The Bachelor’s biggest loser this season was the Bachelor himself  

There’s always a twist on The Bachelor — and the one this season was somewhat unexpected: Turns out the biggest loser this time around was the Bachelor himself.

While Peter Weber, a 28-year-old pilot, ultimately left the show dating foster parent recruiter Madison Prewett, he was only able to get there after serving as one of the more milquetoast and toxic leading men in recent franchise memory. A relatively winsome contestant on Hannah Brown’s season last year, Peter struggled quite a bit more as the Bachelor.

His handling of the role was wanting in many ways: Throughout the season, Peter (referred to sometimes as #PilotPete) waffled on key decisions, including whom he wanted to propose to, and seemed to falter when he didn’t get the emotional validation he wanted from the women he chose.

If last year’s season of The Bachelorette was one of the most progressive ever, this season of The Bachelor certainly felt like a backslide.

Thankfully, it still had some redeeming qualities. The season was ultimately saved by its leading women: We’re talking Hannah Brown, Hannah Ann, Madison, and of course, Kelley. Their composure and sense of self in the face of a frustrating suitor and unwieldy production helped drive key plot points, and at the very least, generated some solid memes.

Accordingly, here are the six winners and four losers from this season.

Loser: Pilot Pete

On or off the basketball court, Pete really didn’t have any game.

Whether he was trying to make up his mind about which women to keep on the show or pressuring his date to be more expressive in order to prove her commitment to him, we conclude that Pilot Pete is the real Mayo Pete of this election cycle.

Bland, indecisive, and downright manipulative, Pete has come a long way from the fantasy suites in the windmill last season — and it hasn’t been a positive trajectory.

Whether or not it was a byproduct of producer pressure, Pete seemed to favor contestants who didn’t seem like they were in a position to commit, while repeatedly sending fan favorites home. And despite claiming to value communication, he wasn’t even able to be upfront with Hannah Ann about how he felt, when, you know, such transparency mattered most.

As the Bachelor, Pete was a real letdown from the precedent Hannah Brown set last year. If his transformation from suave pilot to spineless leading man this season was any indication, he knew it, too.

—Li Zhou

Winner: The Bachelor franchise

Every season of The Bachelor, I say I’m not going to look at spoilers. And then, every season, I do. Except this season, avoiding spoilers wasn’t about my willpower (or lack thereof). The show actually kept the truth away from me — and from everyone else tempted to find out how the season turned out.

For the first time in a long time, the Bachelor franchise managed to keep at least the ending of the season from being spoiled. Even Reality Steve, the guy who has been leaking information about the show for years, had to guess at how the season would wrap up and was changing his predictions to the very end. The season was far from a black box — there was plenty of information out there about what happened beyond who got the final rose. But to find out who Peter wound up with and how the whole thing shook out, everyone had to watch to the end. And it was refreshing for the entire audience to be in the same boat.

Every year, the Bachelor producers say this season is going to be the most dramatic season ever. Did this year fit the bill? Not exactly — I’d argue that the Ari-Becca breakup of 2018 was much rougher. But the franchise showed it can still surprise us and mix things up throughout Peter’s season.

More exciting is what’s next up: After a season composed of women in their early 20s, we’ve got Bachelorette Clare Crawley, who will be 39 when the season comes out.

—Emily Stewart

Winner: Kelley

Throughout this entire season, I had been waiting. When would one of these women give us the real talk on Peter, this vacuous and emotionally needy man, who seemed to have no clear idea of what he wanted in a partner except that she be “a woman who will tell me she loves me a lot”?

Of course, bluntly criticizing the man you’re supposed to be falling in love with (in competition with a dozen or so other people) is not the recipe for winning this Bachelor contest.

But Kelley, our straight-talking heroine attorney from Chicago, was freed from the usual restraints once Peter made the inexplicable decision to keep Victoria F. over her. It came right after Victoria had just blamed Peter, in a plainly manipulative move, for all the drama she said he brought to their relationship. But Peter stuck with her anyway.

There was no reason for Kelley to hold back. And she didn’t; she let Peter have it (to the camera, on the limo ride to the airport, but still):

I question his intentions because I don’t really know what phase he is in life. The four [contestants] that are left are like little babies. I don’t really know who they are. Are you a child or an adult? Clearly he doesn’t agree. If he’s not able to sit there and make decisive decisions and stuff like that, that’s on him. I don’t want him to waste my time either. Thank you for not coming and meeting my family.

Needlessly belittling of the other contestants? Maybe. Accurate diagnosis of Peter? Absolutely.

The producers, those cowards, apparently didn’t invite Kelley to the Women Tell All panel, where she might have delivered this righteous anger to Peter’s face. She did get a seat in the audience for the finale live show for some reason, but she didn’t get the chance to confront her old flame.

As it is, the season peaked with Kelley’s indictment of our insipid bachelor.

—Dylan Scott

Winner: Hannah Ann

All you need to know is that Hannah Ann’s breakup speech was so good, even Peter’s mom was clapping for her.

A frontrunner the whole season who fell hard for Peter, Hannah Ann didn’t fully own the spotlight until the finale, when she called him on his bullshit in the best way.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes: Peter was still in love with another contestant, Madison, who opted to leave the show. Despite these feelings, he decided to propose to Hannah Ann, even though it was apparent that he wasn’t as excited about her. He did love how into him she was, though, a fact he emphasized repeatedly.

It wasn’t until months later, after she had already accepted the engagement, that he fully came clean in a devastating conversation.

Hannah confronted him directly about the breakup in the searing live finale.

“You didn’t respect me enough to have that open conversation with me,” she said. “Word of advice, if you want to be with a woman, you need to become a real man.”

Barbara isn’t the only one clapping.

—LZ

Winner: Hannah B.

The only woman other than Madison I actually bought Peter’s affection for was the bachelorette who got away, Hannah B., who is truly living her best life. Let’s review:

  • Hannah B. got dumped by Colton Underwood on Colton’s season of The Bachelor, but not before she repaired her onscreen persona well enough to snag the role of the next Bachelorette after a disastrous start.
  • On her Bachelorette season, she was a charming central presence among a particularly toxic band of contestants, ultimately jettisoning archvillain Luke Parker and short-lived fiancé Jed in memorable (though perhaps belated) fashion.
  • She then made her debut on Bachelor in Paradise as a seasoned Bachelor veteran, cementing herself as the go-to lifer if the show needs a quick injection of nostalgia.
  • Oh, yeah, and she won Dancing With the Stars.

Hannah kicked off this year’s Bachelor with some particularly heightened drama, showing up in the first hour of the season premiere. And as soon as she stepped out of the limo, the women in the Bachelor mansion panicked — rightfully so.

Standing in front of a windmill, the site of her and Peter’s brief but torrid physical relationship, she introduced the second group date. At first, this all seemed perfectly innocuous: She regaled the new contestants with her and Peter’s story, and then asked the women, for this date’s gimmick, to share a story about sex.

It quickly became clear that something was not quite right. It turned out that Hannah was backstage at the theater where the date was held, seemingly on the verge of tears. Peter went back to see her in a dramatically lit room, where some sweet banter quickly evolved into soul-baring. Peter asked Hannah if she ever regretted sending him home, which she said she did. Peter then asked her if she would … stay and be a contestant on his season. AND HANNAH SAID MAYBE?!?!

We were left in suspense.

It’s one of the show’s most memorable cliffhangers. The storyline was quickly jettisoned in the second episode, but who cares. As it turns out, offstage, The Bachelor actually offered Hannah B. a second chance to be the Bachelorette on the strength of her appearance — but she wanted more money. Her first franchise wouldn’t pay up, so Hannah decided to take a bigger contract to stay on for a Dancing With the Stars stage tour instead, according to E! News.

Hannah B. gave Peter his only authentic emotional connection and turned down another stint on the show so she could make more money. That’s how you win the game.

—DS

Loser: Champagne

Champagne has always been a staple of The Bachelor. But this year, it was really front and center — at two of the most fun moments of the season.

First, there was “champagne-gate.” To catch up: Early in the season, one of the contestants, Kelsey, wanted to surprise Peter with a bottle of champagne she brought with her all the way from Iowa. Except Hannah Ann opened it instead, apparently thinking that it was set out by producers and not her fellow contestant. Kelsey had a bit of a meltdown over that, and once she finally settled down, she and Peter opened another bottle of champagne. She tried to drink directly out of the bottle, and it sort of … exploded on her. And thus, a meme was born.

But champagne-gate was not over with that. Kelsey and Hannah Ann went back and forth about it for days, with the former refusing to believe the latter’s insistence that she had opened the bottle by accident. And that’s when champagne delivered a second memorable moment — or rather, a new word. Hannah Ann complained that she wanted the champagne “finasco” to be over. Not fiasco. Finasco.

There were multiple references to champagne-gate throughout the season, including at the Women Tell All, where members of the audience tried drinking out of a bottle to see if it, too, would explode. It was a beautiful finasco.

—ES

Loser: Chase Rice

Chase Rice would very much like to be excluded from this narrative. According to an interview with the Fitz in the Morning radio show, Rice, a country music singer, had some misgivings about appearing on The Bachelor — and was coaxed into doing so by his manager and publicist, who assured him there wouldn’t be any shenanigans.

After agreeing to perform on the show as a musical guest, something the franchise often brings in for romantic “one-on-one” dates, Rice walked right into the drama he was hoping to avoid. The date he was performing on just happened to involve his ex.

As viewers of the show well know, chaos ensued.

Victoria F., Rice’s ex-girlfriend and Bachelor contestant, immediately recognized the singer during the date but refrained from telling Peter until later on. This secret left Victoria and Peter to sway awkwardly in the crowd, while Rice appeared to croon directly at them. It was perhaps one of the most ingenious love triangles the show has cooked up thus far.

While Victoria and Peter ultimately talked things through via a tearful confrontation, the whole incident still forced Rice to be the focus of drama on a show he’d supposedly been skeptical of in the first place. He wouldn’t be the first to use the show for his music career and be surprised with the result, though.

—LZ

Winner: The clip with Peter’s mom

If there’s one thing that kept us all going this season, it was the clip producers kept showing week after week of a tearful plea from Peter’s mom, Barbara Weber.

“Bring her home to us,” she begged in between sobs. “That’s what love stories are made out of.”

The brief clip spurred a lot of intrigue. Bring who home? Why wasn’t said person there already? And why was Barbara so distraught?!

Throughout the season, there was been plenty of speculation about exactly what Barbara is talking about. It produced just the kind of discourse that can make watching The Bachelor so much fun. Much like in Colton’s season, when producers relentlessly teased that one time he jumped over a fence after he got rejected, the moment with Peter’s mom served as the exchange that made all the filler and bland date conversations kind of worth it.

—LZ

Loser: Honest conversations about racism

During this season’s Women Tell All special, The Bachelor did something it hasn’t done much before: It tried to talk about racism — but it never used the word racism.

Rachel Lindsay, the show’s first black Bachelorette, spoke with host Chris Harrison for the segment, which focused on online harassment. As part of it, she read a series of appalling sexist and racist messages she had received, comments that she made clear were just the tip of the iceberg. Lindsay called out the “hate” behind such statements, and Harrison explicitly told fans of the show that such behavior was unacceptable.

“I know it’s uncomfortable for you to see, but just imagine how uncomfortable it is to get this in your comments and your DMs, every day, every week, every month,” Lindsey said.

Other women from the show talked about their experiences with cyberbullying, too. “The things I’ve had to go through in my life because of the color of my skin and because of where I’m from, I’ve had to be really strong,” said Sydney Hightower, a contestant of color who is from Alabama.

It was noteworthy and meaningful that The Bachelor sought to shine a light on the racist and sexist feedback different contestants have received. But the show’s longstanding unwillingness to be explicit about the discrimination that Rachel encountered made it feel like contestants were talking around the issue and unwilling to call it for what it was.

To make matters worse, Harrison did not ask Victoria F. about her decision to model “White Lives Matter” clothing, including garments emblazoned with the Confederate flag. The Bachelor, it seems, is trying to make progress on having open discussions about race — but that growth is stunted by the terms and low expectations the franchise sets for itself.

—LZ

Winner: The other men

Few people had wanted Peter to be the Bachelor coming off Hannah’s season. He seemed to be the least exciting option compared to that season’s other two viable candidates.

Before Peter was named the next Bachelor, the fandom’s hopes lay with those two other men: Mike (the sweet, gregarious guy who also would have been the first black Bachelor) and Tyler C. (the sweet, gregarious guy who looked like he should have ended up with Hannah, except she wised up about her true feelings for Jed at the eleventh hour).

But the producers went a different direction from “sweet, gregarious guy.” Maybe it was because Tyler C. was dating a supermodel after Hannah’s season wrapped. Maybe it was because Mike’s relatively anonymous stint on Bachelor in Paradise came and went. Maybe there was a fan base offline somewhere calling for Bachelor Pilot Pete. Maybe Mike and Tyler just didn’t want to do the show.

Or maybe it was easier to pick another dopey white guy instead of breaking a longstanding racial barrier by picking Mike. I don’t know. But we got Pete.

And as a result of *gestures to everything above*, Mike and Tyler C. look better than ever. Bachelor Nation agrees:

Well, here’s some good news: The Bachelor just reached back to a long-past season’s cast for its next bachelorette, Clare. Maybe there is hope yet for a Mike or Tyler C. season.

Li Zhou Li Zhou https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/52517/voxv.png Read More