“Wow. I didn’t know what to think coming into today but I didn’t expect that.”
These were the first words out of 31-year-old vineyard manager Jarrod Woodgate’s mouth when Sophie Monk crushed his heart and then made him trudge tearily down five kilometres of Fijian beach in this year’s finale of The Bachelorette.
For those playing at home, the outcome was about as unexpected as a period – but clearly it had blindsided the man dubbed this season’s ‘stage 5 clinger’.
For those well versed in reality television, disappointments and letdowns are part of the deal.
But watching this season of The Bachelorette, I began to feel like the line between addictive television and heartbreak for sport was starting to blur.
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My hands aren’t clean. I was glued to every episode. And a large reason why was to watch a) national treasure Sophie Monk, and b) the slow moving train wreck that was Jarrod.
Every Wednesday and Thursday night I groaned into my couch cushions at the intensity of it all. The love fern. The tenacious tyre-changing. The intense cocktail party d&ms. The L Bomb at hometowns.
Creative editing can only be blamed for so much.
But when one contestant is so heavily invested, and the result is unlikely to end in their favour – at what point is there a duty of care to save someone from themselves?
Sure, the other men had emotional capital in the game too. But then there’s the guy who is contemplating a proposal. Who, rightly or wrongly, is mapping out an entire future with a woman who will never be his. The guy who believes he has found his “purpose.”
Sure, keeping Jarrod around until the end made for a gut-wrenching, sunset break-up scene that was bound to go viral.
But does that make him fair game?
With episodes so heavily edited and manipulated months in advance, could we not have experienced a finale just as watchable with Apollo the beautiful magician? Or Luke? Or any other guy on the show who seemed to be on a steadier emotional course? Someone who would bounce back a little easier?