All of which makes sense, especially if you look at Bachelor(ette) proposals as being different to IRL proposals, which they are. A tallying of unions past clearly show that a Bach proposal doesn’t have a high conversion rate.
But Peter’s definition of “engagement” was arguably closer to how a non-Bachelor(ette) might define it: “My belief in engagement is that engagement is marriage,” he said. “I want to do it just as many times as I get married, which is hopefully once in my life. And I want to be truly certain that this is the person for me at that time, and for the rest of time.” This extremely sensible, not at all notable statement actually marked him as special on the show. For fans, it seemed like his normal-guy eyes saw the wizard pushing gears behind the curtain, and it felt as groundbreakingly honest as you can expect in this kind of faux-reality.
In last night’s finale, Rachel and Peter reunited on stage following footage of the tear-filled conversation that led to his dropping out of the competition. They traded emotional “I love yous” and finally accepted that they’d reached an impasse. Punters used to the narrative dodges of the show hoped there’d a be a double-switch later on, that the tension between the two would later be laughed off as a ruse. But, no: The two had parted ways, and the finale itself put a seal on it. “I think people saw a different side to him they still aren’t ready to accept,” Rachel told ET. “I mean, the man told me I was going to have a mediocre life if I wasn’t with him.” Not exactly the words of a prince.
As usual, there’s a caveat with any Bachelor franchise romances, especially after the behind-the-scenes, so-dramatic-they-must-be-true “revelations” of Lifetime drama UnREAL. Which were that any storyline we see on reality TV has been chopped and screwed, massaged into a form that feeds fairytale ideas of romance or, at the very least, fuels anticipation for the next season. As Rachel has reminded us since the finale aired, there’s probably a lot we didn’t see.
But with Peter, we loved everything we saw, from the loving uncle to the forthright suitor and, eventually, the man who cried in the aftermath of Rachel’s departure, uttering in anguish, “What’s wrong with me?” Right until the deflated end of the episode, when Bryan, the last man standing, proposed to Rachel, some of us really thought that the contestant we’d rooted for—been encouraged to root for—would prevail. That’s not to criticize Rachel’s choice or denigrate the relationships she had with both finalists. Rather, it’s to recognize that the inherent friction between Peter’s worldview and the Bachelorette worldview threw up too many sparks for a happy ending—but we went along for the ride, anyway.
Some have pointed out that his likeability, fan base, and relatably bumpy romantic journey have made Peter a prime candidate for Bachelor-dom. (Rachel herself does not agree.) In which case, despite his protests, he had us fooled. Perhaps he isn’t really a Regular Joe avatar, fumbling his way through an incredibly strange experience with understandable agita. Maybe he wasn’t actually the simple, straightforward—idealized—guy that pretty much anyone could fall for. But we still did love him. And that might be because he peeled back the curtain just enough to make us feel like we were in on it this time.