Shit You Should Care About… The Bachelor’s bullying culture.
Every year I am shamelessly baited in by The Bachelor, and to be honest this year’s leading man Nick Cummins (aka the Honey Badger) might be my soulmate. Not only do I totally rate that chiseled bod and mop of curly hair, but he is such a hoot. Seriously, if you are not already obsessed with him then do yourself a favour and get obsessed.
But to my dismay, the show’s attention to Nick and his pursuit of love was almost a second-rate storyline to the wrath of Cat and Romy. The lowdown, if you haven’t been keeping up with The Bach (u ok hun?!), is basically that Cat and Romy + their little hype-girl Alicia have transformed the mandatory villain role into a clique that scarily resembles a group of nasty high schoolers. It has made me realise that adult bullying is alive and thriving.
To expect at least one ‘bitchy’ girl within the mix has become an unquestionable feature of reality tv shows like The Bachelor. You don’t even need to seek her out, she is immediately demonised by the producers. As an audience, we are conditioned to hate her, but we love it and we feed it. I don’t know about you, but I become so invested in the catty narratives – they are addictive. You yell at the TV from the couch, wondering how Nick could possibly not see Romy’s wickedness, and yet you’ll always come back for more.
But it has me wondering: should we be questioning these fundamental ideas of The Bachelor, that have provided the platform for this behaviour on a silver platter? Maybe post-high school isn’t a fantasy land where all the bullies suddenly develop compassion, but instead full-grown beings are actually still capable of bullying too? As it seems, reality tv is not only condoning this behaviour, but is promoting and aiding it.
The thing is, the nasty ones make it entertaining and the producers work hard to escalate the audience’s hatred for these characters. The Cat and Romy debacle got A LOT of screen time because the drama is so bloody good for ratings.
But what makes this so problematic (and so damn hypocritical) is that we as an audience turn around and do the exact same to those girls as they were doing to the others. In fact, often it is worse. People are emboldened behind their computer screens. Both Cat and Romy have spoken out about the masses of death threats and messages telling them to kill themselves since the airing of the show. We are essentially bullying them for being bullies. Oh, the irony.
Now, I’m not saying we should boycott the show, as I have become committed to my weekly Honey Badger fix. I also don’t want to act like I am sitting on my high horse assuming the rest of the audience just ingests this potentially harmful content without any type of resistance. However, I do think a conversation about this is never a bad thing, to simply express that we condemn this sort of behaviour rather than support it. And yes, we should start questioning the underlying structure of programmes like The Bachelor, but we should also check ourselves. Don’t be another Cat or Romy, and please don’t stoop to their level. And to The Bachelor’s producers, can we focus a little more on the good stuff … like Nick’s abs please.