And the winner is...
Listen to an excerpt of our segment with Reality Steve below:
For as much anticipation that surrounds reality dating series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, it's no secret who wins. At least not for Steve Carbone, the Frisco-based blogger known as Reality Steve who's made a career out of spoiling the shows.
Carbone relies, as he has since 2009, on a network of insiders to provide him tips by email or phone about everything from filming locations to who goes home after each rose ceremony. He in turn publishes the tidbits that check out on his blog RealitySteve.com.
Carbone has an impressive track record — in nine years, he's only been wrong about the winner once. But if you had asked him in early-May which suitor would be down on one knee proposing Dallas woman Rachel Lindsay, the star of the 13th season of The Bachelorette, he may have given you a wrong answer.
"The day before Rachel made her media rounds is when I announced my spoiler of who she picked, which ended up being wrong," he says. But no matter: After receiving new information from one of his sources, Carbone quickly amended his prediction to the person he believes to be the true winner.
"My biggest thing is, yeah, I don't like to be wrong, but as long as I correct it in time, I'm fine," says Carbone, who published his final answer on June 6.
Since then Rachel has been on a wild journey dating 31 men simultaneously. She's currently left with three: Eric Bigger, who's experience on The Bachelorette constitutes the first time he's been in love; Peter Kraus, the Midwestern boy who's not sold on the idea of a wedding proposal yet; and Bryan Abasolo, the season's smooth-talking playboy from Miami.
Before The Bachelorette finale airs on Monday, Aug. 7, we caught up with Carbone to reflect on the latest season and its peculiarities before dishing on the winner.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Is it just me, or did this season seem to go off-script?
As soon as Rachel was announced as the bachelorette — notably the series' first black lead — her season was bound to be distinct. But it seemed like at every turn, the franchise was breaking its own archetype.
For example, Rachel met several of her suitors on last year's After the Final Rose special, before filming began. Prior to the season's premiere, the Dallas lawyer announced she is, in fact, engaged. And going into the finale, she still has not two, but three men left in the running.
Carbone doesn't make much of these small details. Other bachelors and bachelorettes have announced they were engaged before the finale airs, he says. And Rachel will eliminate one man during the final episode before deciding between her top two. (Because Rachel's sister was pregnant, Carbone says the filming schedule was shifted so three men met her family instead of just two.)
The most notable difference he saw this season was how the issue of race took center stage. Recap: Tensions between contestants Lee Garrett and Kenny King almost got physical after the former baited the latter.
"Because we had a person of color as the lead, we had our first 'race war' this season," Carbone says, adding that Garrett said in interviews he didn't apply for the show and was instead recruited by producers. "It just now seems to fit the narrative that he was put on the show and told to incite things."
About Rachel's hometown date.
Traditionally, once the bachelorette meets her suitors' families, they travel to her hometown to do the same. Rachel is a born-and-bred Oak Cliff girl, who confirmed to GuideLive earlier this year her family lives in her childhood home. But when the Dallas episode aired, many noticed the house they visited looked uncharacteristically Highland Park. Turns out it was.
According to Carbone, the home in which the episode was filmed was an on-the-market dwelling in Highland Park. Why?
"Her dad being a federal judge, they would never show her home and never show him," Carbone says. (Rachel's dad was there and did meet all three men, she has said.) "In the past, they definitely have used homes that weren't of the parents. It happens more often than you think."
And the happily ever after goes to ...
Bryan Abasolo. Are we surprised? Hardly.
"When you look back at it now knowing Bryan is the winner, it's very obvious she's into him," Carbone says.
The Miami-based chiropractor garnered the first kiss as well as the first impression rose. He was also the first to drop the "love" word — just five episodes into the season. Apparently his tongue hasn't gone unnoticed.
"That's the biggest thing with Bryan that he's gotten all season: he has to work on his kissing skills," Carbone says.
Then who's going to be the next titular Bachelor?
Carbone is hedging his bets when it comes to the next Bachelor star. Last year, we predicted Luke Pell, the Texas war veteran, would fill the role. He had signed a contract to do so, says Carbone. But he wasn't the only one.
"Not only did Luke sign a contract last year, so did Chase," Carbone says. "That's [ABC's] thing now; they get more than one person believing they're it so it doesn't get spoiled."
From Rachel's season, both Dean Unglert and Peter Kraus would make eligible bachelors. Both have a compelling narrative and sizable fanbases. Unglert has already been revealed as a contestant on this season of Bachelor in Paradise, but even that doesn't exclude him. Remember Nick Viall?
Tweet me your top pick for the next star of The Bachelor. And grab a bottle of wine: The dramatic Bachelorette season finale on Monday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. on ABC.