We are all Peter Kraus. Like Peter, us fans of The Bachelorette grew to love Rachel. We went through a lot with her from handball dates to spelling bees to a dog sled ride involving a conversation about bathroom etiquette. We talked to her about why she couldn't just wait to get engaged until after the show. (For fans, it was a one-way conversation that took place on Twitter.) We cried when she rejected us and our feelings, and felt the dagger go in deeper when she told us she was "living [her] best life" on the live show. We're hurting right now and disappointed by some of her actions, but that's how breakups are. And now, it's time to move on and celebrate what we had, remember the good times. Because Rachel picking Bryan doesn't make her a bad Bachelorette. For it is better to have loved Rachel and lost, than never to have loved her at all.
The finale of The Bachelorette was rough. Even if you knew that Rachel was going to pick Bryan, watching her breakup with Peter was emotionally draining because, like the great Brooks and Desiree breakup of 2013, it was too real. Seeing Rachel tearfully ask Peter why he can see a future with her but can't take (what she considered) the next step to get to that, and watching him respond that he would make the sacrifice of putting his opinion aside to propose to her if it mean he wouldn't lose her was heart-wrenching. And then his line of "Go find someone to have a mediocre life with"? Oof. It was a lot. And that was even before we got to their live conversation about the breakup.
Based on what we'd seen as viewers, Rachel was different during her conversation with Peter on After The Final Rose (which, really, was more like During The Final Rose, or DTFR, this time). It had always been so easy to support Rachel because she always spoke her mind and was thoughtful and smart and genuine. But during DTFR, she seemed overly defensive of her decision to choose Bryan. It made sense because she knew that everyone had been rooting for Peter and because she was literally about to show off her love for her fiancé Bryan on a live show. Plus, we don't know what all happened in editing that made us root for Peter so much and dislike Bryan. (According to what Rachel told People, "There were other deep-rooted issues in my relationship with [Peter].")
Still, it seemed like she was overcompensating in a way that was unnecessarily aimed at Peter. When he offered an apology for his "mediocre life" comment, she snapped back with "I'm living my best life." She also twice made a point to note that this show isn't for him, which could have also been a way of pointing out that he shouldn't be The Bachelor. It's no surprise that some fans were upset with Rachel about her appearance on the live show since, because of their connection to Peter, it felt like she was turning on them, too.
If you were someone who was Team Peter — which, if you watched the season, there's a very good chance you were — seeing Rachel not be able to budge on the proposal thing and to then seem so defensive toward him was frustrating, to use the word they both used so frequently Monday night. As outsiders, we know that the premise of this show is asking a lot. A couple feeling like they should end up engaged after only knowing each other about three months is a pretty big proposition. So, as outsiders, it's also very easy to say that Rachel was being unreasonable and was blinded by the show and should have stayed with Peter and just dated him the real world. And that's fair to think. What's unfair is to base your entire opinion of Rachel on a couple of very emotionally charged moments where pretty much anyone would end up showing another side of their personality or misdirecting their frustration.
For 10 weeks we watched Rachel be a wonderful Bachelorette. There was added weight on her season because she was the first black Bachelorette, and she handled that unreasonable pressure amazingly. And then there were all the other standout moments from her season: Remember when she kicked off DeMario with "I'm going to need you to get the f*ck out"? And when she kicked him off again when he showed back up at the mansion? When she offered Lee lessons in women's rights and black history on The Men Tell All? When she kept it real and said she asked about health insurance and credit scores in the Fantasy Suites? When she, rightfully, decided to be selfish because it was her journey and was open about that all along the way?
On top of all of that, she was at the helm of a season that had more than you usually ask for from a Bachelorette season. There were sexy hot tub moments, envy-inducing trips around the world, and drama when it came to her falling in love with multiple people. But beyond that this season also talked about race and what being the first black woman to lead the show really meant. It exposed viewers to different — and, for many people, more relatable — ways of life, whether it was Eric talking about knowing people involved in drug dealing or Dean and his strained relationship with his father. I can't ignore the Lee situation. It was messed up and he shouldn't have been cast in the first place, but given no choice to ignore it, The Men Tell All handled it the best it could by letting black men talk about their experiences with racism, and the different ways that it can show itself, on national TV.
Rachel's season wasn't perfect (Lee was a huge part of that), but overall she was a great Bachelorette. DTFR was disappointing, but that's at least partially because ever since her time on Nick's Bachelor season Rachel has set such a high standard for herself. We always expected the best from her and even without being the first black lead, that's a lot of pressure to be under. Her breakup with Peter and her reaction to him on DTFR both seemed to be centered around pressure — either that she was putting on herself, from the show itself, or from viewers. It might not have been a good ending, but if you look at it that way, it's more of an understandable one.
Who knows if Rachel and Bryan's relationship will last, but when it comes to this show is that even the point? Most of the couples don't last. The enjoyment of a show like this is in the journey you take a long the way. Time will tell if that was the case for the Rachel and Bryan, too.