Trista chooses the smokin' sweet fireman over the macho money manager. It was the right ending for the best of the matchmaking reality shows, says Ken Tucker

By Ken Tucker
Updated February 20, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Trista Rehn, The Bachelorette: Trista
Credit: The Bachelorette: Craig Sjodin

Trista picks the right guy!

Holy mackerel: She picked the right guy!

As much as I had been digging the way Trista had managed to project a complex personality in a show designed to simplify romance to a ”He loves me, he loves me not” pull-the-daisy game, I really thought, beneath her sexy-cool exterior lay… a cold, TV-guided heart. That, in other words, she would pick Charlie, the slick ”financial analyst” hustler, over Ryan, the melting-heart, poetry-writing fireman.

After all, hadn’t she kept that other oily-smooth creepo, the crocodile-grinning Russ, around until the Final Three? Clearly, this girl has a thing for confident power-guys. (Just look at her own daddy: Here’s a deceptively mild-mannered guy who’s got it goin’ on. He had both his wife and ex-wife present for the lengthy meet-the-parents segments, and everyone seemed to get along quite duckily.) Plus, Trista had kept harping on location, location, location: Mr. Money Manager lives in the same state as Trista does, but was/is Ryan moving from Vail, Colo., to slide down a warm California firepole?

The mere fact that I’m raising these questions shows what an absorbing production ”The Bachelorette” proved to be — by far the best of these ”single person picks a mate” pony shows. (Did you catch the promo for tonight’s, um, reunion of Aaron and Helene — the tears, the bitter recriminations, the lunkhead inarticulateness? By the standards of ”The Bachelor,” ”The Bachelorette” was a work of Jane Austen wit.)

To be sure, the two-hour finale had more padding than Marlon Brando in a mattress commercial. Trista went to the jeweler to be sized for the wedding ring (she’s a five, with — sorry, kid — notably stubby fingers; did you catch Ryan pulling at them during their final date, as if to stretch her digits out?). Then the guys went separately to the jewelers’, to each pick out a ring. There were the separate meet-the-parents segments.

Some annoying editing occurred here: Did we have to see the same clip four times revealing that Ryan was going to ask Dad for Trista’s hand in marriage before we saw the full-length footage itself? Of course not, and by the time the scene played out, it was touching — Ryan was genuine in his awkwardness but also sweetly well-spoken — but also a bore, thanks to the producers.

For her part, Trista talked in that baby-talk coo more frequently as the previous weeks — and the last show — went on. That, I’m willing to grant, may have been increasing nervousness on her part, but Ryan is so little-boyish, her girlish chatter probably won’t grate on his nerves. Trista’s remarks were also edited so that she said some variation on ”I’m falling so hard for two guys at the same time,” like, 47 times. OK, we got it, we got it — she was conflicted, she was teasing info, smooching, drinking gallons of hootch, and, one was led to believe, having sex a time or two with one, the other, or both.

It’s a measure of how the series sucked you in that you searched for the tiniest hints as to which way the decision would go. When Trista greeted Charlie for their final date wearing glasses and not her contacts, I thought, ”Ooh, that shows a degree of comfort” — but then she was also four-eyed greeting Ryan at her door. Dang: No clue there. (In retrospect, the fact that Trista was shown sleeping with Ryan’s stuffed-doll gift to her, the little whale Shamu, was the only small giveaway.)

No, ”The Bachelorette” was, if not a nail-biter, a very neat ring-dangler, with a few terrific final snippets of dialogue. Charlie’s stunned ”Talk about being thrown in front of a bus”? Excellent. (But I’d have reserved that particular flattening fate for puffed-up, full-of-himself Russ.)

The best line, however, came from our ultimately endearing, articulate bachelorette, who encapsulated the ”is it just for the cameras?” conundrum of this genre of TV by saying near the end, ”Yes, it’s real emotions, but it’s not… reality.” A smart cookie to the end.

Unsolicited parting advice: Ryan, lay off the rhyming couplets; Trista, pitch your voice a tad lower in intimate moments. And all the best, kids — you’re gonna be second-guessed by people like me for quite a while to come. Well, at least until tonight, when the media’s gnat-like attention is diverted to ”Survivor.”

What do you think about Trista’s choice?

The Bachelorette: Trista

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