We hate to borrow a line from Luke Parker here, but let's talk about sex—because The Bachelorette finally is and it's about damn time.
Regardless of the outcome as Hannah Brown's journey to find love comes to a dramatic end on Tuesday night, one thing is clear: the 24-year-old Alabama native has forever changed the franchise, thanks to her refusal to be anything other than her self-professed "hot mess express" self, tendency to unleash "Hannah Beast" at the best times, and zero-tolerance policy for sex-shaming from her suitors. And, oh yeah, she "f--ked in a windmill." Four times. If that's not the sign of a legend we don't know what is.
While the response to Hannah's windmill confession and sex-positive attitude on the ABC reality hit has been mostly applauded, she's still had to face her fair share of slut-shaming and negative online comments, something many of the 14 female leads before her have had to endure.
The first time The Bachelorette producers had to address the "taboo" topic of sex head-on wasn't by choice, it was an unexpected ambush by Nick Viall during Andi Dorfman's After the Final Rose special in 2014.
Viewers had just watched as Nick had his heart broken by Andi during the finale episode, with the Bachelorette then going on to tell Chris Harrison during the special that she never loved Nick.
In an unplanned moment, a hurt Nick dropped this now-infamous bombshell: "Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren't in love with me, I'm just not sure why you made love with me."
Nick had just blown the doors off of the fantasy suite, finally confirming what had always been insinuated but never publicly discussed.
It was fitting then for Andi to remind Bachelor Nation of this moment in franchise history ahead of Hannah Brown's latest windmill confession during part one of her After the Final Rose special.
"Ohhhh sheeeeet …. here's to hoping tonight goes a little smoother for our gal tonight!!!!" the Single State of Mind author captioned her throwback to the night Nick made the bombshell confession that rocked Bachelor Nation.
While she can joke about it now—"It's good to be able to laugh at awkward situations five years later"—the dramatic After the Final Rose moment was no laughing matter for Andi at the time, who was about to make her public debut with her then-fiancé Josh Murray.
Andi called Nick's sex confession "below the belt," and later revealed in her memoir, It's Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After, that Josh knew she had sex with Nick in the fantasy suite, but was not OK with the entire world knowing. Spoiler alert: Andi and Josh did not work out.
"Did I feel betrayed by [Nick]? Absolutely," she wrote in the 2016 book, but added, "Did I think that his revelation caused my breakup? At times...but the truth is, while what he did had a damaging effect on my relationship, he wasn't to blame…God knows [Josh] always seemed to find plenty of ammo for our fights."
But at the time of his After the Final Rose outburst, Nick, though heartbroken and bitter over his split with Andi, broke a cardinal Bachelor Nation rule: you can allude to it, sure, but don't actually talk about sex.
He later admitted to reporters he wished he would've handled the conversation differently and never set out to "humiliate" Andi.
"I was just so caught off guard by her demeanor," Nick explained. "It wasn't so much about the sex but the level of intimacy that night and given the situation at the time I made it very clear where I was in my feelings for her and what something like that meant to me. I was just so caught off guard that it sort of just came out. If I had any regrets, I didn't want to humiliate her or make her feel that way. I feel very sorry if she did feel that way."
It's fitting then that Nick once again was a part of the franchise's next groundbreaking moment when it came to S-E-X when he returned during the next season of The Bachelorette to pursue a relationship with Kaitlyn Bristowe, much to the viewers and suitors' chagrin.
But from their first conversation it was clear that Kaitlyn and Nick had palpable chemistry, providing eventual winner Shawn Booth with some much-needed competition. Their chemistry was so strong that Kaitlyn decided at the end of their one-on-one date in Dublin, Ireland, to invite Nick back to her hotel room. In Week 6. And the next morning, she revealed on-camera that the couple had sex.
Gasp—did the Bachelorette just admit to being an actual human being with sexual desires...that actually acts on them?! Jaws dropped. Pearls were clutched. Twitter feeds flooded.
The backlash was instantaneous and overwhelming, with Kaitlyn initially putting up a tough front despite the avalanche of comments she received.
"I try to not look too much into it, or read too much into it, because everybody has their opinions," she said on Good Morning America. "No matter what I did throughout the season people will have their opinions. It's obviously tough when you get a thousand and thousands of messages that are very negative, but I just try to avoid it."
Immediately, viewers and commentators alike assumed Kaitlyn must've regretted her decision to sleep with Nick so early and not at the "right" time aka fantasy suites--as long as you don't actually say if you did decide to have sex or not, of course.
Sure, Kaitlyn had some regrets about her decision, but not the act itself, rather what the sexual encounter could do to her potential relationships with other suitors (especially Shawn). Still, that distinction was not clear to many audience members.
"I am a very in the moment person and I tried to just separate each relationship, and they all moved at different paces and that one definitely moved a little but quicker than others and maybe the timing wasn't ideal on the one," she explained on GMA. "I always wondered if I would have waited 10 days—and it was the Fantasy Suite—and [if] I didn't talk about it would I be getting the same sort of response from people? Probably not...I worried about jeopardizing the relationships."
At her Men Tell All special, producers decided to tackle the slut-shaming and cyber-bullying Kaitlyn was enduring head-on...by having some of the most vicious comments pop up on screen as Kaitlyn sat tear-eyed in the hot seat.
"We've always had a fair amount of controversy, especially around issues of appropriate behavior, gender roles, what should and shouldn't be shown on television. These have always been issues that we've embraced here on The Bachelor," Chris Harrison said before reading aloud some of the hateful messages and going on to defend his star."What you're dealing with is something completely different."
At the taping of the special, E! News asked Chris Harrison if he thought the producers were at all responsible for some of the hate Kaitlyn has been receiving, seeing as how much of her hook-up with Nick they decided to show, or rather, play the audio from, an unusual move for the (usually) chaste show at the time.
"I've pondered this too," Harrison said. "Should we as producers not show what actually happened…because we don't think that you can handle it or adult or big enough to handle it? The bottom line is Kaitlyn made decisions…I don't think it's up to producers to then go back and edit that to make everybody feel good about themselves and make this perfect Disney utopia. That's not the way the world works. That's not the way dating works. That's not the way Kaitlyn works."
"People were like, 'You were sending out a terrible message, and I was like no, my message I want to send out is to just be yourself and just be who you are," Kaitlyn told E! News in 2015. "I'm not saying you have to have sex in your relationship or you shouldn't or you should; I'm not saying that. I'm just wanting people to see you should be who you are."
And in that chat with us, Kaitlyn said the double standard when it comes to Bachelors vs. Bachelorettes having sex on the the show "blows her mind," referencing that Ben Flajnik's infamous skinny-dipping session with Courtney Robertson in 2012 was no big deal for the male lead. It was a different story for his frontrunner at the time, who became one of the franchise's most notorious "villains."
"It just was wild….You hear it all," Robertson, who wrote a tell-all confirming the pair did in fact have sex in the water, later said of the backlash she received after their beach romp aired. "So, that never feels good. But I stand by it. I like to skinny dip. So, I still do it."
For Kaitlyn, she just couldn't understand the double standard when she was a "grown woman," telling E! News, "I'm 30 years old. I make decisions and I stand by them."
Still, even when you're a confident grown woman, a constant chorus of negativity raining down on you for weeks on end has an impact and in a recent essay for Glamour, Kaitlyn shared just how overwhelming the online abuse she endured was at the time her season was airing.
"People guessed my personal email and started sending death threats. Women told me they'd never want their daughters to look up to me," she said. "That I should shut my 'whore legs.' I was told I'm disgusting, that I belong in a dumpster, that I'm going to hell...just the worst things you could say to somebody."
She continued to open up about the emotional toll the experience took on her even after her season ended.
"Even with the support of family and friends, I felt like I didn't really have anyone to lean on. I stayed in bed a lot. I cried a lot. I tried to stay off social media and not read comments, but you know it's there," she revealed.
Almost five years and a cultural movement later, Hannah still faced a wave of criticism after the trailer for the season featured the Bachelorette dropping this now-iconic line: "I have had sex...and Jesus still loves me."
After a few weeks of turning a blind eye to the negative comments and attempting to not read her feed, Hannah broke her silence about the slut-shaming, posting a lengthy message on Instagram on June 25 (B.W.R [Before Windmill Reveal]).
"I refuse to not stand in the sun. I refuse to feel shame. I refuse to believe the lies and evil that flood my comments. I am standing firm in believing that maybe God wants to use a mess like me to point to His goodness and grace. But dang, it's hard. The amount of hate I and the men on this journey with me receive...it's chilling to know so many people want to spread hurt so recklessly. We all fall short of the glory of God...we just happen to do it on national television."⠀
Little did her critics know Hannah was about to double down on this later, when she unapologetically made the infamous reveal that she slept with one of her suitors in an unusual location on their fantasy suite date: "I f--ked in a windmill. Twice." (Note: How has ABC not started selling merch with this line on it yet?)
And if the windmill wasn't already going to go down in Bachelor history as one of the most legendary fantasy suite dates ever, Hannah decided to immortalize it with yet another shocking reveal during Monday's After the Final Rose.
"All right...I will say, I was a little dishonest about something," she began her confession, sitting next to Peter. "Since it's out there...I did say there is something Peter and I did twice, it was actually four times."
Peter couldn't help but blush and responded, "The truth is out. I can't believe you said that. Oh, my god."
The response from the audience was rabid applause and cheering. Chris Harrison got up and saluted Peter. Peter's parents were sitting in the front row, giant smiles on their faces looking prouder than the day Peter received his pilot's license.
Oh, how the After the Final Rose optics had changed.
In addition to revealing the real number, the Alabama native also poked fun at her confession, sharing a cheeky Twitter video of her holding up four Almond Windmill Cookies from Trader Joe's. The tweet has received over 60,000 likes so far.
The message to her haters was clear: bring it on.
Just season prior, Kaitlyn and Andi were made to feel small and chastised, appearing contrite and polite as they addressed their critics, understandably buckling under the unrealistic expectations placed on them as leads. while the man who was the other person involved in both encounters went on to become the Bachelor). Now, here was Hannah proudly acknowledging and owning her sexuality, something she has done all season.
From the start of the former Miss Alabama USA's season, Hannah hasn't been shy about getting physical with her suitors, fully enjoying make out session on pool tables, against walls, on massage tables, etc. And when it came to the overnight dates, she didn't hide her excitement, giddily teasing, "It's fantasy suite week! And hopefully...I'm gonna get down in the fantasy suite!"
But she also displayed emotional maturity when it came to making her decision about whether or not she wanted to spend the night with any of her four remaining men away from the cameras.
After realizing her relationship with Tyler Cameron had largely started with their physical connection, Hannah told she was "nervous and scared" over how far behind their emotional connection might be.
"I don't want to go into the fantasy suite and have sex because I don't feel like that's what our relationship needs," she told him. (It must be said he handled this conversation with such class that Hannah later said he it the "most respectful" man she's ever been with.)
This moment put a neon arrow over the main issue with the fantasy suites on the show: people automatically associate sex with them, finding it hard to believe two attractive people could spend the night together and not have sex.
"I don't want to just have sex," Hannah explained. "I want to connect on a deeper level."
Hannah, by being so open and frank about her thought process when it came to the fantasy suites and sex, dismantled that connotation that a fantasy suite date is an automatic failure if you fail to seal the deal.
Her keen sense of understanding and awareness of both her physical and emotion needs in a relationship made the following showdown with Luke Parker, arguably the franchise's most polarizing contestant ever, all the more satisfying and rewarding.
All season long, fans were left confused and frustrated that Hannah continued to keep Luke, a born-again Christian who wasn't a virgin but had abstained from sex for several years after he claimed God had visited him in the shower, kickstarting his spiritual reawakening.
"Sex is an incredible thing, and it's a beautiful thing...only when it's within the guidelines of marriage," he told Hannah on their date ahead of the fantasy suite portion of the night. "And let's say that you have had sex with one or multiple of these guys, I'd completely remove myself from this relationship...I'd be wanting to go home. 100 percent."
For arguably the first time in franchise history, sex and faith and all the complicated feelings and issues involved in that conversation were playing out on-screen and on social media, as Hannah herself was a devout Christian and fiercely defended herself against Luke's sex-shaming.
"Sex is a very big deal to me, and I've said like, I've had sex with two people in my life, and it was long relationships," she began. "I thought were going to be my husband. But like, some of the things that you said, I don't agree with at all. And honestly, I'm like kinda mad, because like, the way that you just said that is like, why do you have the right to do that? Because you're not my husband."
Hannah continued to call Luke out for judging her and weaponizing their shared faith against her, masterfully pointing out all of the "sins" and "red flags" he had exhibited throughout the season that she had continuously forgiven him for and allowed to play out.
"It's just that you're questioning me, that you're judging me and feel like you have the right to, and don't at this point," Hannah said. "And I get when you like, care for somebody that you don't want to think about somebody being intimate with another person, but guess what? Sex might be a sin out of marriage, but pride is a sin too, and I feel like this is like a pride thing."
She added, "I'm a grown woman and can make my own decisions, and I'm not strapped to a man right now."
But Luke wasn't done saying sexist things just yet, trying to go back on his words before then dropping this doozy on the shell-shocked woman he claimed to love.
"Just being real, I can understand a slip up, but like, with all of them?" he said. "I mean that's kind of where I was going with that. If you were just like, you know what, I'm gonna just have sex with everyone and see what it's like, then yeah I would be like, OK, I'm gonna talk to you, but you know what, I'm outta here."
Well, he was out of there, but not by choice, as Hannah finally saw the light and sent Luke P. home, but not before establishing they have very different ideas of what being a "good" Christian means.
"Io ignore all the red flags for how I feel and to have you say this about me and make me feel like you would look at me any differently and judge me or make me feel like you would not think of me as a woman of faith like I am, and that we weren't on the same page," she said. "It's like you're holding other people to a standard that you don't even live by."
When Luke refused to get in the limo and leave, a fed-up Hannah fully unleashed "Hannah Beast" on him, savagely dropping this line.
"I can probably get you to go in that limo, from what you said. I'm like, so mad. So like, I have had sex," she said. "Yeah, and Jesus still loves me. From obviously how you feel, me f--king in a windmill probably...you probably want to leave."
It was the moment we all had been waiting months for and it was worth it. But surprisingly, it was a moment Hannah initially had mixed feelings about.
"I didn't ever expect that to probably be on the show," Hannah later admitted to E! News of her windmill confession. "I think it caught me by surprise because when I said that, that came out of emotion and really just passionate anger at somebody. So realizing that the rest of America would know what happened was hard at first, but it started a conversation and I had to look at the silver lining of that."
Even Chris Harrison admitted he was surprised Hannah dropped the windmill line, reflecting on that moment, "The producers and I were looking at each other...we had ear pieces, so we're listening and we're like, 'Did we just hear what we think we heard?'"
But Hannah continued to see the silver lining and continued the conversation when Luke created a Twitter account on the same day the episode aired and ended up engaging in a war of the words with Hannah on the platform.
"@AlabamaHannah. The difference in how we view sin is seen in the response," he wrote. "I'm weeping at mine and you're laughing at yours. All sin stings. My heart hurts for both of us."
Again, Hannah refused to have her faith used against her as ammunition nor qualify her decision to have sex before marriage as a "sin."
"@luke_parker777 time and time again Jesus loved and ate with 'sinners' who laughed," she replied. "And time and time again he rebuked 'saints' that judged. Where do you fall Luke? #TheBachelorette."
As he continued to write to her, Hannah finally said, "@luke_parker777. The devil wants to shame sin. God dealt with shame when he dealt with sin, so I will not allow someone who comes in the name of God to bring me something that God has taken off me."
She also took one last opportunity to dunk on her ex.
"i have never said that i find my sin funny. i'm not going to lectured on appropriate emotional responses by a guy who threw deli meat in a guys lap," she wrote, referring to an argument he had with fellow contestant Garrett Powell.
Outspoken and unapologetic, Hannah has taken the baton from Kaitlyn and ran with it, refusing to be shamed for the choices she made during her time as the Bachelorette.
"I get goose bumps when I hear people say, 'Kaitlyn walked so Hannah could run,'" Kaitlyn wrote in her Glamour essay. "That means so much to me. Some people have reached out and asked, 'Do you hate that she's getting so much support when you got so shamed?' The answer is no. I'm so glad to have been the first Bachelorette to make a change and really talk openly about sex."
And guess what? Jesus still loves both of them.
The Bachelorette finale airs tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.