“This Bothered Me the Most”: Sharleen Joynt on The Bachelorette Season Finale

The former contestant shares her insider POV on the season finale of ‘The Bachelorette’

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It’s rare that I say this, but from beginning to end, that was a downright phenomenal season. I almost always have a gripe or two in my finale recap, something about production choices or about things feeling tedious, yet here I find myself wishing for nothing more or different than what we got. Despite the ending not being what we generally anticipate, it was oddly satisfying and its unpredictability made for gripping television.

First, how often is it that we’re rooting for our lead MORE at the end than we did at the beginning? Hannah not only exceeded our expectations, she managed to combine charm, goofiness, sincerity and strength, completely stealing our hearts (and the hearts of her men, which always elevates a season). There was of course a distinct villain who stole much of the show, but even that didn’t annoy me as much as it often does. Luke P.’s presence made fascinating food for thought on topics ranging from narcissism to religion to feminism. It was impossible not to be “triggered” by Luke P.’s behaviour, which in an of itself—for better or worse—made for a somehow interactive viewing experience. The season also provided plenty of shocking twists and turns, keeping monotony at bay, no small feat for a 17-year old franchise. In another twist, through last night’s developments with Jed, we even got a rare sub-villain. And, in another twist involving Tyler C., a surprisingly happy-ish ending. Even this two-part, four-hour finale, an event that usually grows wearisome around the three-hour mark, didn’t bore me in the slightest. On the whole, this season married old-school Bachelor season vibes—I keep comparing Hannah to Emily Maynard and I stand by that—with modern twists and themes. Seriously, what more could you possibly want from your television??  

I made a concerted effort to reserve judgment on Jed until this finale. I have so many thoughts on Jed, most of which I’ve kept to myself, waiting for more details before piecing together informed opinions. It became clear in the live segment of The Bachelorette finale Part 1 that the Jed rumours would be addressed, so I was very curious to witness not only what he’d say, but how he’d say it. I’m sorry to say, though, that after giving him the benefit of the doubt week after week, last night Jed dropped the ball in epic fashion.

His After The Final Rose appearance was decent enough; he belatedly took responsibility for his actions and their consequences, he apologized (or as profusely as he seems capable), he appeared remorseful. However, it was far too little, too late. When it mattered the most, during his and Hannah’s televised post-People article conversation, he literally did and said everything as wrong as he possibly could have—making his change of tune on After the Final Rose feel like calculated damage control. Let’s unpack this…

First, during the filmed conversation with Hannah, Jed makes the critical mistake of minimizing their relationship. Terrible move, dude. In attempting to downplay what he and his ex had, he trapped himself in a corner being the douchebag who tells a woman he loves her, sleeps with her, and goes on (“free”) vacations with her—while overstating the fact that he was still dating other women. Given this conversation was supposed to be about making himself look better, not worse, this argument was just complete stupidity. (What he should have done was said: Yes, I was dating her. I didn’t expect to fall in love with you. I was afraid you’d leave me if I told you. I’m so sorry.) Hannah has proven very tolerant of even the worst of transgressions as long as they’re divulged HONESTLY. Jed of all people—her effing FIANCÉ—should have known that by then. He showed in this moment that he was more interested in attempting to salvage his fragile ego than he was interested in treating the supposed love of his life with the respect of his honesty.

And let me be clear: I actually don’t think having some variant of a “girlfriend” when going on this show was Jed’s big crime here. As I’ve said over the season (and years, really), very few contestants on this show arrive completely unattached in any way. And in my opinion, there isn’t a massive difference between breaking up with someone the day before you leave and not breaking up with them at all. It’s pretty obvious that breakup is as much for show as anything, and that you’re likely to promptly get back together afterwards. But crucially, when it comes relationships, no matter how casual, semantics matter and that’s where Jed really let his fate get away from him.

Let’s assume for a second that Jed was telling the truth, that he really wasn’t seriously dating that woman. I don’t care how casual you think something is, it’s poor form to allow the woman you’re seeing to believe that she IS your girlfriend when you don’t see it that way. I loathed when Jed spoke about his ex like she was some delusional, clingy woman, as though she’d jumped to conclusions about what they shared. Jed, YOU LET HER SEE IT THAT WAY. Take some damn responsibility. Take responsibility for the ILYs, the sex, the vacations. It sounds as though his behaviour after the show—not giving his ex the courtesy of a mere conversation—was the ultimate in responsibility evasion. He’s like a boy who needs to be scolded by his mother and told to apologize, except he’s 25 years old and should be fully capable to recognize when he’s wronged another person and know to mend it.

Another fail that stood out to me: when Jed claimed the show more or less fell in his lap and that he somehow didn’t know full well what he was getting into. Ugh! First, trust me, this show doesn’t just happen to anyone. Whether you’re nominated by a friend or scouted or you attend a casting call, there are still MANY hoops through which you have to jump before you are considered. I can’t stand it when people act like they were “discovered” and then cajoled into doing the show. That simply doesn’t happen. The show has plenty of worthy applicants; the seas part for no one. Second, it’s the damn Bachelorette! I don’t care if you’ve never even seen an episode, you know the premise. People who live under rocks know what this show is about. Jed pretending he didn’t fully understand what he signed up for was such a smarmy (and poorly calculated) attempt at a get-out-of-jail-free card. More of him taking zero responsibility.

It’s ironic how Jed was the one to warn Hannah about Luke P. during Fantasy Suite week—a moment that did feel sincere in his concern for her—yet he was duping her on a grander scale the entire time. And a case could be made that his methods aren’t so different from Luke P.’s: the defensiveness, the lack of ownership of his actions, the passive manipulation of her decisions based on how he paints himself.

We know by now that Jed’s appeal doesn’t really translate on TV, but I erroneously maintained some faith in him. I figured there was some charm to him one could only appreciate in person. In fact, I generally appreciate when contestants aren’t great TV because it usually speaks to an authenticity, a discomfort being in the spotlight. But the man took his unlikeability to new heights last night: His detached body language, his lack of emotions. (This was a situation in which both should have been at an all-time high!) Trust me, I of all people appreciate how hard it can be to be emotive and natural on camera, but not only were these circumstances in which he needed to get over that, this is a guy that admitted to seeking out being on camera. And I swear, my husband Andy and I have been more apologetic towards each other in stupid tiffs over housework.

That’s what probably bothered me the most: how apathetic and unimpassioned Jed seemed in his fight for the woman he supposedly loved and couldn’t live without. I’ve maintained all season that Jed was probably more surprised than anyone by his feelings for Hannah. I still suspect he did fall for her to some degree, but it was clear last night that the man is nowhere near the level of maturity to be able to love someone remotely as much as he loves himself. His pleading felt rote and soulless, devoid of any desperation. It’s clear he values his own reputation and ego above all else and has a lot of growing up to do before he can be ready for any sort of partnership, let alone a lifelong one.

To end on a lighter note: the After the Final Rose segment with Tyler C. may have been a little odd, but in the end it showed the perfect example of what a real man and good partner should be. It would be easy to ask, “Why would Tyler C. want to be with Hannah after she made it so clear he’s her second choice?” To that I say: True love is prioritizing your partner’s happiness and not your ego (something Jed was evidently incapable of). Tyler C. holding Hannah’s final rose choice against her, especially when what she’s gone through has been punishment enough, would have shown a lack of genuine love for her. But his interest in still pursuing things with her now shows his constancy, and in turn shows he really was the right choice all along.

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