On the ''Bachelor'' season finale, Charlie gives a ring -- and maybe his heart -- to Texas nurse Sarah B., but is there any real romance left in the dating franchise?
Credit: The Bachelor: Bob D'Amico

”The Bachelor”: Sarah B. gets some kind of ring

Dear Bachelor,

This isn’t the easiest letter for me to write. We’ve been inseparable for many very long seasons, and while it certainly hasn’t been all sunshine and roses (pardon the choice of flower), I thought I had finally reached the point where I wasn’t ashamed to admit to my family and friends the guilty pleasure I’ve derived from our regular Monday-night rendezvous. You took me to exciting locations. You made me laugh. You even improved my self-esteem, if only by letting me feel superior to your more shameless (Sarah W.) or clueless (Geitan) participants. But tonight — or maybe it was before tonight — my feelings for you changed.

I know this might come as a shock. I mean, your season finale should’ve sent me over the moon, right? Everyone got what he or she wanted: Charlie and Sarah B. found love, or something like it, topped off by a big mega-carat friendship ring; Krisily positioned herself as the heartbroken yet ”classy” heiress to the Bachelorette throne; Nana shook her aged derriere for the cameras and maybe scored a future TV gig in the process; and host Chris Harrison brought Sarah B.’s mother to the brink of tears, smiling benignly all the way. And that live audience, well, they sure seemed delighted, feverishly cheering in and out of every commercial break like Oprah fans getting free minivans filled with Butterball turkeys and copies of O magazine. Yay!

But as all those champagne glasses were being hoisted in the air, I hit the ”pause” button and forced myself to take a really close look at you, Bachelor franchise. I know these words will sting, but if you take them to heart, maybe there’ll be hope the next time you get mixed up with some bright-eyed reality TV addict.

For starters, you’re bloated and repetitive Yeah, I know your network had to compete against that Raymond dude’s last episode, but three hours? Surely, we didn’t need to hear Mr. Harrison use the word ”live” no fewer than 17 times (yeah, I was counting) during the 180-minute finale. On a similar note, I don’t think 10 minutes passed without Charlie or Krisily or Sarah B. uttering something about ”falling in love.” After a season filled with rage and shame, dancing and bickering, harlotry and debauchery (remember those body shots, Krisily?), the whole finale felt a little bit one-note. It was enough to make me long for the return of the world’s most beautiful, misunderstood woman, Sarah W., lugging her huge, disfigured ego behind her in a wheely suitcase and stirring up mad trouble.

You’re also painfully obvious From the moment Krisily arrived in Long Island, it was clear she’d already earned Charlie’s ”just friends” seal of disapproval, robbing the episode of any tension. Let’s see: Krisily gets taken to the Montauket, where she’s forced to drink beer out of a plastic cup with the guys; Sarah B. gets taken to a quiet sit-down restaurant for a glass of white wine. Charlie jokingly tells his dad not to make a pass at Krisily but shows nothing but respect for Sarah B. Which woman is Charlie falling for again?

If that wasn’t enough, Krisily and Nana each dropped suspense-crushing quotes well before the final rose — Nana referring to her granddaughter as the ”second runner-up,” and Krisily herself noting that Charlie’s phone calls had grown ”more and more sparse” following their final date in Los Angeles. Charlie acted shocked that Krisily took his rejection so well, but in my mind, she was already four steps ahead of him, reciting her best ”I’d marry Charlie tomorrow” dialogue, hoping to maximize viewer sympathy and maybe land herself the role she really wanted all along. No, not Mrs. Charlie O’Connell but rather the coveted part of The Bachelorette. (And the way ABC kept the cameras trained on Krisily, and squeezed the Charlie-Sarah B. pre-engagement into all of — what? — 10 minutes, makes me think the Rhode Islander might just get her wish).

On a similar note, your red herrings are transparent Did anyone else find Charlie’s friend Jack’s instant ”dislike” of Sarah B. a lame attempt to distract from Charlie and Sarah’s obvious chemistry? I don’t care how real a guy is trying to keep it: Unless ABC producers are begging him to do it, he’d never respond to his best friend’s girlfriend’s claim that she was motherly by snidely remarking: ”That’s a nice way to say ‘controlling’: motherly.”

I like you better when you’re funny All season long, Charlie (and the catty bachelorettes) set themselves apart from previous seasons with their ribald jokes and wicked behavior. So how come we got so few Charlie-isms in the show’s last three hours? ”I got a lot of love, and I’m tired of spreading it around,” our Bachelor croaked into the camera a good hour into the episode. And then — poof! — he turned into a tearfully earnest celebrequin (or was he merely augmenting his highlight reel, hoping to land a guest spot on Desperate Housewives?).

You’re kinda mean If Charlie really wanted to handle the show’s finale in ”the most gentlemanly way I possibly could,” and if in fact this season of The Bachelor was free of rules, why did his possible future wife have to spend three hours locked in a green room (with no clock in sight) waiting to hear whether or not she was going to have her heart broken on live television? I’m not saying you can’t wring good television from such a scenario, and I’m not saying Charlie’s tearful declaration of love was insincere, but is this any way to begin a lifetime of mutual respect and commitment?

You’re not only bad for womankind, you’re bad for all of humanity I realize that Krisily actually uttered the words ”You can keep me around for as long as you like — I won’t complain,” but couldn’t that degrading moment have been left on the cutting-room floor? Ditto for Charlie’s comment about Krisily, which made her sound more like man’s best friend than a woman he’d consider settling down with: ”Krisily is loyal and open and honest. She’s a real good girl.” Nice, Charlie, why not just throw a stick for her to fetch and rub her belly when she retrieves it? (Okay, I’m a little bitter, but maybe that’s because when it comes to that hideous two-headed monster known as The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, I’m nothing but a predictable pooch myself.)

You see, Bachelor, I’ve tried to break free of you so many times, vowed to myself to replace you with something healthy, like 30 Minute Meals or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or maybe that Anderson Cooper show that makes the news look like so much fun. And maybe, when the new fall schedule kicks into gear in September, there’ll be so many great new shows to choose from that I won’t even notice if you’ve won a spot on the regular schedule. I hear Heather Graham’s got a new show, and Dennis Hopper too. I just hope you don’t mess up my best-laid plans by popping up on the rerun-heavy summer schedule when I’m cooped up in my apartment with the air conditioner running.

After all, there’s only so much temptation a boy can take.

Reluctantly yours,

Mike Slezak

PS: What do you think, readers? Is your Bachelor romance over? Did you think Charlie and Sarah B.’s relationship is meant to last? Should the newly perky Krisily come back as the Bachelorette? Or is it time to retire the franchise?

The Bachelor: Charlie
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