Tonight is the night! Finally, after these long weeks of whirlwind dating and years of spinsterhood, Emily Maynard will choose her one true love, either Jef Holm or Arie Luyendyk, Jr. He will propose atop some picturesque vista overlooking some exotic locale. He might cry, she will probably cry, and, if you believe Chris Harrison’s inevitable post-game wrap-up, American will also cry, tears of joy. Finally, Emily, our sweetheart, will have her happy ending as she rides off into the sunset with her new fiancée.
Of course, the Internet is swirling with rumors that Emily will end up alone at the end of the night, but this is almost certainly not the case. More trusted sources promise “a happy ending” and some have already pegged the show’s “winner.” I’m more inclined to believe the latter because an unhappy ending just would not fit with the narrative of Emily’s journey.
Each season, fans of the show are treated to not just a new Bachelor/ette but a new theme, the story that directs the action for the following episodes. These tend to be subtly gendered. Brad had to get back in the game after being heartbroken; Ben had to learn to love after the loss of his father. On the other hand, Ali had to put aside her career ambitions and Ashley had to let her guard down to find love. The theme of Emily’s season, of course, was her search for a father for Ricki.
At this point, she almost has no choice except to come home with a man; it would be too jarring with the narrative for anything else. Take, for instance, Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent addition to the ongoing “Can women have it all?!” discussion. Depending on your point of view, Slaughter argued either a resounding “No, don’t even bother, ladies!” or “Maybe, if you have the right husband.” The essential problem with this article and similar ones is that they espouse and strengthen a very narrow definition of “having it all” -- it only means having a nuclear family composed of a working, married male/female pair and their offspring.
At first glance, some might have mistaken Emily Maynard for “having it all”. In a few episodes, we had a glimpse of her enormous house, her beaming mother and daughter, her loyal friends, and hints of a successful career. In another life, Emily could make her way in the world, maybe even some fame, with these qualities alone; instead, she told America that she’s deeply unhappy, woefully incomplete without a husband. And we believed her. How could we not believe her when some of the most successful women in the world, like Slaughter, are upholding the importance of finding a man?
Fortunately, we know that all will be soon remedied. A wonderfully happy ending for all is in store tonight - Emily will finally be that much closer to getting the missing and most important piece of her life, a husband.