[Warning: Spoilers abound.]
One of the weirder elements of the extremely weird Monday-night finale of the 20th season of The Bachelor was the presence of Denny Wilson, Bachelor Ben Higgins’s pastor from his hometown of Warsaw, Indiana. Denny was on hand, along with the families of Ben and Lauren Bushnell—the woman who would be revealed to be the show’s winner and Ben’s new fiancée—because Ben had, in a previous interview, said that he “would marry her tomorrow if I could.” Ben was being rhetorical. The show didn’t care. The Bachelor was going to give Ben an opportunity to make good on his claim. On live TV.
“I told you this was going to be the most dramatic finale ever!” The Bachelor’s host, Chris Harrison, told the cocktail-dress-clad crowd, after a commercial break. He paused, dramatically. “How are we doing so far?”
The crowd cheered. Harrison continued: “And don’t forget, we have Ben’s pastor from his hometown church in Indiana standing by. And tonight could end in a wedding.”
Spoiler: The night did not, in the end, end in a wedding. (“We both owe it to each other to do a wedding with our friends and our family and a big wedding and celebration to cap off this craziness,” Ben, 27, told Chris, rather sheepishly.) But: The families were there. The pastor was there. And one of the rules of reality TV production is that if you’ve gone to the expense of flying people out to a set, you don’t let that expense go to waste. So, for the final scene of The Bachelor’s 20th season—a “historic” one, Harrison insisted in a preview, without explaining what gave it the distinction—the families of the newly betrothed couple, the moms and the dads and the siblings and the Denny, were brought onstage. They talked about the future. They talked about the respect they have for each other. They hugged. They waved to the cheering crowd. It might as well have been a wedding.