The Bachelorette messed up. Big time. I understand its No. 1 goal is good ratings, no matter the cost. But as a longtime viewer I don’t think I’ve ever come so close to turning my television off.
The Bachelorette is supposed to be the female-empowered counterpart to The Bachelor, a show now synonymous with gender stereotyping. And personally, in the past, I’ve preferred The Bachelorette; I find the dynamic of men (often big-personality alpha types who spend a lot of time on their biceps) competing for one woman fascinating. There’s something Palaeolithic about the concept, but what unfolds must be constricted by modern day’s socially acceptable rules of behaviour. They’re not permitted to escalate tensions to the point where they actually make use of those biceps, yet they’re trapped in a social experiment bubble where they’re forced to live, breathe and sleep together. If that’s not entertainment, I don’t know what is.
We knew what last night’s episode would bring: the decision on who would be Bachelorette! Finally, right? It’s not like it was any surprise that one woman would be sent home in tears. And if you’ve read any of my recaps from Chris Soules’ season, you know I’m a huge Kaitlyn supporter and have been rooting for her to be Bachelorette long before she was even eliminated. It would seem I—and much of America—got my way.
So why does it feel so icky?
I may have had my misgivings about Britt, but watching Chris Harrison tell her she was not the chosen woman was difficult and uncomfortable. You would have to be a pretty hateful person to consider that entertainment. She was not permitted to say farewell to the room of men that only hours ago was said to contain her potential future husband. Instead, she was escorted directly to a limousine to drive off into the night and withstand a producer’s pointed questions about her likelihood of finding love one day. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pitying Britt, and I sure as hell think she’ll have the least trouble of anyone with “finding love.” But, to the powers that be: her tears in that limo were not the tears of a drama queen who’s become off-kilter from being cut off from the real world for months. They were not the tears of a hopeless romantic who buys into helicopter rides and candlelit dinners on yachts. Her tears were the tears of a normal human who’d been made to hope for and expect something dream-like, only to have it cruelly and suddenly taken away. Her tears were not the tears we tune in for. They weren’t fun or entertaining for anyone. And they certainly aren’t the reason I watch The Bachelorette Monday nights over Shark Tank reruns.
Even if the whole affair left me queasy, I am happy for Kaitlyn. I’m not a fan of the men who voted for Britt and then casually transferred their interest to Kaitlyn (Tony, Jonathan, Kupah…) but I suspect there’ll be more on that in upcoming episodes. For now, my frontrunners:
Shawn B, 28: It’s almost silly how much immediate chemistry these two have. They shared a Night One kiss and he nabbed the First Impression Rose, the recipients of which always go far. Finalist alert.
Chris, 28: My dad’s a dentist, so I have a soft spot for them. I’m usually not into limo-exit gimmicks, but I actually liked the cupcake car. He doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. Plus, he got the only other Night One kiss. He’s not going anywhere.
Ben H., 26: This guy is next-level cute. He hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary to stand out, and that’s precisely why I like him.
Ian, 28: In addition to being eye candy, there’s something very gentlemanly and mature about Ian. I liked his hometown video and found his backstory inspiring. His devoted interest in Kaitlyn hasn’t wavered—a huge plus in my eyes. Like.
For more on this season of The Bachelorette from Sharleen Joynt, visit her blog, All the Pretty Pandas.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays on City.