If you love someone, let them go. These are sage words of advice, and Colton Underwood is not going to listen to them.
Instead, he's heeding the words of Future when it comes to finding love: fuck it, mask off. Last night's Bachelor finale (part one) picked up after the dramatic fence-jump the franchise had been teasing all season, leaving Underwood with two women remaining, neither of which he truly loved. The former football player was so heartbroken by his breakup with Cassie that he threatened to leave the show. Instead, he decided to stay in front of the cameras not just to end things with Tayshia and Hannah G, but to also then pursue Cassie despite her breaking things off. This whole thing is framed as Underwood "fighting for love" — but how is it love when Cassie already told him that her feelings just weren't quite there? If Underwood, the titular fixture of the show, had the option to pack it in, then why couldn't Cassie be given that same luxury?
The Bachelor has a flair for the dramatics — did you know what's happening now has never before happened in Bachelor history??? — which is why it's not all that surprising that this situation is being portrayed as a romantic act of valor. But if you scrap the music and Chris Harrison's long pauses, the situation is simple: Cassie does not feel ready to give Underwood what he wants, and now he's throwing a tantrum.
In a conversation with Harrison, Underwood said that the only reason Cassie is leaving is because there are two other women. How does he know that? He just does!
But in reality, that's not the case. In her own words, Cassie loves Colton but not enough to give him the commitment he needs. Rather than accept that, Underwood is pursuing his own narrative, and the show is playing into Underwood's delusion to the detriment of Cassie's agency.
"He's going after what he wants and what he wants is Cassie," Garrett Yrigoyen, who got engaged to Becca Kufrin at the end of the most recent season of The Bachelorette, told Harrison during Monday night's live finale. This is true, but as he later pointed out, "It has to be what she wants as well." As of right now, she has not given any indication that it is.
"I can't make a commitment as soon as Colton," Cassie explained as she packed up at the end of last night's episode. "Right now I have to do what feels right and do what feels best for me."
She wants to see her family and her friends and resume normal life — but knock, knock. It's Colton! She's not allowed to leave just yet.
It's not Underwood's intention to pressure Cassie, and that's certainly not what the show wants you to think is happening. But even with Harrison pointing out that Cassie just might not be into him, they're still glorifying his persistence in a way that fans are absolutely noticing.
"OK not to get too dramatic but I think Colton going back to Cassie after she clearly stated she wasn't interested really sends the wrong message to men," TLC host Michelle Collins tweeted. "It perpetuates this idea that a guy CAN 'win' a woman back if he just throws a big enough tantrum."
OK not to get too dramatic but I think Colton going back to Cassie after she clearly stated she wasn't interested really sends the wrong message to men. It perpetuates this idea that a guy CAN "win" a woman back if he just throws a big enough tantrum. #TheBachelorFinale— Michelle Collins (@michcoll) March 12, 2019
"I feel like only men get to persist persist persist and fight for love when they've been rejected," Huffington Post reporter Emma Gray also commented. "If this was a woman, we'd read her as desperate and crazy."
What's irksome is that this whole thing will probably have a happy ending — maybe not an engagement, but Underwood has seemed pretty chipper during his live appearances — which will essentially gloss over his actions as a means to an end. If this actually end up working, a dangerous precedent will be set for Bachelors moving forward. Underwood has already rewritten the rules so much (eliminating all the contestants, breaking up with Tayshia off-camera, jumping over a fence, etc) that this could teach future leads that they don't have to take no for an answer. As far as the show is concerned, his feelings matter more than the contestants', but Bachelors shouldn't always get what they want.
We'll see if Underwood does tonight at 8 p.m when part two of the finale airs.