Ever since The Bachelor first aired in 2002, it’s been a hotbed of drama. That’s why everyone loves it so much, and why the show’s been running for so long. But the season 22 finale, believe it or not, was even more intense than usual. The latest installment of the show, which featured Arie Luyendyk Jr. as its eponymous star, ended in tears and plenty of controversy. So what exactly happened? What did the 36-year-old racing driver do to cause such distress?
The Bachelor’s format is simple: one man has to choose a wife from a selection of 25 women. He’s expected to propose marriage to the last girl standing – although occasionally he doesn’t. Whenever things don’t go to plan, the drama level is ramped up. It’s carefully constructed for maximum effect, but it works brilliantly.
When the couple gets engaged at the end, they receive a fabulously expensive Neil Lane engagement ring – but it’s not necessarily theirs to keep. You see, if they break up before a two-year cut-off point, they have to give the ring back. And unfortunately, over the course of the show there have been a lot more rings given back than kept.
Of all the contestants who’ve gotten together during The Bachelor (not counting its spin-off shows) only two still remain coupled up. These are Sean and Catherine Lowe, and Jason and Molly Mesnick. Moreover, Jason’s time in the spotlight caused a big upset after he called off his engagement to the woman he’d originally picked and married Molly instead.
Make no mistake, The Bachelor loves courting controversy. For instance, many of the contestants have had criminal records. Brad Womack, the star of season 11, actually had a felony record when he was asked to appear on the show. The charge dated back to 1993, when he had been arrested for possessing a forged driver’s license.
Thankfully, there was no such problem with season 22 star Arie Luyendyk Jr. He’s a racing driver, and a pretty good one at that. But in 2012 Arie decided to appear on The Bachelorette, a spin-off show to The Bachelor in which a woman does the choosing. He didn’t win but came in as the first runner-up. Subsequently, he was shifted to the parent show. And in early March 2018 it was his turn to pick a partner.
Arie got plenty of comments from Bachelor viewers, as well as from the ladies he’d eliminated. “When I left the show I did not have a negative thing to say about him, because I did have such a good experience with it,” Tia Booth told website E! Online after she was knocked out of the running. But Seinne Fleming, who also spoke to E! Online, said that she thought Arie was “indecisive.”
And she wasn’t wrong. During the show Arie uttered the fateful words “I love you” to two women, Becca Kufrin and Lauren Burnham. “I found love in two different women,” the racing car driver said on camera. “I could choose the wrong person. That’s a real fear.” No kidding. On The Bachelor, it pays to be able to make up your mind.
The promo for the season finale featured some interesting things. Arie called himself a “monster,” for one. And both women seemed to think they’d been let down. Lauren could be heard saying, “I feel betrayed,” while Becca declared through tears, “I’m so blindslided.” And at the very end of the clip came the unmistakable sound of a sobbing woman.
And sure enough, the finale was bad. Exactly what people feared might happen did happen. Arie choose Becca to be his wife on the show and the pair of them got that famous ring. And then he suddenly dumped her in favor of Lauren, the woman he was actually in love with. It was all done on camera, and it was an absolute bloodbath.
Needless to say, Becca did not appreciate being ditched so publicly. Being abandoned for another woman in private is bad enough, but with the cameras rolling it made things even worse. “This is f***ing embarrassing,” Becca could be heard saying at one point, between tears. She told Arie to go away, but he didn’t. “I feel my future was ripped away,” she sobbed.
It was an extremely difficult watch. And unsurprisingly, Arie did not come off well. “I know talking to you in person in this way seems cruel, but I want you to move forward and I want you to know how I’m feeling,” he explained to Becca, which won him no sympathy whatsoever. Becca showed little interest in his weasel words and repeatedly asked Arie to leave, which, eventually, he did.
The episode that followed all that was an awkward one to say the least. Jason Mesnick, the only other Bachelor to get rid of his prospective bride in favor of the runner-up, was there. “I wish everyone out there could meet Arie, because he is a nice person,” he said, possibly in an attempt to dampen some of the heat surrounding season 22’s star. “This show can really mess somebody up. Unless you’ve been through it, you just don’t get it.”
Moreover, it turned out Arie hadn’t even known if Lauren would accept him after he rejected Becca for her. A pre-taped scene showed him going to her house, and in it he revealed he was almost having a panic attack at the prospect of seeing her again. “I’m terrified,” he said. “My biggest fear is that I go to Lauren and it doesn’t work out and that I risked it all.”
But Arie needn’t have worried. It did work out between him and Lauren – at least for now. And after the finale of The Bachelor, the couple spoke to People magazine. “We’re so ready for this,” Arie told the publication. “Lauren told me I’m four months late on this proposal, and I wanted to give it to her and I wanted everyone at home to share in it.”
Everyone had indeed shared in it, but few people approved of Arie’s actions. Contestant Bekah Martinez dropped into Twitter to give him an absolute roasting. She posted a picture of herself with Arie and captioned it “that moment when you realize you dodged a bullet.” She also showed a message Arie had sent to her, with the caption “Dm’ing your ex on twitter is a great look too, no?”
Arie got a lot of backlash for allowing his breakup with Becca to be filmed. Robert Mills, an executive from The Bachelor’s production company, spoke to ET and confirmed that Arie was under no obligation to record the scene. “Of course he could have done it off camera if he wanted to,” he said. But Arie hadn’t, it seemed, wanted to. “Do I think he’s the most flawed Bachelor? Maybe,” Mills offered.
There’s no doubt Becca has lost out terribly in all this, but there’s some light on the horizon yet. She’s already making dark jokes about her situation on Twitter. She posted a cast photo from the beginning of the series, one where her expression was unreadable, and wrote under it, “Deep down, I knew.” And Becca may yet find reality-TV-love again: she’s going to be the star of the next Bachelorette.
Meanwhile, Arie and Lauren seem happy, according to People. Lauren told the magazine that she and her new husband-to-be “don’t really care what anyone else has to say.” They’re even weighing up televising their wedding, something that will no doubt pull in plenty of viewers. Though it’s fair to say some of them would probably be watching just to see if he goes through with it in the end.
“Love is not always perfect,” Arie concluded to People. “Everyone finds each other in a different way. It’s not always a fairytale, but as long as Lauren and I have each other, we’re happy.” Well, he’s certainly right in one respect – what happened definitely couldn’t be described as a fairytale. Let’s hope it all ends here.