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Genuine? Or Simply Entertaining?: ABC’s The Bachelor

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Fairfield chapter.

In 2016, I made one promise to myself: to keep up my obsessions with reality TV. I fell in love with reality TV when I was in high school, indulging myself in shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and of course, ABC’s shows, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Truthfully, as a naïve high schooler, all I really cared about was watching drama unfold on my favorite TV networks. I loved delving into the lives of my favorite celebs, and found myself practically hooked on most shows I attempted to watch.

Currently, I still do get my weekly fix of reality TV. Throughout the week, I struggle to balance between which shows I have to watch on which nights, and prioritizing “the important things in life”against my reality TV habits. Each weekend, I look forward to “Bachelor Mondays” with current star, Ben Higgins. He appears to be every girl’s dream guy—kind, genuine, and simply adorable. But as I have watched Ben schmooze his way through the hearts of 28 lucky ladies these past 5 weeks, I really began to wonder how true this process and show really is.

There is one striking issue that seems to be apparent every single season—there’s always a crazy contestant that seems to stir up controversy and irritate the others. This season, #BachelorNation was lucky to have two crazies: Lace (who was previously eliminated), and newscaster, Olivia. Why do producers always cast a crazy chick? The answer is simple- to boost ratings, and to give us viewers all something to laugh and think about. But why would Ben, the man who is apparently looking for his future wife, keep someone like her around? Because he is completely unaware of she is doing behind his back. Since this show is not live, Ben doesn’t get a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes of his one-on-one/group dates; he only sees the side of the women that they choose to share with him one-on-one.

Deception is such a prominent factor that we see each and every week while watching–contestants want to make themselves admirable and prominent in the public eye. Whether it is through the expression of stories from their pasts, on-camera actions, or deceiving Ben into thinking they are normal, the girls strive to make themselves seem like perfect candidates. Why would they let their insecurities shine through? There seems to be a huge tradeoff between genuineness and quality entertainment, and it is apparent. If every single girl chosen to compete were the perfect match for the bachelor, there would be no drama, no discrepancies, and no deception. This, however, would not be interesting for any viewers. We watch it simply to see what people like Olivia or Lace (back when she was in the running) were going to do next. If it were all lovey-dovey and happy-go-lucky, it wouldn’t be as compelling.

How is this fair, though, to bachelors like Ben Higgins? Casting is all in the hands of the producers, therefore they can literally choose girls to compete that may or may not even be a compatible match with Ben. There has never been record of any contestant that was slightly below the standard of beautiful, which proves the criteria that the show has with their contestants. There is no way that these women do not feel pressured to look and act in certain ways throughout their time living in the Bachelor Mansion. It seems like when contestants sign that contract, they are signing their lives away. Since ABC is ultimately funding their entire experience, they most likely have to comply with a boatload of standards and laws while remaining as a contestant. If the personalities of the women are not genuine, I am left to question if they are just forming themselves to seem like the perfect candidate for marriage.

So now after speculation towards the intentions of the producers, and the intentions and feelings of the contestants, we are left with sympathy for those that are actually in it for the right reasons. I can’t help but feel bad for the reserved, quiet, but kind contestants who get eliminated early on because they did not have that much of a voice. Sometimes, contestants just may not understand what they are getting themselves into. There have been times where girls have left the show simply because they could not take the pressure of one guy, their boyfriend, dating multiple women at the same time. Perhaps the contestants may not quite understand how difficult it is going to be to watch the man they fall in love with kiss other women, take other women on dates, and form connections with other women on a daily basis. Though we all watch from our couches at home choosing our favorites, and picking whom people like Ben should propose to at the final rose ceremony, we can’t help but wonder how tough it was for Ben and his potential wives to get to that position. This short process, which for the most part lasts a little under three months, is really no indication of how well their relationship will thrive in the real world, once the cameras stop rolling.

Fans love The Bachelor/Bachelorette for the love connection, but also for the entertainment it provides us on a weekly basis. People like Ben Higgins appear to deserve the perfect wife, but it will be interesting to see how well the love that is formed on the show lasts after the finale is aired. It is definitely fair to question this process as a whole, as there just seems to be so many continuous flaws within the system. I have very different outlooks on these contestant-type shows today than I did a few years ago. Most of my opinions changed after I really understood the stress that could be put on these women, the standards of perfection, the longing to be entertaining, and the pressure they must feel to be the ideal wife for the bachelor. Though it seems like no single party (contestants, producers, or star) could be completely to blame, there just seems to be too much to question to believe that this is really a genuine process.

Hey ladies! I'm Alyssa Vicari, a loyal Long Islander from Fairfield's class of 2018. I am a sophomore finance major and marketing minor who loves everything about the fall and everything about coffee. When I'm not studying or writing for HC, you can probably find me at the beach, the mall, watching Netflix, or doing any other thing that #basic college girls enjoy. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @alyssavicari !
Gabriella is currently a junior at Fairfield University, where she is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Communications. She is Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus Fairfield with her roomie/best friend Pamela Grant! Gab can most likely be found with a Venti Starbs in hand, while wearing obnoxiously large sunnies (no shame), reading the most recent issue of Glamour Mag.