The Bachelor/Bachelorette is a franchise built upon humiliation. Sure, there’s some “true love” stuff thrown in there as well, and lots of gratuitous shirtlessness, but the series couldn’t exist without the promise of seeing some poor (albeit ridiculously good-looking) soul getting shown the door each week. Getting rejected by someone you love is one of the more traumatic events in life, but on The Bachelorette, getting dumped is part of a game, and the stakes are no higher than missing out on a few episodes of the show. We watch to see annoying dudes who’ve never been turned down by a girl finally get what’s coming to them. We watch to see a guy like this get told he’s not up to snuff. Yet on last night’s finale, during which Ali had to pick between hunky Roberto and sensitive Chris, we were actually dreading the final rose ceremony. Because we knew they’d both propose, and we knew she’d pick Roberto, and we also knew that Chris didn’t deserve to stand in front of Ali on national TV, get down on one knee, and be answered with, “Sorry bub, I’m just not that into you.”
Thankfully, and probably much to the producers’ annoyance, it didn’t go down that way. Instead of going on their final date, Ali decided to let Chris go before he became the guy who proposed and was denied (watch the video below). “You’re one of the best men I’ve ever been able to meet in my whole life. Even if, like, two people really enjoy spending time with each other and, like, hanging out and stuff, I don’t think that necessarily means that it’s supposed to be. Do you understand what I’m saying? I’m in love with somebody else … I just didn’t want to put you through tomorrow,” Ali told him haltingly. If we squinted a little — and ignored the fact that “tomorrow” was to be a contrived final rose ceremony in which both Roberto and Chris were going to propose to Ali, dressed in a ball gown, standing in front of the ocean — this speech almost sounded like a real breakup talk.
Throughout the season, Chris came off as a sweet, genuine person — much of his story line was dedicated to the fact that his mom had recently died, and he’d gone home to nurse her through her final year. You can just imagine that, in between jobs and depressed, he decided to apply to be on a reality-TV show as a lark. Who knows if he was truly in love with Ali; he sure seemed to like her a lot. So we have to hand it to Ali for letting the guy retain just a little bit of dignity on a show that specializes in degradation. Of course, Chris is better off going back to life as a normal person, and leaving the Us Weekly covers to Ali and Roberto, who’ll live happily ever after for a few months (telling each other, hourly, how hot the other is), before ending up on a “Bachelorette Special Episode,” fighting about who cheated on whom and who’s better looking (Roberto! Clearly!). And yet we have a sinking feeling that Chris might return to the series on the other side; they’ve not yet announced the next Bachelor, but he’s certainly in the running. Chris, don’t do it! Oh, fine, okay, do it. We’ll be rooting for you to find true love (and humiliate an annoying girl or two along the way).