Thorny Roses: Dissecting America’s Guilty Pleasure


Talia Winiarsky, Staff Writer

Roses, a mansion, and grand entrances are all a part of a contestant’s journey to find love on the Bachelor franchise, a guilty pleasure that students devotedly watch despite its flaws.

This summer, the 15th season of The Bachelorette and the sixth season of Bachelor in Paradise aired, attracting many contestant applicants and over eleven million viewers a week.

The Bachelorette, which first aired in May and finished in late July, featured one woman, Hannah, and 30 men who competed to be her fiancé. The show was conducted elimination-style until one man remained.

On the show, The Bachelorette isn’t the only one in the spotlight; the contestants have brief interviews throughout the show to give their perspectives to the audience.

Jolie Nelsen (11) watches the show with her friends and enjoys teasing the contestants about their actions and the things that they say, she said. “At HM, we value academics more than anything, but the contestants really care about their appearance, and it’s different from what I’m used to.”

The show offers an escape from stressful schoolwork, Sammi Strasser (9) said. She relaxes when watching the show with her friends and laughing at the drama, she said.

“We laugh about how crazy it is that these people are expected to fall in love in such a short amount of time.” A year is the minimum time required fall in love, not months, Strasser said.

Sabrina Freidus (11) enjoys the ending of the season best because the viewers see the end result of the relationships developed on the show, she said. “The final four contestants actually love the Bachelorette,” she said.

Despite the fact that Freidus thinks that the relationships are real, she would not want to find a spouse through the show, she said.

Bryana Guerrero (12) can sense the connections between the Bachelorette and the contestants, she said.

“When they are having conversations, they get into their emotions and feelings. Someone could be lying about what they are saying, but they have deep conversations that seem real to the audience.”

The fact that some of the couples from past seasons are still together confirms the strength of the relationships created on the show, Nelsen said.

Although Guerrero believes that the relationships between the Bachelorette and the individual contestants are real, she acknowledges that the producers edit the show to make the relationships seem more authentic, she said.

“It’s edited in a way to make some people be clear villains and others to be the show’s favorites. It causes the audience to have a preconceived idea about each character, even though it may not be that way.” The show is edited this way in order to attract more viewers, Guerrero said.

Aidan McAndrew (11) does not believe that the show can cultivate authentic relationships, he said. “The Bachelorette and their final contestant maybe like each other, but they can’t really be in love with somebody when she’s also looking at other guys on the show.”

Cameras constantly swarm the contestants, which puts pressure on them to act affectionate toward the Bachelorette, which explains why it seems as though the relationships on the show are real, McAndrew said.

Yana Gitelman (11) attributes the illusion of love partially to the fact that the contestants mistake their feelings of adrenaline for feelings of love. The contestants engage in high-adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping and skydiving, she said. “They associate all these great feelings with one person, and they think ‘I’m falling in love.’”

Another sign that the love won’t last after the show concludes is that the contestants don’t know who the Bachelorette is going to be at the time that they sign up, she said.

The selection process has a controversy of its own. Of the people who sign up, the producers of the show choose mostly white contestants. “The show is slowly trying to become more and more diverse, but still, there are about two or three minorities out of 30 people each season,” Guerrero said.

Often, the show starts off with a diverse group of people, McAndrew said. But after the Bachelor or Bachelorette, who is usually white, eliminates contestants based on their preferences, the remaining contestants are mostly white, he said.

Strasser realized the lack of diversity in the show after completing a Unity Week workshop about the homogeneity of people in magazines, she said. “I realized how little diversity there is in other places too, like the Bachelor and Bachelorette,” she said.

For Charles Simmons (12), who is a co-President of The Union, watching the Bachelor franchise creates a conflict of interest, he said. “The Union’s primary goal is to be the voice of the POC community at our school,” he said.

The Bachelor franchise reflects European beauty standards since the contestants and winners are mostly white. Thus, he feels guilty when watching the show, he said.

The Union hopes to make viewers aware of the problems in the Bachelor, Simmons said. “If someone hesitates to watch the Bachelor, then The Union has fulfilled its goal.”

The show is also heteronormative, Gitelman said. “The structure of the Bachelor and Bachelorette is really heteronormative in itself, having men fight over a woman or vice versa,” she said.

Freidus understands why the show chooses contestants on the Bachelor and Bachelorette that are all straight, she said. “If you have a Bachelorette that’s bisexual or pansexual, and the contestants are also like that, then the contestants could fall in love with each other, and it defeats the purpose of having one person that everyone wants.”

Instead, Freidus suggests that Bachelor in Paradise, which features a group of singles on vacation searching for love within the group, rather than a single person, as an appropriate place for the franchise to feature people of other sexual orientations. It would be helpful that the show allows for multiple couples to form, she said.

The more relaxed and open format of Bachelor in Paradise entertains Amanda Wein (10) more than The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, she said. “It’s more realistic because many couples can form, which allows for people to choose who they want to be with,” she said.

This season’s Bachelor in Paradise was the first season of the franchise to feature a contestant that was previously in a same-sex relationship.

“They actually gave a lot of attention to the bisexual contestant, going out of their way to bring her girlfriend from home on the show,” Gitelman said.

Despite the show’s flaws, Guerrero still watches the show, and remembers to keep in mind that the Bachelor franchise is a television show, she said. “Although they want to show love and a fairy-tale ending, their main goal is the views. It is fake to a certain extent.”