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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

In the past year I have now watched 2 consecutive Bachelor/Bachelorette seasons as they’ve happened. This is a first for me, and now probably a last. I first started watching this show my freshman year of college, as my roommate got me to watch an older season of “The Bachelorette” (Joelle “Jojo” Fletcher’s season, to be exact) for fun during finals week. This initial season was really entertaining and there were a lot of really likeable people on the show so I ended up enjoying it. 

Fast forward to 2020 and the *escapism* appeal of watching reality TV drew me back in at the beginning of the pandemic. And of course, I dragged my boyfriend into it because what else we were going to do on a Monday night Skype call. I think that watching this show with someone who’s never experienced it before really helped me see just how bad this entire set up is. The last cycle of seasons of this franchise have been very unique in their own ways. Clare Crawley got engaged fast, Tayshia Adams was an amazing bachelorette in a disappointingly short period of time, and Matt James is the first Black male lead with the most diverse cast. These seasons however have exposed the integrity of the franchise. 

So here are some thoughts we’ve come up with on how problematic this show has become:

1. Putting contestants in uncomfortable situations

It should go without saying that in applying and agreeing to be on a reality show, you should already know that your life is going to be invaded by a camera and you’re going to do some weird stuff. But “The Bachelor” has crossed that line and put people in extremely uncomfortable scenarios. For instance, on the most recent episode, the one-on-one date was Matt James and contestant Serena Pitt engaging in a tantric yoga lesson. Tantric yoga is very sexual and is meant to create a deep bond with your partner. The whole time Serena looked very uneasy and in her confessionals she blatantly tells us that this is something she never wanted to do or ever do again. Dates like these are consistent with the series as in the previous season, Clare Crawley made her contestants strip for a game of dodgeball, visibly making many of the men embarrassed. 

2. Sexualization of everyone on the show

Like the strip dodgeball date, a lot of the entertainment aspects of the show rely on showing off the bodies of everyone on the show. Women typically wear tight fitting dresses, leggings, and tops, while the men are constantly shirtless with their physique on display. It literally seems like whenever the show returns from a commercial break, the show opens to a montage of Matt working out without a shirt on and it makes us cringe every time. Not only does this give people a false view of what “beauty” is, but it’s just very uncomfortable as a viewer to watch. 

3. Poor vetting of contestants

I don’t know how the casting process goes down but there have been some very strange and sometimes alarming people on this show. While Clare was the Bachelorette, she sent a contestant home who voiced opinions in a very misogynistic way to her. Additionally, it’s almost guaranteed that contestants will gain a level of marketability and influence based on appearing on national TV. This begs the question that the actions of some contestants are geared towards monetizing themselves as opposed to being there for the “right reasons.” The one that takes the cake however is Rachael Kirkconnell, who has been found to have a racist past in partaking in such things as an antebellum-themed ball. Also, she has been associated with many racist posts as well as QAnon conspiracies. She is a frontrunner on Matt James’ season and will be introducing her family to the first Black Bachelor. The show was taped last fall before any of this came out, but watching her continuously receive validation feels really bad. She has since apologized to the BIPOC community but regardless of her apology her actions were racist. 

4. Performative inclusivity 

As the show has evolved there have been many pushes for the franchise to become more inclusive. This includes a Bachelor Diversity Campaign made up of a diverse group of fans who want more BIPOC representation. Also, they are calling for better anti-racist measures from the franchise. Rachel Lindsay, the first Black bachelorette, puts it best here in an episode of “The Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast, “You can’t tout around the fact that you have the most diverse cast, but then not show them.” This current season was marketed for its diversity and the fact is that the drama created by white women has garnered more screen time than the stories of the other women in the cast. As a viewer it feels like Rachael Kirkconnell, the only white contestant left, has gotten the majority of the spotlight as compared to the other 3 (Serena Pitt, Bri Springs, and Michelle Young), who are all women of color. 

5. Unnecessary sabotaging and plots from the producers

Something that really needs to stop is the constant meddling of the producers. I get that ABC wants to maximize earning potential through high ratings but it takes away from the quality of the show. For example, this current season saw the brief return of a former contestant to vie for a rose. Heather Martin arrived unannounced to the cast, though it was obvious that the producers had a hand in it; as it was 6 weeks into the process. This is consistent with other seasons, as they often introduce new or eliminated contestants into the show. These antics often spur chaos between cast members. These pointless storylines add nothing but runtime so the show can fill the 2 hour block.

6. Drama > Love

At the end of the day what makes each of the issues become hallmarks of this show are publicity. “The Bachelor” franchise has spawned 5 spin off series, podcasts, blogs, and an army of devoted “Bachelor Nation” fans. And what keeps people flocking to their screens each time a new season airs isn’t the hope that some beautiful single person finds their true love, but the promise of exposing gossip, fights, and many tears. The show compromises its alleged mission by willing to show the emotional and private breakdowns of its cast.

Olivia Garcia

George Mason University '22

Olivia is a senior studying Environmental and Sustainability studies with a concentration in Conservation and minors in anthropology and GIS. She is interested in environmental and conservation communication and education. Olivia enjoys writing about the environment, culture, and social justice issues, and the intersections between them. Aside from school, she enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, and exploring DC.
George Mason Contributor (GMU)

George Mason University '50

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