From roses to romance, #BachelorNation takes Monday nights and its finale watch parties seriously. Whether you religiously tune in to ABC or receive weekly updates on Twitter, it’s safe to say that strong opinions come with The Bachelor. For some, having your eyes glued to *the most dramatic season yet* is a source of pure entertainment. Others fangirl over Chris Harrison (who wouldn’t, especially after he agreed to a college student’s request to join her online class on Zoom). Regardless of why you watch, it is important to think of the show’s implications. As a fellow Bachelor fan, I’m sorry to say that I have mixed feelings on The Bachelor – here’s what you need to hear.
Here are my two cents on The Bachelor: It’s addicting, it truly is. However, the premise of the show, in my personal opinion, does not spread the best message. Sure, the franchise has worked out for some (@ Sean and Catherine, I love you), but the fact of the matter is that it promotes dating 30 people at once. In essence, this is socially acceptable polygamy. While the dating circumstances are different in the show, it does not promote the idea of intentional dating. For a show that follows the path of dating, meeting each other’s parents during hometown dates and, hopefully, ending in an engagement, group dating can be quite awkward and there is so much drama that it limits the focus of just you and the person you are dating.
Not to mention, the heartbreak is real. The last few seasons have consisted of strong female contestants (Yes, they are literally competing for love!) who were so self-assured that they firmly held their own. This explains why the two Hannah’s – Hannah B. and Hannah Ann – were either strongly loved (or strongly disliked) among #BachelorNation. Here’s a quick recap: Hannah B. left fiancé Jed after he never completely broke up with his at-home girlfriend. The following season, Hannah Ann told Peter off when she deemed him too emotionally unstable to be in a relationship:
“If you want to be with a woman,” she added, “you need to become a real man.”
Regardless if you are single as a pringle or puppy eyes for your S.O., there are some serious role models on the show. From individuals who are bold enough to be spontaneous with their dating partner to those who seek emotional connections and are willing to compromise, everyone has something to learn from how some of the cast members present themselves with poise and confidence in the dating scene.
So, how could #BachelorNation be in full swing with the last few seasons not ending in an engagement? Perhaps the drama is too satisfying to ignore. Maybe it is a coincidence, but Netflix just released Jason’s season of The Bachelor, premiering in January 2009, the season which venerated Jason as “the single dad from Seattle” and was, in fact, a season that ended in a proposal! Chris Harrison went from saying, “Who will our bachelor be engaged to?” in 2009 to “Will our bachelor be engaged?” in 2019. Clearly, the show took a downward spiral in its initial mission: for a couple to find love and start a new life together.
All bashing aside, I still watch the show. I am a sucker for romance reality TV (I have watched way too much of Love is Blind and Temptation Island during this quarantine). What I will say in a positive light is this: I think it is great how viewers nationwide can look at some of the reasons why couples either broke up or worked out and use their narratives to help them heal in their personal situations. A 20-year-old girl from Alabama may look at Hannah Ann’s assertive display of words to Peter and think, “Wow, my boyfriend should be more secure in our relationship.” Or maybe, a 25-year-old guy from Wyoming sees Madison’s strong sense of faith and thinks, “I would love to date a girl who is firm in her morals.” The show certainly displays diversity from all angles, from the ethnicities of its cast to the personalities within each relationship.
So, I’m sorry but I have mixed feelings on The Bachelor. It is relentlessly relatable, but wholeheartedly wrong. Technological advancements are taking the dating scene by storm, but the drama still pours down onto relationships and even on the island of Bachelor in Paradise, a series that follows The Bachelor/The Bachelorette to feature contestants who spiked up ratings in their search for love. I mean, I’m not in California on the set of The Bachelor mansion (A girl can dream, right?), but I have an inkling that the producers third wheel on the nationally-watched couples more times than not. Just from the previews alone, it is obvious how misleading the following series of events are after the commercial break. Let’s be real though, it’s difficult to notice this because we are glued to the Twitter memes during commercials (If you aren’t #tweeting, did you even #watch?).
Yes, everyone’s dating preferences are different. Some may want a more casual relationship and others jump in, wanting something real, really fast. However, the end goal of this show is engagement, leading to marriage, so all of the drama only leads to destruction. The show continues to face criticism for how it depicts women, and what seems to be a never-ending saga among 30 hopeless romantics seems to have a snowball effect rolling right into destruction. Playing devil’s advocate, someone can be talking to a potential partner on a dating app who is talking to 29 other people, but there certainly won’t be a tribe of producers following you and five other Tinder matches around. That would be something…
Overall, I do enjoy watching each Monday night. I will still continue to gather my gal pals and make rose-decorated cupcakes. However, I do not agree with the unintentionality of it all – a message that should be considered before everyone claims to be over-the-hills obsessed with the prime-time show.