Why Gay Women Love 'The Bachelor' So Much

I’m a biracial lesbian who, for almost all my life, has thought that The Bachelor was nothing more than a sexist, whitewashed, heteronormative trash show where nothing happens except for a huge mess of unhealthy relationship communication.

But, for almost a year now, I’ve been hooked on The Bachelor and all its franchise spin-offs. In high school, I’d frequently come home to find my mom watching the latest episode of trashy reality television. I constantly scoffed and teased her for watching something so ridiculous.

It’s a cold, hard fact that the women on the show are predominantly white, and that the average age of a woman contestant is only 26, while for men it’s closer to 29. The show perpetuates a plethora of greater societal issues. Just this past season on Bachelor in Paradise, contestant Caelynn took to multiple social media platforms, and even the live broadcasting of the show itself, to defend herself as an accused “slut.”

the predominantly white cast

I believe there’s no such thing as pure media consumption. If you participate in society, you absorb entertainment that contains egregious problems because everything is a product of its time. It’s up to the individual to gauge the level of harm they’re willing to tolerate as an educated consumer while still speaking out.

My roommate, who’s also gay, got me into The Bachelor. At first, I assumed we were going to make fun of it. But here we are a year later, watching every Monday and Tuesday unironically, digesting the serious romance and diving into our thoughts and reactions together.

Why the change of heart? Previously, I believed that any woman who gets joy from viewing Bachelor Nation is a lonely straight woman who is either deeply unsatisfied in her current relationship, or is single and fantasizing about a strong man fighting for her affection because she’s the most beautiful out of all the blonde women who are simple, petty bimbos compared to her.

That entire scenario sounds like my worst nightmare. So, if I don’t watch to imagine myself in a contestant or bachelorette’s place, why do I and other gay women bother to tune in?

The guilty pleasure aspect of most reality shows comes close to describing it. It’s just so entertaining. Like driving past a car crash and your morbid curiosity kicks in, you don’t want to be involved, just observe. A survey of 1,000 people voted The Bachelor as the number one embarrassingly enjoyable show.

Anyone can feel the urge to relax and watch something that requires absolutely no thinking. At times, it’s absurd in the most hilarious way. The idea of being on a date and some other girl walks in and blows a whistle demanding it’s her turn is the kind of thing you can’t get on any other show. It distracts me from all the crap going on in the world that I’d rather not think about on a Monday night.

Except, something else keeps me attached to Colton and his decision to dump Hannah for Cassie: I care about their love. Just like I would for any friend and their relationship, I want the bachelor or bachelorette to pick someone I feel suits them well.

My roommate had similar reasoning for contributing to the franchise’s viewership as well. “I feel like there are universal feelings of love and emotion in the franchise that I don’t typically see in other reality shows.”

LGBT+ people know as well as anyone that love is love means love is love. While I don’t desire someone who’s going to get confrontational with other men trying to wife me up while also acting aggressively masculine, I feel for the contestants who desire a true and deep connection with someone. I’ll admit, I get teary eyed with the hopeless romantics who cry in the dreaded back-home-van after a rejection. I’ve been there.

Recently, spin-off Bachelor in Paradise aired featuring their first ever gay couple, complete with on-screen lesbian kissing and ending with each woman proposing to the other. Initially, I didn’t know what to expect from Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty’s relationship.

Demi and Kristian

I didn’t know if they were going to receive minimal screen time only to pop-up every once in a while so the show could get publicity and praise for the bare minimum required to say you have a gay couple on your show. Or, if they were going to overdo it and show them non-stop and include constant cut-away interviews of other paradise contestants saying things like, “they’re so cute for a gay couple” or “I’m totally okay with lesbians being here. I think it’s equal to normal love.” Just typing those sentences made me cringe.

I’m happy to say, in my lesbian opinion, we ended up with a wonderful happy-medium. The couple got the exact same treatment as any other couple in love on the show would. Demi and Kristian fit right in with no uncomfortable questions I’ve had to hear while dating a girl, no gawking, and no fear of trying to make their relationship seem perfect. The struggles in their relationship were shown as well.

The friend I interviewed also spoke to the hidden depth of the show while talking to me about the subject. “I do develop real connection to certain members and... feel investment in their journeys.” Audience members can see themselves in the characters' shoes during intensely emotional scenes despite any sort of personal differences in the shows’ playful moments.

Increased inclusion doesn’t give this show a break from criticisism on discrimination. Even most recently, producers passed up what seemed like the perfect opportunity to cast the first ever black bachelor, Mike Johnson. And it’s absolutely okay to feel angry about this and even tweet at the show about it. He fit The Bachelor Bill to a T: attractive, tragic romantic past, social media following. If he was white, would it have been a no-brainer for Mike?

Mike was perfect

Nevertheless, I’ve seen this franchise grow to our ever changing culture from my own LGBT+ and mixed-race perspective. It’s moving in a direction of more representation, open-mindedness, and focus on heart-warming romance each season. That’s what keeps me hooked and waiting for more Bachelor.