Bachelor Nation has seen it all, but Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s on-camera fiancee switcheroo was one for the history books. After Arie dumped his Bachelor bride-to-be, Becca Kufrin, in an extended on-camera “scene,” fans of the franchise were stunned to see that, by episode’s end, he was down on one knee in front of his runner-up, Lauren Burnham.
It was a risky move for Arie and ABC. And while Arie and Lauren have received some backlash — the couple has opted for a private wedding in Maui away from the spotlight, while a Minnesota politician proposed legislation to ban Luyendyk from Kufrin’s home state — the network has weathered the storm.
In a new interview with Deadline, ABC Senior Vice President Rob Mills said angry viewer reaction to the controversial ending was better than the alternative: apathy.
“We knew there was going to be a strong reaction, but that’s certainly okay,” Rob told Deadline. “The worst thing is when you have a couple where people are like, ‘Yeah, no. I guess it’s fine. I don’t really care all that much.'”
Mills told Deadline that producers noted early on that after production wrapped following Arie’s proposal to Becca, he kept talking about Lauren.
“Not in a, ‘I need to get back with her’ [way], but you could see she was really on his mind. It was interesting that he wasn’t saying, ‘I’m so excited for my new life with Becca, but more, ‘Gosh, I feel so bad about ending things with Lauren,'” Rob Mills explained.
By the time he went to production and revealed that he wanted a second chance with runner-up Lauren Burnham, it was a given that producers would film the Becca breakup. Mills said Bachelor stars make a contract with the audience that they’re “going to show them the entire life cycle of their relationship—good, bad, and ugly– so we did that.” Arie’s breakup with Becca definitely fit in the “ugly” category.
While Mills admitted most Bachelor sequences can be cut down to a 30-second conversation, Luyendyk’s “riveting” breakup with Kufrin could not.
“This Becca and Arie goodbye was so riveting that we knew we had to play it in real time,” the ABC boss explained. “My feeling is, the audience wants to see everything. This is important for them to know, how this breakup happened, as opposed to Arie sitting on a couch talking to Chris Harrison saying, ‘Yeah, I ended things with Becca.'”
Rob Mills said he was surprised by outraged viewers who asked, “How could you guys film this?” His opinion seems to be, how could they not?
In addition, a live After the Final Rose episode immediately following The Bachelor finale allowed Arie to propose to his No. 2 girl, Lauren, as viewers’ jaws dropped, so by the time the three-hour spectacle was over, it’s no wonder the race car driver was practically run out of Becca’s hometown.
But Becca Kufrin got a Bachelorette deal out of the whole thing and she’s reportedly engaged now, too. So in the end, everyone lives happily ever after.
Take a look at the video below to see more of Arie Luyenduk Jr.’s shocking Bachelor breakup.
Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.