“I don’t know that I have the clarity that I need for tomorrow and a proposal. I’m a little confused about what I want to do,” Bachelorette star Hannah Brown says in the first half of her show’s 2019 finale. However, in Tuesday night’s wrap up chapter, Hannah still follows Bachelor Nation tradition and gets engaged in the final rose ceremony of season 15. The lucky winner is Jed Wyatt and his infuriatingly omnipresent guitar.
But, part 2 of the finale doesn’t wrap with an update on Hannah and Jed’s journey towards the aisle. Instead, Hannah’s final appearance on “After the Final Rose” shows her grinning at her runner-up, Tyler Cameron. Bachelor lead Colton Underwood and his final pick Cassie Randolph also ended their finale earlier this year beaming at each other. Both couples left the franchise so deeply happy despite one shocking twist: Neither closed their respective marriage-obsessed series engaged.
Instead, these 2019 Bachelor Nation pairings walked away from The Bachelor(ette) daring to date. It's the kind of level-headed, heart on your sleeve, ending fans have been begging to see for years — and the best thing to happen to the quickly evolving franchise.
Hannah sets up the possibility of reconnecting with Tyler following a lengthy deep dive into her breakup with former fiancé Jed. Over three set pieces — Hannah’s reaction to the People story, her confrontation with Jed over the tell-all, and their “ATFR” reunion — we see Hannah’s heart break over learning her betrothed isn’t the man she agreed to marry. In fact, she heard Jed’s sanitized version of his relationship with Haley Stevens days after she accepted his proposal. She then didn’t get the full story of Jed’s history with his ex until weeks into her engagement, when tabloids began reporting on the story.
It’s difficult to watch Hannah realize how thoroughly she has been lied to by the man she planned to marry. You can’t help but wonder if the pressure to get engaged during production — something Hannah herself questioned multiple times, as mentioned above — helped push everyone involved into this painful situation.
So, Hannah doesn’t make that mistake again during her reunion with Tyler. With Jed’s conclusion handled, Hannah immediately seems ready to restart her relationship with Tyler ahead of his “After the Final Rose” entrance. “Those feelings didn’t just go away,” she admits with a coy grin to host Chris Harrison. The audience eats up the suggestion, and only screams more once Tyler joins Hannah onstage for a flirtation storm. Finally, Hannah gives the fans what they want.
“I’m really confident in who I am now … I just thought maybe we could go for a drink and just hang out?” she asks Tyler. The Florida contractor/model responds he would “love to” and says the Bachelorette just has to pick a date.
“Did you just Tyler out on a date? You guys are gonna give this a shot?” Chris asks. Hannah shoots back, “I think we need to just be normal people…Have a drink.”
It’s the most refreshingly mundane way to look at love amid the overwrought heights of The Bachelor(ette). On an earlier season, Tyler wouldn’t be able to agree with Hannah’s pragmatic approach after weeks of separation. Instead, there would be some suggestions that maybe he should propose on such a momentous occasion. After all, Tyler nearly popped the question in Crete — why should “ATFR” be any different, some may ask (in reality it’s very, very different).
Just look at 2018’s messy Bachelor ending. Like Hannah this year, Bachelor season 14 lead Arie Luyendyk Jr. split with his winner, Becca Kufrin, during a Happy Couples Weekend. When he showed up to “ATFR” with his runner-up Lauren Burnham, he proposed on-camera.
But, Alabama Hannah’s ex Colton helped change the game this spring. The former football player closed his fence jumping season thankful that Cassie, a woman he chased over his final episodes, would simply agree to date him in the real world. At their “After the Final Rose” appearance, the young couple reiterated that they were taking life as a couple slowly and a proposal couldn’t be further from their minds. Their easy smiles suggested the choice was working well for them.
Just two years ago, Bachelorette favorite Peter Kraus asked lead Rachel Lindsay for a similar setup in the finale. She broke up with him. The split was an emotional disaster so large, the image of Rachel crying off her fake eyelashes is still emblazoned in many a fan’s memory. Rather than accept Peter’s request to try out love outside of the Bachelorette fairytale bubble before agreeing to a lifetime commitment, Rachel got engaged to Bryan Abasolo, the man ready to propose on the last day of filming (they’ll wed this summer).
After two back-to-back non-proposals on Bachelor Nation's flagship series, it seems impossible to believe any lead will ever be faced with a conundrum like Rachel's again. Colton ended up with the woman he jumped the fence for. Hannah is going on a date with the most beloved suitor on her season. Neither of these outcomes seem like failures, even with a ring missing from the equation. How could future leads not reconsider just how necessary an engagement is after 10 hazy weeks of courtship? It's a discussion that gives stars the option of picking the person their heart is drawn to over the person most vocally ready to walk down the aisle.
And that's pretty damn romantic.
In a series that often feels fully disconnected from how people actually fall in love in the 21st century, The Bachelor(ette) finally got a much-needed reality check. Now if only producers would let the leads peek at contestants' social media...