This is going to be a slightly different kind of Bachelorette recap than the one I usually do. That's partly because tonight was a different kind of Bachelorette than the one that usually airs. Not only did the men tell all, but they also touched on some very important issues that go beyond a silly show about people attempting to find love.
Much of the conversation tonight focused on some controversial decisions that Kaitlyn made this season, and the response she got not only from the men on the show but from the general public. I'm definitely among those who have criticized her, though I've always liked her and I've always been rooting for her. It was just strange for me to watch a season of The Bachelorette where I felt like I knew so little about the bachelorette herself.
I couldn't tell you a single thing about her family, or her job, or her home, or her hobbies. She's funny, and kind, and afraid of birds, and she seems like someone I'd absolutely get a drink or three with, but that's about all I know. That created a strange situation where I knew more about the guys than the woman who was supposed to be the star, which is bad writing on a scripted show, and just weird on a reality show. Now that we're nearing the end of the season, however, I don't blame Kaitlyn for keeping herself a little closed off.
A few weeks ago, we polled readers about both this season of the show and Kaitlyn as the Bachelorette, with the same "love it" or "hate it" options that are available for most of our polls. A whopping seventy-five percent said they hated both Kaitlyn and the season. More than 8600 votes of hate were cast for a person whose only "crime" seems to be sleeping with one of the guys she was dating.
Tonight, Chris Harrison read some tweets during the special to illustrate some of the vitriol that Kaitlyn faces on a daily basis, using words like "slut" and "whore" and worse things that can't be said on TV or written on this website. Kaitlyn was near tears, and I was near tears, because however much you might not have liked this season of the show, Kaitlyn didn't deserve that. Nobody deserves that, or even a fraction of that kind of hate.
Even just writing about TV, without actually being on it, often brings in an unnecessary amount of negativity. I've nearly cried after seeing comments on a recap. A recap! You'd think I had written about my plans to kill puppies and take over the world as opposed to just making fun of True Detective. I can't even imagine what sort of comments I would get if I were sharing my dating/social life, or even something as silly as my opinions on various TV ship wars.
Speaking of which, ever heard of Julie Plec? You know, the woman who runs two CW shows already and is about to start running a third? She deals with this crap constantly, and we seriously applaud her for still existing on social media, or even for managing to get out of bed sometimes.
We've seen what some fans spew at her day in and day out, and we've even had tiny tastes of it ourselves. It does not taste good, and it accomplishes nothing except to make a highly accomplished and talented person, who has given you so much entertainment over the years, feel really horrible about herself when she has absolutely no reason to.
No, Kaitlyn didn't create any of your favorite shows, but she is the star of the show you're watching, whether you like it or not. You could have stopped watching it. You could have grumbled to yourself and to your friends. You could even tweet about it if you really have to, but why would you tag her in it? Why does Kaitlyn need to know you think she's a whore? Why do you even still think of any women as whores in 2015? Can you not read? Has Amy Schumer (among many, many other important feminist icons) taught you nothing?!
Dating even one person is difficult sometimes, so dating more than that—especially up to 25—at once has got to be nearly impossible. It has to take a toll on your emotional, physical, and spiritual state, especially if you're also being followed by cameras nearly 24/7.
Considering all that, Kaitlyn did a phenomenal job at keeping the season entertaining. It's actually impressive how much of her life she managed to keep private, and probably a good thing, because that would have just opened her up to even more personal attacks.
What makes it worse is that even the guys were participating in the Kaitlyn hate, while on the show. If she showed any sign of disinterest throughout the season, they would start attacking her, as if it was not in her right to not be into them, as if they deserved to be loved by her for no reason other than the fact that they were there, and maybe they voted for her over Britt.
At least tonight, the men had a chance to apologize, and Kaitlyn could apologize back if they actually felt like they had been truly mistreated by her. Even Ian got down on his knees and pleaded for forgiveness, and Drunk Ryan apologized for his appalling behavior before giving Kaitlyn the vote he never got to cast on that first night.
Other guys, like Corey (whose name we only learned after we desperately wanted to know what to call the night's biggest jerkwad), could not get over the idea that Kaitlyn had not even tried to choose them. Jonathan was "butthurt" at Kaitlyn's decision to allow Nick to join the show, and she shut him down with a reminder that he hadn't even voted for her in the first place. There were a lot of men being put in their place, while others took the opportunity to rise above.
Ben H, Ben Z, Jared, JJ, and even Clint all came out of that special with their reputations either still untarnished or highly improved by what they said over the course of the night, but we hardly cared about the men by the end.
What tonight's episode really accomplished was bringing to light a frank discussion about both sex positivity and bullying, and how The Bachelorette intertwined those topics to create a really interesting season of TV that I would actually write a paper about if I were still in college.
Regardless of how her time on the show ends, Kaitlyn will always have a place in TV history as the woman who broke one of TV's most iconic and yet most ridiculous reality staples wide open, and got Chris Harrison to say a lot of ridiculous words on TV for a good cause.
As for the next season of The Bachelor, we are huge Ben H. fans, but we absolutely are now advocating for a similar season in which both Bens battle it out for the affections of 25 women, at least in order to bring balance back to the world after this season's duo-bachelorette debacle.
Here's hoping that next week's finale provides a satisfying end to a tumultuous season, and that Kaitlyn has helped pave the way for a smoother, less hate-filled ride for any future women on this show.
The season finale of The Bachelorette airs next Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.