After riding the wave that is The Bachelorette for the entirety of the season – where in some cases we take the show a little too seriously, and in others, not seriously enough – a funny thing happens as we get to the very end.
That in watching – anticipating – a winner to be announced, we almost always forget that in order to reach the end, we must first bear witness to someone else falling apart on screen.
We must watch their rejection, heartbreak and tears and come to an uncomfortable question: Why is it I’m watching this for entertainment again?
Of course, engaging in the drama is all well and good. Engaging in the love story isn’t a hard hobby. But engaging with someone’s else’s total misfortune, and having to witness the evolution of unrequited love in real time? Not a particularly fun past time.
For Nikki Gogan and Lana Jeavons-Fellows, their heartbreak was fodder for national conversation; their tears making headlines. After coming runner-up in consecutive seasons of The Bachelor – Gogan on Richie Strahan’s 2016 season and Jeavons-Fellows on Sam Wood’s in 2015 – they know too well what it’s like being broken up with in front of an entire nation, and the subsequent difficulties that comes with having your grief made public.
Gogan tells Mamamia she did watch her own finale, and her own heartbreak, and found it compounded what was already a uniquely difficult experience.
“Certainly for the person it’s very, very real. In a show like this, you know what’s coming when you get into it, but when [it doesn’t actually work out], it’s a very blurred reality. If people have their heart broken in real life, or if their relationship ends and feelings aren’t reciprocated, then that’s it. You get on. But in this scenario, you live through it and then there’s this time period where there’s nothing. You go back to normal life and try to get over it. And then, you have to watch it. You see yourself fall in love, and it nearly happens all over again because you see yourself falling.
“It’s a very unique situation, because by the end, you’re nearly right back there, re-living your break-up with hundreds of thousands of people on national TV.
“Heartbreak once is tough, but watching it the second time round, watching it with many, many, many strangers knowing is really hard.”
For Jeavons-Fellows, the hardest thing she found were particular fans’ steadfast belief that she had won.
“For four months, family, friends, colleagues, the media and even strangers in the street would continually ask, ‘did you win’, ‘does he choose you’. It was especially painful when people would say, ‘I know it’s you’. Of course I wanted to answer them truthfully and move on with my life but I had to wait for it to play out on national television first,” she tells Mamamia.
She acknowledges that it took a “little while to re-adjust” back into normal life.
“When you go on a dating show you make yourself vulnerable and the public really connect with you and your experience. It was hard to suddenly have so many people suddenly know you or a part of you, in a sense.”
For Gogan, readjusting wasn’t too much of a task, because she never had any intention of living a life that wasn’t normal per se. She knows, she says, that going on a show like The Bachelor can change your life “dramatically” if you “want it to”. But that never interested her, and was never her motivation for going on.
“I went on the show genuinely for love. I am very blessed in my life – I had a career and friends and family and a house, I didn’t want to change anything else. It was just that missing piece.
“It was never about making a huge life change for me. I was very happy with how things were already. I just wanted to meet someone.
“[The attention] has died down, though people are still really lovely. People are so, so lovely to me. I know I am very lucky because social media is really, really harsh, but no one was ever mean or anything. People just seemed to want to give me a hug. I had such a good run.”
Though the show occasionally fends criticism from those who wonder how genuine feelings can be in a scenario that’s far from the reality their purport to create, Jeavons-Fellows says she believes her feelings were genuine.
Listen to Michelle Andrews and I on Bach Chat, where we discuss all things Bachelor finale:
“The show is designed to create environments where people fall in love. Emotions are certainly heightened by the elaborate dates and romantic setting… and because while you’re filming you have no distractions or other commitments, all your energy is focused on finding out whether or not they are ‘The One’.”
“My feelings would have been exactly the same [if they met outside the show] – it was just on fast forward slightly because of the time frame in which you’re working. You see this person everyday and you’re having really serious conversations really early.
“I believe in the process. I think it’s real. For me it was and I can’t say much more than that because it was certainly very, very real for me.”
Jeavons-Fellows has since moved on and is dating entrepreneur Jake Meah. Gogan says she hasn’t met anyone since the competition, but is convincing in her claims she’s happily patient. She knows good things are worth waiting for.
“Dating is hard anyway, but I am not on dating apps or anything and don’t see myself on them anytime soon. I could count on the one hand the amount of guys who have approached me in the last 18 months. However, I want it to be right. If it takes a little while, then I am more than happy to wait.”