Controversial Aspects of “The Bachelor”

Ella Bourland, Annabel Weiner, and Sari Griefer

From Jan. 2 until March 12, we have been avid viewers of the reality television show, “The Bachelor”. We were excited to watch “The Bachelor” every Monday and ready to discuss, predict and criticize the highlights of the episodes with our friends. Along with the average eight million Bachelor viewers, we were attached to some girls on the show, supporting them every week and we looked down on others, hoping Ben Flajnik, the bachelor, would send them home. We fawned over the beautiful setting and romantic dates hoping that Ben would make the right decisions. However, even with our interest and enjoyment of the show, it’s hard to ignore problems with “The Bachelor”.

“The Bachelor”, popular amongst teen girls and their mothers, is a reality television show on ABC where a man chooses one from 25 girls to date, and eventually marry. The bachelor is allowed a certain number of single and group dates throughout the week. He chooses what girls he wants to spend time alone with on a single date and which girls will go on a group date. At the end of the week, he gives out roses to women he wants to keep dating. The girls who do not receive roses are sent home. “The Bachelorette” is another version of the show where the roles are switched and a girl chooses a man to marry.

There are many controversial aspects of the show. Out of 23 seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” combined, only three couples from the show have stayed together. The main intent of the show is to end up with a couple that finds true love that lasts a lifetime; not to find a short term relationship, not to come out as good friends, and not get a serious girlfriend or boyfriend, but a long lasting, happy, and loving marriage. For 20 seasons, this has not been the case.

For the 16th season, airing during the winter of 2012 when Flajnik was the bachelor, five women told him that they loved him or were falling in love with him. Flajnik responded by saying something like “Thanks for telling me that” or he kissed them. He couldn’t respond any other way because at the time he had multiple girlfriends. The first time that he told a woman “I love you” on the show was when he was proposing to Courtney Robertson.

Another thing we have noticed is that the show lacks diversity. All the bachelors and bachelorettes have been white. The majority of the contestants have been white as well. All the women on Flajnik’s season, and basically all other seasons, look very similar. Most of them are white, slim, and traditionally beautiful.

A big aspect of the show is the drama that goes on with all of Flajnik’s girlfriends. The women get into regular fights and there is often one “mean girl” in the group. It is unnatural to have a large group of women together who are competing for and falling in love with the same man.

The week when three girls are left is known as overnights week. In other words, this is the week the remaining contestants have a choice to sleep with the bachelor. At the end of their date, the bachelor gives them an invitation to a fantasy suite. He gives each girl a card that reads the exact same thing. They then discuss whether or not they think they’re at that part in their relationship. Most of them agree that they are ready, and accept the invitation. After the bachelor sleeps with all three girls, he chooses one to go home.

In addition, everything is always being filmed. Every time there is an intimate moment, there are cameras in the contestant’s and the bachelor’s face. When they have “alone” time on their one on one dates, they’re never truly alone. The only moments the viewers can not see are during the overnights after Flajnik shuts the door on camera.

The show is a competition to find love. You have to wonder if the women who claim to have strong feelings for Flajnik are being honest or just want to win. The women on “The Bachelor” are competing for a man’s approval and similarly on the Bachelorette men compete for a woman’s approval. Often, when the contestants are being sent home, they cry and ask “What did I do wrong?” as if being themselves was the wrong thing to do. The contestants come onto the show not knowing whom they will be competing for. They all meet him at the same time, and usually all of them are instantly attracted to him or her and later fall in love. How is it possible that they all fall in love with the same person, especially in such a short amount of time?

While we will probably continue to watch this guilty pleasure, we will watch it with these ideas in mind. And as always, we will enjoy the show as social critics and not mindless consumers.