Television Listings

Controversial "Bachelor" finale a ratings hit

By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC's highly anticipated finale of "The Bachelor" dominated the primetime ratings Monday, as word spread online of a controversial conclusion.

The two-hour "Bachelor" was seen by 15.5 million viewers -- its highest tally since 2005, and its highest adult demo rating since 2003. Just like last season, the "After the Final Rose" special (17.5 million) outperformed the finale itself, drawing a rating that very few series this year can match.

The finale and postshow special enthralled many fans while infuriating others. Bachelor Jason Mesnick proposed to one contestant, but later professed his love to the contest's runner-up. Coming after last year's decision by bachelor Brad Womack to not select any of the women on the show, the last two seasons have subverted the show's "happily ever after" romance with surprise twists.

"Whenever a show is really good, people think it's too good to be true," said creator Mike Fleiss. "But this time it's just really-really good. It was a true change of heart.

Some viewers questioned whether the first contestant needed to be dumped on camera, given that the breakup occurred weeks after the show's conclusion was taped. But Fleiss defended the choice since the Mesnick's romantic whiplash involved another contestant.

"The only reason we felt compelled to put that on television was because it was the first time (a contestant's) 'change of heart' involved the other person on the show," he said. "This time the change of heart was within the world of 'The Bachelor.'"

(Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters)

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