At least, Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay has finally chosen her match, and the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with is… Bryan? That’s right, the 37 year-old chiropractor came out the winner of this season, to the surprise of everyone out there who thought Rachel would see right through his pick-up lines and Miami swagger. But remember when you’re livetweeting your reactions on Twitter on Monday, or talking about it around the water cooler the next day: Rachel doesn’t have to justify picking Bryan on The Bachelorette to anyone, least of all the people who’ve been watching the show from week to week.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been on the Bryan train. Even though he and Rachel have undeniable physical chemistry with one another, he always struck me as just a little bit too smooth and always a little too prepared with a charming compliment, and it’s hard to tell what he’s like as a person beyond that. Plus, calling himself “trouble” at the beginning of the season when he first met Rachel felt like a huge red flag. You know that Maya Angelou quote that goes “When someone shows you who they are, believe them”? The Bryan version of that is when someone tells you they’re trouble, don’t engage with them. Or get engaged to them, in this case.
But despite all my misgivings, the important thing to remember is that I’m not the Bachelorette: Rachel is, and she came onto this show with the very specific goal of getting engaged by the end of it. Even if I think Peter’s ultimately a better match for her (despite his hesitancy to commit to engagement by the end of the series), it’s not my job as a TV audience member to demand that Rachel pick the person I want her to end up with.
Rachel knew going into this season that she was going to have to face a lot of expectations, particularly as the first black Bachelorette in the show’s history. “I get pressured from so many different ways being in this position, and I did not want to get into all of this tonight,” she said earlier in the season during one of her particularly tricky rose ceremonies. “I already know what people are going to say about me and judge me for the decisions that I’m making. I’m going to be the one that has to deal with that and nobody else. And that’s a lot.”
She also told The Hollywood Reporter something similar in May, pointing out that in particular, race didn’t play a factor into her decision. “I’m not choosing a man for anyone else. I have to be selfish,” she admitted. “I have to do what’s best for me. I’m the one who has to love and spend the rest of my life with this person, if I’m lucky to find that one. I couldn’t get caught up in picking a certain man to please a certain community.”
Sometimes it seems as though reality TV stars are infinitely accessible; Rachel herself has an Instagram account and a Twitter account that she updates regularly during episodes of The Bachelorette. But just because you see Rachel on an unscripted show every week and follow her on social media doesn't mean that you know her — or more importantly, that you know what's best for her. After all, these types of programs are meticulously edited, and there might have been a lot of awesome stuff about Bryan that ended up on the cutting room floor.
So by all means, feel free to complain about how The Bachelorette's finale went down all you want on Twitter (I'll probably be doing it too). But think twice before you @ Rachel in those tweets or demand any kind of explanation from her. Rachel's a grown woman, after all. She can handle herself just fine.