SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched Peter Weber’s season finale of “The Bachelor,” which aired Monday night, Mar. 10, on ABC.
Chris Harrison always says it, but this, truly, may have been the most dramatic season finale ever in the history of “The Bachelor.”
The two-part finale kicked off on Monday night with Peter and his two finalists, Madison and Hannah Ann, in the Australian outback. Madison, in recent episodes, had given Peter an ultimatum, saying if he were intimate with any of the other ladies, she wouldn’t be able to stay with him. On Monday night’s finale, Madison broke up with Peter and left Australia, leaving Peter heartbroken so Hannah Ann was the only remaining woman — however, Peter did not tell Hannah Ann that Madison had left, and did not reveal that he was hurt by the breakup.
Tuesday night’s finale began with Peter proposing to Hannah Ann in Australia. At this point, Hannah Ann still was not made aware that Madison left Peter just two days before.
When Peter told his parents about the engagement, they were over the moon, following Monday night’s episode where Peter’s mother, Barbara, told her son that Hannah Ann was an “angel,” but suggested they would not accept Madison into their family.
One month after the proposal in Australia, cameras followed Hannah Ann and Peter, who broke off the engagement, telling her that his heart is split two ways.
Back in the studio with a live TV audience, Hannah Ann and Peter set down for the first time together, after the breakup. Then, Madison came into the studio where she came head-to-head with Peter’s mother, Barb.
Here, ABC executive Rob Mills chats with Variety about the dramatic and controversial season.
On the first part of the finale on Monday night, Peter is heartbroken over Madison, but Hannah Ann didn’t know. Did Hannah Ann see that episode early, or did she find out about Madison leaving this past Monday night, like every other viewer?
They watch everything live, so they saw last night. The emotions were fresh and raw.
So, Madison also didn’t know that Peter’s parents didn’t like her until she saw Monday night’s episode?
Was Tuesday night’s live show the first time that Madison saw Barb after that, or did they get a chance to talk before?
This was the first time.
There was a lot of pushback regarding Barb’s strong opinions on Monday night’s finale. How do you think Tuesday night’s confrontation with Madison will be received?
I think the confrontation with Madison probably has more people on Madison’s side.
The finale was live, and you’ve said you didn’t know what was going to happen, but you obviously knew Peter’s mom was not a fan of Madison — did you know how ugly it was going to get?
We knew that she was not necessarily thrilled that Peter had reconciled with Madison, but this was truly a little bit scary because it was live and nobody knows what she’s going to say, but at the same time, that’s what makes for great TV. But, I don’t think anyone knew she would go that far.
It seemed like “Jerry Springer” at one point with a mother fighting with her son on national TV over his girlfriend. Did Barb go too far?
We all want love. We all want to find that person and want to be with someone. And the fact that the family does not get along with the person you’ve chosen to be with is also something that many people deal with. Family dynamics is always something you have to deal with. I think everybody saw some scenario in their life than rang true while watching that.
Peter’s mother just ripped apart the winner on national TV. What happens now?
I think it’s going to be difficult with Peter and Madison, so I’m glad that everybody saw these dynamics on TV, so that if they don’t work out, it played in front of the audience. When you sign up for this show, you sign up to bring the audience with you on this journey.
There are clearly a lot of unanswered questions in their relationship. Will you continue filming with the Weber family for any reason?
If it’s warranted. I think, right now, they deserve their privacy. But of course we’ll check up on them. If there’s something that warrants us filming, we would love to be there.
Looking back on the season in its entirety, now with the craziness of the finale, how do you feel about the full season?
I think Peter has been judged harshly as the Bachelor, and I think, over the past two nights, we learned why he did some of the things that he did because of his family. But I hope he finds happiness with Madison, and then we’ll see that the whole roller coaster ride was worth it. That’s how we feel with Colton and Cassie — it was a weird route, but they did find each other in the end.
Do you think Peter and Madison will have a tough time being embraced by Bachelor Nation?
I think people are pretty forgiving. I think if we had this conversation two years ago about Arie and Lauren, I would’ve said, I don’t know. But they have a baby and it worked out and there’s a lot of goodwill for them. And Becca and Garrett are so happy, so it all worked out. Certainly, Peter and Madison have gone through a lot to be together — if they end up together, they’ve gone through a unique experience that no one else can share.
There’s been quite a bit of backlash to the finale on social media. Is there anything you would do differently?
I think you need to look at everything and make adjustments where you can because at the end of the day, you want this all to work out. Everyone really loved Peter, both on-camera and the producers. We’ll have to see was it worth it for maybe some extra drama that was good, but in the end, I think we’ll look at everything, for sure. People seem excited that we’re taking a left turn with Clare, so I’m glad that’s the direction we’re going.
Madison told Peter very late in the season that she is saving herself for marriage, and she said she wouldn’t feel comfortable if he was intimate with the other women — even though that’s the format of the show with the Fantasy Suites. Do you think the producers should have made this clear to Peter earlier in the season, or should Madison have been encouraged to tell Peter earlier in the season?
That’s something that’s so personal, I really think it’s Madison’s thing to say. Yes, you do have producers who almost become counselors there, and I’m sure they brought it up, but you don’t want to talk Madison into something until she’s ready.
Hannah Ann was proposed to and had no idea that Madison was already gone, and she had no idea that Peter was heartbroken. Hannah Ann used the word “blindsided” when discussing with Peter on the live finale. Should Peter or the producers have told Hannah Ann that Madison left in Australia?
He was being true to how he was feeling. I think Hannah Ann was right that he was worried if he told her that Madison left and his heart was split because of that, Hannah Ann might have walked away. It might have been unfair to her, but as we’ve seen, Peter goes into everything with good intentions, but he leads with his heart, and sometimes that gets messy.
It seemed like Peter was just choosing Hannah Ann because Madison had left. Do you think the format of the show puts too much pressure on an engagement in a short amount of time?
You do go in and you’re spending this time really just focusing on that with the intention that you want to find the one, and I think it’s pressure more than you put on yourself, more than the format. But it is interesting how it’s playing more real now, and not so formatted. I’m not quite sure why that is and why that keeps evolving, but I don’t think anyone is really pressured into doing anything, but there is a lot of self-pressure.
Every season lately ends up so unresolved with the cameras continuing to roll after the initial finale, and the stars changing their minds. Why does this keep happening?
On the face of it, it looks like that, but if you look at each one on its own merits, they’re all kind of different. Hannah Brown was a cut-and-dry season until everything came to light with Jed, but up until then, that wouldn’t been a straight down-the-middle season. Colton’s season, there was a lot going on, and he was a very different kind of Bachelor. This one, too, keep in mind, when we filmed it, he was happy with Hannah Ann. I was with them on New Years Eve, and they were very happy together. But then, this was a dynamic with his family that we haven’t seen before. It’s certainly not the intention, although it’s certainly good TV and riveting.
Do you hope to continue having these extended seasons where you keep the cameras rolling?
It’s great to have those very traditional happy ending seasons, and certainly that’s the hope with Clare, but you never know.
Both Hannah Ann and Madison are 23. Your next Bachelorette, Clare, is 38. Are the contestants on the franchise getting too young?
I think the world has changed and people are waiting more. We’re all living longer now, so people are waiting more, so I think that’s important to take into consideration. But certainly, you look at Hannah Brown last season who was 24, and she was poised, confident and ready. And these girls were, too. Look at Hannah Ann in the end through the breakup — that was a woman who knows herself and knows what she wanted. Look, someone like Clare is certainly deserving of love, but so is someone who’s younger.
Hannah Ann really had a great moment during the live finale. She read Peter the riot act, and she got great immediate reception on social media. I know it was live, but did you know what she was planning to say?
You sort of knew that she was very strong from watching the scene where she took the ring off. But tonight, she was really composed and she had some time to prepare for this because the breakup happened weeks ago, so she really was very strong and had her moment.
With that being said, what plans do you have for Hannah Ann in the future? Obviously Clare is the next Bachelorette, but maybe down the road? Or “Bachelor In Paradise?”
We’d love her on “Bachelor In Paradise.” She has to be ready.
There were certainly polarizing thoughts surrounding Barb, but she definitely makes headlines. Any plans to utilize her in the future?
Anywhere Barbara wants a place in Bachelor Nation, she’s got it. She’s certainly somebody with a lot of love to give.
Maybe she can replace Chris Harrison on the senior show you’re currently casting?
She can co-host with Chris Harrison. A lot of people have said they want to see Barb as a bartender, too.