Otherwise known as, My Manifesto. Or maybe, “My Justification.”
My relationship with this show has been an evolution. It started as a show I would watch with friends. It was our time every Monday, and it made me feel like the weekend wasn’t over. We would paint our nails, we would make fun of the contestants, and we would bond over white wine.
What started as irony eventually shifted into a genuine enjoyment of the show. It was one thing to watch with a group every week, but I had a harder time defending my Monday night habit when I was watching alone. I’ve been watching this show for almost a decade at this point, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I unabashedly love it. Which begs the question – why?
There are a lot of reasons to hate this show. Although it is “reality” television, it’s manipulated by producers. It plays into the arguably regressive ideals that one true love exists (if you’re heterosexual) and the ideal ending results in engagement, and then marriage. And although I’m sure the contestants discuss topics like religion, politics, and where they want to live after the “journey” ends, the viewers see none of that.
There are also a lot of reasons to love the show. It still is a treat on Mondays when the weekend is over and you’re facing down another work week. It’s escapism at its finest, with a built in community on Twitter, Snapchat, and the multitude of blogs (ahem). But so are a lot of reality television shows, and those don’t have the same crazy following in the form of #BachelorNation. And I can’t imagine that we are all fooled by the show and just want to see true love unfold before our eyes. That might be a part of it, but I refuse to believe that’s all of it.
I have spent some time thinking about this. Why does this show appeal to doctors, lawyers, consultants, and other professional, well-educated women, who “know better?” Why do I continue to ask my coworkers, in a quiet voice that will not carry, whether they too watch the Bachelor – to see if we’re all part of the club?
I propose that this show operates as a meeting ground for viewers across the country, even the world, to enter into a microcosm of so many issues facing society and be able to discuss those issues without making it personal. This show allows us to address racism, sexism, and heteronormativity in a safe space. For example, instead of me approaching a conversation about microaggressions between individuals of the same race, I can ask my peers to weigh in on Amber and Jamie’s attempted take down of Jubilee last season, and what that means for the three women of color in the house at the time. Instead of providing general commentary on toxic masculinity, I can find common ground in Chad’s bold statements that he knows what JoJo needs in a lifelong partner while having only known her for a week.
The show provides a nonthreatening starting point, and the viewers can make it into whatever they want. You want escapism on a Monday? Done. You want an excuse to drink wine and tweet about the ridiculous escapades of the contestants? Go for it. But if you’re looking for it, this show can provide something more. Even viewers who aren’t seeking out discourse on that week’s entertainment can jump into the fray. You don’t need a PhD to know that some of the things that happen on the show are messed up.
There is a growing community of individuals who are using the show as a basis for engaging in broader discussions about the issues within the show. Every week I have the pleasure of reading Sharleen Joynt’s recaps on her blog, All The Pretty Pandas, and listening to Emma Gray and Claire Fallon dissect the show in their Huffington Post podcast, “Here to Make Friends.” These women are taking the show to the next level, and that’s what I hope to do with this blog.
So that’s why I keep coming back to this show, even when they refuse to pick someone of color to lead the show. Even when they turn the arguably feminist Bachelorette on its head by having two Bachelorettes last season, with the men having the power to choose. Even when they objectify men and women alike. Because I think it’s a great opportunity to take this discourse to another level.
…Or maybe I’m just in it for the wine.
See you on Monday.