reality tv

'Stop being so outraged over The Bachelorette's lack of diversity.'

So here we are, the morning after the premiere of season four of The Bachelorette, and not much has changed.

We’re having the same discussions; there’s the clear winner (who will undoubtedly break our hearts and lose), the standard git (ahem, Paddy) and a whole bunch of gendered double-standards (but that’s another article).

And of course, there’s the lack of diversity amongst the contestants, which Channel 10 – yet again – has this year made completely clear that they are unmoved by, because this year’s Bachies are more pink than the coveted Wild Rose.

Yep, not one POEFC (Person of Even the Faintest Colour) in sight.

But this isn’t as problematic for me as one might expect. My reaction is more: so. Freaking. What.

Ali's Bachelors 2018. Source: Channel 10

It’s a television show – a marginally romantic version 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 42 (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.

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Do I find it disappointing that this year, there’s not even a token non-white dude? Yes, but not for myself.

I’m disappointed that Channel 10 wasted a perfect opportunity to make thousands of young people of non-Caucasian descent who are watching the show, who do not fit the perfect mould that the media says is the 'ideal person', 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).

The Bachelorette 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’ people 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/Bachelorette tells them their 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 that person's ‘type’, is that so wrong?

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If you’re in a situation like this, 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/Bachelorette's preferences? Isn’t the whole purpose of the show to find them 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 their kind faces (and their big biceps). So sue me.

There's a valid argument that the audience shouldn't dictate the Bach/Bachelorette’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 star finding true love.

I think the real diversity problem is who is being selected as the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Last year, the American version appointed its first-ever black lead of either show, and that was 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.

Who knows, one day we may finally see a gay Bach/Bachelorette – or even a middle-aged brown one, like me.

Do you think reality shows like The Bachelor have a responsibility to show diversity? Tell us in the comments!

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