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

Sound the alarm, Bachelor Nation! Our beloved franchise makes its epic return to the small screen on October 12th, 2020 with Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. With this momentous occasion on the horizon, I’ve gotten to thinking, a little too much if you ask me, about a seemingly simple question: why is the bachelor desirable? Now, I’m not talking about the show, The Bachelor— rest assured, I’m sold on it completely– but my preoccupation is about the lead himself. Stay with me here– let’s go back to the dumpster fire that was the 24th season of The Bachelor starring the one, and thank God only, Peter Weber. At first, Peter seemed like a great candidate for the leading role: handsome, charming, romantic, a mama’s boy, and had an actual career! However, once his season started, Peter proved to be an aloof man-baby with a proclivity for drama and as well as an overbearing mother. Despite this lack of redeeming qualities, the contestants on the show relentlessly vied for Peter’s heart. To me, this creates one big, glaring question mark: why? 

I use Peter as an example because he was a particularly astonishing disappointment to myself and the rest of Bachelor Nation, but the same principle goes for almost every lead. The person selected, male or female, is often a fairly attractive, aspiring Instagram influencer who lacks substance. Nonetheless, you see contestants fawning over the lead, vying to be his or her first kiss and get a rose, jumping through hoops just to get an ounce of special attention. Why is it that these attractive but otherwise ordinary people can cause a group of thirty men or women to petulantly fight over them?

The first explanation I have found is that the competition aspect of the show encourages attraction to the lead role. When news anchors talk to the lucky girl who received the bachelor’s final rose at the end of each season, they refer to her as the “winner” of the season, rather than the bachelor’s fiancé or girlfriend. With that said, The Bachelor is set up like a competition game show in which contestants face off in challenges (group dates) throughout the season and are rewarded with explicit and implicit prizes (alone time with the lead and more time on TV). Therefore, it is in the best interest of each contestant to crazily compete for the lead’s attention because it will allow him or her to reap more of the benefits presented. To me, this explains why so many Bachelor couples split up– the “winner” might be so consumed by the competition aspect that they overlook the lead’s undesirable qualities. This mentality establishes an unstable foundation for a successful relationship because the unequal power dynamic allows the lead to assess the contestants holistically while the contestants are too blinded by the game to determine if they are actually interested in the lead.

Another reason for this phenomenon may be the romanticization of the process. On The Bachelor, men and women are meant to fall in love wearing their finest clothes, in full faces of makeup, drinking champagne in hot tubs, traveling to exotic locations all while being unnaturally vulnerable and revealing intimate details about their past romantic failures. However, as we all know, this is not representative of reality. TV relies so much on romanticization, and it is in the best interest of both the lead and the contestants to present the best version of themselves through their words, actions, and appearances. Because the contestants are only afforded small glimpses at a glamorized representation of the lead, they may genuinely fall in love with him or her. I’m sure if I hung out with a seemingly perfect man who said all the right things for only 2 hours a week like The Bachelor contestants do, I’d fall in love with him too! This whole model, while great for TV, has real-life repercussions for those involved. Many Bachelor couples have vocalized that reality hit them hard once the cameras were off and that this disillusionment led to their romantic demise. Therefore, while visually pleasing and entertaining to the viewer, the romanticization of The Bachelor process may trick contestants into letting their guards down and going along with the fairytale, even if the lead is no Prince Charming.

Although these musings have not revealed anything groundbreaking about The Bachelor, I think that it’s important to acknowledge that the standards presented are unrealistic and nearly unattainable. I don’t think it sets a good precedent, especially for young women, to glorify competing with other women for the approval of a man. However, I guess the show exaggerates a phenomenon that is observable in small doses in real life: the confidence boost you get when your crush validates you in some way. Although this feeling can be uplifting, it’s important to keep in mind that, as cliché as it may sound, no man’s opinion of you is worth more than your opinion of yourself. Anyway, despite its structural flaws and the questions they raise, The Bachelor has been and will continue to be my guilty pleasure, and I am very much looking forward to the start of Clare’s tumultuous season.


Zenia Grzebin

Wake Forest '22

Zenia Grzebin is a junior at Wake Forest University, originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She plans on majoring in Political Science and Spanish and minoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Zenia loves writing, traveling, photography, working out, and the Eagles.
Taylor Knupp

Wake Forest '21

Taylor is a senior from Harrisburg, PA studying Business and Enterprise Management. She is the outgoing Editor-In-Chief of Her Campus at WFU. Taylor plans to move to New York City after graduation to work as a Business Analyst at Verizon.