'The Bachelor's' Jason Mesnick: 'Everyone thinks I’m dragging Melissa over the coals'
It’s going to be a rough week for “The Bachelor’s” Jason Mesnick.
On Monday night, rampant online rumors concerning the show’s twist ending –- one that would potentially brand Mesnick a cad -– were confirmed when he retracted his proposal to Melissa Rycroft, delivered in the last moments of the finale, in favor of the runner-up, Molly Malaney.
What’s worse for Mesnick –- but good for ABC -– is that more than 17.6 million tuned in to watch Melissa get the shaft on the “After the Final Rose” special, making it the most-watched in the franchise’s seven-year history.
Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the roast early. “Is your arm sore from handing out and taking back roses?” he asked.
In an interview with The Times on Tuesday afternoon, Mesnick explained that he had, in fact, ended his relationship with Rycroft on the phone a week before the taping. “If you watched carefully, she wasn’t wearing her ring,” he said.
Either way, the jilted Rycroft seems quite unhappy, and though she might have been able to turn her sympathetic position into even more camera time as the next “Bachelorette,” ABC confirmed that second runner-up Jillian Harris would wear that mantle.
But back to Mesnick. While “The Bachelor” has been at the center of controversy before -- Season 11’s Brad Womack, for instance, rejected all of his options and was booed by the audience throughout his “After the Final Rose” -- but dumping a girl you just proposed to on national TV? Mesnick better have his flak jacket ready. Here he goes:
Was there any discussion between you and Melissa about how this might play out on TV since you say you had ended things on the phone beforehand?
No. Her response had been, “How do you want me to react to that?” I wasn’t going to coach her. I just told her that we were going to talk about things again [on the show] and however she felt is how she was going to react. I’m never going to tell anyone what to say.
Are you surprised by the backlash against you?
I don’t know if the public expected me to just pretend like I’m in a good happy relationship. I mean, is that what people really wanted to see? Because that was the other option, but never a real option for me. It sucks that everyone thinks I’m dragging Melissa over the coals right in front of everybody because it’s not true. What’s funny is that everybody loves the fact that I break up with somebody every week in the regular part of the show ... and now I'm being judged.
Why ultimately didn’t you ask Molly to marry you the first time?
What scared me the most about Molly is that we had this young, fun, friendship relationship with a lot of passion, and people who have been together for a long time all say, "The passion is the first thing to go." In my regular everyday life I wouldn’t have stopped dating any one of [the final three]. I would have gone and tried to experience more with each of them.
At what point did you change your mind about Melissa? What was the turning point?
It was right after the holidays. We spent a week together during Christmas and I felt differently. She didn’t do anything wrong, but we had this great communication style where we could talk about anything while we were on the show, and then all of a sudden we’re together for longer periods of time afterwards and we just couldn’t talk about stuff. ... I was realizing that we didn’t have a great friendship, and that was hard for me to face.
Why did you go on a TV show to find love in front of millions? Why not just use match.com?
It sounded like the ultimate dating experience. I mean, if they’re going to go across the country and find 25 great matches -– if you’re going to talk about match.com –- it’s better than that! It’s very unique.
What do you think your 4-year-old son, Ty, who met both Melissa and Molly, will learn about how to treat women from watching “The Bachelor”?
I don’t know. I think that I want him to look at me and just say, "My daddy had this crazy experience and it’s OK to do some things differently from other people. It’s OK that relationships don’t work because that’s part of real life." I want him to see how real it was and how hard it was for me and that how much all that pain was worth it in the end.
Would you advise he find love the same way?
Would I recommend for Ty to do this? I hope Ty would be the type of person to think about doing something different, absolutely. I wouldn’t say necessarily a TV show.
-- Denise Martin
Photo: Associated Press