‘The Bachelor’: not my guilty pleasure
It’s January which means that the one thing that I’ve been waiting for for months has finally arrived: that’s right, it’s The Bachelor. In my experience, opinions about the entire ‘Bachelor’ franchise are incredibly polarized. I’ve befriended people solely because of our common love for the show, and met others who hear the word “bachelor” and immediately respond, “How can you watch that anti feminist crap?” For a long time, these negative opinions shaped my relationship with the show, dubbing it my number one guilty pleasure.
The first season I ever watched featured bachelorette Ali Fedotowski. It was 2010 and I was an impressionable 8th grader. Even then, I knew that there was an element of shame to watching The Bachelor. I could admit to watching the show, but I could never reveal how much I actually liked it.
“Yeah I watch The Bachelorette, but only to make fun of it.”
But why, as a 14 year old, did I feel the need to ridicule Ali’s search for love? Ali was fashionable and diplomatic, but also an intelligent former employee of Facebook—to me, she seemed nothing short of a great role model. After years of watching the show I’ve learned that while many of the female contestants come off as shallow or ditzy, there is no shortage of others who are strong and smart like Ali. Where is the shame in rooting for these women on their search (albeit an unconventional one) for love?
My grandmother’s complaint about The Bachelor has always been that she doesn’t want her granddaughters to grow up believing that the show provides a model for what love should look like. I think this is fair, but I also know that for me, The Bachelor is more like a model of what I know love will never look like. Just as young girls everywhere come to learn that they won’t spend their lives waiting for Prince Charming to appear and kiss them out of their deadly sleep, members of “Bachelor Nation” know—and are often relieved—that their marriage proposal will not end with the words “Will you accept this final rose?”
This season, as I watch the ever-controversial Nick Viall in his “search for true love,” I feel no guilt in the pleasure that I take from the show. To me, it seems like the true feminist attitude would be to support the businesswomen, single mothers, and even the models and “aspiring dolphin trainers” who take a risk to find love rather than condemning them for their choice to do it on television.