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“The Bachelor” Franchise Is Problematic For So Many Reasons

By Meghan Dillon··  10 min read
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“The Bachelor” Franchise Is Problematic For So Many Reasons

I don’t care if you judge me for it, but I’ve been an avid view of “The Bachelor” for years.

I know a lot of people hate it and think it’s cringey, but I can’t get enough of it. Reality shows are my weakness, and The Bachelor is the quintessential guilty pleasure reality TV. However, I’m not afraid to criticize the show. There are definitely aspects of the show that I dislike and wish would change.

Is It about Finding Love or Becoming an Influencer?

After 25 seasons of The Bachelor, Sean Lowe is the only lead who married the woman he gave his final rose to, Catherine Giudici. Both Jason Mesnick and Arie Luyendyk Jr. ended up marrying the women who came in second place in their season after realizing they made a mistake. All three couples are currently still married with children.

After 16 seasons of The Bachelorette, only four leads married the men they gave their final rose to. Other than the married leads, Jojo Fletcher and Tayshia Adams, are still engaged to the men they gave their final roses to. Jojo is set to marry Jordan Rodgers this summer (they were supposed to get married last summer before the pandemic hit), and Tayshia Adams is still engaged to Zac Clark. Three of the four married couples are still together —  former lead Ashley Hebert announced her separation from husband JP Rosenbaum in October 2020. 

Bachelor in Paradise has produced success stories like Jade and Tanner Tolbert and Ashley Iaconneti and Jared Haibon, but there have also been plenty of breakups and divorces. 

The show is supposed to be about finding love and getting married, so why does it have such a low success rate? There are many reasons why, but one of the most prominent reasons is that many contestants don’t actually go on the show to find love. They now go on the show with the intent of gaining enough of an Instagram following to become an influencer.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with influencers. If you can make more money on Instagram than at your nine to five, why not go for it? I love following some past leads and contestants, but I’ve noticed a trend in the influencers I enjoy from the franchise versus those I don’t: I prefer to follow former contestants and leads who I think I could be friends with in real life. Though there have been some great people to come out of recent seasons (Madison Prewett from Peter Weber’s season and Abigail Heringer from Matt James’ season are absolute gems), it’s clear that many contestants come on the show just to gain an Instagram following.

Though plenty of contestants from The Bachelorette do this, it seems to be more prominent among the women who go on The Bachelor, especially with many of the contestants from the most recent season with Matt James. Though there were plenty of genuine women in the cast (Rachael, Abigail, Katie, Bri, Serena P, Brittany, and Michelle all seemed very genuine, the rest rubbed me the wrong way), the catty drama between the women was the main focus of the season. If you didn’t watch it and didn’t see how mean they got, check out the clip below.

I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no, this wasn’t a reboot of Mean Girls. And yes, Katie (the one who stood up to the drama) is going to be the next Bachelorette and I’m so excited for her!

The women who displayed catty behavior didn’t help themselves when they denied being mean at the Women Tell All. Coincidentally, many of these women then started posting regularly to Instagram and participating in brand deals. So did these women go on the show to find love or to just gain a following on Instagram?

According to Eric Bigger, a contestant on Rachel Lindsay’s season of The Bachelorette, contestants “can make anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000 for a single deal.” In an interview with Refinery 29, he spoke of the process of becoming an influencer post-show. He said,It’s no different than applying to a Microsoft or Apple and working there and getting a six-figure salary. You apply for those jobs because they have a reputable brand and it makes you a lot of money. So the [Instagram] following sometimes equals monetary benefits. It’s part of the process, part of social media and TV.”

When the goal is just to gain an audience, if often leads contestants to engage in overly dramatic and even inappropriate behavior in hopes of gaining notoriety and therefore lucrative brands deals once they're off the show.

Fantasy Suite Week

I’ve joked about applying for the show numerous times over the years, but I know I could never do it. Other than the fact that I don’t know how I’d cope with dating someone who’s dating other people (and trust me, nobody wants to see my ugly cry), I know I wouldn’t be able to make it through Fantasy Suite week.

For those who don’t know, Fantasy Suite week is the week where there are overnight dates. This typically happens the week after hometown dates and when there are only three contestants left. Some use the time away from the camera to talk about things they can’t talk about on camera, but it’s most famous for being the night where you can have sex.

Some contestants have a hard time with this aspect of the show, and Madison Prewett of Peter Weber’s season is one of the most prominent examples. Madison is abstinent and a devout Christian, and she made it clear to Peter that she was uncomfortable with the aspect of the fantasy suite and didn’t know if she would be able to accept a proposal if he was intimate with another woman a week before. She spoke to him about it on the night of her fantasy suite date with Peter, and it didn’t go well.

Madison approached the situation with respect and had the conversation with him before. It’s not like she blindsided him with this news the night of their fantasy suite date. He knew she was uncomfortable with it going into fantasy suite week.

Unfortunately, many fans weren’t happy with Madison and compared her to Luke Parker, a contestant on Hannah Brown’s season who shamed her for having sex in the fantasy suite.

Call me crazy, but I see a huge difference between these two conversations. Madison didn’t completely blindside Peter and approached the conversation with respect. Luke was a douchebag and straight up shamed Hannah. If Luke had approached the situation like Madison did, he wouldn’t have come across as such a jerk.

Is it really that unreasonable that a woman who thinks she might get proposed to doesn't want that man to go around sleeping with other women a few days before he goes down on bended knee? The fantasy suite seems to imply that the Bachelor should get to "test drive" each of the women before proposing to them. Yikes.

Sex already makes everything complicated, but The Bachelor just compounds that. Let's say the Bachelor sleeps with all three finalist women during the fantasy suite week. What's the most likely outcome? He gets laid but (hopefully) feels guilty eventually for pressuring the women into putting out. The women who aren't chosen feel used or lied to, and the woman who is chosen knows full well that the guy proposing to her wasn't committed enough even a week earlier not to sleep with two other women, in the name of "keeping his options open."

Pardon me for saying so, but this scenario definitely would not work in real life, and that's why it doesn't work on the show. It's really not that much to ask that your future fiancé can keep his sex drive in check.

Production Is…Kind of Sketchy

They say that the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder. You know who even works harder than Kris Jenner? The producers on The Bachelor. Production has been accused of some sketchy behavior over the years including manipulating contestants’ alcohol intake and pressuring leads to kiss contestants.

A former contestant alleges that producers "manipulated contestants by constantly refreshing their glasses" and encouraging contestants to drink to get them talking. Though it makes for entertaining television, it’s far from the most ethical thing in the world.

Former Bachelor Peter Weber recently accused producers of pressuring him to kiss contestants. When asked how he feels about being the lead to kiss the most contestants on the first night, he said, “I don’t know if I actually am the Bachelor that did that!” 

Peter added he thinks production didn’t edit out any of his night one makeouts. “Everyone kisses a lot of people, but I probably just played ball a little bit too much with the producers. You don’t see this on camera, like, so many times, I was being given this [signal] the entire time, like, they wanted that and hey, if I was feeling it with the girl, I was gonna go in for it.”

Peter continued, “Producers, if they think it’s a good time to kiss, they’ll, like, tap their fingers or they have their phone that says, ‘Kiss.’”

Though we all know that reality tv isn’t all that real, some of the alleged actions from production seem to go a little too far.

Toxicity in Bachelor Nation

The fanbase of Bachelor Nation used to be one of my favorite parts of the show, but it’s slowly turned into one of the most dysfunctional fanbases in pop culture. The Bachelor Nation Reddit thread and the scandals that came from the most recent season of The Bachelor made the toxicity as clear as day (it would take way too long for me to explain the drama, click here to read a breakdown of everything).

Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay believes the fanbase will be the “demise” of the franchise. She said, “It’s wild out there, y’all. Bachelor Nation, y’all are gonna be the reason this show doesn’t exist anymore ‘cause you’re so damn toxic. You’re gonna be the demise of the show and the reason it’s taken down.”

When speaking of how fans attacked the most recent lead, Matt James, for breaking up with winner Rachael Kirkconnell after her antebellum photo scandal, Rachel Lindsay continued, “You’re nasty, you’re vile, you’re harassing Matt for a decision that he made. He supports the girl, he’s allowing her to do it on her own. Let’s move on.”

Regardless of how you feel about Rachel Lindsay, she makes a point that’s hard to refute. From blatant racism to thinly veiled threats, members of Bachelor Nation were treated like garbage by fans this past season. If this inappropriate behavior continues, it’s only a matter of time before the show ends.

Closing Thoughts

Millions of Americans watch The Bachelor franchise for their guilty pleasure reality tv fix, myself included. It begs the question: what's even the point of the show anymore? It's obviously not about finding love for the main contestants. But the producers should take a hard look at the behavior and lifestyles they're promoting in the name of "entertainment."

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  Pop-Culture  Entertainment  The Bachelor  The Bachelorette
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