Monday night’s season finale of “The Bachelor” became a controversial one when ABC kept the cameras rolling after the final rose.
Bachelor Arie Luynedyk Jr. proposed to publicist Becca Kufrin in the first half of the two-hour special, only to blindside her by breaking off the engagement in an excruciating and uncut 40-minute break up scene.
Months after wrapping the finale filming in Peru, the happy and unsuspecting Becca is set to meet her fiancé Arie for a weekend in Los Angeles. Camera crews trickle in as Arie sits Becca down to talk. He explains how he was never able to get over his feelings for Lauren Burnham, the other Bachelor finalist he said goodbye to in Peru.
“The reality of it is that being with you, although it’s been everything that I wanted, I still think about her … I thought that that heartbreak would go away and it just never went away,” he tells Becca.
Just as host Chris Harrison promised, viewers at home get the raw, unedited footage, After initial shock and anger, Becca walks away and starts packing her things and tells Arie to leave. He follows her and says he’ll leave, and does exit the house briefly, but returns after a few minutes to find Becca sobbing in the bathroom. Cameras stay rolling on both of them the entire time.
“Are you okay?” Arie asks at one point, sheepishly standing outside Becca’s door. After a game of cat and mouse, of speaking in platitudes and dolling out insincere apologies, Arie finally leaves for good.
— brady (@brady_munn) March 6, 2018
Viewers are brought back to “The Bachelor” studio with Harrison and Becca in real time, where she describes what it’s like reliving that scene. Becca said she has not spoken to or seen Arie since.
“It’s brutal,” Becca says. “When it all happened, I kind of blacked out that I couldn’t take it all in or really focus on what I wanted to say.”
The entire second hour of the episode feels like a car wreck passersby can’t look away from. It feels private and like a conversation the audience shouldn’t be a part of. Of course viewers of all “Bachelor” seasons past know what they’re getting into, but something about this scene feels particularly wrong for recording an extended, inflicted pain on a woman’s emotions.
Former Bachelors Sean Lowe and Ben Higgins both acknowledged the awkwardness of ABC’s decision.
I don’t like this one bit. Shouldn’t have filmed. #thebachelor
— Sean Lowe (@SeanLowe09) March 6, 2018
How did this breakup end up on camera? Seems like a private conversation. We don’t belong in this conversation….but im still watching #TheBachelor
— Benjamin Higgins (@benhiggi) March 6, 2018
Calling off an engagement is not the crime here. Bachelors and bachelorettes alike have broken off engagements in past seasons, and that can be a wise decision whether you’re on reality TV or not. But they’ve always been after the show has wrapped filming and are typically only discussed in the tabloids and talkshows months later. It seems Chris Harrison and the producers overstepped their bounds here in the matchmaking process.
Arie comes out of this incident looking like a bad guy for blindsiding Becca and simultaneously telling two different women he loves them. ABC’s producers come out confirming their persona of suits who exploit vulnerable people for ratings. And viewers will still tune in next season for the same drama all over again, because that’s what we do.