It was inevitable that I would some day write feminist commentary on The Bachelorette, and ladies and gents, that day has come. Tonight was the episode of the franchise when all the shit usually hits the fan: the fantasy suite episode. Last season, when our darling bachelorette Andi was merely a final three contestant on Juan Pablo’s The Bachelor, she left the show after discovering JP was, let’s be honest, a huge dillhole. With that disappointment under her belt, Andi clearly entered this week with a healthy amount of skepticism and nerves. There were no reality TV fireworks this time around, no yelling and sneering of ‘ees okay,’ and I’m sure Andi breathed a sign of relief.
What made this episode memorable was the heart-breaking and wonderfully accepted breakup of Andi and Chris. I’ve been rooting for Chris from day one because of his quiet, careful behavior and genuine respect for Andi, even though I knew his Iowa lifestyle would never mesh with her urban, career-oriented goals. Regardless of his doomed status, I still beamed at my computer screen every time he had a chance to shine. Predictably, Andi decided to send him home this week, but it wasn’t because of their differing geographical preferences. At the end of the night, she just didn’t feel the same way he did.
Chris, adorable cocker spaniel of my heart with improbably thin eyes, set a new bar for how to be a gentleman when getting rejected on national television. But before I get ahead of myself, as I know my blog’s demographic isn’t exactly the Bachelorette viewing type, here’s what went down post-rejection:
Andi: Every part of me feels like I’m an idiot for like being able to—not reciprocate it towards you, like every part of me feels like I’m an idiot.
Chris: Why would you feel like an idiot? I mean why, what, why would that?
Andi: Because look at you, like, look at the type of person you are, like how kind you are, how smart, successful, the family that you have, like, your ambition like everything on paper is—
Chris: But, so why do you question your feelings? I mean, feelings are—that’s what this this is all about. At some point that’s all you have to go with and, I mean, it…
Andi: I guess cause my head and heart don’t match up. It just, it doesn’t match up.
At that point Andi walked Chris out, shaking and in pain. Chris, stoic and sweet up until the end, held her arm and interrupted her when she began to repeat how sorry she was.
Chris: Don’t apologize. Do not apologize…
Andi: I just like, I can’t make you go to a rose ceremony, I can’t.
Chris: Hey, you can’t control your feelings.
Andi: I know but I want to.
Chris: I want, I want your feelings to be for me, and if they’re not, I want to go home. You did the right thing and you’re an amazing woman and I hope—
Andi: No I’m not.
Chris: Yes you are. Just, it’s not meant to be. And I’m lucky that you care for me enough to tell me.
Andi: I’m the lucky one, I really am. I am. I’m so grateful that you came here, I’m so grateful that I know you, like, I am, I really am.
They hugged it out. My heart grew three sizes. Chris’s face was visibly wet and a producer somewhere realized they knew exactly who the next Bachelor would be.
Chris: I know, and I hope the best for you.
Andi: I hope the best for you.
Chris: You deserve it.
Andi: Thank you.
Chris: Thank you for everything.
There are a few things here that I wanted to write about immediately. The first is that this is the ultimate in classy, respectful breakups. I love Chris because he knows better than to feel entitled to Andi. He knows being a great guy doesn’t guarantee him the girl, and that sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them too. And it’s okay to be upset and it’s okay to be disappointed but that isn’t anyone’s fault. Andi doesn’t feel the way he does and he has exactly the right reaction: that he deserves to be loved the way he loves Andi, and that Andi deserves to love someone the way he loves her. Friend zone? What friend zone? Chris walks away to lick his wounds in private but never once tries to change her mind.
And I feel for Andi, I seriously do. So many of us have been in that situation where there is this perfect person on paper, with all the qualities we want and rock hard farmer abs and a wonderful family who plays cute after-dinner games in their hundreds of acres of farmland okay not everyone but you get what I’m saying. I know I’ve had relationships where I just didn’t feel the same way the guy did, but they were so nice that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And I know this happens to men too, but there’s something unique about being a woman dating a great man and not feeling that thing. In a world where women are told to be grateful for any male attention, especially when it is from the good-looking, smart, rich guy everyone else would supposedly die for, admitting that he isn’t what you want is really damn hard. Andi is in a weird alternate universe where she has two other guys she feels for more, and it might have been harder to let go of a keeper like Chris if it weren’t for Josh and Nick flirting around in the background. But in an ideal world we shouldn’t feel guilty for listening to our hearts, especially when our hearts just aren’t interested. Women do not owe men anything. Chris asks the million dollar question almost immediately when Andi starts cutting herself down: “Why do you question your feelings?” Why indeed.
Andi feels guilty and shitty for not loving Chris, and it made me really sad to see her refute his compliment that she is amazing. We all do that in moments of weakness, especially when we don’t want to rub it in the face of the person we’ve just dumped that they’re losing the woman they love. But Chris refuses to let her insult herself. “No, you are,” he says.
I hope Andi ends up with the marriage she wants, and I hope Chris does too. I root for those kids because they’re two good people who aren’t good for each other. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
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