Colton Underwood’s season of “The Bachelor” ended with a shocker: no proposal and no engagement.
After Monday night’s episode, the finale picked up with Colton knocking on Cassie’s door, asking for a second chance.
She gave him that second chance, and the duo ended up meeting Colton’s family, who had some doubts, but ultimately, everything worked out and the newly-reunited couple went on a “Bachelor”-esque date, repelling down a seaside cliff and having a romantic picnic in Portugal. Then, they headed to the fantasy suite, and while it was heavily implied, the episode never explicitly revealed whether Colton ultimately lost his virginity.
The couple sat down with host Chris Harrison live on the after show, confirming in front of a live audience that they’re happily together today, but they’re not engaged.
Here, ABC executive Rob Mills talks to Variety about Colton and Cassie’s happy ending and how this finale could change the future of “The Bachelor” franchise.
Looking back on the season, do you think the virgin storyline was overkill?
He was a very marketable hook, so we’d be stupid not to really use it and lean into it. I think [promoting his virginity] was to get people in who either weren’t familiar with Colton or the previous season of “The Bachelorette.” That’s a five-second sell: The Virgin Bachelor. It did take a back seat, but obviously as we got into fantasy suites, which is about physical intimacy, it did start to rear its head again.
Well, since it was the hook of the season, I have to ask: can you confirm if Colton did in fact lose his virginity?
I don’t know. It’s insanely implied in the finale, but I don’t know. It’s not like we were going to have him run off on the show saying, “I’m a man now!” I don’t think there should be any doubts by the time the show ends, but it’s not on us to say anything.
Four different women left during the course of the season on their own merit. That’s really unusual. Is that a reflection on Colton as “The Bachelor,” or why do you think that was?
I think they were sort of savvy to who he was really into and it was kind of a mutual thing. And I think in some cases, they just knew this was the end, so they figured, “Why should I sit and wait through a cocktail party?” I think some women really cared for Colton and didn’t think it was necessarily fair to him because they saw how seriously he was taking it. I think they were all very different circumstances.
The finale really took a turn from the typical “Bachelor” scenarios. Instead of Colton making the choice between two women, he was left begging for Cassie back, or he’d go home single. Did you think that role reversal made for a good season ending?
It reversed everything. Cassie was almost like “The Bachelorette” in that moment. We all felt that the best way to play this was real, which was that it’s Cassie or nobody.
How do you feel about there not being a proposal? That’s realistic for real life, but that goes against the “rules,” so to speak, of “The Bachelor.”
Colton knew that he couldn’t rush this. They are together, but there’s just no proposal and there’s no engagement. They’re together and they’re very happy, and that’s it.
In real life, most people don’t get engaged in the matter of weeks, especially after being surrounded by cameras, not to mention competition with more than 20 other women.
Exactly. We’ve always been okay with a realistic ending. We don’t want it to feel trivial, just to have engagement. We want it to be taken really seriously, just like Colton did. Colton doesn’t have to propose and Cassie doesn’t have to accept an engagement. We just want them to be real and be honest because then it will be play real [on TV], and I think that’s what happened. We don’t want people to be together at the end of the season just so that it doesn’t look bad, and then break up six weeks after airing — that’s where red flags go up. But this played very real, and it was refreshing and I hope people like it.
Is this the future of the franchise — not putting pressure for there to be a proposal and engagement at the end the season?
I’d say that it’s always sort of been said that you never have to be engaged. But you also do want to say to the people on the show that you are looking for some sort of partner, whether it’s a total engagement or just someone that you’re thinking of in the right way. You want to really be thinking seriously about this.