Every season The Bachelor
promises that things will end in the most dramatic and shocking way ever. However, almost always that promise is hyperbole. In season 22, though, things are different. For a while, the end of Arie's Bachelor
stint seemed like business as usual. Arie was torn between two women and eventually proposed to one of them, Becca. It's after that proposal though that The Bachelor
season 22 really went off the deep end.
Realizing he still had feelings for Lauren, Arie invited Becca to a hotel room, with camera crew in tow. Arie then proceeded to break-up with Becca for the other woman, Lauren. The break-up was shocking, heartbreaking, brutal and unnecessarily cruel.
The Bachelor Season 22 Finale Recap: Who Does Arie Choose?>>>
Didn't Sign up for THIS
Obviously when signing onto The Bachelor (or The Bachelorette), there's a high risk of heartbreak. After all, there's only a one in 29 (or whatever arbitrary number of contestants that start out) chance that things will end successfully. Even after the engagement happens, there's no real guarantee. Most couples from the franchise don't walk down the aisle. Becca and Arie, but especially the former, should've been prepared for things not working out.
The issue isn't really that Arie called off the engagement with Becca shortly after he got down on one knee. It's not even a problem that Arie broke things off to give his "runner-up" a second chance. It's the way that the break-up happened and how it was all presented that crossed every line imaginable.
As much as a break-up is always a possibility on The Bachelor, the show and Arie totally blindsided Becca with the end of the relationship. Before the tortuous break-up began, Becca was bubbly and excited. She clearly thought something very different was going to happen in that room. Whatever Becca thought she was being filmed for, it wasn't that Arie was about to break up with her. There's no other word for what happened to Becca than "ambush."
The Bachelor took a perverse amount of pleasure dragging out the heartbreak, as there were constant injections of host Chris Harrison on the "reunion" stage slyly grinning and promising there was so much more to come. Break-ups from the franchise typically last maybe 15 minutes. Since this break-up was unedited, it went on for nearly an hour.
Becca wasn't given any privacy or respect during the highly emotional moment. A camera was constantly aimed at her face, which doesn't seem like a huge deal until you watch it occur. The break-up could easily have been made more respectful to Becca and her grief if things were edited. Viewers didn't need to see Arie leave the house and go back multiple times after Becca told him to get out. The point was made when he said he wanted to give Lauren a second chance, there was no need for Arie's immature desire for validation from a weeping Becca. Arie didn't need to do it and viewers really didn't need to see it. The intention was for it to be intense and riveting but in reality it was just deeply uncomfortable and exploitative.
When The Bachelor finally brought Becca out at the tail end of the finale with Chris Harrison, there still was no courtesy given to her. Becca's appearance, after America had watched her cry for an hour, amounted to a tease for another special. Becca wasn't allowed to give her side of the story or regain control at all. While she might get that chance in the final episode of the season where she sees Lauren and Arie again, so far The Bachelor has continually milked her emotions for personal gain and to boost ratings.
The Ghosts of Bachelor Break-Ups Past
There's a very easy comparison to make for Bachelor fans when it comes to the end of season 22. Arie isn't the first lead to break-up with his fiancee to pursue a relationship with the woman he (initially) didn't choose. Jason Mesnick, of season 14, did pretty much the exact same thing, although he broke with his "winner" Melissa Rycroft live on After the Final Rose. The Bachelor didn't want people to forget Jason as they brought Jason out before the break-up was shown and Arie even mentioned he didn't want to break up with Becca on After the Final Rose.
Jason did make a huge mistake and didn't handle the break-up with Melissa correctly. The best, if slightly unfeasible, thing for both Jason and Arie to have done is break-up off camera. Yet what Jason did is still several sights better than Arie's break-up with Becca.
Melissa might've not fully expected Jason to break-up with her on After the Final Rose, but she had to realize something was up by the way After the Final Rose was constructed, with Jason talking to Chris alone before she was brought out. The writing was on the wall for Melissa, much more than it was for Becca.
Furthermore, after the break-up Melissa was able to quickly exit and privately grieve without a cam or whiny (now ex) fiance in her face, like Becca. Melissa was allowed some degree of control in the break-up that was utterly denied to Becca. What happened to both ladies was equally heartbreaking and there's no getting around how uncomfortable it was but The Bachelor presented one in a much better light than the other.
The end of Arie and Becca's relationship is probably the most realistic and emotionally honest break-up the franchise has ever seen. However, the realism is much more of a negative than a positive. Even on reality TV things can be too real. There was nothing really interesting or all that riveting about Arie and Becca's end, it was just gross. The primary emotion it created wasn't sympathy or even anger at Arie but uncomfortable sorrow.
But what do you think? Did The Bachelor cross a line with the break-up? Did Becca and Arie both get what they signed up for? How should Arie have handled calling off the engagement?
(Image and video courtesy of ABC)