Going into Monday night's finale, it looked as though Minnesota's first season with one of our own starring in The Bachelor/ette franchise was going to end the way Vikings playoff appearances inevitably end: high hopes giving way to bitter disappointment.
Indeed, The Bachelorette went one step further in its resemblance to the NFL, reminding us that whoever wins or loses, the whole enterprise is highly problematic.
(Warning: spoilers follow.)
Becca Kufrin, Prior Lake girl turned Minneapolis publicist turned America's sweetheart, accepted the marriage proposal of Garrett Yrigoyen, a medical sales rep from Reno who distinguished himself by his frequently tearful devotion to his Gopher State beau. "I love the way she says 'bag,'" he gushed in Monday's episode.
There was a flag on the play, though: Soon after the season began airing, another member of Bachelor Nation screencapped Instagram posts that Yrigoyen had liked with a later-deleted account. Among them: posts mocking transgender people, a joke about throwing an immigrant child over the border, and a conspiracy-tinted post suggesting that a Parkland shooting survivor was a paid actor. One post Yrigoyen liked celebrated the blond, trim, and bigoted Tomi Lahren at the expense of a heavier woman wearing a shirt identifying herself as a feminist.
Yrigoyen apologized for the likes, saying he had been "mindlessly tapping" and that he was taking the criticism as a learning opportunity. He doubled down on that apology in a post-proposal interview on Monday. "I’m just trying to grow as a person," he told host Chris Harrison as Yrigoyen sat by Kufrin's side, "be a better person on a daily basis."
As viewers immediately noted, though, Harrison managed to conduct the entire on-air discussion without ever mentioning the nature of the content that sparked the controversy. The focus was all on how the uproar affected Yrigoyen's fresh engagement with Kufrin — in other words, how it affected the show's plotline.
The show, and Yrigoyen, declined to take the opportunity to offer an explicit statement of support for the trans community, or to apologize to the survivors of school shootings, or to condemn the Trump administration's abusive treatment of refugees. All we needed to know, Harrison (and the cast members) seemed to imply, was that Yrigoyen was There For the Right Reasons.
That also left a larger question unaddressed, one the show was definitely not going to touch: How much do contestants on the show really learn about one another's political views? Former contestant (and subsequent Bachelorette) Rachel Lindsay has said that she learned of Trump's election just prior to her crucial "fantasy suite" date with Bachelor Nick Viall, and was far too distraught to focus on the relationship. Viewers, needless to say, neither saw nor heard a peep about that — nor did Viall, since Lindsay was afraid to even raise the subject. "I really didn't know where he stood," she later said about the man she was meant to be deeply in love with.
The way the show spun Insta-gate was reminiscent of how ABC handled a prior controversy on the spinoff show Bachelor in Paradise, when shooting was temporarily suspended due to an incident of sexual misconduct in which producers apparently failed to intervene, preferring to keep the cameras rolling. The footage never aired, and the two individuals involved left the show, with only a vague explanation regarding what actually happened.
Harrison had a somber on-camera sit-down with the remaining Paradise cast members, lecturing them on the importance of sexual consent, and that was that. The show carried on, playing the drama of the temporary hiatus to the hilt. The fact that the show deliberately crafted circumstances in which contestants would get dangerously drunk and then make out was left unaddressed, except for a reported two-drink-per-hour limit that was subsequently imposed.
Kufrin, as it happens, has been more open about her political views than most franchise cast members: She's With Her, a fact Yrigoyen obliquely referred to on Monday in saying that his online activity hadn't been in line with his fiancée's principles. In the end, though, Kufrin stuck with Yrigoyen, saying that during the weeks of filming, she got to know his true self, and viewed later revelations through that lens.
Yrigoyen may well be on a personal journey toward a more humane understanding of the world, but to a lot of Minnesotans, he looks like a lot of the guys who were in Kufrin's potential dating pool right here: Bros who will nod supportively if you say you voted for Hillary, but who will then go sit on the toilet, pull out their phone, and start liking hateful memes. Not Minnesota's best, nor Nevada's.
Beyond that, the season was a snooze. That was evidenced by last week's "Men Tell All" episode, which was completely dominated by model (always referred to as "male model") Jordan Kimball. His boastful beefs with other contestants were pretty much the only plotlines the show deemed safe to recap: Lincoln Adim, a major player in the season who was later revealed to have been previously convicted of indecent assault and battery, was nowhere to be seen and wasn't so much as mentioned. The Bachelor, apparently, can only publicly digest one scandal per season.
So what did Minnesota get out of The Bachelorette? A couple glamour shots of the Stone Arch Bridge, some free advertising for the State Fair, and...Garrett Yrigoyen. That's right, Kufrin revealed on Monday that the couple are moving to Minneapolis, at least for a while. Ultimately, she said, they're planning to move out to California together. As Harrison made a point of mentioning, Kufrin's mom didn't look too happy about that.