By Lori Acken
My prediction? Ed and Kiptyn be damned (or be the next Bachelor) — Jillian chooses no one.
Or — since we’ve already been treated to that particularly irritating outcome a few seasons back, courtesy of Bachelor Brad Womack — maybe an old Vancouver-based beau returns in next Monday’s finale to sweep her off her feet.
Or maybe she decides that dream dating the dapper duo ain’t such a bad life and continues the competition off-air.
That’d be a new one, too.
In any case, with exactly one successful union under its belt in 17 cumulative seasons, The Bachelor/ette franchise obviously does not require matrimony as the key to its success … so anything that could feasibly be chalked up to “The Most Dramatic Final Rose Ceremony Ever” should suffice, as long as it draws viewers and enrages bloggers. Right?
And if Harris’ conference call with reporters this afternoon — or my take on it, anyway — is any indication, viewers hoping to see Jilly hop a SkiDoo with Kiptyn or Ed and ride off into a Very Special Me And Him Become Us Wedding Episode may be better off counting the days till The Bachelor Season 14 debuts.
Or maybe I’m just a cynic — an admittedly Team Ed, about to get my heart broke, cynic.
But here’s the thing. Right out of the gate, Jillian was asked to describe the best qualities of each of the final three suitors by a clever reporter hoping to taste an extra dollop of emotion in one answer. For there are still three suitors? Right? Right?
Without missing a beat, she crisply described Reid’s humor, Ed’s life balance and … I forget what she said about Kiptyn. Because I was so struck by the tone of her voice, which was perfect for describing, say, three pairs of shoes she was thinking about buying. But not so much the three men she’d just spent months ostensibly leading unto betrothal, el pronto.
And here’s the thing about that.
Asked by another reporter if she felt truly ready to accept a proposal at finale time (Er, what, lady?? Have you not been watching at all???), Jillian tossed out another wicked curve ball: She said … no! She wasn’t sure and even went to Dad with her worries.
Good one, Bachelorette editing team! I smell an Emmy! Because the sincerity with which (an unedited, but still under the watchful ear of an ABC publicist) Jill proceeded to explain her hesitations and her papa’s ensuing advice — that getting engaged does not mean you must get hitched immediately, so there’s nothing wrong with grabbing that ring, both brass and diamond, and seeing where it takes you — was winning. And completely contradictory to what appeared to us viewers to be an oft-rabid (especially in Reid’s case) need for assurance that she would get her happy, sparkly, paid-for-by-the-producers ending.
By this time, I was totally stopped in my tracks and only half tuned in for the parts where she discussed the best cure for a hangover or whatever else might ail you (coconut water), the best shades of nail polish for Tanner-taunting tootsies (“Make Mine Mango” by Revlon and the improbable “My Chihuahua Bites” by OPI) and the worst part of doing the show (a big heaping helping of exhaustion every morning instead of a “bluebird on my shoulder and someone serving me bacon and eggs”).
After her stints on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, had Jillian become expert at stashing the end of the story until airtime — even though she herself admitted that the experience made her more emotional than usual? Had she already taken this quiz so many times that she’s memorized the answers? Was the squealy, hoppy, skippy, heart-on-her-down-filled-sleeve gal with whom we spent so many Monday nights truly just a product of those aforementioned editors?
In short: Got me. Let’s talk Wes.
Let me tell you right now, girl has far more forgiveness in her heart than 99.99% of the planet when it comes to the duplicitous country crooner — as evidenced by her cheerful admission that she’s already downloaded his latest CD, including the now-infamous “Love Don’t Come Easy.” And presumably stashed it in her “Songs Expert B*llsh*tters Said They Wrote Just For Me” playlist.
She also fessed up that Jake’s “surprise” confessional in her Austin hotel room was, at least in part, an irritation, not because he was confirming for her something she still hoped was untrue — but because she had already figured out the truth for herself and was deciding, for herself, how to handle it.
Then she gamely summed up the whole unsavory deal by saying she hoped that a) The Wesser would never, ever sign up for another reality show again, and b) that it served as a lesson — both to him and to all the bloggers and posters taking potshots from the safety of the Internet — that words hurt whether you mean them or not, and they will come back to haunt you.
Well played, Ms. Harris.
And thus — even though the call concluded with the ABC flack reminding us to call back same time next Wednesday to talk with Jillian and “at least two gentlemen” — my own words could come back to haunt me when Monday’s episode concludes and she is happily on her way to being Mrs. Swiderski or Mrs. Locke or Mrs. Whatever Reid’s Last Name Is.
And I hope they do.
Because I love me my Jilly and I really think she deserves to find love. And because after the Jason/Molly fiasco of last season’s Bachelor, wherein we got our first taste of the whole “a former suitor returns” thing and then that switcheroo ending … and after all of the comings and goings Jill has endured in making it to this point … I’d still like believe that the ultimate goal of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is a nice little love story.
Not a carefully cast and crafted soap opera that’s just this shy of a script.