On a recent Monday evening a group of women gathered in a nook of an apartment in Queens to watch the season finale of The Bachelorette. The host was a young, moderately successful professional who made peanut butter cookies for the first time to commemorate the occasion. The invite list had been long, but only three guests arrived for the viewing party. Other friends cited previous engagements—birthday parties, Broadway shows, maintaining personal dignity—as reasons for not attending.
The first guest to arrive was twenty minutes early because she had sprained her ankle and wanted to make sure she didn’t miss the beginning. Earlier she had explained to the host why a producer for a very successful political talk show enjoyed The Bachelorette.
“I feel like I watch The Bachelor because on some level it is humanizing,” she said. Although she was suspicious of the series at first, she now sees it as an example of the various ways love can be found in the digital age. “Granted the show is different in that there are multiple people dating the same person at the same time, which does seem a tad polygamous, but in reality you have to get out there and meet people to find ‘the one.’ We just have to accept that’s how the world works these days, so you might as well enjoy the entertainment that comes from it.”
The next guest was an advertising saleswoman who arrived with a box of wine and cardboard cups from the dollar store. They were so thin they leaked wine all over the couch. The host suspected this was payback for the time she accidentally spilling a glass of wine on the saleswoman’s couch at a viewing party earlier that year.
While they waited for the finale to start they discussed their opinions of the show.
“I’m nosy and I love gossip,” the saleswoman said. “I feel like The Bachelorette gives me more juice.”
Another friend, who couldn’t attend the finale because of a volunteer commitment explained that instead of actually living a “boozy, B-list, celebrity-esque” life, she just watches it on TV.
“It lets me pretend that falling in love consists of perfected segments of flirtation, dream dates, confusion and slight heartbreak, then the final making up and falling into an everlasting love kind of relationship. As a single girl, that’s very compelling.”
The show began with the bachelorette, a Dallas socialite named JoJo, introducing the two final suitors, Robbie and Jordan, to her family. Jordan was up first.
“Who doesn’t like Jordan?” JoJo’s mother asked after meeting the former “professional” football player.
“Um, Aaron Rodgers?” The saleswoman was incredulous. Chris Harrison, the conniving host of the series brought up Jordan’s more famous, possibly more talented, and definitely estranged quarterback brother as often as possible. The man is a publicity master.
Jordan’s visit went fine, but Robbie really impressed the family with his terrifying sunburn and aggressive romantic declarations. The party guests were not as impressed.
“I believe that Robbie believes what he’s saying,” the saleswoman said in the soothing voice of a therapist. The women nodded in agreement. His genuine sincerity was matched only by his genuine delusion.
“They should be a throuple!” she concluded.
As the family meeting was wrapping up, one of the inhabitants of the apartment sat down with a bowl of pasta after a long day of work. She had not been a fan of the show before moving in to the apartment, but after numerous intellectual discussions about the cultural merits of #BachelorNation, watched the show. To be clear, she watched because it was on in her living room, not because she was a fan.
“This is Edward versus Jacob,” she said. “Always go for the vampire.”
As JoJo cried on the couch and explained to her family how difficult it was to be loved by two beautiful, washed-up athletes, the saleswoman sipped wine from her leaking paper cup.
“I just can’t stand the suspense. It’s the most dramatic cup of wine I’ve had yet!”
The girl with the sprained ankle was also having difficulty choosing between the men.
“Is it Robbie with a ‘y’ or with an ‘ie’?’”
“Does that make a difference?” the host asked.
“What do you prefer?”
The host assured her Robbie was, in fact, spelled with an ‘ie.’ The producer exhaled slowly. This information did not make her decision any easier.
“Are they trying to be ironic that they are on an island called Phuket?” The newbie’s joke was met with silence. There was no room for laughter about sexual innuendos when eternal love was at stake.
On a commercial break, the saleswoman held up a picture on her phone.
“Should I get this phone case that has avocados on it?”
“Do you need a new phone case?” The host thought it was a reasonable question, but the responses indicated it was irrelevant to the discussion.
“I didn’t want it at first, but now that it’s been showing up on my timeline for a week I kind of do,” the saleswoman said.
“Pineapple!” The TV producer exclaimed and began searching for a superior phone case with pictures of a pineapple on it.
“No! Don’t do it! That’s just Zuckerberg in your head.”
“Advertising works on me,” the saleswoman said before switching gears as the commercial break ended. “Is Robbie the one who broke up with his girlfriend to come on the show?”
Robbie and JoJo went on a generic date, which is not worth mentioning other than to excerpt Robbie’s description of the future he envisioned for the couple:
“I see us just sitting on the most comfortable sofas…and there’s a dog on the couch with us obviously…and then we smell food burning…”
The room was silent.
“This is weird,” the producer said. Everyone agreed.
After the next commercial break, the camera panned back to Robbie and JoJo’s date and his name popped up on the screen.
“It’s spelled with a ‘y’!” The producer shrieked. This changed everything.
“He’s wearing hotel slippers,” the advertiser said. Another game changer. “They’re like gay besties. Just look at his bracelet. Look at his leather, braided bracelet.”
“He is Ken,” the producer sighed. “If you held a picture of him up to a picture of Ken they look the same. It’s uncanny.”
“Unkenny?” No one appreciated the pun.
“He has a nice body,” the producer continued. “I appreciate that about him. Hellooooo abs.”
“It’s the type of person that Robby is that you want by your side,” JoJo said, a statement exactly zero people in the room understood.
JoJo’s date with Jordan mainly consisted of them arguing. Unlike Robby, Jordan did not ask her parents for their blessing to marry JoJo. His explanation—he wanted to wait until he knew she would pick him—did not hold up in the world of communal dating.
“So you need to know I feel?” JoJo asked. She sounded confused.
The host checked the clock. She had already eaten four cookies and it was only 9:15.
“What is she going to do for 45 minutes?”
“Cry on the beach.” Based on past episodes, the saleswoman’s assessment was a safe bet. “Jordan would be an awful bachelor.”
It was looking like Jordan, the front runner from the beginning of the season, might not be chosen. This would mean he’d likely get his own TV show and become the star of The Bachelor.
“Yeah. He’d invite every girl up to the victory suite,” the newbie said. She meant the Fantasy Suite, where contestants go to get “off camera” time, most likely of an entirely sexual nature. Rookie mistake.
“There’s forty more minutes!” The host was still trying to rally. “Bring on our main man Lane Bryant!”
She meant the jewelry designer, Neil Lane, who is paraded out each finale to sell engagement rings to the finalists. The other guests were disgusted by her complete lack of basic engagement jewelry knowledge.
Jordan made up for his earlier lapse in judgment by calling JoJo’s parents and asking for their blessing. Then he penned JoJo a letter in chicken scratch and left it under a conch shell outside of her room.
A voice over of Jordan reading the letter played while the camera showed him staring deeply at the One Ring to Rule Them All and lint rolling his suit. Next came a voice over of Robby reading a letter (unclear whether he left it under the same conch shell) while staring at himself shirtless and then putting on his shoes.
“No socks,” the saleswoman said, and shook her head. “Of course.”
JoJo cried while waving the letters in front of her face, then said she was having a panic attack.
The girls in the apartment grew anxious as the first car pulled up to the proposal location. The first person to exit the car would be the loser.
As the car door opened, the camera panned to the ground to focus on two feet touching the ground.
“He’s wearing socks! He’s wearing socks!” the saleswoman yelled.
The women were shocked the show had the ability to surprise them. Jordan had been set up to win from Episode 1. The Bachelorette is reality TV because it plays into real aspirational desires, but it is not like reality in that nothing truly unplanned ever happens.
The saleswoman threw a pillow over her face and curled into the fetal position on her chair. This prevented her from seeing the camera pan up to show Robby’s face. The women began yelling again.
“They literally showed him putting on his shoes without socks and then he showed up wearing socks!”
“Those little bastards!”
“Robby’s delusional but at least he loves you!”
As JoJo allowed Robby to express his love and devotion to her, the women grew more agitated.
“Pull the plug! Pull the plug”
Eventually JoJo cut him off and Robby’s face didn’t change much, but it is reasonable to assume he was disappointed.
“My heart physically is hurting right now,” JoJo said. “ I don’t even know if me telling him that I loved him helped.”
The saleswoman ignored JoJo’s tears and began singing, “What Hurts the Most.” (What hurts the most was being so close/And havin’ so much to say/And watchin’ you walk away)
JoJo quickly pulled herself together for Jordan’s proposal. She told him she loved him and he smiled. Then he mumbled a lot of words about love and life and marriage.
“He’s just trying to think of all the clichés he’s heard on Friday Night Lights,” the saleswoman said. The socks incident had turned her into a cynic.
The show ended with Jordan on one knee and JoJo saying “No!” over and over again. The host thought someone should probably inform JoJo about the “No Means No” movement.
The beach scene faded out and the lights went up on a live studio audience.
Chris Harrison interviewed the couple (bringing up Aaron Rodgers as much as possible) and then previewed Bachelor in Paradise that would begin airing the very next day.
The women at the party were not paying much attention to the screen. They had to be up early for work. Harrison looked weary as he described the antics that went on when paradise becomes reality.
“It is a train wreck.”