Blog, Social Justice

Why The Bachelor Franchise Needs to Change Its Toxic Ways

two people clinking champagne glasses

I used to roll my eyes when people told me they watched The Bachelor franchise. This was easy to do since I’d never actually watched a single episode. I just went off my preconceived beliefs about the show and anyone who watched it. But when my sister moved in with me in 2018, she sat me down and forced me to watch Hannah Brown’s season.

Unexpectedly, I was hooked.

I couldn’t get enough of Hannah Brown, she was smart, confident, outspoken, and spoke her mind. Her season was a wild roller coaster of emotions that spanned shock, horror, and sadness. Additionally, some of the contestants’ reasoning behind their actions and words, as well as the drama they caused had me sucked in every Monday night. Furthermore, the fan base, Bachelor Nation, is extremely involved. All of this fueled my new obsession with reality television.

However, since I first began to watch this show, the problematic patterns of behavior inherent in the franchise have become glaringly obvious, making it almost too painful to keep watching.

Below are a few of the problems I have with The Bachelor, starting from some of the more recent choices in franchise production and going back to when I first started watching.

Problem 1: The Bachelor Season 27 Selection

If you are like me and you watched Rachel and Gabby’s season of The Bachelorette, you were also excited to see who the franchise would choose as their next Bachelor.

If you’re not hooked on this show, first of all, kudos. Secondly, historically speaking, the show will pull contestants from previous seasons to be the leads in future shows. For example, it is more likely that one of the men who dated either Rachel or Gabby from this past season will be chosen as the next Bachelor. Typically, the individual chosen to be the next lead made it pretty far in their season as a contestant, and therefore, Bachelor Nation has a special connection to this person.

For a while now, I have been rooting to see Mike Johnson (from Hannah Brown’s season) as the Bachelor, but after seeing how great Nate Mitchell was with Gabby, I thought he was a shoo-in for Bachelor season 27.

Unfortunately, production decided to go in a completely different direction and chose someone I found to be underwhelming in every way possible, Zach Shallcross.

Zach Shallcross was a nice enough guy to Rachel, but he’s just another white dude in a long line of Bachelors who lack any personality. The Bachelor production team had so many incredible men to choose from that would diversify their cast, but unfortunately, the production team went in a different direction from what the fan base wanted to see. I guess having Patrick Warburton as your uncle comes with some perks (yes, Zach’s uncle is Kronk from the movie Emperor’s New Groove, and Warburton did make an appearance on Zach’s season as a contestant).

Problem 2: Seeing Double

Season 19 of The Bachelorette was historical because it was the first time we had two female leads: Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey. I found this odd. Why did we need two female leads? Wasn’t one enough? I thought that maybe the franchise was trying something different to see how it worked, but they didn’t do the same thing with the male leads. It seems as if The Bachelor franchise’s priority is to pit women against each other, watching them fight over the attention of men any chance they get.

Another example of this can be seen in Season 17 of The Bachelorette. Chris Harrison was fired from his position as the host and the franchise needed to find a replacement. While the production team searched for a new host, they decided to have Kaitlyn Bristowe and Tayshia Adams tag team the role. These two women were previously Bachelorettes, so Bachelor Nation had a connection with them and enjoyed watching them onscreen. However, I found myself questioning the franchise’s decision (again). Why was it necessary to have two hosts? The first answer that came to mind was that The Bachelor franchise felt that, when it came to production value, two females were the equivalent of one male. But surely that’s not the message they’re trying to send… right?

They’ve yet to have two male leads. Kaitiyn and Tayshia were eventually replaced as hosts by Jesse Palmer. Palmer is another boring white dude who happens to be a former Bachelor lead, but he adds no value or diversification to The Bachelor franchise.

Problem 3: The Bachelor Season 26

Clayton Echard. If you know, you know.

If you don’t, let me fill you in.

Clayton was a previous contestant on Michelle Young’s season of The Bachelorette. Clayton made it pretty far in Michelle’s season, but he wasn’t given enough air time for viewers to make any sort of connection with him. Clayton came off as a nice guy, but that’s about it. When Bachelor Nation heard that the franchise chose Clayton as their next Bachelor over others on Michelle’s season, we were shocked.

Bachelor Nation went into Clayton’s season full of hope: hope that he would be a great lead, hope that maybe we just didn’t know him well enough and would be a strong, intelligent Bachelor, hope that the season would at least be entertaining. In a way, Clayton’s season as Bachelor did turn out to be one of the most dramatic seasons ever, but at the emotional expense of the female contestants.

*Spoiler alerts below*

Clayton told all three of his final contestants that he was in love with them, and he took two of the three women back to the fantasy suites (a fantasy suite allows the lead and contestant to stay together overnight without any interruption from production). Telling more than one contestant you love them, and then sleeping with multiple contestants, is a huge no-no in the Bachelor world. Clayton then got extremely upset and displayed some pretty scary behavior when the last contestant told him she wasn’t comfortable moving forward with him if he had already told two other people he loved them and then slept with them.

Clayton’s season was a disaster because of his lack of emotional intelligence and his complete disregard for how his actions and words could impact another person. Choosing Clayton as the Bachelor solidified my opinion that the production team for The Bachelor is either cruel because they pick individuals who are emotionally unstable for higher ratings, or the franchise is out of touch with what the fanbase wants to see as the lead. Maybe both.

Problem 4: Contestant Toxicity

I’m not sure how production screens their contestants, but toxic behaviors should be a category they screen for. The manipulation and “not here for the right reasons” displayed by some of the contestants have gotten a little out of hand. Contestants will behave a certain way in front of everyone, but then in their In The Moment interviews, certain contestants will disclose how they were actually trying to manipulate the lead and other contestants. Some contestants start drama for fun, some contestants have exposed other contestants’ secrets, and some contestants just lie for fun to see how far they can get.

Fortunately for me, this show taught me about gaslighting and the early signs of psychological/emotional abuse. Unfortunately, this lesson came at the expense of watching someone else (typically the lead) endure abusive behaviors by contestants.

Will this type of behavior ever be stopped or screened for on the show? Probably not. This type of behavior serves a certain narrative for The Bachelor, and it probably makes for great ratings, especially on Bachelor in Paradise. These behaviors are the reason why the drama on the show is so good.

Problem 5: Representation

Even if you don’t watch this show, you know there is a problem with the lack of diversity seen onscreen. Whether it be diversity in body sizes, beliefs, races, or ethnicities, The Bachelor is behind the times on representation and, unfortunately, it seems like they aren’t making any progress.

I know I could probably keep going, but I think five points is long enough for the soapbox I’ve gotten on.

So… if The Bachelor franchise changed its ways, would it be as sweet?

I say they’d be sweeter.

Are there any issues you see with the Bachelor franchise you wish they would address and resolve?

Florida born and raised. Jordy began her professional career as an officer in the Coast Guard but has recently transitioned into the civilian world. When she is not obsessing over her fur babies, you can find her at the beach reading or staying up late to embroider while watching the latest true crime docuseries.

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