If the La Quinta is looking to use this season of The Bachelorette to attract future customers in search of a quiet couples’ haven or a radio silent bunker for business retreats, they really need to re-evaluate their security protocols. If Bennett, the least subtle person in the world, was able to infiltrate Tayshia’s compound with his dodgy knee in his snakeskin loafers then of course it wasn’t going to be a challenge for Ben to throw his hat back in the ring and vie for Tayshia’s heart once more. It’s the finale of the 16th season of The Bachelorette. Ivan, Zac, and chronic rule-breaker Ben are the three remaining men. Let’s jump in.
The Rose Ceremony followed what was an unnecessarily protracted conversation between Tayshia and Ben where Ben basically poured out every emotion he could muster up. The rose ceremony began somewhat uncomfortably between the three men… “Obviously you don’t see Brendan here today – things just didn’t work out” – Come on Tayshia, you’re not telling your kids that you and daddy are getting a divorce because he didn’t let what happens in Vegas stay there. No need to be so diplomatic, the remaining contestants are big boys (except Ben; Ben is really annoying). Ben asking, “what do you think is wrong with her?” when she grabbed Ivan for their little conversation was pretty much the dumbest question ever. Have a little self-awareness pal, you’ve shown up unannounced (dressed up like you’re something else), you don’t have to be the poster child for camo combat pants and married to Chad Kroeger to realize that things are a little bit Complicated here!
Tayshia and Ivan’s conversation was never going to end well, but Tayshia dropping the “I wish I could say there were a lot of red flags before this, but fundamentally religion is part of my beliefs?” WHERE THE HELL DID THAT COME FROM? Religion? Really? Religion was the breaking point? Does Ivan have some kind of Zoroastrian fire fetish? Is he in a blood-sucking, devil worshipping, Satanic sex cult? Maybe he couldn’t convince Tayshia to subscribe to his Koreshian religious cult of personality “Ivangelicalism?” I understand that Tayshia is a devout Christian (not that this means anything but she has some psalms in her Instagram bio), and not to get into the weeds about nuanced religious belief systems, but Tayshia’s prior divorce and her presence on a show that essentially glorifies polygamy, might suggest a level of denominational tolerance that wouldn’t preclude anyone from marrying her based on their beliefs? Faith means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and it isn’t my place, nor anyone else’s, to question how faith directs an individual’s decision-making, it’s just Ivan is a real sweetie and I’m struggling to see how religion became a wedge issue in an otherwise happy relationship. Interestingly, Ivan didn’t seem too surprised, or even disappointed that he got the chop… probably shouldn’t have spent their entire night in the Fantasy Suite using his physics degree to debunk Bible stories!
Tayshia’s family is cute as hell. Her dad in particular had his finger right on the pulse of what was going on. Tayshia lobbed him a real soft ball at the beginning “so Ben, where did you go to college?” Again, come on Tayshia, you’re not Sean Hannity interviewing Donald Trump and trying to galvanize your audience into thinking that light shines out of his every orifice – ask why he stripped naked in front of you, or why he can’t string four words together when he’s trying to express his deep feelings. All things considered, Ben did a pretty good job of selling himself to Tayshia’s family, but he needs to stop saying stuff like “She makes me feel unlike anyone has made me feel” and “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before” OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It’s also interesting how ego-centric Ben’s musings about Tayshia are. It’s always how she makes ME feel and how happy HE is about their relationship. Ben doesn’t ever elaborate on which aspects of Tayshia he is particularly drawn to, or how he envisions their life together… this came back to bite.
Zac has really grown on me this season and his performance with Tayshia’s family only reinforced this. There are contestants in this show who tell the bachelor or bachelorette what they want to hear, but this is not the case with Zac. Every time he is on camera, it’s as if he’s a dog who has just received a particularly juicy bone His body language is radiant, he can’t stop smiling and he looks so genuinely happy to spend even fleeting moments with Tayshia. At the beginning of the season, when I view it as my sole responsibility to dunk on all of the guys at every possible opportunity, I thought Zac was a McConaughey lite with a coke problem. But his battles with addiction, his ability to really compellingly articulate how he views his current life as a second chance, and most importantly the way that he genuinely cares for Tayshia made him stand out in a way that I wasn’t expecting at all.
Where Brendan would rather have braved X than look at wedding rings and acknowledge the proximity of a potential engagement to Tayshia, Zac embraced the wedding dance with open arms. The same could not be said of Tayshia… This was kind of predictable as we entered the inevitable pre-engagement phase where the producers are trying to invalidate all of the relationships at once in an effort to build suspense for the grand finale, but the constant cut away shots to her in the denim shirt saying things like “this is a lot,” “I don’t know what I think,” and “I’m really confused right now” were a bit much.
I am not a divorcee so this paragraph might be complete hogwash, but I thought Tayshia and Zac’s date provided an interesting glimpse at some of the existential insecurities that Tayshia is feeling about her relationships having been hurt by someone in the past. The same insecurities were abundantly clear with Brendan, who was so overcome by the prospect of having to propose to someone who he had even minor doubts about that he excluded himself (wisely) from the entire process completely. Tayshia clearly feels the pressure (not helped by her dad basically saying, “don’t fuck this up”) of having been married before, and the trepidation that comes with the hurt of divorce didn’t really materialize until this episode when shit started to get real. What I found most interesting from a psychological perspective (B dash in intro psych not a big deal) was how Zac, despite having been married before also, appeared less impacted by the uncertainties of remarriage because of his addiction issues and the new lease on life that his sobriety has afforded him. He articulated beautifully how strongly he felt about Tayshia as an individual, not just how she makes him feel (take notes Ben), and how her insecurities about the future weren’t an issue for him because he was willing to grow and accommodate her wishes and pursuit of happiness alongside his.
After Ivan left to go back to life as a devout member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Tayshia’s choice was really obvious: Matthew McConaughey lookalike who fawns over you with the love and affection of a cat to a string; or guy who is hot, but can’t make up his mind how he feels about you until his status as the darling of Bachelorette Twitter comes in jeopardy.
“I know what my heart wants and it’s not Ben” is definitely one of the coldest lines in Bachelorette history, and while I felt sorry for Ben when he was initially sent home, my patience for his indecision was finally up. It’s cute that he still wants Tayshia to be happy – “When you love someone, you want them to be happy” – I still maintain that this is how I feel about Vanessa Hudgens circa 2006 during the High School Musical Days – but it must have been some pretty shitty déjà vu getting flicked twice in the same week. Interestingly, Tayshia did the exact same thing to Bennett… Was her ex-husband named Ben or something because she seems hell bent on breaking guys-with-the-prefix: “Ben”’s hearts over and over again
With Ben out of the picture and Neil Lane awkwardly maintaining quarantine and wandering around the compound waiting to drop a ring off, it was time for Zac to make his move on the lady who his love for “transcends any physical beauty.” I didn’t have Zac out as a particularly scrutinous scholar of Aristotelean philosophy, but I guess he thinks that he can contravene his idea that “the soul never thinks without a picture.” Regardless, it was nice of the producers to go back to the same spot where Claire opened up Jason’s heart and then smashed it to pieces like the tablets they wrote their deepest darkest secrets on.
I’m not going to dwell on Zac’s speech for too long, by this point in the season you’ve read far too many of my peripatetic musings to want much more, but he really does seem to be wildly in love with Tayshia and I’m genuinely happy that they have ended up together. There was one heart-dropping moment when Tayshia, in response to a long soliloquy from her soon-to-be fiancé said, “I know that I told you that I loved you THE LONGEST PAUSE IN HISTORY it’s more than that” (to any country music fans, this is the exact narrative in the hit Russell Dickerson song “Love You Like I Used To” where he claims he doesn’t love this girl like he used to, he loves her more every single day) but it was quickly resolved and Zac didn’t even have the courtesy to put the ring on before savagely massacring her face.
What a ride this season has been! Yes, I like the Bachelorette, but everyone who knows the inner workings of my soul is well aware that The Bachelor transcends all else. January 4th can’t come quick enough!
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