Artwork exploring female tears, the romance plot, and the fantasy of reality in the Bachelor franchise.
Artwork exploring female tears, the romance plot, and the fantasy of reality in the Bachelor franchise.
I realized something this past week: The Bachelorette is my favorite show. I can’t say why, and I don’t know that I’ll always feel this way, but like drunkenly pulling smarmy, ugly leather jacket-clad Nick into your Ireland hotel room in a feverish passion, the heart wants what the heart wants. And this week, I’ve just wanted The Bachelorette.
As a show, The Bachelor is a really straightforward narrative of patriarchy: there’s a single boring white dude, and 30 women with blonde highlights and unthreatening careers fighting over him. The Bachelorette, however, is more of a mind-fuck. It more or less always brings us the same tired cliches about hetero romance and gender, the same negative stereotypes and narrow views of womanhood as its brother program, but it’s all wrapped up in a kind of faux female empowerment—a crowd of HOT TOPLESS GUYS with SIX-PACKS, OMG, fawning over one lucky single gal in a glorious triumph for feminism and equal opportunity. This is our turn, ladiesssss!
For a brief moment on this past week’s episode though, it felt like it kind of was. There was indeed a tiny glimmer of feminism, in which the show decided to cater to Kaitlyn’s sluttiness. To be perfectly clear, by saying sluttiness I of course am joking about the double standards that the show and our horrid patriarchal culture perpetuate around female sexuality; by Kaitlyn’s sluttiness I do of course mean her Totally Healthy Female Sexuality. The show saw that Kaitlyn was being unapologetically sexual, and they did some helpful rearranging to cater to it. Continue reading
I had a lot of feelings about this season of The Bachelorette before it even started, and I considered not watching it in protest of the franchise’s BS decision to have TWO BACHELORETTES—but ultimately I decided that if I was boycotting TV shows because of my politics, I would have stopped watching this horrid show a long time ago. It’s not news that the Bachelor franchise as a whole plays on deeply problematic ideas about gender—the fact that this season the men got to choose which woman they thought made better “wife material” (Kaitlyn, obviously—I’ll put a ring on her finger right now.) is not a line in the sand; it is in fact neither here nor there in relation to the show’s decidedly sexist foundation. Yes I have watched this show for the past thirteen (oh my god how can that number be real) miserable seasons. I have wasted so many hours of my life. And yes I shall continue to waste my life this season. If I believed that being a “bad feminist” was a thing, I might feel like this makes me a bad feminist, but I don’t. I think I’m a decent feminist and also a necessarily flawed human that is vast and containing of multitudes. I sometimes make decisions that don’t always exemplify my political beliefs—I shop at chain stores that no doubt use unethical labor practices, I slather my face with night creams in hope of stopping my inevitable female aging, and I watch The Bachelor. And The Bachelorette.
This past week’s episode was really on point in terms of the show’s heinous politics. The Bachelor franchise has a terrible track record in terms of racial diversity (see host Chris Harrison’s gross comments dismissing allegations that the show is racist here). The past few seasons we’ve seen the show make a minimal, face-value effort to address critiques around this by inviting a handful of people of color into the dating pool. Whether these guys and gals get any substantial air time, or make it past the first several episodes, is another story. But we’ve been seeing some more contestants of color on the show, and with this comes more overt, and not so overt, racism. The all-white or mainly white contestant pools of the past allowed for total erasure of race politics as an issue within the whitewashed alternate reality of the show. With more people of color being cast, white contestants’ privilege to never have to think about race is sometimes challenged, and we get to see how the show frames/addresses race (hint—it is not good).
Oh Bachelor Nation, I do not even know what to say to you. For this week, we may have witnessed the biggest blow to feminism In. Bachelor. History. Like you, I am speechless. I don’t know where to begin, so let’s start at the beginning. We’re back in Arlington, Iowa, with Farmer Chris and his Final Two, Fertility Nurse Whitney (whose name henceforth is synonymous with Patriarchy), and Virgin Who Can’t Drive Becca (who will heretofore represent Feminism). Farmer Chris brings both stellar babes to meet his family this week, and then he must make the Most Difficult Decision of His Life. Continue reading
Oh man, oh WOMAN, the women certainly told all this week, and oh how amazing their stories were. The Women Tell All episode started with Chris Harrison babbling about how every Bachelor season they have the Women Tell All Episode, and sometimes, ya know, there’s just not that much to talk about, but this season is SO special and dramatic. Oh please Chris Harrison, we’re not idiots. The Women Tell All consists necessarily each season of a stage full of women, and we all know that The Bachelor‘s very most favorite thing to do is pitting women against each other.
It’s kind of darkly funny—jealousy between women is a thing that we learn from a sexist culture that tells us women have to fight over a man or a job or a book deal; it’s a biproduct of a culture that makes us feel invisible and starved for attention through not valorizing us or celebrating us, and making it harder for women to get the material stuff that many men get easily. As feminists we have to work to unlearn that internalized misogyny. But the thing is: The Bachelor takes that social message and makes it real in order to further perpetuate it. There is actually one boring dude that these lovely womyn have to fight over. They’re perpetuating competition amongst women because they are literally competing. And so the social norm of female jealousy and competition is so, and so on forever. And then we get to watch it in its fullest force on The Women Tell All. Continue reading
Ugh Bachelor Nation, we are getting to that point in the show where we should all be glued to our TVs, but instead I am bored. Jade is gone, and I am sad. Britt is gone, and I miss her inspiring makeup and red Chucks. Farmer Chris is boring, and Whitney is boring, and Becca is boring, and Kaitlyn is refreshingly not that boring which makes it all the more depressing that she’s vying for a chance to live with a boring guy in a desolate town in Iowa. I don’t even know who to root for anymore—the one I like best? That she be banished to Arlington, Iowa?!
We’re in Bali, and it’s rully pretty. The first date is with Kaitlyn, at a local temple where they basically go because they’re not allowed to kiss and I guess The Bachelor thought that sacred aspect of this place would be a fun kitchy restraint. Chris has maje pit stains and a monkey jumps on his head and Kaitlyn makes a weird metaphor about going after what you want and wishing she was a monkey. Kaitlyn tells Chris she’s falling in love, and I thought Farmer Chris was only allowed to say things like “thank you” and “it means so much to hear you say that” and *silent tongue kiss* in response, but in an unprecedented Bach move, he says “I’m falling in love with you as well.” Wow, Farmer Chris, “as well,” aren’t you a fancy genius. They go to the fantasy suite together. I am so bored you guys, someone please give me a lobotomy. Continue reading
Hi! My name is Lizzy Acker and I am not Marisa Crawford. However, I am a feminist who watches The Bachelor. In fact, I started on this journey because of Marisa, years ago in a romantic land called San Francisco, where we used to watch the show together and drink drinks. Please note that I am absolutely here for the Right Reasons—those reasons being: I am going to tell you what happened on this season’s most commitment-heavy week while Marisa was out of town. I’m going to try to make sense of the madness and magic for you, as Marisa might, were she able.
This week was a two-day, four-hour extravaganza that began with a lot of dimly lit, confessional interviews with Chris Harrison. Especially on Sunday, there was a lot of time to fill, okay? And a lot of summarizing the season for anyone who, you know, decided to just start watching now, halfway through the season (who are you and why why why?).
OMGGGggggg there is so much to say about this week’s episode that I don’t even know where to begin! I guess I’ll start at the beginning, which was really the end of last week’s episode (which is annoying, The Bachelor, end each episode with a fucking rose ceremony, we already have enough confusion and mayhem in our lives). Kelsey is on the floor and having or staging a panic attack. They’re basically playing her sobs in a loop because they think we won’t notice, and the paramedic tries to distract Kelsey by asking her about some brownies (what brownies?!), which works like a charm. Kelsey laughs “I better get a rose tonight,” and asks to see Chris, then returns to the group of other womyn, who are all pissed. Kelsey laughs off her panic attack and says things like, “these puppies don’t come out every night” about her choice to wear a dress that shows off her cleavage. That’s what we all call our breasts right, “these puppies”?
At the rose ceremony, Farmer Chris speaks more words than we’ve ever heard him utter in all five preceding episodes combined, Exhibit A that we May Not Actually Like Him. And then Kelsey’s like, wait, why am I, a 28-year-old guidance counselor, fighting over this dumb-as-box-of-hammers farmer guy who has marbles in his mouth all the time? JUST KIDDING, you guys, that would of course never happen. You know that moment when you’re dating someone and obsessively asking yourself “does ze like me???”, and then your feminist BFF has to remind you to ask whether or not you’re even into said love object in the first place?? As women, we are socialized to please. And sometimes we forget to think about our actual desires in light of other people’s. If this were the real world, these ladieeeeesssss likely would have moved on from Farmer Chris by now. But this is the Bachelor universe, and there are no feminist best friends, and no alternative suitors. There’s just Farmer Chris, with his mouth slightly agape as he hands out roses to Jade, Kaitlyn, Megan, Becca, Hot V Ashley, and Kelsey, and they all gleefully accept. He sends home Samantha (who is this person?) and 21-year-old Mackenzie (Thank God. Although I was enjoying seeing her and No Longer Hot Virgin Ashley’s friendship forming over a bond of incredible immaturity.) Continue reading
This week’s Bach brought Farmer Chris and his clan of ever-more-uniformly blonde ladiesssssttttthhh to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chris talks up this wonderful city while wearing a chic leather jacket, and one nondescript blonde thinks she is going to actual Mexico, ’cause, you know, girls are dumb.
The first date is a one-on-one with Cruise Ship Singer Carly, and the date card reads, “Let’s come together.” I know what you’re thinking—simultaneous orgasms with Farmer Chris = every womyn’s dream date! But Carly puts the accent on “let’s” and pretends all ladylike like she doesn’t know what orgasms are… but not for long. Cue “spiritual music” and Farmer Chris and Carly walking into a room where a woman who identifies as a “love and intimacy mentor,” or “love guru” as Farmer Chris prefers to call her, waits for them on a pile of sensual Southwestern blankets. She burns sage and leads the pair in a chant, and it’s all really vaguely racist and cultural appropriation-nation and gross. She encourages them to like, hold their gross open mouths near one another without kissing, and then they sort of start dry-humping, ewwies all around. And also a totally insane first date, since the “love guru”’s goal is clearly to help couples reconnect. Oh yeah and love guru tells Farmer Chris and Carly to take each other’s clothes off (because clothing is different masks we hide behind you guys) but they’re too nervous and can’t do it (thanks a lot, Eve!). At dinner, Carly tells Chris that her last boyfriend didn’t want to touch her and it made her feel like she isn’t beautiful while I ran downstairs to get my sushi delivery. When I got back, Carly was still crying. (I hear her, because I had the same ex-boyfriend, basically.) Chris says he’s scared his farmer lifestyle isn’t good enough to make someone happy, and Carly assures him he’s wrong. Carly is confident and nice and normal when she’s around Farmer Chris. Which makes me almost like her, except that I have to remember her talking shit about/gender-policing Jillian last week. And then I’m like, oh right I live in the real world and Carly is horrible. Continue reading
This week, NYC’s Snowmaggedon allowed for totally unfettered, cozy watching of The Bachelor live on Monday night, and OMG, this week’s episode was a feminist Bachelor recapper’s dream/nightmare.
Let’s start with the group date. The date card said “let’s do what feels natural,” which spurred highly philosophical conversation addressing what “nature” is anyway. “What does he mean by natural?” one womyn asked. “Natural beauty?” pondered another. And Mackenzie, in fully mascaraed and eyelinered hypocrisy, said right to the camera, “most of these girls aren’t very natural in the way they look.” Thank goddess though, no one was forced to not wear makeup, and instead they just were brought to a lake, where they spent the night camping. Funny Canadian Kaitlyn took off her bikini bottom and jumped in the water, and Hot Virgin Ashley took off her top. Beautiful Widow Kelsey was not having it—she called the whole experience “a date for bimbos,” and continually dissed the whole camping experience, brattily calling the lake a “hellhole” and claiming that it doesn’t compare to her native state’s Lake Michigan. Then she gets stung by a bee, and the camera panned down to her incredibly wide thigh gap. Continue reading