For the past 48 hours, Jed Wyatt has been one of the most hated men in America.
Those of us who carefully track Bachelorette spoilers may have seen this one coming, but for millions of viewers, the events that unfolded on Tuesday night’s season finale came as an utter shock:
Jed proposed to Hannah Brown, she accepted … and then all hell broke loose.
Shortly after the engagement, Hannah learned that Jed had a girlfriend waiting at home the entire time he was filming.
We’ve since heard both sides of the story — Haley Stevens‘ seemingly truthful account versus Jed’s stammering, misleading version — and the more we learn, the worse it looks for Mr. Wyatt.
Jed undoubtedly digs himself a deeper hole each time he attempts to justify his actions, but as the man said when he elicited coast-to-coast groans by proposing to Hannah in song — words aren’t really his thing.
So allow us to try and make a case for the most reviled man in Bachelorette history.
(Two important points before we go any further: Yes, at this point, we believe Jed is more hated than Luke P., and no, it’s not easy to defend the type of guy who brings his guitar to house parties.)
Let’s begin by breaking down the timeline of events:
Jed says he started dating Haley a few weeks before his audition for The Bachelorette.
He claims he told her about the audition, but assured her it was just a Hail Mary effort to promote his fledgling music career.
Definitely a strange thing to tell someone you recently started dating, but Jed says that as a fellow musician, Haley was very understanding.
But several months elapsed between his audition and the time when Jed actually flew out to LA for the show, and during that time, he and Haley began dating more seriously.
In fact, they entered a full-blown relationship:
She threw him a surprise party for his birthday; her parents bought the two of them a trip to the Bahamas; and in what is perhaps the most damning development of all … Haley and Jed began saying "I love you" to one another.
You may be wondering why we’re making the case that Jed and Haley were in a serious relationship when we’re supposed to be defending Jed — but we’re about to pull some Johnnie Cochran jiu-jitsu on your ass and turn this thing on its head:
So there’s no denying that Haley and Jed were about as serious as two young people in a four-month relationship can be, right?
But here’s the thing — who cares?
Now, we know that sounds callous, but the thing about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is that with all the swanky attire and candlelit dinners where no one ever touches their food, it’s easy to forget that most of the people on your screen are in their early- to mid-twenties.
We’re not saying youth is an excuse for unethical behavior, but we are saying that viewers might be more willing to forgive Jed if he and everyone else on the show were dressed like the cast of Jersey Shore.
The Bachelorette asks viewers to enter a kind of Fantasy Suite of our own — one where we pretend the whole experiment isn’t ridiculous and that in 2019, the average twenty-something male has a closet full of tailored suits and is in any way prepared to marry a woman he’s known for two months.
There’s a reason so few of the relationships created by the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise have resulted in successful marriages:
As a social experiment, both shows are inherently ridiculous.
Two strangers are plucked from their lives and flown all over the world.
One must compete with dozens of suitors, while the other must gradually winnow that group down to one — and then get married to the person who’s left standing.
If it weren’t an actual, wildly popular TV series, it would be an episode of Black Mirror.
This not how dating is supposed to work, least of all in the year 2019.
Now more than ever, leap-frogging into a new relationship and ghosting one’s ex is not considered outlandish behavior.
And in the age of Tinder, the line between single and taken gets blurrier all the time.
Of the 30 men competing for Hannah’s affection this season, there’s only one that we know for certain wasn’t sleeping with anyone else at the time he was chosen for the show — and his name is Luke P.
What we’re saying is — what Jed did was dishonest, shameful, and indicative of a man who could use some serious work in the character department.
But was it unforgivable?
Well, that’s tough to determine, but as they say — all’s fair in love and war, we know for certain that many have done far, far worse and not suffered nearly as much for their misdeeds.
Not only did he lose Hannah, the man’s reputation is thoroughly destroyed, and he can more or less kiss his singing career goodbye.
(Of course, based on what we’ve heard of his music, that might not be such a bad thing.)
There are some who have defended Jed on the basis that while he was dating Haley, she was vying for Colton Underwood’s affection.
But that’s silly.
Everyone knows the rules of the game, and Jed’s greatest sin was his dishonesty, not his infidelity.
Did he play fair? No. Did he deserve to get dumped on national TV? Absolutely.
But is he a manipulative psychopath deserving of an entire nation’s contempt?
Nah, that would be Luke P.
Jed’s just a dumb twentysomething doing dumb twentysomething things — and since Hannah forgave him, so should we.