Juan Pablo’s Foolish Bachelor Finale Decisions Will Haunt Me (& Chris Harrison) Forever

Photo: Matt Petit/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images.
Bachelor Nation witnessed the wrath of Barbara “Barb” Weber just over a month ago. In the moment, the Bachelor mom’s open hostility towards her son, 2020 Bachelor Peter Weber, and his “final” choice, not-girlfriend Madison Prewett, seemed impossibly singular. Barb was chaos incarnate — and The Bachelor doesn’t do true chaos (even Colton Underwood was surprised by his unlimited post-fence jump freedom). But Barb isn’t the only person to bring unmitigated discord to the traditionally predictable “ATFR” stage. Before Barb, there was the boundless and bizarre behavior of Juan Pablo Galavis
Whether you watched Juan Pablo’s Bachelor season 18 when it aired over the winter of 2014, or completely skipped it, it’s likely J.P.’s finale appearance is fuzzy for you. Clare Crawley’s now-infamous breakup with Juan Pablo — and her subsequent iconic verbal middle finger against the Bachelor — eclipses everything else in the 2014 season. Who has time to think about the lead-turned-villain when his runner-up is solidifying one of the most GIF-able showings in the series’ history? 
Yet, now that I’ve seen Juan Pablo’s “ATFR” appearance, I will never stop mulling it over in my mind. It is the single most antagonistic appearance by a Bachelor Nation lead in history — and we’ll never experience another one like it. 
The tension between Juan Pablo and host Chris Harrison during the March 2014 special begins with J.P.’s very first “ATFR” segment. Juan Pablo comes to the stage after Clare Crawley, who has just declined to speak to her ex because of  his offensive comments during the last days of proper filming (he reportedly said he “loved fucking her”). So, Chris repeatedly asks the Bachelor about Clare’s exit in St. Lucia and if he regrets how he handled it. It is very clear that Chris is attempting to give Juan Pablo a chance to fix his image — to apologize to Clare for how he hurt her and swear it was a heat-of-the-moment accident rather than his genuine outlook. 
Juan Pablo declines the olive branch. He says he did what was “good for him,” and tells Chris, “It worked out the way it worked out.” Chris is subtly stunned by the non-apology but attempts to move on and set up for the next segment. Juan Pablo then decides to absolutely ruin whatever modicum of deniability Chris left him by refusing to engage in the Bachelor’s horrorshow. J.P. loudly proves he still believes his horrendous actions towards Clare are justified, snidely asking Chris, “Why should I have a regret?”
Even the modern day leads who come to “ATFR” most frustrated with “the process” — like Colton Underwood, who resorted to running around the pitchblack Portuguese countryside to escape producers  — would never dream of calling out Chris live on television. Thanks to NDAs and the desire for future Bachelor/ABC/Disney opportunities like hosting gigs, live shows, and Bachelor in Paradise, cast members use lower-key offshoots like social media and podcast interviews to vent their frustrations (See: Blake Horstmann’s Twitter). But the hallowed hours of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are saved for holding the party line. The series’ most vocal star, Rachel Lindsay, proved as much by openly criticizing the show for years since her 2017 Bachelorette season, only to show up to the 2020 “Women Tell All” special for a commanding segment about racist internet harassment. Rachel — who now hosts the official Bachelor-approved podcast Bachelor Happy Hour — and Chris couldn’t have seemed chummier. 
Juan Pablo continues to buck this tradition when he and his “winner” Nikki Ferrell both talk to Chris for the first time as a public couple. By now, Nikki has already confirmed that Juan Pablo never said he loved her over the four-month period between the end of production and “ATFR.” She insists J.P.’s “actions” prove he loves her (Nikki and Juan Pablo broke up seven months later in October 2014). In another attempt to rehab Juan Pablo’s optics, Chris asks if he has a “big surprise for tonight,” since he apparently promised one to the ABC execs back in St. Lucia. A live engagement is very clearly the suggestion. 
“I don’t,” Juan Pablo says, scrunching his face in supposed complete confusion. But then he confirms he did talk to the execs and “kept his secret well.” It’s just that… his relationship with Nikki is the secret. Not a proposal. Chris is visibly deflated as he confirms there is no “surprise” and Juan Pablo shoots back, “No, you’re talking about surprise.” 
If this were a present day “ATFR” the possibility of an engagement would be produced to the final second (ask Neil Lane, who was still forced to show up to Peter’s fallen-souffle of a live show). Such a momentous occasion would never be left to chance, particularly not when the lead already has such a frayed relationship with production. As Clare said on Olivia Caridi’s Mouthing Off podcast, she never heard J.P.’s snide comment during her exit — “I’m glad I didn’t pick her” — because producers were too busy cheering as she told him off. 
“ATFR” continues to deteriorate as Chris tries to get Juan Pablo to describe his feelings for Nikki. Rather than celebrate the relationship — and realize he opened up his romantic life to the world by leading The Bachelor — Juan Pablo offers uncomfortably detached comments like saying he feels “great.” When Chris needles J.P. on whether he loves Nikki, he bristles, countering, “I’m not going to answer that question … When you’re with somebody, you don’t say you love her or not, if you are there or not.” After Chris asks what that confusing blanket statement means, J.P. announces, “We’re done with the show. We are so done,” and repeatedly accuses Chris of “interrupting” him. 
Although Juan Pablo’s verbal jousting match with Chris continues for another 10 minutes of footage, the final truly strange moment arrives when the Bachelor is asked what is next for himself and Nikki. Juan Pablo says their plans changed “drastically” the day of the “Women Tell All” taping, but refuses to explain how. Although Juan Pablo claims “WTA” itself did not influence this development, he later says, “it was some information [he] got from people in production” that affected everything. We never find out what was said, leaving the jab as a tantalizing and odd condemnation of The Bachelor that will forever remain a mystery.  
Chris is so flabbergasted by the end of Juan Pablo’s “ATFR” segment, he calls the fiasco “a Bachelor first — easily.” All together, this Bachelor farewell seems disorientating after a season where Chris and Juan Pablo never came to such intellectual blows (there was a single prodding meeting during Fantasy Suites week). Yet, the release of two deleted scenes in the lead-up to “ATFR” paint a different picture of Chris and J.P. during filming. In one, Juan Pablo attempts to explain why he slut shamed Clare over their night swim in Vietnam, saying he “doesn’t make one single move without thinking of Camila,” his young daughter. 
“But you did,” Chris shoots back, throwing metaphorical cold water in J.P.’s face. 
In a later scene, Chris tries to get Juan Pablo to understand why Andi Dorfman left after her Fantasy Suite date. J.P. harps on a hyper-specific part of the conversation — whether or not he said she was still on the show by “default” — rather than taking in the sum total of Andi’s feelings. “You realize that’s not what the argument’s about?” Chris asks, only sending Juan Pablo on a new tirade. 
“He was one of those guys, you’ll never kind of understand the depths of him,” Chris complained to Huffington Post a month after the finale aired. “Nobody could ever have the problems he has had. And no matter what happened, what situation, he was the victim.” 
It’s no wonder Chris was still calling Juan Pablo “trash” as recently as 2019. After finishing The Bachelor season 18, I know that’s the nicest word Chris could find.
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