Bachelor in Paradise Wasn't Ready for Its First Queer Love Story

Screenshot: ABC

Bachelor in Paradise aired a three-hour finale and reunion special Tuesday night, concluding Season 6 and a chapter of reality television that will likely be referenced in future Bachelor conversations for its apparent inclusiveness and queer representation. In reality, the show fumbled Demi Burnett’s coming out story and treated her engagement as one of its many regularly scheduled “surprise twists.” It came across as particularly dehumanizing.

Earlier in the season, Demi’s girlfriend back home, Kristian Haggarty, was allowed to join Bachelor in Paradise so they could work on their relationship. It was a series first in two ways: 1) The person with the girlfriend back home is almost always caught and cut loose from the show early on, and 2) The girlfriend most certainly does not get to come on the show if they’d never been on a previous season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Call me a conspiracist, but those special permissions felt like they were made so that The Bachelor franchise could film a queer love story, one that was already well established off-camera, and one that would end in an engagement without having to give them the space, time, or consideration the other couples who’ve had countless hours of screen time received.

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In the finale, Demi and Kristian get engaged after Demi proposes. The other couples run down to celebrate them, stopping just short of saying,“We’re so proud.” (There was enough of that in the previous two-hour blocks of television.) In the reunion special, Demi and Kristian are introduced last, and Kristian proposes to Demi again. It’s never really explained why—do Bachelor producers think queer relationships require two proposals?—and what could’ve and should’ve been a romantic moment felt forced, as if they were trying to squeeze whatever good juju they could by showing a gay relationship on a show so founded in an antiquated, heteronormative vision of love. Make an all-queer The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, do like Are You the One?, or get out of here!

Some other highlights from last night:

  • Clay and Nicole decided to forgo the fantasy suites because he wasn’t “100 percent.” My guy, no one is 100 percent on anything. She asked him if he loved her and he said, “I’m not there yet... I am starting to fall in love with you, but I’m not ready to move in together or to get down on one knee.” “Run,” I muttered to myself, because none of my friends are tasteless enough to binge this show with me. And run she does. Nice.
  • Chris proposed to Katie, and I did not see that coming. She said yes, which I did. He’s been on, like, one hundred seasons of this show, which is a red flag if I’ve ever seen one. At the reunion, Katie wasn’t wearing her engagement ring. “I fell in love with potential that may never come to fruition, but I’m praying that it does,” she told Harrison on the brink of tears. Chris says they’ll work on it. Off stage, he became a different person—and told her he felt blindsided.
  • Hannah G. and Dylan got engaged, but in the reunion he said she’s moving to California to be “close to him.” Are they not living together?
  • Blake is still an asshole who has taken his time post-Bachelor in Paradise to come up with a new defense against all the contestants he’s wronged: It’s gauche to talk about sex on television, so why did all the women air his dirty laundry?
  • Jordan returned after getting kicked off the beach for fighting with the most quotable lines of the evening, including, “Next year for Paradise, get off Instagram. Or don’t go to Stagecoach.
  • Tayshia and John Paul Jones took the floor—she realized she fucked up in breaking up with him because he made her so happy, and so she chased after him. They agreed to date. Back in Los Angeles, he got on one knee and quoted Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He did not propose. It was a gag. He’s playful. That’s his thing.
  • Chris Harrison worked to reignite all former beefs from the season and create some new ones at the reunion (like when Onyeka destroyed Cam and reminded him that he was not invited to her birthday party. That was glorious).
  • Apparently, Caelynn and Dean live in his van together now and Connor and Whitney are taking things slow, off-show, and all the better to them.
  • I’m glad Dean got rid of that heinous mustache (and I am a mustache fan!), but why did he opt to look like the ghost of a somehow-tan Victorian boy instead?
Screenshot: ABC

Oh, and Peter the pilot from the sex Windmill is your next Bachelor. The end. Bachelor nation, we did it. Good night.

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Maria Sherman

Senior Writer, Jezebel