As a new Bachelor viewer (this past season was my first time watching it), I consumed the show along with the rest of America: the catty fights, the awkward make out seshes, and the cheesy proclamations of “love.” I also watched host Chris Harrison on the After the Rose ceremony announce that the next season of The Bachelorette would feature not one woman, but two competing against each other for the ultimate title.
What?! The audience (and according to Twitter, most of America) was both confused and upset about this plot twist. Even the two ladies, Britt and Kaitlyn, seemed unsure of how the show would logistically play out and were visibly annoyed about the situation. When asked how she felt when she first heard the news, Kaitlyn simply responded, “That’s not ideal.”
The plot twist not only angered fans because of its bizarre change in the fundamentals of the show, but also because of the blatant misogyny of it. The Bachelor isn’t exactly known for its feminist values, but the one thing women across America can look forward to is the spinoff, The Bachelorette, which allows a woman to call the shots and turn men into the contestants competing for her attention.
This plot twist once again pits women against each other, a concept all too familiar in our patriarchal society, instead of allowing the woman to hold the power, as is usually the theme in The Bachelorette. To make matters worse, as former Bachelor star Sean Lowe criticizes in a blog post, since one unlucky woman will be eliminated on the first night, The Bachelorette will almost undoubtedly be chosen solely on her looks and not on the connections she makes with the men.
One of the things I found most disturbing about the announcement was the way Chris Harrison described the competition. He explained that on the first night the men would decide which of the ladies would “make the best wife.” Excuse me? The idea that there is such a thing as a “best wife” is not only bizarre considering these men will spend perhaps one day with Britt and Kaitlyn, but also completely disrespectful to women and wives everywhere. What exactly consitutes a “best wife” and why should the men be able to make that distinction? Although we can not expect a high level of feminist activism from a reality television show of this nature, it is still shocking and upsetting to find that even the most feminist aspect of the show has been dismissed and, once again, men have taken the power away from women.
So how will this plot twist play out? I guess we will all have to wait and see when the show airs again – most likely sometime in May. In the meantime, here are some previous The Bachelor and The Bachelorette contestants sharing their feelings on the matter: