brand-new big BIG boy bed and it hit me that eight years ago Brian was proposing (not on this day, but you know what I mean) and in the blink of an eye, life just...shifts. And before Jef and Emily realize it, their wedding is going to only be in photos and their baby is going to move into a big BIG kid bed and they are going to be sitting on a couch, happy but shocked at how fast their lives are going. Maybe that's why I started crying.
Or maybe I'm just crazy. Either way, Brian gave me some space and let me weep. And I appreciated that. I just needed a moment. It's good to get it out.
With that said, I'm really happy for Emily and Jef (or as happy as I can be for a couple I've never met). I think they brought much-needed reality to reality television and didn't play to the cameras. They were just simply themselves and now want to go dig wells in Africa. Considering this franchise is in it's 11th year and 16th season, only four of the original couples remain. If Jef and Emily can improve those stats, I think it brings new life into this show. It brings a nice touch of hope and even my cynical nature shifted a bit.
But then again, Bachelor Pad starts tonight. Needless to say, I will NOT be watching.
Thanks for reading! It was a great season.