On the season finale of The Bachelor on Monday night, everything seemed to be going normally: Arie Luyendyk Jr. proposed to Becca in Peru, they said they were going to go make babies, and the story seemed over. But then Arie decided to break up with Becca—and not only that, he decided to tell the show’s producers that he was going to do this so that they could film the whole thing. What followed was one of the most riveting moments in Bachelor history. After watching it all unfold, a group of shocked (and angry) Ringer staffers relayed their thoughts.
1. What is your tweet-length review of The Bachelor finale?
Rodger Sherman: “‘The most dramatic finale in The Bachelor history!’ —Chris Harrison”—Rodger Sherman
Alyssa Bereznak: JUSTICE FOR BECCA.
Andrew Gruttadaro: “Hey, are you OK?” NO, ARIE! NO ONE IS OK! YOU JUST SET YOUR FIANCÉE UP TO BE DUMPED ON NATIONAL TV!
Mallory Rubin: I guess Arie and Krystal deserved each other after all. “Needle dick” wound up being far too kind.
Ben Lindbergh: As it turns out, TV benefits from editing.
Juliet Litman: The best use of split screen, that will unfortunately overshadow how legendarily rude Arie’s parents are.
2. What was your immediate reaction to Arie and Becca’s breakup?
Sherman: I was pretty pumped I didn’t read any spoilers all season long. Shout-out to everybody else in the no spoilers club. We did it.
Edmondson: Reality Steve told me this was going to happen and I still couldn’t believe it.
Rubin: A fierce, simultaneous desire to pummel Arie while holding thorny roses, swaddle Becca in a loving embrace, and remind Chris Harrison that this is someone’s heartache, not a TV Editing 101 class.
Litman: It’s hard to imagine another human surviving a breakup with as much dignity and grace as Becca did. She was ambushed on what she thought would be a nice weekend with her fiancé. We’ve spent this season wondering if Arie is human, but maybe we should be asking that about Becca—for the opposite reasons.
Bereznak: *30 seconds in*: Fuck that guy. *1 minute in*: Fuck that guy. *What felt like eight hours of him sitting on the couch blankly staring at Becca crying*: Fuck that guy.
But actually, when Becca didn’t immediately begin sobbing, I became the incarnate of that Charlie Day conspiracy theory GIF and decided the whole thing had been planned months beforehand. When he left and she started heavy-breathing into the mic, I realized that her initial hesitation was just shock. The whole thing was terrible but also excellent reality TV.
Lindbergh: I didn’t feel that bad for Becca, because the alternative to being broken up with in the most painful and public way possible—actually marrying Arie—was way worse. Of all the people involved in producing that episode, she’s the only one who shouldn’t be embarrassed by what happened in that house.
Gruttadaro: Of course. Of course a 36-year-old bachelor changed his mind about his engagement after about two months.
3. Why do you think Arie did what he did?
Litman: Arie was clearly influenced by his family’s preference, despite his father fully not caring about who his son married. Arie acted like there was a blueprint for getting married, and Becca was written into the plan.
Bereznak: He clearly wanted to make his family happy, and thought that if he picked the more mature, challenging, interesting woman, he’d eventually grow into it. But actually, he’s just a mediocre former race car driver who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and prefers dating beautiful but devastatingly uninteresting women. If Arie had realized his limitations as a human being from the beginning, he could’ve saved us all a lot of strife.
Gruttadaro: I think when he and Becca were making that pizza he thought, “Man, you know what? I’d much rather be making this pizza with someone who basically never speaks.”
Edmondson: Has anyone ever been thirstier to be the Bachelor than Arie Luyendyk Jr.? Arie is believable as a bumbling idiot who chose the wrong woman, but he’s even more believable as a man who wasn’t ready for any commitment whatsoever and would do anything producers asked to manufacture more drama … or to make more money.
Sherman: The same reason anybody does literally anything on The Bachelor: He thinks Lauren is the hottest and has thought that for the entirety of the show. “We have this indescribable, unexplainable connection” is Bachelor-speak for “I value the hotness of the hot girl with no personality over everything about the girl who enjoys spending time with me.”
Rubin: Because he’s a vapid, selfish monster who never outgrew the “Ooooooh shiny toy!” phase of his life, is incapable of putting someone else’s feelings above his own, and never learned what “empathy” or “compassion” meant? And because his racing “career” and real estate “career” are failing and he wants to remain relevant? And, oh, because no matter how many times he tried to dress up his explanation for what drew him to Lauren, no veil could cover the truth: He thinks she’s the hottest.
Lindbergh: History will show that Arie’s unraveling resulted from saying “I love you” so early and often; it’s easy to see how once those words were out there, pressure compelled him to keep doubling down until he had no choice but to devastate someone. It’s harder to see how he ended up ambushing Becca. Following the money might explain the spineless decision not to dump her off screen—maybe ABC handed him a huge check with “Betraying Becca” on the memo line—but there was no reason to stage a post-breakup sit-in unless he actually expected some form of forgiveness if he hung around long enough to break down Becca’s resolve. Holding her hostage for a farewell hug was Arie’s most maddening decision of all.
4. What are your thoughts on The Bachelor’s use of split screen?
Litman: I don’t ever want to watch heartbreak any other way. Watching the split screen was as thrilling as reading a text or an email that wasn’t intended for you. It felt illicit in how much it revealed about these two people.
Gruttadaro: Though I am annoyed by how proud and hyperbolic Chris Harrison was while hyping up this moment—“It’s the first uncut, unedited scene in reality TV history.” Really? You just cut to go to commercial—the split screen was extremely moving. It’s one of the more brutal moments of reality TV I’ve ever watched, and I think the way the shot was presented is a big factor in that.
Lindbergh: Great work by The Bachelor’s producers; one angle at a time just couldn’t have captured the full extent of the finale’s Quinn King–caliber emotional exploitation. (“By the way, Becca, now that we’ve blindsided you, want to be Bachelorette?”) But I still want to know what rigorous research went into determining that the Arie-Becca breakup was “the first uncut, unedited scene in reality TV history.”
Bereznak: When Arie sat down on the couch, and was just about to break the news to Becca, we suddenly saw the reflection of camerapeople in the mirror above the couch. They were clearly ambushing her so they could get the best shot of her life being ruined. No split screen is worth doing that to a human. Like, sure, I guess it helped illustrate the situation better. But it felt very gross to spring that on her in that moment. It would’ve been fine to rely on Becca’s heavy crying into the mic to convey how upsetting the situation was.
Sherman: It genuinely felt like we were watching two people breaking up as opposed to a television show about two people breaking up. Normally, The Bachelor pretends breakups are things that happen when somebody is escorted from a beautiful mountaintop in the back of a camera-filled limo, and pretends every couple from the show falls in love when in fact they all break up within a year.
On a consistently overproduced show, it was a fascinating concept. Of course, some of the luster of the innovation was lost by Chris Harrison repeatedly talking about how innovative it was.
Rubin: What if agony, but double?
5. What is the biggest question that still needs to be resolved?
Gruttadaro: Was getting a goodbye hug in Arie’s contract?
Bereznak: WHAT WAS THE TATTOO THAT BECCA GOT IN VEGAS? I NEED ANSWERS NOW.
Lindbergh: Is Chris Harrison still wearing the same Cheshire-cat, ratings-gold grin that was plastered on his face before and after every ad break, or has someone told him to try looking a little less gleeful about the link between a broken engagement and Twitter engagement?
Rubin: Arie must—MUST!—explain why he put Becca through that on camera. I don’t totally blame him for falling in love with two women at once. I will forever blame him for setting Becca up to be humiliated in that fashion, then latching onto her like a boil and lingering like a plague no matter how many times she told him to leave. YOU’RE NOT GETTING A HUG, ARIE! WALK AWAY!
Edmondson: I need a full accounting—preferably a recording of the phone call!—of how and why Arie told producers to show up to the “happy couple” visit with cameras. This is one of the biggest scumbag moments in Bachelor history and there was no reason it needed to happen. I find it very, very hard to believe there wasn’t some incentive for Arie.
Litman: Wait, when and how did Lauren and Arie meet before the show? Lauren referenced it but we never got to see the conversation, which makes it a bigger omission than the fact that Rachel Lindsay allegedly told Nick Viall, on camera, that she knew Kevin Durant. If there’s time for split screen, there’s also time to explore Lauren and Arie’s previous meeting.
Sherman: Can Lauren now dump Arie, and can it be filmed?
6. Where does this finale rank in the pantheon of reality TV classics?
Gruttadaro: It’s still below, like, the first season of Survivor and the beginning of Jersey Shore, but it’s way higher than the Jason Mesnick Bachelor finale from ’09.
Rubin: I keep thinking about the Survivor Season 1 finale, both because that remains the benchmark for reality TV finales, and because what Sue once said to Kelly, America now says to Arie: “I’ll go on from here, but if I were ever to pass you along in life again and you were lying there dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you.”
If I were ever to pass you along in life again and you were lying there, dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you. pic.twitter.com/tV6DMVyjO2— Mallory Rubin (@MalloryRubin) March 6, 2018
Litman: Considering this finale gave life to an otherwise inert season, it’s an all-timer. Arie will be remembered as the ultimate fuckboy who agreed to televise a blindsiding breakup. Becca will be the “Are you fucking kidding me” girl. The split screen will be fodder for the history books.
Edmondson: Middle of the pack. Bachelor-wise, I think it still ranks behind the original Mesnicking and the ending of Brad’s first season, maybe even behind the explosive Jake and Vienna sit-down. Arie’s finale had the payoff but not the setup—did anyone truly care about these people? Both Arie and Becca’s personalities were bizarrely edited out of this season, and it’s unclear if Lauren B. ever displayed one. The emotional wrench was just not there in the way it would be if we felt like we knew these people.
Lindbergh: We’ll all remember where we were when Arie made every other man look better by comparison, but any TV that terrible and interminable doesn’t deserve to be called a classic.
Bereznak: Below Tyra’s “We were all rooting for you” moment but above the time Kim Kardashian lost an expensive earring in Bora Bora.
7. Do you think Becca’s new tattoo is in any way related to Arie?
Bereznak: THIS IS WHAT I NEED TO KNOW.
Litman: Dear god, I hope not, and I don’t think so. I think it would have given him far more pause in the moments before the breakup if it was.
Sherman: I couldn’t quite make out what it was, so instead I’m going to point out that Arie has a “24601” tattoo because that’s Jean Valjean’s prisoner number in Les Mis. I’m not a huge Les Mis person but I feel like Arie is missing the point? Also:
i asked him why he had it and he was literally like “idk i really like the play” https://t.co/h6U5zyU5Q5— bekah martinez ♡ (@whats_ur_sign_) March 5, 2018
Rubin: It looked like a bug. Perhaps a moth? So I’m hoping not. If it were a tattoo of a piece of oozing human excrement, I’d say maybe.
Edmondson: I don’t think it had anything to do with him, I just think they bonded over a shared love of extremely questionable tattoos. While I support both tattoos and Becca, multiple hand tats is tough. Arie’s deep connection to Jean Valjean is even worse.
Lindbergh: I’m leaning toward no. Given the typical lifespan of a post-Bachelor relationship, Becca couldn’t have been delusional enough to get a permanent tattoo in tribute to her openly “conflicted” fiancé before the wedding.
Gruttadaro: It looked like some kind of winged insect? Which, I mean, a locust would be Arie’s spirit animal.
8. Describe Arie’s family dynamic.
Lindbergh: The ability to make Becca uncomfortable is clearly hereditary.
Sherman: Arie’s dad knows he’s better at racing than Arie and just can’t muster up the energy to care about whatever it is Arie is doing with his life.
Gruttadaro: They’re the kind of people who will tell you to your face that they couldn’t care less if you find happiness in life.
Bereznak: Arie’s dad gives no fucks, and tells Becca that he’s cool with Arie choosing either her or Lauren. That was incredibly rude; I can see where Arie gets his insensitivity! Meanwhile, Arie’s sister is like, “Hey, um, I know you’re into quiet, pretty girls but remember how you complained to me that you can never have a conversation with them?” The women of Arie’s family clearly know he has a type, and they want him to aim higher. He’s clearly disappointed with their opinion that he could do better. Also, every woman in that family has the same shade of blonde hair and it’s kind of eerie.
Rubin: The only, and I mean only, good thing about how this finale ended is that it temporarily allowed me to forget that Arie’s family spent half of its time with Becca talking about Lauren. I wonder where he gets it.
Litman: Arie is clearly the prodigal son. His family is waiting on him to get his shit together and they’re wondering if it’ll ever happen at this point. They preferred Becca because she was more likely to usher in a new phase of Arie, and I’m guessing, more of a departure from his previous girlfriends.
9. Who do you want to be the next Bachelorette?
Rubin: If it’s not Becca, I’ll riot in the streets. (Where I’ll presumably find Ross, who’ll also be out there looking for Becca.)
Sherman: I’m still Team Bekah, but at this point, it can’t be anybody besides Becca.
Edmondson: This was a historically weak Bachelorette pool—until Monday night. I’m all in on Becca now. The way she efficiently shut down her slimy ex Ross and slimy fiancé Arie in back-to-back weeks was, frankly, inspiring. Also, she appears to have a corgi. All hail Queen Becca.
Bereznak: I think there should be a rider in every Bachelor contestant contract that automatically makes you the next Bachelorette if you’re blindsided with a post-engagement breakup that airs unedited on prime-time TV for what feels like an eternity.
Litman: We all want Becca to find happiness, but it’s too soon for her to be the Bachelorette. She was dumped two months ago. Let’s save her for 2019 and keep it going with Tia.
Lindbergh: Becca may be the obvious pick, but I don’t want to watch her look for love. I want to see her seek violent revenge. Sympathy aside, I can’t say I’m excited for a Becca Bachelorette season unless she channels her anger at Arie into making men suffer.
Gruttadaro: I guess the popular choice now would be Becca, but I still think Tia would make a better Bachelorette. And after what the producers did to Becca, I want her to tell them to fuck off and never do anything to help The Bachelor again. (Unless they give her a ton of money to be the Bachelorette, in which case, get paid, girl.)