Remington, host, creator and producer of Provo’s Most Eligible invited Eli and I to moderate the Q&A and Men Tell All after the finale event last Thursday. I guess because Remington is a great sport about these recaps.
Eli and I needed to prepare in advance the questions we would be asking Bee, Lauren, Ellie, and the men they dated, so we needed to know the final outcomes and the current state of their relationships. We got the spoilers the night before. And boy were they spoiled!
Knowing what I knew, watching the finale was like watching footage of Hillary supporters from November 7, 2016. The stars of PME were all so happy and so blissfully unaware of what the future held once the cameras were put away.
There were multiple times during the screening when I felt compelled to yell, “NO! Don’t! You'll regret this!” knowing full well that there was nothing I could do to prevent the train from wrecking. I just had to sit and watch it happen. For two hours.
It started with “home town visits,” which in the extended PME universe equates to the girls meeting some combination of people who are close to the men they are dating. Family. Friends. Mailmen. Whatever.
Elli and Scott Skype Scott’s family in Georgia:
And then Ellie meets 1,000 of Scott’s Utah relatives:
Great Grandma Jan asks Ellie if she’s going to BYU to find a husband or graduate. And I need you to know that I let out a long, tired sigh as I typed that sentence.
THEN. Scott’s cousin/roommate/best friend sits down with Ellie to say over and over that he’s very possessive of Scott. Like, very possessive of Scott.
No, like, REALLY possessive of Scott. He says this ninety times.
“He is my hero. He’s such a stud. He has such a huge future in front of him. He’s going to med school. Smashed the MCAT. Going to open up his own practice. He’s going to go change the world,” he says. Then he asks Ellie, “Do you feel up to that?”
And Ellie responds the only way anyone can respond when asked if they feel up to a man’s idealized future as imagined by his best friend/roommate/cousin:
Next Bee meets Walker’s family:
The family breaks off into chats with one another:
I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to address the hotness of McKenna’s boyfriend. Like, who gave him the right to look like that? Just sitting there. Not even trying. That’s just his face? And hair? And upper arms? And eyebrows? I don't understand.
Anyway, things go pretty far off the rails when Walker talks with his mom.
His mom tells Walker he and Bee are not at compatible places in their lives. Bee has a career, Walker is still in school. “I’m not sure you’re ready for having someone else a factor in determining where you’re going,” she tells him. And I let out another tired sigh because it feels like if the roles were reversed and Walker had a great job and promising future, no one would be telling Bee not to date him.
What’s more concerning than the subtle sexism though is it appears this is the first time Walker has given ANY thought, a single thought, to his and Bee’s future:
“I just don’t know if I’m ready to date right now,” says the guy who is 7 weeks into a dating competition.
SUCH A LONG, TIRED SIGH YOU GUYS.
Next Lauren meets Jake’s family.
You know when you meet your friend’s parent and can tell exactly what your friend will look like in twenty to thirty years? That’s what it felt like seeing Jake’s dad on screen:
Jake’s parents say that he’s seemed happier and more alive since the start of his and Lauren’s relationship. Again, I KNOW HOW THIS ENDS so watching this family talk about how good it is to see their son smile again makes me want to pull my hair out strand by strand.
“He has become a different person,” Jake’s mom says. “She brings out the best in him,” his dad adds. And there is a giant pile of hair on my desk now.
Then Ellie meets Josue’s family and roommates and dog.
Ellie tells the camera that she’s not a fan of dogs.
Woof. Get it? Cause dogs. I’m very tired, guys. Please just laugh at my woof joke.
Ellie plays Uno with the fam, because sure, none of us have anything better to do than watch a random group of people play Uno on our streaming devices,
and then kisses Josue
in front of his family:
I dunno. I give up. Kiss with your family watching through a window if that’s what makes you happy, guys. I don’t care anymore.
Next, Bee meets Keaton’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephews.
They play with the nephews at the park.
It’s adorbs. And a lot shorter than the other hometowns.
Then finally, Austin meets Austin’s sister, brother-in-law, and cousins.
During their interactions with this group it becomes apparent to one person that Austin and Lauren are not an ideal match.
Brother-in-law whose-name-I-can’t-remember just doesn’t think Austin and Lauren are right for each other.
Austin tells brother-in-law-whose-name-I-can’t-remember that he wants his honest opinion about Lauren.
“I honestly think she’s not the one for you” BILWNICR tells Austin. And Austin doesn’t seem shocked to hear this.
And then, at long last, it’s time for the final flower ceremony. Ellie is the first to step out of whatever car this is. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.
Ellie chats with Remington over a landscape that looks like someone got in over their head with Instagram filters and can’t undo any of their changes and so they just have to try and remember what real colors look like and never quite get there:
Ellie tells Remington that she’s known for quite some time who she is going to choose.
It’s not Josue, who shows up in a golf cart first. The first guy to show up is the guy who goes home. This has been the rule as long as reality dating shows have existed.
They break up and no one seems even a little bit bothered by it. Not Ellie, not Josue, not the random golfers that keep walking through the shot in the background.
There are a lot of things I have genuinely enjoyed about this season of PME, but the random golfers of Sleepy Ridge who have no idea their silhouettes will be on a Provo reality dating show are my very favorite thing.
Scott comes beeping up on a cart seconds after Josue departs.
Ellie expresses her admiration for Scott and tells him she liked him from the very first night.
Scott launches into a Scott sermon that ends in Scott telling Ellie he loves her then handing her two tickets to Georgia to meet his family.
Next out of this car that must belong to someone’s dad is Bee:
YES MY SCREENSHOTS ARE GETTING A LITTLE SLOPPY I’VE WATCHED THIS FINALE THREE TIMES I’M DEAD INSIDE.
I’ve watched this finale so many times that I’ve created an entire backstory for the discarded umbrella under the tree.
It was once part of a joyous celebration. A wedding reception. It was a nuptial ceremony in late spring, and a slight drizzle fell across the grounds. “I’m glad we brought the umbrella,” the bride’s father said, triumphantly opening the device and handing it to his beaming daughter, “Oh dad, you’re the best,” the young bride replied, and kissed him softly on the cheek. The bride held the umbrella while she smiled for photos, while she greeted guests, and while she danced with her husband through the final song of the night. And her dad watched, reflecting on the life his daughter lived to this point. The memories they had shared. It was a bittersweet. He at once felt both proud of the woman his daughter had grown to be, and anxious that things might never be the same. The time came for his daughter to depart for her honeymoon. Before she stepped into the car, she closed the umbrella and handed it back to her father. As he clasped the handle, she placed her hand on his, looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you, Dad.” And in that moment he knew that things might not be the same, but they would be okay. The couple drove away and the wedding party slowly filtered out of the golf course, back to their homes, back to their lives. He set the umbrella against a tree, reminding himself to retrieve it later. But in all the business of cleanup and goodbyes, he forgot. The umbrella remained. And it remains there still to day, a monument to a father’s love for his daughter, and the importance of letting go when the time is right.
So that’s the umbrella.
Anyway, the show creators know Bee’s choice is the choice viewers are most invested in, so they take their sweet time alternating shots of the two golf carts transporting the two guys,
waiting to reveal who arrives first, Keaton or Walker.
It reminds me a lot of this iconic moment in cinema:
They intercut the cart footage with interviews with the two dudes, wherein Walker reveals he’s been thinking a lot about what his mom told him and that he really isn’t ready for a relationship.
“I’m not like ending things, but I’m not tying the knot right now,” he tells the cameras. I'm not sure he knows what tying the knot means.
Keaton is the first to be dropped off, and I cannot overstate the devastated reaction from the crowd at the finale screening. I think I heard sobbing.
Bee mercifully gets to the point and explains to Keaton that their relationship has not progressed much in the last few weeks.
He acknowledges as much afterward to the camera and says he needs to treat the girls he likes better. He does seem real bummed.
But not as bummed as you’re going to be when I tell you what happens next.
Bee greets Walker.
And then she starts listing all the things she likes about him. I groaned.
Then she pulls out a wand that I guess is from the first night?
That was two hundred years ago so I don’t remember.
Then Bee asks him if he would like to be the final member of the Bee team, and instead of expressing any of his concerns or reservations, he just says, “I would.”
And it sucks. Keaton is four feet away talking about how he wants to be a better man in relationships, and this guy knows he’s going to break up with Bee the second the cameras stop rolling. I shipped Bee and Keaton. We all shipped Bee and Keaton. It’s frustrating when TV does not turn out the way you want it to. Which is why I’ve sent SEVERAL strongly worded letters to the producers of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Just kidding?
Lauren is our final Bachelorette to choose her man.
To no one’s surprise, Austin is first to arrive.
The conversation quickly becomes a race to see who can breakup with whom first.
Austin ultimately wins with an Imma let you finish but....
Lauren looks very relieved to hear Austin say he doesn’t think they have a future together. She does throw in a dig about him not being there for her when she needed him, but it’s about as amicable a breakup as a breakup can get.
Then, Jake arrives.
They declare their love for each other, then use some weird, coded language to talk about their relationship.
“I have a lot of demons and I’m going to make mistakes,” Jake says. Then asks Lauren if she will stick with him. “I love that you’re imperfect and working on things,” she responds.
Obviously there’s context missing there, but don’t you worry. I sat down with Jake and asked him every question I had about this scene, and he provided many illuminating answers. You can find that interview here.
The show closes out with ten minutes of Jake and Lauren kissing, Ellie and Scott kissing, and Bee and Walker not kissing.
“Will it last?” Remington asks the camera. Not the camera he is supposed to be facing, but a camera none the less.
The answer is no. It will not. None of this will last. These relationships are all going to end in varying degrees of bad.
And they do. Some immediately (Walker and Bee), some soon after filming ends (Jake and Lauren), and some a while later (Scott and Ellie). I was not surprised when Remington told me these results prior to the screening. Relationships born on reality television rarely make it far. What did surprise me was how devastating the end of these relationships was and is to those involved.
It’s a devastation I witnessed from the front row at the Men Tell All. Hosting that event stands as one of the wildest things I’ve ever done. You can watch the full segment here and learn exactly how and why things fell apart:
But I’m not sure the intensity of the night comes through on screen. So let me bear witness. There were a lot of raw feelings and a lot of unresolved resentments. And the whole thing felt very real and very uncomfortable.
And in a way, that’s a real accomplishment for the PME team. To get viewers so invested in an outcome, and participants so involved, that in a room full of over a hundred people, you could hear a pin drop when a single contestant spoke. To have fights breakout in YouTube comments sections over what really went down off camera. People care about these kids.
Season 1 of PME was a show I loved to hate. Season 2 was a show I hated to love. And I’m excited to see what Season 3 shapes out to be. But I sure am glad it's a full year away.
(Design: Josh Fowlke) (Editor: Rachel Swan)