'Bachelor' doubles up

Finale, 'Final Rose' special ratings hits for ABC

ABC's anticipated "The Bachelor" finale dominated Monday night with the most-watched conclusion to the reality hit in years.

Even with key spoilers leaking online more than a week earlier, the two-hour "Bachelor" was seen by 15.5 million viewers and garnered a 5.4 adults rating/ 13 share in adults 18-49. It's the show's biggest viewer tally since 2005 and its highest adult demo rating since 2003.

Like last season, the "After the Final Rose" special at 10 p.m. (17.5 million, 6.7/16) outperformed the finale, drawing a rating few series this year can match. "Rose" had the best numbers to date for the special.

"We worked really hard, and we're glad people liked watching it," creator Mike Fleiss said. "We're proud of the fact no show has done what this show has — gone below the 50s (on the weekly ratings chart) and into the top 10 again."

The finale and postshow special enthralled many fans while infuriating others. Bachelor Jason Mesnick proposed to one contestant, changed his mind several weeks later, then professed his love to the contest's runner-up. Coming after last year's decision by bachelor Brad Womack not to select any of the women, the past 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," Fleiss said. "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 had concluded. But Fleiss defended the choice because 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.' " (partialdiff)