My biggest guilty pleasure is The Bachelor and its entire franchise, from The Bachelorette to Bachelor in Paradise. For those of you wondering what it is, The Bachelor is a reality show where 25 beautiful women/men compete to win the Bachelor’s/Bachelorette’s heart (not literal heart, I realize that summary makes it sound like the Hunger Games… although the contestants do go on some weird competitive dates for more one on one time and contestants have gotten injured, so…). In the end, after 2 months, they’re supposed to be engaged and get married and live happily ever after, but the success rate of that is fairly low.
With every new season, I can’t help but fantasize what it’d be like to be on that show and wear all those beautiful evening gowns. I always wonder which trope the audience would categorize me as, or rather, which one the producers would edit me as. The weird, quiet one? The one with the snappy comebacks? The dramatic one? The cry baby? The one no one ever remembers and when you see them on the Tell All special you and your friends are like, who the hell is that? I like to think I’d be the one where women at home relate to my dumb, slightly self deprecating jokes, like I’m the underdog of the competition or something.
Then in the back of my mind a little voice says: Girl, you’d be the token Asian one, if the bachelor happens to even like you. It’s a harsh voice. I’ve watched this show since the very beginning and time and time again, I wonder why there aren’t many girls that look like me. There are a few girls of colour, sometimes they stay for a considerable amount of time but usually not. You could only imagine my excitement for Catherine on Sean’s season or for even Caila on this year’s season with Ben. Same thing goes for the men, barely any diversity and remember on Kaitlyn’s season where one bachelor accused her of just using him to add diversity? Whether or not that’s true- that is something to be critical about.
As a feminist (don’t be scared now – I have a feeling this won’t sit well with some people but whatever, what are you doing on here anyways?) this show presents an internal struggle for me. It has so many flaws like the lack of diversity and how it doesn’t illustrate the different types of beauty, and that it strongly and I mean STRONGLY, reinforces gender stereotypes. But damn it, I can’t stop watching it. I love to sit on my couch and yell and scream at my TV and text my friends about all the cray that’s going down. My former room mates and I even made a game from every time someone reinforced gender roles. I have my favourites and I root for them getting into passionate arguments with my friends why my faves are better suited for the bachelor than theirs.
I realize in a small sense I live vicariously through the contestants, as weird as that sounds because I know I* will never be on that show. They can do all the wild- I-can’t-believe-this-is-on-TV- things for me so that I* would never have to face national television embarrassment. And truthfully, it’s sad to think that I will probably never get to watch a season where the bachelor or bachelorette is a person of colour. Because let’s face it, our media and society has showed us that beauty is eurocentric and people like to watch beautiful people fall in love. And The Bachelor in a sense, is telling us that people of colour can’t fall in love, or that there isn’t an audience for it- when there totally is! I am not dismissing other shows about “finding love” that are slightly more inclusive like Telia Tequila or Flavor of Love– but for a show as big as The Bachelor, the lack of diversity is upsetting and the tokenism of contestants is prominent.
So you must be wondering: Well why are you watching it if it upsets you? Don’t you know it’s just trashy television? I continue to watch the show not only for its drama and to make fun of its tropes, but also because I love the idea of finding love. I’m a sucker for love stories even those formed on a reality show- however trashy it may be. It’s my guilty pleasure that I can make fun and be critical of.
*I in the sense of myself, and I in the sense of someone that looks like me, someone I can relate to. Yes you can relate to others that are different from you, of course! But for the self esteem of my 15 year old teenage self, it would be nice to see Asian women on mainstream tv and NOT playing into their stereotypes (even if it’s on the bachelor) Note: I do not actually want to be on the show because that would be ludacris.