In the wake of Tuesday night’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise, fans are furious.
Not because Osher completely made up new rules and brought back a contestant who had literally just been eliminated.
Not because Jarrod has now officially turned purple, which was scary for the Fijian children who were forced to play with him.
And not because Keira has been drunk for several weeks now, and has started to brush her teeth with but also bathe exclusively in mango daiquiri.
But because the show’s audience have been intentionally misled from the beginning, by a promo that promised a same-sex hook up that would never eventuate.
Before Bachelor in Paradise started, an ad that aired on Channel Ten showed openly bisexual contestant Megan Marx looking longingly at Elora Murger as she said, “She’s absolutely gorgeous. She’s definitely my type of girl,” alongside footage of a passionate kiss between Megan and what appeared to be a woman with long, brown hair.
Here’s the part of the promo where Channel 10 deliberately cut together Megan talking about Elora with her kiss w/ a long-haired brunette, to make it seem like they were going to deliver a same sex couple. Turns out it was Thomas. Queerbaiting at its finest. #BachelorInParadise pic.twitter.com/ywKqzC0YUb
— Jenna Guillaume (@JennaGuillaume) April 17, 2018
On Tuesday night, however, it was confirmed that the person she was kissing was actually Thomas Perras – a contestant from the Canadian season of The Bachelorette.
While most of us are used to being duped by reality shows, Channel Ten’s act of ‘queerbaiting‘ has been received far more harshly by viewers.
The term ‘queerbaiting’ refers to the practice of hinting at a same-sex romantic interaction, but ultimately ignoring it, rejecting it or making fun of it. For the LGBTQI community, queerbaiting implies that they’ll see people like themselves portrayed on screen, only to be disappointed. It exploits their subjectivity – and is a particularly problematic decision when the representation of gay, lesbian and bisexual people on Australian television is so low.
Viewers immediately shared their discomfort with the realisation that Megan’s ‘controversial’ (she’s currently in some sort of a relationship with another person in paradise) kiss was actually with a man.
That’s so not cool channel 10. You knew what you were doing. #BachelorInParadiseAU
— kate (@hardboiledkate) April 17, 2018
So Thomas gets a fair go on the show by being brought back but the rest of us got queerbaited ????#bachelorinparadiseau
— Eliza Berlage (@verbaliza) April 17, 2018
— Catie Jones (@CatelynJones135) April 17, 2018
— Margaret C (@PBearfiftyfive) April 17, 2018
OMG MEGAN IS KISSING A WOMAN!
…A BEARDED WOMAN!?
Oh no wait, that’s right Channel 10 just queer-baited us for 2 months.
— Mark (@markp_) April 17, 2018
— #SOBER ???? (@hyobvious) April 17, 2018
— flossy (@dentitexx) April 17, 2018
— amy✨ (@aryagendry) April 17, 2018
For Jules LeFevre, who writes for Junkee, the hyped-up scene seemed to make fun of the very prospect of a same-sex hook up.
Like gee, I love to genuinely be excited about seeing a queer moment on the screen but PSYCH HAHA IT WAS A DUDE LOL HOW FUNNY IMAGINE IF IT WAS TWO GIRLS THATS SO HILARIOUS
— Jules LeFevre (@jules_lefevre) April 17, 2018
Megan’s appearance on Bachelor in Paradise initially raised questions about how her sexuality would fit with the show’s structure – where men give their roses to women and vice versa.
Many pointed out that she would have difficulties pursuing a same-sex partner on the show generally, especially considering she is the only contestant, out of the 26 who have appeared so far, to be open to relationships with both men and women.
Ultimately, many feel like last night’s scene with Tom was evidence of how the LGBTQI community have been cheated out of being truly represented on this season of Bachelor in Paradise.
Channel Ten have been contacted for comment.