Recently, fans of the wildly popular ABC franchise “The Bachelor” and its female-centered counterpart “The Bachelorette” were dismayed to learn that the forthcoming season would be postponed amid coronavirus concerns.
However, fans can now rejoice as we’ve learned that production for the newest Bachelorette season is forging ahead and is slated to premiere this coming fall.
With a new season comes a new star, who’s simultaneously a refreshing divergence from Bachelorettes of the past and a familiar face as well. This new season will feature Clare Crawley, who previously appeared on Bachelor in Paradise and The Bachelor Winter Games, and became a fan favorite after famously telling off the very unlikable Juan Pablo Galavis of Season 18. At 39, Crawley, who works as a hairstylist out of Sacramento, is the oldest Bachelorette to ever grace the mansion’s halls.
As an admitted fan of reality TV, I see the appeal of the franchise. There’s something endearing about watching people fall in love right before our eyes and feeling like we’re getting to know them personally through the course of each season. Many’s the time I’ve sat down for a season premiere and tried to be excited about all the unrevealed twists and turns featuring its impossibly good-looking cast of characters. But — and here’s where I’m sure diehard fans will disagree with me — there are several things I’ve noticed over the years that won’t be motivating me to watch this new season and have left me with discomfort for the franchise overall.
Contestants Are Encouraged To Behave Badly
For every fan favorite of a season, there’s sure to be a villain or two trying to throw a wrench in the plans of our heroes and heroines.
Because we’re dealing with reality TV, it’s inevitable that the lines between fiction and reality become blurred. Add social media personalities and influencer culture to the mix, and it’s hard to know who we’re dealing with. Case in point: Corinne Olympios, a well-known fixture of Bachelor Nick Viall’s season. Corinne was slated to be the season’s bad girl from early on, with a reputation among her fellow contestants as a foulmouthed bully and an aggressive pursuer of Bachelor Nick (See “My heart is gold, but my vagine is platinum.”).
Whether or not a contestant goes on to win their season, their TV persona and who they’ve portrayed themselves as on television is something they’ll have to reckon with after the cameras stop rolling. For some, that means a return to the normalcy of the real world, but for others it can mean a long and profitable career ahead of them in the entertainment industry. Either way, contestants, especially female contestants, are almost encouraged to behave badly by the show’s competition format in order to be noticed by viewers. After all, drama makes for much better TV. It’s hard not to wonder, though, if the contestants we love to hate are as obnoxious in real life as they are in the mansion.
Chastity Is Denigrated Because It Doesn’t Make for Good TV
For both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, the concepts of sex before marriage and abstinence are treated as fodder for viewers, instead of personal decisions made by individuals for specific reasons. From the seasons that have aired in more recent years, it’s clear to see that there’s a distinction between what’s encouraged and accepted in the Fantasy Suite (eww) and what isn’t.
Contestant Madi Prewett left Pilot Pete Webber’s season voluntarily as the runner-up. Before that, Madi was in hot contention and some felt the obvious choice for the final rose and the winner of Pete’s heart. That was, until she disclosed that, due to her faith, she plans to save sex for marriage. Prewett’s intensely personal confession to Webber no doubt put her in a vulnerable place, but even more so to disclose it in front of millions of people. What’s more, she was then denigrated by viewers for her choice, and even by Pete’s family (but a look back at Barbara Webber’s behavior lets us know maybe Madi really did win after all).
In comparison, when it was revealed that Pete and Hannah Brown got it on for lack of a better word (four times) in a windmill in Greece, there appeared to be only praise and virtual high-fives for their openness on sleeping with one another despite not ending up together. (Although Webber now reportedly regrets that the exploits have received the attention they have.)
The Host Chris Harrison Is Creepy
Last, but certainly not least, there’s our host Chris Harrison. Surely, I can’t be the only woman in America who thinks he’s creepy…
Harrison is the keeper of the keys of the mansion, so to say, as well as a charming on-screen personality and figurative Gandalf who guides contestants through the house and their journey to true and everlasting love. Or is he? By one critic’s very harsh but not incorrect standards, he’s “an emotional succubus posing as an empath.”
There have also been rumors that Harrison gets up to a lot more behind the scenes than we might think, such as pushing one contestant to striptease for Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, and allegedly having a romantic relationship with Bachelorette Emily Maynard (which is, for obvious reasons, problematic).
But more often than not, Harrison is the voice in the ears of contestants, pushing them to make “shocking” revelations and spurring them, or downright provoking them depending on how you look at it, to make dramatic, good-for-TV reactions in stressful and overwhelming situations. Justify him all you want (he’s known to some as America’s dad, after all), but I won’t forgive him for following Colton Underwood with cameras as he jumped the fence in disgrace, or for surprising Becca live on-air with Arie Luyendyk, Jr. on her “After the Final Rose” segment (both of which are heartbreaking and cringe-inducing in equal measure).
All the reasons I dislike this franchise could be the same reasons others like it, which lets me know that both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aren’t going anywhere, at least anytime soon.
Reality TV can be a fun, binge-worthy, and much-needed escape sometimes, but we should see that for what it is, an escape. It’s important to weigh this heightened version of reality as something that’s heavily produced for the purposes of television. Though I enjoy watching a good competition as much as the next person, I’m beginning to feel weary and almost intrusive when seeing the private, intimate moments of others constructed and then exposed for the purposes of entertainment.
For these reasons at least, I won’t be watching Clare’s season, but I wish her luck in her quest for love.