“Fair warning: It might just be the most emotional scene ever,” said “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison to a live audience. And so began 60 minutes of the most brutal and compelling television “The Bachelor”franchise has ever brought to the masses.
On Monday night, the fairytale ending “The Bachelor” normally delivers took a dark and twisty turn. Arie Luyendyk Jr., former race car driver and human incarnation of “meh,” followed the script of “Bachelor” love and proposed to Becca Kufrin at the show’s conclusion. But at some point between mid-November and mid-January, he had a change of heart and decided to end his engagement to Becca to pursue runner-up Lauren Burnham.
Just as Arie and Becca’s love story would play out on national television, so, inevitably, would its demise. “Bachelor” producers filmed the post-season breakup, and we, the viewers, ended up in a room we otherwise never would (and perhaps never should) have had access to.
The cameras captured every uncomfortable drawn-out pause, every stomach-churning moment of realization as it dawned on Becca that she was being left for a woman she’d said had absolutely nothing in common with her. There was no music, no editing, none of the overly produced artifice we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Just two people going through an excruciating breakup ― one that would be broadcast to millions.
The cameras continued to follow Becca post-breakup. Viewers saw her looking downtrodden as she wheeled her luggage out of Los Angeles, her plane ride back to Minneapolis (in a middle seat!) and her teary-eyed perusal of old photos and videos of her and Arie.
This is the kind of television that draws us in even as it repels us, and the ratings bear that conclusion out. Arie’s season has been, by all accounts, a snoozefest. As BuzzFeed reported, the season’s average viewership was 6.2 million viewers, with a 1.7 rating among 18 to 49-year-olds. But on Monday night, those numbers shot up ― 7.8 million people tuned in, earning the “The Bachelor” a 2.2 rating for that same valuable demographic.