The Bachelor may be over, but judging by the number of comments on this site and many others devoted to the controversial ending of the 13th season, viewers can't comprehend what they just saw - and still have many questions.
The Seattle Times talked to Jason Mesnick and new girlfriend Molly Malaney in the aftermath of the "shocking" and "intimate" finales. Here's what they said:
Q: Can we start from the beginning? Last time I talked to you in early December, you were engaged to Melissa. Did you ever expect to change your mind?
Jason Mesnick: I would never have proposed if I thought I was going to change my mind. If I had a few more months things would have been different. With the time constraints on the show, at the time I thought I was making the right decision.
Q: You spent the holidays with Melissa in L.A. Was Molly on your mind that whole time?
Jason Mesnick: Initially, I tried to ignore it. Any time I would think about Molly I would be like, "Forget it." I made a decision, I'm going to get married to Melissa. But every day, I just remember thinking, okay, first of all I feel really bad what I did to Molly. And then slowly, I would say, week after week it started building more and more. It was like, now I just don't feel bad, there's a piece of me that's still gone.
Q: Did you fall out of love with Melissa Rycroft?
Jason Mesnick: Melissa is that person I thought going into it I would end up with. I guess in a way she's similar to a lot of other girls I've dated in my life, which is part of the reason why I ended up picking her. It was just something I thought I wanted when realistically, there's probably a reason why my past relationships haven't worked out. What I really needed was somebody different and it was Molly.
Q: The decision to do it on television has been what everyone has been talking about. Did you actually tell Melissa beforehand?Jason Mesnick: The last conversation with Melissa and I was probably two days before we shot and it was, "Are you even going to wear your engagement ring because we're not together?" She definitely wasn't shell shocked. I knew everybody's going to judge because I did what I decided to do on a TV show. At the time I felt like I didn't have a choice. [... ] Retrospectively, would it have been better if I just didn't show up? That was my alternative. Then would America look at me and say, "This guy's a chicken, he can't even say what's on his mind." It's a lose-lose. Retrospectively would I have not done it on TV? You know what? Yeah. I wouldn't have done it.
Q: How has your family been dealing with the public nature of it?
Jason Mesnick: It's a little strange. I'm in L.A. right now, so I haven't been home during the finale. My family is very supportive. I even have messages from my old ex part of the family saying you did what you had to do and it was a really hard thing to do. [... ] It was what I decided to do, from the very beginning, the good, the bad and the ugly, and every single week, I broke up with people. And I hated doing that then. But it's what I decided to do from the very beginning. So my family's been really supportive. More than anything, they want me to be happy. Obviously I'm not happy with how people are perceiving me. I think people are judging most of all because this was on TV, but that's why everyone tuned in because it is on TV.
Q: What did your family say when you told them, "I proposed to Melissa but it's not working out and I want to be with Molly."
Jason Mesnick: Two things. Who cares what people are going to think about you? What's the alternative, living a lie? I was never going to do that. They just said if she really makes you happy you gotta go through and do the right thing.
Q: Molly, what has it been like for you to watch this whole situation unfold and having to deal with this emotionally?
Molly Malaney: I would say I'm a pretty logical person. I understand that I came on a show called "The Bachelor," there's 25 girls, things are going to happen. I even knew when I left New Zealand, I wasn't mad at Jason, I knew he had to make a choice between two people and at that point he thought he made the choice for him. Everything's in the past and we've moved on from it.
Q: When did you make the decision to say "Yes, we're fully back on"? I assume it wasn't right at the taping of "After the Final Rose."
Molly Malaney: No, it wasn't right away. We definitely had to have some serious discussions after all that. I needed to understand what happened with him and Melissa. I would say it was a couple weeks after we got past everything and got to a good place.
Q: So you decided to move to Seattle? When?
Molly Malaney: Eventually. It's not a matter of if. I definitely will move out there, but I think we're just going to try to take it slow, move at our own pace and adjust to being a couple in the real world first.
Q: Would you both go through this experience again?
Jason Mesnick: The only reason to do this is to find Molly. That's the only reason to do it.
Molly Malaney: I think the best advice I would give to anybody thinking about going through a situation like this is that you have to have incredibly tough skin. There's a lot of negativity that comes with doing something like this. But if you can get past that, which Jason and I have done a good job of doing, you have your family, your friends and Jason and I have each other. I can't regret anything I've done because I'm at a very good place in my life now.
Q: Molly, did you talk to your family when Jason came back around?
Molly Malaney: Oh yeah. I emphasized on the show how important my family is to me. I definitely wanted to keep them in the loop of what was going on. They were skeptical at first, they had the exact questions I had when I found out, but they love Jason and they see how happy he makes me so they're very supportive of all this.
Q: There've been a ton of rumors about the show for weeks now. How have you dealt with it?
Jason Mesnick: The one true thing that came out was I did have this change of heart. Everybody else started speculating the behind the scenes stuff, which is 100 percent false. and that's where a lot of these stories came from, speculation, and that's just disappointing.
Molly Malaney: People just think we're these characters on a TV show. We have families and we have jobs. People say awful, awful things and they don't realize how that can affect our real lives. At the end of the day, we just need to focus on what's important and that's our friends and families, and we have each other and really that's all that matters. So we're just trying to move on from all that.