Are you watching The Bachelorette?
Are you still watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette? Or maybe you gave up on it when Juan Pablo slut shamed Claire Crawley, a contestant on his season. Or when Nick Viall slut-shamed Andi Dorfman, the then Bachelorette, and the franchise later made him The Bachelor. Or when the producers cast a contestant with a racist and sexist social media history on the season featuring the first black Bachelorette. Or when a sexual misconduct scandal on the set of Bachelor in Paradise called into question the safety precautions taken by producers on set. Or when it came to light that there is a bigot on the current season, which features the first openly liberal Bachelorette. Or how about most recently when it a current contestant was convicted of indecent assault and battery for groping a woman aboard a cruise ship?
In the era of Trump and #MeToo, it feels increasingly difficult to give The Bachelor franchise a pass for its oversight of (or blatant playing disregard for) contestant safety, human decency, and problematic gender roles. While I am certainly not the first one to make this connection, this season feels particularly tone deaf. The Bachelor has been my fluffy outlet, my mindless entertainment. But the fluffy is damn near eliminated when, in a landscape where every day feels like a fresh hell and you cannot get the sounds of children being ripped from their parents out of your head, The Bachelor asks you to care about a love story involving a guy that liked a meme about throwing children back over the border.
It’s hard to believe that bigotry and criminal records got past the network and the show. Which leaves us with two choices: either the network and the show missed the men’s past despite their rigorous casting process or the show and the network knew about the men’s past and cast them for entertainment sake. Choice 1 makes the network’s and the show’s staff laughably incompetent and Choice 2 makes the network’s and show’s staff downright despicable.
I have embraced this franchise (and its break-out Instagram stars, and its spin-offs, and its unlimited podcasts). I even convinced my sister to watch it every week and write a recap for this website. But, I am beginning to feel Bachelor fatigue. I find myself seeking out fluff from cooking shows (looking at you Great British Bakeoff) and makeover shows (looking at you Queer Eye), rather than the increasingly problematic mess that is The Bachelor franchise. I guess it comes down to that in exchange for my brand loyalty, I’d expect the show to put a little elbow grease into its casting. I’d expect the show to give me the escape I need rather than a depressing reminder of the state of the world. But, I think I may be looking in the wrong place - here, for the wrong reasons if you will.