The Golden Bachelor Made His Choice. We All Know Who the Real Winner Is.

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It happened: Theresa Nist, she of the tiny shorts and big brown eyes, has officially, finally, totally won the heart of Gerry Turner, our first “Golden Bachelor.” This is how it should be. The fan favorite, runner-up Leslie Fhima, is simply too cool for Gerry (and possibly most men?). But that didn’t make the scene where Gerry absolutely crushed Leslie’s heart in front of a live audience any less awful. Brutal. I am going to have nightmares tonight, hearing Leslie sob about never getting chosen, not just on The Golden Bachelor, but ever. Still, I truly hope that as the temperature from the Bachelor hothouse comes down, she can see clearly that she’s actually won by “losing” this round of the franchise.

Why? I pretty much spelled it out this morning in Slate, but in short: Leslie has just lived too much, seen too much, felt too much in her 64 years to be with Mr. “Aw Shucks,” 72-year-old Gerry. His behavior on the finale—fumbling Leslie’s grief and anger, shutting down, not just shutting up when he should have—only confirmed this. He may have been on earth for seven-plus decades, but that clearly hasn’t equipped him with the experience to handle the heart of a fragile, hurting woman. Earlier, the overhyped-but-still-amusing details about Gerry’s real-world escapades that leaked this week had already begun to bias me against Gerry for Leslie—I just couldn’t see her thriving with a guy who’s allegedly meticulous about bill-splitting and household accounting. But those details are trivial at this point. Even if I didn’t want Gerry to choose Leslie, I don’t think I’ll forgive him for breaking her heart the way he did.

There are reasons to hope. I asked a former colleague, my friend Emma Gray, a co-host of the podcast Love to See It With Emma and Claire (and host of erstwhile Bachelor-franchise podcast Here to Make Friends), if we might see Leslie again in another part of Bachelor Nation. She feels confident there will be a Golden Bachelorette on the horizon, and that Leslie is the perfect choice.

“Leslie checks all the boxes for the first Golden Bachelorette,” Emma texted me this morning. “She’s vibrant. She’s adventurous. She’s beautiful. She can articulate her feelings with intention and accuracy. And she’s captivating to watch. She also has a narrative arc that will propel her—and those of us watching—straight into the next season: Fresh out of the hell of heartbreak, our gal will emerge triumphant; ready for a new journey that’s not at all about Gerry, but about her. She was always meant to be the main character.”

So all of us on Team Leslie should cheer: She didn’t get the man, but that just means she’s got more time to get her man. And if we’re lucky, we’ll all get to watch.