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If you thought Tuesday’s After the Final Rose would bring some redemption for Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr., think again.
Despite his best efforts to explain himself – after we watched his very public breakup with Becca Kufrin on Monday night – the two-hour after-show doubled down on the impression that Arie was an insensitive jerk toward Becca.
Becca, on the other hand, came out smelling like a rose – pun intended. She graciously forgave Arie for ambushing her with that breakup. And she began what looks to be a very popular reign as the franchise’s new Bachelorette.
As for the other woman in the triangle, Lauren Burnham, she seemed nearly as insensitive as her new fiancé – yes, that’s right, Arie proposed on AFTR – so maybe she and Arie really are a match made in reality TV heaven.
We were able to piece together more about what went on between Arie, Becca and Lauren from interviews with all three and with other contestants from Arie’s season who are friends with Becca. For instance:
About that breakup: Despite the social media outrage that erupted over the fact that Arie blindsided Becca on camera, Becca now says she got closure through watching the breakup on TV. Arie told her he did things that way “because I wanted everyone here to know this was on me, it wasn’t on you,” which sounds like an excuse, but whatever. Becca told Arie that by proposing when he was so conflicted he robbed her of a “huge moment that people dream of. I’ll never have that first engagement, that first proposal again.” Arie agreed he should never have proposed and apologized, and Becca accepted the apology.
Arie threw his relationship with Becca under the bus: During their reunion in Virginia Beach, Lauren asked Arie if he’d been sure he wanted to be with Becca when he proposed to her. Arie claimed it was all about making “a safe decision” and letting “the logic side of myself take over the emotional side of myself,” as if we all never heard him tell Becca how much he loved her over and over again in the final weeks of the season. And then Lauren asked, “Do you think that you’re 100 per cent over Becca?” “Yes, a thousand per cent,” Arie answered without hesitation. So he pined for Lauren for weeks after dumping her but got over the woman whose sadness he turned into a spectator sport just like that, apparently.
What Becca’s friends say: Chris Harrison brought Caroline, Bekah, Tia, Seinne and Kendall onstage to talk things over. Like just about everybody else, they mostly felt that Arie should never have proposed to Becca in the first place and that he should have broken up with her privately instead of letting cameras record the whole thing. Bekah was the most outspoken in her displeasure. She told Harrison that Arie “is not a genuine person. And he just wants to say whatever he needs to say in front of the person that’s in front of him to get what he wants. I think he’s an incredibly manipulative person.”
What Lauren says: Lauren didn’t watch Arie’s breakup with Becca so perhaps we can cut her some slack for bubbling on about how happy she was to do “normal couple things” with Arie when she joined him onstage. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that she didn’t once express any sympathy for Becca, which seemed a little cold considering Becca had her heart broken on Lauren’s behalf. Becca, on the other hand, expressed her hope that Arie would be happy with Lauren, and urged him to be honest with her, respect her and be committed to her.
The proposal: When the show first started, I was thinking, “Well, we won’t see Arie propose to Lauren because he would never do that right after we watched his breakup with Becca.” Shows you what I know. After gushing to Harrison about how crazy he was about Lauren, and how all the “guilt” and “shame” of throwing over Becca was worth it to be with Lauren, Arie stood up and made a proposal speech: Blah blah blah, can’t imagine a life without you, blah blah blah, you are my soulmate. “And I want to do this in front of everyone because I want to show you I should have done this a long time ago,” he said (another little dig at Becca) before getting down on one knee and producing the ring. They smooched so long that Harrison had to break it up.
Hail our new Bachelorette: Bachelor Nation loves Becca, it seems. Harrison showed her photos of billboards that people had erected in response to Monday’s show, including one that said “Becca, you’ll always have a rose from Minnesota.” And he mentioned that fans had crowdfunded more than $ 6,000 to buy Becca consolation wine, which she will donate to Stand Up to Cancer (with a matching donation from The Bachelor). When Harrison announced that Becca was the Bachelorette the studio audience went wild.
“She honestly is just the best human,” gushed Tia when Harrison invited her and the rest of Becca’s posse back onstage (all five of them plus Becca squished onto a small couch together, which was adorable).
And then, because they had to find some way to fill the rest of the two hours, Harrison started Becca’s season early, with five men coming onstage to meet her.
We had Lincoln, with a bowtie and a British accent, who called Arie a “wanker”; Chase, who told Becca she deserved better; Ryan, who played the banjo and sang a song with lyrics that were actually kind of clever (“I’m looking for a love so true/So I ask what’s the catch/Well, there are 25 other cats”); Darius, who apologized on behalf of the male gender; and Blake, who came out with a horse called Bradley because – wait for it – “as the saying goes, when you fall off the horse you’ve got to get back up again.”
Becca is indeed getting back on the figurative horse when her season premieres May 28. And it is a sign of the love/hate relationship that so many of us have with this silly franchise that despite my annoyance with the voyeurism of Monday’s episode I’m looking foward to another round of Bachelorette.
Look for the recaps then. In the meantime, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me @realityeo or visit my Facebook page.