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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

In the age of Instagram sponsorships and Tinder swipes, there are a plethora of reasons why the Bachelor/Bachelorette doesn’t work. No one is denying the statistics: most couples break up after the show.

Of course, that doesn’t make it any less fun to watch. In fact, the drama is a more compelling facet of the show than the romance. Every season, the host entices viewers with the phrase “the MOST dramatic ________ in the show’s history.” No one really cares if Patrick C. is hoping for a shot at (Bachelor in) Paradise or a brand deal with Peloton, as long as he’s starting drama. We don’t watch the Bachelorette to observe healthy dating dynamics, nor do we really care if someone is there “for the right reasons.” We watch for the pleasant escapism of sipping a glass of red wine and worrying about someone else’s problems for an hour or two.

By casting two Bachelorettes, Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia, as simultaneous leads, the show seemed to be promising double the drama. Having just fallen in love with the same guy, Gabby and Rachel were an unlikely set of friends. When ABC made the two Bachelorettes announcement, I shared the concern of many other viewers. The show wants to convey that they care about empowering women in their search for love and promoting strong female friendships, but this format seemed to be at odds with those goals. I hoped we wouldn’t see the women being torn down and compared to one another, but this was the unfortunate result.

For the first half of the season, drama revolving around “choosing a Bachelorette” dominated the storylines. Rather than seeing Gabby and Rachel forming exciting connections, we saw them being insulted and rejected by the men. Ample screen time was spent on closeups of Rachel, tears streaming down her face, talking about how the men make her feel insecure and how she doesn’t know if she’s “good enough” to fill the Bachelorette role. On top of the typical pressures that come with the territory, both women had to worry about men changing their minds to pursue the other Bachelorette. Instead of feeling powerful and validated, they both started out feeling uneasy.

As the finale approaches, I think we’ll see more of Gabby and Rachel feeling special and secure in their individual connections. Fortunately, I think their friendship will also be a stronger focus, as they have helped each other through each challenging moment of the season. Regardless, big tears and big drama are bound to ensue. A lot of this will be related to triggered insecurities and the men not being able to choose. These problems arise every season, but everything was heightened with two Bachelorettes. This resulted in a season that emphasized misogynistic comments and toxic female competition more than it emphasized women falling in love. Because that is the premise of the show—falling in love—this drama was ill-fitting. While we should draw attention to misogyny and problematic gender dynamics, the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise never really adequately addresses these topics.

The bottom line is this: Gabby and Rachel will probably both get happily engaged. They’re just as likely to stay with their final picks as any other couple from the show. The problem is not a problem with finding love; this is always an iffy endeavor on reality television. The problem is that the show wants to “adapt to the times” by becoming more inclusive and more empowering, but it’s actively exploiting women’s insecurities for increased viewership. That’s not passing the feminism test for me.

TCU '23 • "The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." -Walt Whitman