The winner of The Bachelor is never the winner of The Bachelor. Sure, the actual winner gets to marry the Bachelor, but ... in this case, that would have meant spending the rest of your life with failed race car driver and aspiring realtor Arie Luyendyk Jr., just a stone’s throw from his parents’ house in golf-course-infested Scottsdale, Arizona. That was the hypothetical prize: spending life with a man so bland that the only salt and pepper in his home is in his rapidly graying hair.
The losers? Well, so long as they stay single and manage to be likable, they get to appear on as many Bachelor-branded television shows as they like, extending their 15 minutes of fame up to 30 or even 45 while racking up free vacations and hooking up with other hot reality stars.
Tuesday night’s episode—Part 2 of the two-part finale of Season 22—made it clear who this year’s real winner was: Becca, the girl who got brutally dumped by Arie in Monday night’s episode. Yes, Arie did get engaged to Lauren in perhaps the least romantic proposal in Bachelor history. The happy couple exited stage left, off to live the extremely boring days Lauren described in great detail when asked by Arie how she envisioned their lives together.
But Becca’s not leaving the spotlight. The end of Arie’s season of The Bachelor was the beginning of Becca’s season of The Bachelorette, as she was officially announced as the lead on the next season of the show and greeted by a bunch of guys who seem distinctly better than Arie.
The first part of the show was dedicated to rehashing the details and emotions of Arie’s breakup with Becca and reconnection with Lauren, his runner-up-turned-fiancée. With every detail about the way this went down, Arie seemed scummier and scummier.
Let’s break down the details!
- Arie began to reunite with Lauren while still engaged to Becca—specifically, by DM-ing Lauren on Instagram on New Year’s Eve. ABC organized a multimillion-dollar wife search for Arie, and when he messed it up, he resorted to “u up?”
- Even while pursuing Lauren, Arie pushed forth with his relationship with Becca, looking at houses in Scottsdale with her and talking to her about the potential of having children.
- Arie essentially ensured that Lauren would take him back before dumping Becca in conversations he had entirely behind Becca’s back. He took out an insurance policy before breaking his fiancée’s heart.
- It seems as if Arie’s relationship with Becca meant little to him. When asked by Lauren whether he was over Becca, he said “100 percent,” and then clarified that with “1,000 percent.” I guess it’s good that he reassured Lauren that his historic wishy-washiness was a thing of the past, but I’m sure there’s a better way to express this than creating mathematically impossible percentages to specify how much you’re over the girl you dumped on TV.
- Arie had a few months to think about how to publicly discuss the fact he ambushed Becca with a surprise televised breakup, and here is his justification: “I wanted everyone to know this was on me.” Don’t you see, he’s actually the good guy here—by letting ABC film his breakup with Becca and then air it on national television, he saved her the potential humiliation of having some people think she called off the engagement. Arie, you’re a true hero.
- Eventually, Arie proposed to Lauren live on television in front of a studio audience, with a ring that looked oddly similar to the one he recently gave Becca. (What’s Neil Lane’s return policy? You’d think we’d have heard this at some point after all the other Bachelor breakups.) Lauren didn’t seem surprised at all—it seemed as if the two had discussed the plan to propose on the show beforehand. It’s the proposal every girl dreams of—a predetermined decision to do it in a room filled with people who just cheered for your fiancé’s ex-fiancée, while a bunch of your fiancé’s ex-girlfriends look on.
Bekah, one of the final women eliminated from Arie’s season, openly advised Lauren to get out of her relationship with Arie. But alas, Lauren is not going anywhere. She remains Arie’s lone defender, praising his “bravery and honesty” and saying that he “couldn’t have gone about it in a more respectful way.”
Arie isn’t a bad person because he decided to end his relationship with Becca. People break up. The alternative is staying in a relationship with somebody because you’re afraid to hurt their feelings, dooming you both to unfulfilling lives, and doing that makes you an idiot, not a saint. But there is an artful way to walk the tightrope of a breakup. Arie’s bad because he handled the breakup thoughtlessly while ensuring the whole thing was televised in the hopes that he wouldn’t look so bad.
What an ending to the saga of Fail Earnhardt Jr. He was all set to zoom off into irrelevance, neither a particularly likable Bachelor nor an evil one—middle of the pack, just like in his racing days. But combine his perpetual dullness with the crappy way he handled the Becca situation, and he becomes one of the worst Bachelors we’ve ever seen on this show. At least other dudes who screwed over contestants had the courtesy to be charismatic; Arie was boring and bad. Put Fail Earnhardt Jr. on the Mount Rushmore of Bad Bachelors. His hair is already the right color.
But there is one positive to Arie’s downfall: Without the video of Arie dumping Becca, we would never have seen Becca’s remarkable response to getting dumped. She had so much poise in such an uncomfortable situation, and now, of course, we’re rooting for her. This was played up on “After the Final Rose,” with Chris Harrison mentioning these pro-Becca billboards, and the Venmo donations fans made to Becca so she could buy herself wine to cope with the breakup. (She says she’s donating the money to charity!)
Part 2 of the finale was essentially a lengthy celebration of Becca. The crowd applauded her; her former competitors hugged her and cheered for her; and a few of the men who will appear on her season of The Bachelorette showed up to heap praise on her and trash Arie. (“Arie is a wanker!” said Lincoln, next season’s early fan favorite.)
Becca had to pay but a small price for her induction into her new role: When given the opportunity to confront Arie, she had to be cordial. She wished him the best of luck in his relationship, and said that she understood that he had to leave her to be with Lauren even if the execution was rotten, and even said that she forgave him. This is probably just an extension of the tremendous grace she showed while he was breaking up with her, but it’s also worth noting that when Becca agreed to become the face of The Bachelorette, she gave up the right to be scornful and bitter on this stage.
Most of us would’ve loved to see that, but it would’ve been a bad look, and this was a night for making sure Becca looked as good as possible. Arie might be 1,000 percent over Becca, but Becca will be 1,000 percent more beloved as the Bachelorette than she ever would have been as Arie’s forgotten fiancée.