(Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)
(Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Here for the Wrong Reasons: Finale of ‘The Bachelorette’ Season 16

A recap of the final episode of the latest season

December 24, 2020

Welcome to “Here for the Wrong Reasons,” where each week I’ll be recapping all of the champagne-guzzling and petty “Can I steal you for a second?”s of the 16th season of “The Bachelorette.” Nothing boosts your confidence about your own love life like watching a bunch of desperate 20-somethings competing for a stranger’s affection! Check in every Wednesday for episode recaps and updates on Tayshia Adams’s journey to become an Instagram influencer find love. Make your picks in Vanderbilt’s (very un)official Bachelorette Fantasy League.

 

2020 is almost over (thank god), and so is Tayshia’s journey to find love. “The Bachelorette” has put us through the wringer this season, with Clare and Dale’s lightning-fast engagement; Bennett and Noah’s drama about nothing; Ed and Chasen’s drama about even more nothing; and now, Brendan’s tragic goodbye and Ben’s return. I think it’s safe to say that, much like 2020, no one was too sure how Tayshia’s journey was going to end, but here we are at the finish line. In my opinion, “The Bachelorette” didn’t set a personal record with this season, but they finished respectably. On your marks, get set, let’s go…talk about the finale, because I am SO over these people.

 

Ben is back

As we saw at the end of Monday night’s episode, fan favorite Ben has returned to confess his love for Tayshia. Though he bravely spoke about his history of an eating disorder and past suicide attempts on national television, Ben was apparently too scared to admit his feelings for Tayshia to her own face (though he did tell Chris Harrison and multiple cameras). After she sent him packing, Ben realized he had made a mistake in holding in his feelings, so he’s back to beg for another shot. Tayshia does not give in easily, asking Ben: “Are you just gonna run away every single time it gets hard?” Ask those hard-hitting questions, girl. Tayshia is visibly rattled by Ben’s reappearance, saying she wishes he’d said “I love you” earlier because she had shared those feelings, but she invites him to the rose ceremony that night anyway. For a while it’s still not looking good for Ben: as he’s leaving Tayshia’s room, he asks if giving her a hug is allowed (terrible phrasing, Ben) and she waits a solid thirty seconds before hugging him. When he’s about to go, though, she kisses him, like, a lot, so things aren’t actually looking too bad for our boy Ben. According to Ben, he blacked out after the kiss because he’s “never been happier” in his entire life. I swear, the people on this show must have the saddest lives. Also, Tayshia tells the camera that she regrets kissing Ben, so who knows where this night is going to take us.

 

Rose ceremony

Here we are. This is the rose ceremony that will determine who gets to meet Tayshia’s family and potentially propose to her. The stakes are high, but the guys don’t necessarily bring their A-games, at least in terms of fashion. Ivan passes the test in a navy suit and beige mock neck (taking a page out of Brendan’s book, perhaps?), but Zac is wearing an ill-fitting light gray suit that I believe he purchased at Walmart. Just looking at the scratchy fabric gives me hives. Ben arrives and tells his two rivals that Tayshia invited him to the rose ceremony, and Zac looks fit to kill. Tayshia walks in and picks up the first rose, then hesitates. She takes Ivan aside for a chat, which can only mean that he’s a goner. Nothing good ever happens when someone says, “can we talk really quickly?” She’s been praying for clarity, apparently, and has come to the conclusion that since Ivan doesn’t share her same religious convictions, she doesn’t think it’ll work out and so he’s got to go. Goddamn. Typically, when religion plays into a breakup on this show, it has to do with virginity (or “born-again” virginity, in Bachelor Sean Lowe’s case). Honestly, I had no idea that Tayshia’s faith was so important to her, and I’m surprised it didn’t come up more over the course of the season. Either way, this means that Ivan is now single and (hopefully) ready to mingle, so do with that what you will…  

Back at the rose ceremony, there are two roses and two guys, so you do the math. Actually, I won’t make you do the math because there’s no room for that crap in our very important discussion of reality T.V.—two roses means that both Zac and Ben are staying to meet her family. This is far and away the least dramatic penultimate rose ceremony that I’ve ever seen, since Tayshia chose to send Ivan home individually rather than in front of the other finalists. This is one thing I really like about Tayshia as the Bachelorette—she’s clearly not in it for the drama, and she’s consistently paid attention to all of her contestants (unlike *cough* Clare *cough*), providing them personalized feedback and showing actual investment in their individual relationships. That said, she’s still delusional, because after handing out the roses, she toasts “to love” with BOTH of her boyfriends. What in the “Bridget Jones’ Diary”?

 

The Adams Family: Ben

It’s time to meet the family, and Ben is the first victim. For once, Tayshia’s dress matches the vibe: she rocks a light pink one-shoulder dress paired with matching light pink eyeshadow, as my father—who I forced to watch this episode with me—noted. Kinda ‘80s, but I kinda love it. Tayshia’s parents and two brothers are here. She informs them that she’s “living her best life” and that she’s been enjoying “the ride and the journey,” which must be quotes from the Home Goods decorations she has hanging in her apartment at home.

Tayshia tells her family about sending Ben home before and asks them for help judging whether he’s broken down his walls enough. Papa Adams does not like that Ben came back after he was sent home, but he does like that he went to West Point. Mr. Adams tells Tayshia that he doesn’t want her to have to fight to get someone on the same page as her, which is such healthy advice, but obviously no one on this show cares about practical things like non-toxic relationships. Puh-lease. Ben then tells Mrs. Adams that the thought of spending his life with Tayshia is overwhelming, which I assume he meant to be endearing somehow, but definitely not how you should explain your feelings to your potential future mother-in-law. He tells Mr. Adams that he was so hesitant to tell Tayshia he’s in love with her because he was scared his feelings wouldn’t be reciprocated, and for whatever reason, this convinces Mr. Adams to give Ben his stamp of approval. Then, the Adams family and Ben go riding on scooters, because that’s the most exciting family-friendly activity offered at La Quinta.

 

The Adams Family: Zac

Now it’s Zac’s turn to be in the hot seat. He shows up to meet the Adams’ in a black short-sleeved button down. I’m not sure what type of vibes he intended to give off, but he looks like a staffer at a mediocre Caribbean resort. Plus, his stomach is showing between two of the buttons, which is not cute. This is proof that the “Bachelor” franchise is located in some kind of standards-wormhole, because in the real-world, Zac’s outfit would be grounds for breaking up. Tayshia, on the other hand, looks like a customer at Zac’s mediocre Caribbean resort in a white button-down romper.

Mr. Adams interrogates Tayshia about her feelings for Zac, and all she can come up with is that he makes her feel “all the things.” How Shakespearean! If Zac were a food, he’d be Wonder bread, because every time he talks I’m like, “Is there actual substance there? Or am I just chewing on a slice of air?” I will say, though, that he seems like he’s really serious about Tayshia on a level that frat boy Ben just can’t quite reach. The meet-the-family date concludes with a pizza party, the only age-appropriate meal for Tayshia’s 14-year-old brother, since most of the dinners on this show consist solely of multiple bottles of wine.

 

Dance date

Even though we’re all itching for a proposal (even if you don’t like either of Tayshia’s options like me), the producers subject us to a ridiculous dance lesson for Zac and Tayshia. Two choreographers teach them a traditional wedding dance, which hopefully doesn’t doom Zac as much as the engagement ring date did Brendan. Tayshia tells the camera that she’s stressed and nervous, while Zac bubbles about how much fun he and Tayshia have together. These two aren’t just not on the same page…I don’t think they’re even reading the same book. Tayshia is bothered that she can’t find any flaws with him, but Tayshia, let me ask you: can you find any strengths in him either?

 

The Breakup

If you’ve been missing the countless shirtless shower scenes from Colton’s season, don’t worry—the producers do us a solid and give us a shot of a shirtless Ben in the shower. Sadly, this turns out to be our consolation prize, because after her dancing date with Zac, Tayshia knows what her heart wants, and it is not Ben. She knocks on his door, and he visibly lights up and breaks my heart all at once. Tayshia placates Ben with clichés like “this is a really heavy week” and “I care about you so much,” before ripping off the Band-Aid and telling him that her heart is with someone else. Oof. After a tearful goodbye, Ben tells the camera that he doesn’t “know what the f*ck to do now,” which is honestly so relatable. The bright side for him is that Tayshia let him down easy and broke up with him in this lowkey way, rather than making him pick out a ring and propose before being told “no,” which usually happens on this show and is 50 Shades of Screwed Up. I wish all the best to Ben, and hope that he figures out what the f*ck to do now (my prediction: Instagram swipe-up ads for Hello Fresh).

 

The Proposal

It’s down to the final contestant, which means it’s time for Tayshia to settle get engaged. Her proposal is in the desert, which is fitting because this girl is thirsty as hell. She’s wearing a long white dress and looks ready to sprint down the aisle the minute Zac proposes…Chris Harrison is an ordained minister, after all.

Anyway, Zac arrives, and it’s go-time. He tells Tayshia that theirs is a love he didn’t know existed; that no one has ever made him smile the way she has, and that no one has ever made him jut out his chin and lick his lips as much as she does. Okay, maybe he didn’t actually say that last part, but guys, this dude’s weird physical tics are so distracting. In the midst of the proposal, Zac calls Tayshia a “total dork,” which is cause to turn him down in my book. He keeps closing his eyes and tilting his head like he’s imagining he’s anywhere but here, but he does tell Tayshia that it’s been years since his family has seen him as happy as he was during hometowns, and it’s all because of her. At least that’s touching. Finally, Zac kneels down, says (not asks), “marry me” and kisses Tayshia while fist pumping. Cue the scorpions.

I expected more for Tayshia than bland Zac C., but here we are (I hate it here). Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but we were rooting for you, Tayshia! We were all rooting for you!! While I may not personally approve, I really hope that things work out for Tayshia and Zac. They’ve both experienced difficult divorces and seem to genuinely want a real, lasting relationship, even if I’m not convinced that they chose the right people (I’m still holding out hope for Tayshia and John Paul Jones). Plus, we can’t always believe what we see on T.V., especially on a show that is notorious for manipulating the facts so much that they essentially become fiction. Tayshia and Zac are happy—for now—and we have Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor” to look forward to, and for that, I’m grateful.

 

Cheers to this rollercoaster of a show, and here’s to hoping that Tayshia and Zac are, indeed, here for the right reasons!

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