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Let's get started!
The long-awaited day finally arrived, when all of America (or at least those of us who are interested) learned whether Emily chose Arie or Jef—unless you read the spoilers, in which case you were just watching to see if RealitySteve called it correctly.
I sat on my couch, paper and pen in hand, ready to take copious notes for this blog post. I think in the first half hour I wrote down two words: Jef's hair. It looked to me like he trimmed and tamed the hipster bouffant for his "meet the parents" gig. And it looked good.
When the three hours ended, I realized I could have squished all my notes onto a single Post-It note. Mostly I drew pictures on my teenage daughter's leg during the commercials. (I added a photo for fun. Obviously I am also not an artist.) The rest of the time I just sat back and enjoyed watching the show.
Before I share my observations let's briefly summarize the finale:
Emily's family met both guys and loved both guys, which was no help to Emily. Picking between Mr. Right and Mr. Wrong is easy. Picking between two Mr. Rights is a lot harder.
Emily's final date with Jef boiled down to Emily realizing that, if she wanted a guy ready to commit to the entire mama/daughter package, the guy had to have a chance to know the entire mama/daughter package. Jef met Ricki and quickly got on her good side by donning her pink swimming goggles and letting her push him into the pool.
That was the last piece of the puzzle for Emily. She told Chris Harrison she knew where her heart was, and knew she needed to send Arie home. Not surprisingly, Arie was stunned but generally kept his cool while dealing with total shock before leaving in the black SUV of doom.
Time for the Final Rose. The only questions remaining were: will Jef get down on one knee, and, if he does, will Emily actually accept? (Those pesky teasers again.)
At the Final Rose, Emily was free for the first time to share her feelings with Jef. She loves him and she thinks he may be her soulmate (A Reality Check word that's dear to my heart). And yes, he got down on one knee and yes, Emily accepted the proposal—and asked him, in turn, if he would accept that Final Rose.
My Should Have Been on a Post-It Note Observations:
Should Arie have realized something was amiss when Dinah the Potion Lady had him mixing his flowers and oils alone?
Did anyone else notice that Emily's dress totally matched the terra cotta pots on the Final Rose platform?
Total number of guys I managed to count in the live studio audience: five. Not counting Chris Harrison, Arie or Jef. Oh, I also didn't count JP or Stagliano. I made hash marks in the margin of my "page" of notes when I wasn't drawing an earthworm on my kid's thigh.
For those of you wondering, "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera was a Billboard #1 in 1986. And has been stuck in my head every since the finale began. "I am a man who will fight for your honor . . ."
The "shocking news" we were teased with was that Arie flew to Charlotte without telling anyone so he could talk things out with Emily, but after arriving there decided not to confront her in person.
Jef and Arie are friends and Jef helped Arie deal after he went home. That's cool. And Arie was, once again, a gentleman who handled his disappointment and heartache with grace.
To wrap things up: Jef is moving to Charlotte, they will live separately, and Emily likes the idea of a spring wedding. Everyone else is placing bets on how long the couple will last. Considering the franchise track record, that's not a surprise.
I would like to offer my own two cents. As part of my research for Reality Check, I spent a lot of time analyzing these shows, thinking through the process and the motives of those who produce the show, as well as those who sign up to be part of it. Here's my bottom line, for what it's worth:
The show isn't real but the people are.
I know. Duh, right? But that's pretty much it.
The taping of the show and the experiences the participants have are their reality while they're going through it. I think sometimes we forget that as viewers. I hear comments that the show isn't what real life is like and that, under those intense situations, it's easy to think you're in love when you're not. That it's different when you're back in the real world.
That is all true.
But it is also true that people who go through intense experiences together bond over that experience. They shared something unique together that only they understand. Sometimes those bonds last. Sometimes they don't. But those experiences are still real to the people who went through them. Whether those people served overseas in the military together, or helped each other survive the Twin Towers, or simply spent long hours together on a huge work deadline, a bond forms that's real. So, too, is living in a jungle for a month hoping to win Survivor, or joining twenty-five other men or women on The Bachelor/ette.
For that reason, I will allow myself to cheer Emily and Jef on as they explore their real emotions in their real world. I will get out of their way and wish them the best. They seem like wonderful people. And I hope for them this is more than a happy ending. I hope it's a great beginning.