You know how they always say this is the most dramatic finale in “Bachelor” history? Well, this really might have been it.
“The Bachelorette” Season 19 began with leading ladies Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey both in seemingly happy relationships, with each only having one suitor left — for Rachel, it was Tino Franco; and for Gabby, it was Erich Schwer. Both women were hoping for proposals and they got them. But their fairytale endings were short-lived, as off-camera scandals soon ensued.
Gabby and Erich weathered their storm of Erich texting one of his exes, who came forward on social media. The pair are still happily engaged. The same cannot be said for Rachel and Tino, who admitted to cheating on her after the season had wrapped production — of course, cameras followed the couple as they had one of the franchise’s most hard-to-watch conversations of all time. Needless to say, they are broken up.
Rachel and Tino came face-to-face on Tuesday’s live finale, sitting on a couch opposite host Jesse Palmer, who was tasked with moderating their incredibly tense conversation that certainly did not result in peaceful closure for the former fiancés, who were engaged for all but a handful of weeks.
But the awkward moment that had all of Bachelor Nation talking was when producers brought out one of Rachel’s former suitors from the show, Aven Jones, most likely hoping to give Rachel a happy moment, after she endured so much heartache on her own season. Well, things didn’t quite go as planned when Tino was stuck onstage, hopelessly standing around witnessing Rachel’s reunion with Aven, whom he had become friendly with as fellow contestants on the show. Social media lit up with many saying that although Tino was in the wrong for cheating, he shouldn’t have been humiliated on national TV. (Even Palmer looked stunned. Hey, live TV!)
“Unfortunately, that was not Aven’s choice. And he did express concern of not ever wanting to do that, the second we stepped off stage,” Recchia told Variety, speaking alongside Windey, the day after the live finale. “He still does respect Tino as a person and no one ever wants to be put in a position where they are humiliated or they feel like that on stage. And that was not his intention, my intention, or anyone’s… I don’t know because I didn’t even know what was happening. It really just all happened very quickly.”
Here, Rachel speaks more about the fallout with Tino — plus whether she’s a contestant on “Bachelor In Paradise.” And Gabby addresses her own controversies with Erich and what’s in store for the happy couple.
What was it like to watch back your proposal and the fight on the finale and then sit down with Tino for the first time?
Rachel: Obviously, the whole thing is just extremely difficult… I lived it, but it’s one thing to watch it back… I hadn’t seen him since that day where we did end our engagement, so I knew it was going to be a difficult conversation. And just at the end of the day, I was hoping we could get some sort of closure and move on.
Do you feel like you got any sort of closure?
Rachel: I think sometimes having no closure is the closure for you. I have to really make peace with the fact that I just will never truly have the full answer. I’m not perfect either. There is going to be his side to things and mine, as well. So I think we just have to move forward and just really wish him the best, honestly.
You alluded to some things that were said between the two of you that didn’t make it to air. Are you comfortable sharing any of what you are alluding to?
Rachel: I think when things get edited out of a show, it is for a reason. There are so many things that are for television and for the viewers who have been watching our story to see, and there are things that you share and go through something with a partner when you’re engaged to them — and it is something that is extremely, extremely, deeply personal. And I was honestly shocked to see him bring it up after it had been removed. At the end of the day, I think there are just some things that will stay between us.
You bring up editing a TV show. What did you think about how you were portrayed throughout the season?
Rachel: All the times when I was being absolutely crazy and crying, those are me having real human moments. Of course, it’s horrible to watch back and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I should have never done this,” but I’m learning lessons watching it back. And ultimately, some things are embarrassing and you don’t like to see it, but it’s reality and it’s our life, and Gabby and I have always stayed completely true to who we are… I did make mistakes. I was at times not acting how I would’ve liked to, but I did learn so much from watching myself back.
Aven came to the finale. Had you two been talking, since last week when you came face-to-face on the first part of the finale?
Rachel: Well, we did have an opportunity to talk and it was so incredible to see him… Aven’s always been my support system throughout this journey. To see his face in the corner after going through something that was really difficult, it [brought] back all those feelings of safety. And honestly, it was just so amazing to see him and we were able to talk after without microphones, so it was really nice.
So, where do things stand now with you and Aven? Do you want to pursue a relationship with him?
Rachel: I’m so happy to have seen him, and who knows that the future is going to hold. I’m definitely open to it and just seeing where it goes organically without any pressure.
A lot of viewers thought it seemed harsh to keep Tino on stage when Aven came out. What do you think about that?
Rachel: Unfortunately, that was not Aven’s choice. And he did express concern of not ever wanting to do that the second we stepped off stage. He still does respect Tino as a person, and no one ever wants to be put in a position where they are humiliated or they feel like that on stage. That was not his intention, my intention, or anyone’s… I didn’t even know what was happening. It really just all happened very quickly and it was not something that Aven directly chose to do. So yeah, he would never want to put him in that position.
Rachel, you popped up in the promo for “Bachelor in Paradise.” In what capacity are you on the show? Are you actually a contestant or do you just show up to say hello on the beach?
Rachel: They’re going to tune in and find out… I definitely make an appearance on the beach. What happens? Everyone will just have to wait and see, but it’s definitely crazy down there.
Gabby, congrats on your engagement. What is life like for the two of you after the show?
Gabby: We’re just excited to finally be released and do the little things together — go to dinner, go grocery shop, go to the beach — just the mundane things that’s always more fun with a partner by your side. Luckily, we’re both in the same city, so there’s not too much coordinating. We’re just excited to start this new chapter and really build the life together.
And now he’ll be able to come to “Dancing With the Stars” and cheer you on.
Gabby: He was so upset he missed the first one. Now, hopefully he won’t miss another one.
But you had had Rachel there for the premiere of “DWTS,” so you’re good.
Rachel: I was just say screaming like a wild animal! I’m like, “She’s never going to invite me back again.”
Gabby: Yes. I am! I need that.
Rachel: Vote for Gabby!
Gabby, your journey ended in a really beautiful way, but not without controversy, as we saw last night. The two of you fully addressed the text messages to Erich’s ex that surfaced, but I did see there was a text that was sent after you two were together. Can you speak about your feelings about that particular message?
Gabby: I can speak from my perspective, but ultimately it would have to come from him. Obviously I had concerns, the same as everybody else — why would you reach back out to her after you’re in a committed relationship? You’re sending them the wrong message. As we know, boys are dumb. But I think it was his “Hail Mary” to try and get her to not release the texts and to just end the relationship amicably. But she was past that, rightfully so — he didn’t treat her the best before. I think his intentions were just to save his own ass, and it just didn’t work out like that.
I love that you said boys are dumb. Can’t argue with that! And Rachel certainly cannot argue with that.
Rachel: No, I absolutely can’t.
Gabby: And Erich can’t either. He knows he’s dumb.
The blackface controversy regarding Erich’s high school yearbook photo was not addressed on the finale, so a lot of viewers were wondering why it wasn’t brought up. At what point did you learn about that? What conversations did the two of you have?
Gabby: I found out with the rest of the world and it was an immediate punch in the gut — really, truly devastating. So, it was hard for both of us to kind of weigh our values and where we’re at and how this came about. And there is no excuse. He apologized, but ultimately there’s really no excuse for this behavior. I think we’re just really reflecting on ourselves, learning about where these biases come from [and] how they affect other people and how to change them and how to grow.
Now, during the season, a point of conflict for both of you was that you weren’t sure if the men were ready for an engagement. Obviously, the goal of the show is to end up engaged, but it is a bit of a crazy situation. Do you think there should be discussions about potentially changing the format and putting less emphasis on a proposal?
Rachel: A lot of the viewers think me and Gabby just wanted a ring and we just wanted to be engaged , but that’s not what we wanted. We wanted commitment. We came into this show completely ready for that step in our life… I was so open with the men that this is the goal that I wanted and I wanted someone to stand there with me at the end and be my life partner. It really didn’t have to do with a ring. It has to do with someone who was agreeing to go through their life with you and that’s what a proposal really stands for ultimately. What we wanted was commitment.
Gabby: I understand the hesitation, but the show’s expectations are pretty known before you go on.
Rachel: I don’t think anyone wants to invest three months of their life watching a journey for someone to have a long distance boyfriend or girlfriend. It really just is the point of the show that makes it so interesting. It’s the whole premise of the show, truly.
This was the first season with two leads. Do you think that there should be a season with two Bachelors, now that there was a season with two Bachelorettes?
Gabby: They would have to be friends, in order for it to be successful. Or it would be really messy.
A lot of people want your grandpa to be “The Bachelor.”
Gabby: No way.
Gabby: Oh my gosh, he’s so stubborn. You guys spend more than five minutes with him and you’ll know. I love him to death, but he does things his own way. Even people who work on “Bachelor” could tell you that.
You’re really crushing a lot of people’s dreams. They want to see your grandpa on the show.
Gabby: I’m sorry to bust your bubble. He’s not interested in dating. He’s too busy with bowling and bridge.
That is a very fair response. What do you think about Zach as “The Bachelor?”
Rachel: I dated Zach. I think he’s such an incredible guy and I’m really looking forward to watching his journey unfold. And we’re really excited to not be a part of a season for once [and] to watch it.
Gabby: We get to take a break. The first time in a year.
You’re like, “Goodbye and good luck!”
Gabby: Enjoy. Let us know how it goes! See you on the other side!
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.