So here we are, the second week of season five of The Bachelor, and not much has changed. We’re having the same discussions; we hate the resident villain, hate the lack of feminism, and are surprised by the lack of underwear.
And of course, there’s the lack of diversity outrage, which Channel 10 has this year made completely clear that they are unmoved by, because this year’s contestants are whiter than the coveted White Rose.
So. Frigging. What.
It’s a television show – a deeply superficial cross between the Salem Witch Trials and the Miss Universe competition, with a side of Australian Ninja Warrior. Is it possible that we are expecting a little too much?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune to the show’s narrow perspective. I’m also obviously not the type of woman who would be chosen as a contestant, or even as the Bachelorette herself.
I’m 41 (aka too old to fill a seven seat SUV with baby capsules). Polite society (and the law in some instances) dictates that I need to wear a bra at all times. I have no exciting hobbies - I run a book club and love it. And…what’s the other thing?
Oh, that’s right. I’m also brown.
Do I find it disappointing that this year, there’s not even a token Asian chick? Yes, but not for myself.
I’m disappointed that Channel 10 wasted a perfect opportunity to make thousands of young girls watching the show, who do not fit the perfect mould that the media says is the ideal woman, feel beautiful and accepted, and more importantly, represented.
But Channel 10 is not here for social revolution. The show doesn’t even claim to be a ‘social experiment’, like many other relationship-focused reality shows.
It is unabashedly here to provide entertainment in a fantasy situation. It’s not The United Colours of The Desperate and Dateless (that is the name of the show about my love life – coming out soon).
LISTEN: Mamamia Bachelor super fans, Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald dissect every tiny detail of The Bachelor of Bach Chat (post continues after audio...)
The Bachelor is not a social commentary, and it’s not reflective of reality in any way – so why does the constitution of the contestants need to be? Are you honestly watching this show because you want to learn and grow and see respectful things happen? Because I’ve gotta tell you – if so, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
But if you’d like to watch young, stereotypically ‘perfect’ women being put in unrealistic and undignified positions to achieve Insta star status and maybe also find someone hot to root, then you’ve come to the right place!
The producers of the show have explained in the past that the Bach tells them his preferences in a partner, and they cast accordingly. Of course, that’s total B.S. – the criteria is more about the beauty to cray ratio, than compatibility – or even race. But even if the line-up of contestants does reflect the Bach’s ‘type’, is that so wrong?
If you’re in a situation like the Bach, where you’re allowed to ‘order’ people, and you say “I’ll take a dozen Anna Heinrichs and a dozen Snezana Markoskis”, is that so wrong?
Should the audience dictate the Bach’s preferences? Isn’t the whole purpose of the show to find him someone to root/maybe love, not find us someone to root/maybe love?
I’ve thought about this a lot (just now - not in the cold, dark lonely hours that are my eternal nights), and if I were in the same position, do you know what I’d ‘order’?
A dozen Mark Wahlbergs and a dozen Ryan Reynolds. I like kind faces with big, strong biceps. So sue me.
There's a valid argument that the audience shouldn't dictate the Bach’s preferences. But I also think it's a largely irrelevant one, because the show is much more like The Biggest Loser - entertaining us by showing us who wants it the most and what they will do to get it - than it is about the Bach finding true love.
I think the real diversity problem is who is being selected as the Bachelor or Bachelorette. This year, the American version appointed its first-ever black lead of either show, and that is a big deal. I find it utterly amazing that it took 30 seasons for that to happen, and I find it amazing that the lead has also remained heterosexual all of this time.
And in Australia, we finally saw last week the first-ever bisexual Bach contestant, which was a breath of fresh air, and a major step into 2017 for the show. Who knows, one day we may finally see a gay Bach or Bachelorette – or even a middle-aged brown one, like me.
Do you think reality shows like The Bachelor have a responsibility to show diversity?