The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/6 – 9/13)

As summer changes to fall and favorite TV shows begin to return from hiatus, it seemed like the right time to bring back this weekly celebration of the best TV has to offer.

What inspired the early return of this feature? Believe it or not, it was Bachelor in Paradise—a silly little reality show that somehow managed to feel very real and anything but silly by the time it ended with a two-part finale on Sunday and Monday.

On a show about rejects from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette finding summer love in Mexico, it turned out that the most profound relationship we were shown wasn’t a romantic one; it was actually the friendship between some of the women on the show that moved me to tears.

Female friendship is a powerful force, but it’s still a force we don’t see very often in the media. Healthy depictions of women supporting, defending, and protecting other women are still rare sights on television—although thankfully they’re becoming less rare. So imagine my surprise when Carly Waddell was dumped by her Paradise beau, Kirk DeWindt, and we were suddenly shown Jade Roper and Tenley Molzahn literally running to comfort their friend. What could have been a moment of solitary sadness was suddenly a moment of shared sorrow—something incredibly relatable for any of us who’ve helped a friend through a breakup (or had friends help us through one).

When Carly called out to Jade as she ran from Kirk and Jade yelled “I’m here!” in reply before hugging her, I honestly got choked up—more than I have at 90% of the proposals this franchise has shown over the years. And when Carly started to cry while packing and Jade and Tenley hugged her and cried along with her, I cried, too. It was one of the most real moments I’ve ever seen on reality TV. And I cheered when Tenley and Jade laid down the law with Kirk in the way we all want to when someone hurts one of our friends.

For a few moving minutes, romance wasn’t the focal point of Bachelor in Paradise, and the show was elevated to something special because of that. Finding love on reality TV is great, but finding friendship is probably a lot more likely—and lot more likely to last. Every girl needs friends like Jade and Tenley in their darkest moments, and seeing that kind of friendship on display on this kind of show was the best surprise of the summer for me as a TV viewer.

There was still time for romance on the Bachelor in Paradise finale, too, and I was so glad Jade seemed to find genuine happiness with Tanner Tolbert. After seeing her be such a good friend to Carly, all I wanted was for her to be happy. And when she talked so sincerely about Tanner making her feel like every part of her is lovable, this show got suddenly real once again. I think we all want to find that in a romantic relationship—someone who makes us feel loved for everything we are, understood in ways no one else understands us, and worthy of lasting happiness. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I really believe Jade found that with Tanner, and I hope those two crazy kids make it.

It’s moments like these that keep me coming back to the Bachelor franchise. Love should be celebrated—whether it’s the kind of love that leads to a man proposing on the beach or the kind of love that leads to a woman protecting her friend from the man who broke her heart. Both platonic and romantic love are important, and I was happy to see both get time in the spotlight on the season finale of Bachelor in Paradise.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

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2 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/6 – 9/13)

  1. This is so beautiful to me. I would not have known anything about either this friendship or romance if it weren’t for you and I’m so glad you got a chance to write about them! I love my wonderful fictional female friendships because they feel so rooted in reality, but I love that this unscripted friendship was on TV this summer. I’m glad these ladies had each other through all of their romantic ups and downs and I like knowing that they’ll have each other for a long time to come.

    I only had two shows on last week but even if I had a thousand, Playing House would still be the best thing I saw on TV this week. The second season was amazing and the final two episodes were everything I love about this show.

    First up, “Officer of the Year”. How wonderful is Keegan-Michael Key? Especially in a tux. And even more especially when Mark is in a tux and staring at Emma like that. This is just an amazing episode all around. We get Maggie and Mark and their incredibly solid friendship and Maggie trying to fix up her two best friends because all she wants is for them to be happy. Then we have the “I’m dancing with someone else but really staring at the person I love” looks, which I love 100% of the time. This is episode was a perfect little romantic comedy that never made it to the happy ending and it’s one of my favorite episodes of TV this year.

    Then we got “Celebrate Me Scones”. If the previous episode was about these two ladies and their relationships with Mark, the finale was all about the primary love story on this show between Maggie and Emma. Just the idea of Maggie and Emma getting to go the Kenny Loggins concert after he meant so much to them growing up was sweet but then once we learned the real reason that Maggie was determined to get to the concert, I lost it. It was the sort of grand gesture usually reserved for romantic relationships and it was just amazing. I’m so glad Emma heard the letter even if Kenny didn’t read it and I love that it was the sentiment that was important, not the delivery. Emma and Maggie love each other in a beautiful, life-altering way and there is nothing I love more. And of course, the sing-along was incredibly fun.

    And then the ending. GIVE ME A SEASON THREE RIGHT NOW.

    • First of all, thank you for listening to all my Bachelor in Paradise rambling and for understanding why this display of friendship would be so important to me. I was so happy to get a chance to write about it!

      And now for Playing House, I don’t know whether to blame or thank you for convincing me to watch this show because I have now discovered yet another show to emotionally ruin me. 😉

      I could re-watch Officer of the Year every day (and maybe I will). Like you said, it’s this perfect little rom-com of an episode that just features so many great tropes and inversions of tropes done perfectly (like the guy talking to his female friend about his feelings for a girl). I have to make special mention of the “staring at each other while dancing with different people” thing because it is my shipper crack. I LOVE it like nothing else. It takes me back to the S2 finale of Grey’s Anatomy and all those intense feelings I felt while watching Meredith and Derek share those looks at the “prom” while dancing with their significant others. So you can only imagine the joy it brought me to watch that moment in this episode.

      I also echo your love for Keegan Michael-Key—especially in a tux. He’s so effortlessly charming and insanely likable in this role. And the fact that he’s gorgeous certainly doesn’t hurt. 😉 That scene between Mark and Emma had some of the best chemistry I’ve seen on TV in a long time. They’re just beautiful together.

      And I will just co-sign everything you said about “Celebrate Me Scones.” It was such a beautiful way to highlight the most important love story on this show. I cried multiple times. And, as I texted you in all caps about yesterday, I screamed at my TV when it ended because YOU CANNOT LEAVE IT LIKE THAT. I NEED ANOTHER SEASON. I NEED THEM ALL TO BE HAPPY TOGETHER.

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