Prepare for the most dramatic take on Bachelor in Paradise ever: we’re sick of the engagements, which are starting to suck all of the fun out of the ABC reality hit.
It’s ironic that The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the shows that began with the sole and singular purpose of a televised proposal, have been evolving beyond the notion that the only happy endings that matter are the ones that end with a giant Neil Lane diamond ring on that finger in recent seasons, while Bachelor in Paradise, introduced as the wild child of the franchise—a Spring Break of sorts for the suspended-in-Insta-fame rejects of the franchise—has doubled down on the engagement-or-break up-forever mentality.
What was once a fun romp on the beach has now turned into a breeding ground for the next Jade and Tanner or Carly and Evan, with the proposal pressure not coming from the producers or the show’s initial construct, but the cast members, especially in its sixth season, which comes to an end tonight.
Dylan Barbour basically picked out the ring he’s going to put on Hannah Godwin‘s finger the moment he saw her on the beach, and it’s clear Nicole Lopez-Alvar is dead-set on getting Clay Harbor to get down on one knee, despite the fact that he’s barely dropped the L-word. Contestants now arrive armed with sunscreen, flip-fops and the expectation of an engagement, for better or for worse.
Just look at Chris Bukowski, a seasoned franchise vet at the ripe age of 32 who once infamously retired from reality TV on TV, who is kind of losing his s–t on the beach as his time with Katie Morton comes to an end.
“I’m just so in my head right now,” Chris said in the penultimate episode, in one of his many anguish-ridden moments. “We’re coming to the end. I’m just, like, thinking, like a lot… I’m thinking way too much right now.”
That resulted in him sort-of-breaking up with Katie, only to go back on it after she assured him she’s OK with not getting engaged, reasoning, “You’ve been burned, and you have fears, and that’s OK.” (Alas, it seems they may very well end the finale engaged based on promos.)
Chris’ proposal-induced panic attacks might be because he has been in this position before, one he detailed (during his retirement) in Amy Kaufman‘s 2018 New York Times best-seller Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure.
In the book, Chris alleged he felt immense pressure to propose to Elise Mosca, a woman he met during Bachelor in Paradise’s inaugural season and admitted he “couldn’t stand.” After a villainous turn on Bachelor Pad, Chris claimed a producer told him a proposal would serve as image rehab, saying, “You’ve got to do it. This is going to fix your image so much. America’s going to fall in love with you guys.”
Though Chris initially flew back to Mexico (after he left in week three with Elise after injuring his knee) and was seriously considering going through with the proposal, he backed out last minute.
So when did engagements become the norm on Bachelor in Paradise? Well, it actually did start way back in season one, which debuted in 2014.
Just one couple got engaged at the end of the short filming schedule—Marcus Grodd and Lacy Faddoul—with no one involved in production really expecting a proposal to happen when they first began production on the spinoff. But after spending every minute together on the beach, Marcus and Lacy just couldn’t imagine life without one another.
“We actually calculated how many hours we spent together and how long it would’ve taken us in real life to date and get that far. It was approximately six months,” Lacy reasoned to People after their engagement raised eyebrows.
And one year later, the couple became the first in the franchise to wed in Paradise, with their beach wedding, officiated by Chris Harrison, airing as part of the season two premiere. It also was a carrot to dangle in front of the new cast, a tease of what could possibly be at the end of the journey. See, this process can work! (Never mind that Marcus later revealed the couple never actually made their marriage legal and Lacy ended up ghosting him.)
One couple present for the nuptials? Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert, who became one of BIP‘s golden couples after getting engaged in the season two finale. The only pair to end that season proposed, Jade and Tanner’s wedding ended up being the center-piece of The Bachelor‘s 20th anniversary special and the couple has since welcomed two children, becoming the gold-standard and reference point for many Paradise stars as they head down the stairs.
Another inspiration came in the form of Carly Waddell, Jade’s BFF who was left devastated in the season two finale when Kirk DeWindt, the man she had spent the majority of the season with, dumped her at the 11th hour in one of the franchise’s most heartbreaking moments.
So when Carly returned for another chance at love the following season and ended up delivering one of The Bachelor‘s weirdest-yet-most-adorable love stories ever with Evan Bass, with the fan-favorite couple getting engaged at the end of the season, they became yet another irresistible example of BIP‘s inexplicably palpable power.
However, they weren’t the only season three couple to get engaged, though they were the only pair to actually get married (their wedding was featured in season four, of course) and are currently expecting their second child together.
Grant Kemp and Lace Morris also left Mexico with plans to wed (and matching tattoos), but by the time the leaves had started changing that fall, their engagement was off.
“When you’re in a regular relationship there’s already challenges you face. We did everything backwards,” Grant, who had been unsure if he had even wanted to propose before ultimately getting down on one knee, told ET. “I don’t regret going on the show [though]. It kind of fast-forwarded our whole situation. We figured everything out now that it takes most people a couple years to figure out.”
Years later, Lace admitted on the Ben and Ashley I. Almost Famous Podcast that “it was definitely lust” that drove their relationship, which Grant would later describe as “volatile.”
Speaking of volatile, the other season three couple to put a ring on it was Josh Murray and Amanda Stanton, whose relationship caused drama all season long leading up to their engagement.
Though Josh (who was previously engaged to Bachelorette Andi Dorfman, with their rocky romance documented in her tell-all book) moved in with Amanda and her two daughters, the couple called off the engagement three months later, only to keep breaking up and reconciling, with their ups and downs playing out in the tabloids before finally splitting for good in 2017. But the split wasn’t a pretty one, as Amanda spoke out about Josh’s “controlling” behavior and the “red flags” she ignored throughout their relationship, and police getting involved after there was an argument over their shared car.
Despite her volatile romance with Josh, Amanda reluctantly returned to the beach for BIP‘s fourth season, though she expressed no interest in getting engaged again.
“I don’t regret any of it, but I definitely learned that [getting engaged on TV] is not something that I would do again,” she told Us Weekly. “The best case scenario is I meet someone and then we go home and date in real life. I’m not looking to get engaged at all this time. Just taking things slow.”
(Amanda remained true to her word: ending the season single-ish as she ended up casually dating Robby Hayes before calling him out for his f–kboy behavior at the reunion taping.)
And the majority of her season four co-stars seemed to share slow-and-steady sentiment, with only one couple ending the journey engaged after the shorter season: Derek Peth and Taylor Nolan, who split one year later, citing long distance as one of the main issues.
“There is a reality that comes behind every relationship that we have,” Derek explained on the Here to Make Friends podcast, “just timing and just what happens in the real world in and of itself and we just couldn’t make it work to where were both at a happy place.”
Raven Gates and Adam Gottschalk, who ended the season in a committed relationship but with no plans for an immediate engagement, recently got engaged.
And season five, which aired last summer, delivered two engagements and two committed relationships, with Chris Randone and Krystal Nielson‘s wedding serving as a major moment in season six.
The season’s other engaged couple, however, proved not as successful: On the same day the finale aired, a cheating scandal broke as it was alleged that Jenna Cooper had been unfaithful to Jordan Kimball after he got down on one knee. Jenna also reportedly said she was only with Jordan for the fame and followers, writing in an alleged text message, ” I don’t even like him let alone love him. I’m better than him and once I’m able to I’ll break it off for good and make up some story to make him look bad.”
Though Jenna vehemently denied the cheating claims and was threatening legal action, Jordan ended the relationship.
As for the two couples that decided just to continue dating after Paradise? Joe Amabile and Kendall Long are still together, while Astrid Loch and Kevin Wendt recently got engaged after she moved to Canada to be with the former Bachelorette Canada winner.
While they ultimately found their happily ever after, it wasn’t an easy road, as Kevin’s previous experiences on the show definitely impacted him toward the end of the season, leading him to initially break up with Astrid before reconciling after they returned from production.
“It was very selfish of me. It was like, what do I want to do? I just wanted to go home,” he said in a People interview, admitting he regretted rushing his romance with Ashley Iaconetti on The Bachelor Winter Games just months prior. “I was like, ‘I just need to leave. I don’t want to be talking about rings. I don’t want to be looking at rings.'”
But the couple managed to avoid the proposal pressure, taking things slow, which ended up being exactly what their relationship needed.
“I think we’re trying to just stay for now and not kind of rush it. The process in Paradise definitely puts a lot of pressure on you a little bit, and it definitely gave him a little bit of cold feet,” Astrid later explained on The Domenick Nati Show. “So we’re just trying to date like normal people in the real world for a little bit.”
That’s exactly what Kendall and Joe did following their BIP romance (and Joe’s stint on Dancing With the Stars right after), as the couple moved in together in April and recently celebrated their one-year anniversary. Still, they are in no rush.
“I don’t think I have a rush but whenever it’s right, it’s right. We talk about engagement,” Kendall told E! News. “Engagement has been part of our entire relationship so we’re very comfortable with it. We’re excited to find a time that works for both of us.”
And yet, season six’s couples seem to think it’s either now-or-never when it came to the final day of their Bachelor in Paradise journey, that if they don’t leave the beach engaged it’s a sign that their relationship isn’t far along enough to make in the real world.
Cast members casually talk about engagements and place bets on which couples will end the season engaged, much like Bachelor fantasy leagues do as the season airs. Ahead of the final rose ceremony, host Chris Harrison stressed that these roses represented “a relationship, love, happiness, hopefully spending the rest of your lives together.”
After that, the couples began dropping like flies, with the survivors still working out just how serious their partner was about their future, mere weeks after meeting for the first time. Maybe we’re cynical, but any takers that only one of the likely several couples who get engaged in tonight’s finale will still be together by Stagecoach 2020?
Bachelor in Paradise‘s finale airs tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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