The Bachelorette is trying to sell us feminism

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Before the premiere of The Bachelorette In May 2015, my colleague and I asked then-host Chris Harrison how the show would address concerns that when casting two leads, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson, at the same time, it planned to pit the two women against each other.

His response was…well, just read it: “I love that…some people get upset about this because obviously we struck a chord, and we struck something personal in the people who get upset.” Harrison told us. “It’s probably a problem you have with yourself or with women. I think you will be very proud of how the women are behaving tonight. So if you have a problem with that, it’s probably within you!”

As Harrison’s attitude fairly accurately predicted, bachelorette Fans watched in horror as Bristowe and Nilsson were literally pitted against each other. forced to compete for the votes of 25 Meathead contestants to advance another week and win a chance to date said meatheads alone. “It was definitely unexpected and I was shocked,” said Bristowe, who eventually got his way and went on to star in Season 11. said about the experience at that time. “I was not thrilled.”

It’s seven years later Two Bachelorette concept gets a second life as Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey Rising from the ashes of Clayton Echard’s absolute squadron trainwreck The bachelor. And franchise creator Mike Fleiss has assured skeptical fans of that this time things become different!

“See, no drama!” he tweeted on 6, alongside a smiling photo of Recchia and Windey. “Just two friends helping each other find true love!”

Fleiss’ underlying promise here appears to be that the Bachelorette will attempt a jab at ~feminism~. But can a reality dating competition ever truly be feminist? and perhaps the better question: do we need it?

The bachelor Franchise, like any for-profit entertainment business, is first and foremost a cynical venture. There’s an underlying conservatism baked into the show’s premise — it’s just an old-school marriage market, after all, gamified for TV. The show’s social policies change, but only when forced to, and only quite so slightly. (It took years, incl a class action lawsuit, massive fan campaigns and very public criticism by Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first black bachelorette, so the franchise even makes sense of racial diversity.)

The tidbits about the new dualbachelorette The season’s format doesn’t hint at the kind of women’s empowerment it appears to be aimed at. Recchia and Windey will reportedly be dating the same pool of men, and one can imagine the many ways this dynamic could be milked for maximum drama: they’ll be into the same guys! The men will compare the two women in a misogynist way during their in-the-moment interviews!

On the other hand, having two Bachelorettes means giving every woman an ally who isn’t a producer — a source of emotional support who isn’t inherently motivated to exploit her. And that gives me, a professional consumer of reality dating shows, a glimmer of hope I think.

Friendship has always been the best thing to watch in between in this franchise The bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Even as the show heavily relies on tropes about catfights, claws coming out and the often repeated mantra “I’m not here to make friends”, The same-sex friendships are always a happy by-product of a show that focuses on finding a marriage partner. And it’s Recchia and Windey’s apparent show of solidarity in the face of emotional trauma — their bachelor, Clayton Echard, professed his love for three women and eventually broke up with Recchia and Windey — that secured them a double Bachelorette slot.

“Seeing the two of you supporting each other in Iceland and also the way you did tonight was really the main reason we decided to give you both a chance.” Host Jesse Palmer said during the live bachelor’s finale on March 15, when the two women screamed with joy and hugged. A calculation has been made: if conflicts between women can stir up ratings, maybe so can the stirring melodrama of friendship.

The Bachelor franchise is as popular and ingrained in culture as it is precisely because of its simplicity. The lead (usually white, always cis and straight) systematically whittles down a pool of singles until one woman or one man remains. The final couple gets engaged, one of the heartbroken ones is promoted to the lead, and ta da! The cycle continues.

It’s this consistency of form that turns even the slightest departure from the familiar into a powerful tool for creating drama and anticipation. Colton Underwood jumped a fence. Echard told three women that he was in love with them. Nilsson and Bristowe fought for male approval. Maybe it will be Recchia and Windey there to make friends.

The calculus is still cynical, but Fleiss and his colleagues understand that casting Recchia and Windey as competitors rather than allies in 2022 will come at a cost. In any case, The Bachelorette will not be a bastion of feminism. And the Thing is, we really don’t need it. At its core, it’s a reality show that ironically offers us an escape from reality. Feminism demands far more from society than a few throwaway images of feel-good girl powerism. And luckily for women, the fate of a political movement is not in the hands of Mike Fleiss.

Reality TV is most dynamic and useful when we can consume it skeptically and recognize it for what it is: a funhouse reflection on dating Culture. It’s certainly not a feminist achievement, though The Bachelorette trades his catfight metaphors for friendship bracelets, but at least it might be less of a damn bummer.

https://jezebel.com/the-bachelorette-is-trying-to-sell-us-feminism-1848769374 The Bachelorette is trying to sell us feminism

Andrew Schnitker

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