The Crushing Reality Suite: Intersectional Feminist Recaps of The Bachelorette

Week 1: She Can Do Better Than This

While I have spent much of my life (from late adolescence through adulthood) as a bit of a reality TV superfan, I had resisted the dull roar of ABC’s Bachelor franchise until this year. I figured I could be into Bravo without succumbing to the viciously beautiful love competition on ABC, but as my friend Tara pointed out, the distinction was really superfluous. So, I watched Ben’s quest for love this Fall and was hooked. The ridiculous pageantry, absurd production, horrifying talent shows—I found myself laughing so hard I cried on a regular basis.

My feminism isn’t as pained by “The Bachelorette”. The hyper-masculinity of it all is gross, the intense idolization of a woman based on her appearance is icky, but at least we aren’t reducing women to job descriptions like “Twin” or “Chicken Enthusiast.” When I heard that JoJo would be “The Bachelorette” (which is somehow a diversity hire? Seriously, ABC?), I felt like I had to watch the Texas queen find her love after the Ben-tastrophe. And wow, what a way to start.

I didn’t start “The Bachelor” until episode two last season, so I missed out on the intensely painful introductory episode that I was subject to this week. Meeting these guys—a few clear front-runners displayed in their natural habitats—from the gorgeous firefighter Grant, to Alex, who seems to take regular hikes wearing his Marine backpack, to Luke’s cow/country/small town cliché, we keep calling JoJo “smart” and saying she has a “great personality”, even though last season all we saw was her incredible hotness and intense infatuation with Ben.

One thing I really cannot wrap my brain around is the idea that people seem to actually, truly, genuinely believe that they will find THEIR LIFE PARTNER ON THIS SHOW. JoJo, you’re gorgeous. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders (or, as the disgusting human scum Chad later says “she’s in the unicorn section—not crazy and all hot), can you really not find a guy in real life? Also, Chris asks her “is the man of your dreams inside there?”—HOW THE HELL WOULD SHE KNOW? She hasn’t even laid EYES on these dudes.

Also, one thing I found interesting about this episode was the overt nature of all the “isms”. Chad’s toxic masculininty in general, specifically the unicorn comment, was just so clearly gross. Also, SOMEONE SAID THE WORD RACISM. This seems no small feat on the Bachelor. When talking about his family, Christian actually reflects on the fact that his father hid him from his family. What? I feel like that got past the producers, some woke editor snuck the word “racism” in there because they were just exhausted from the undertones. 

Anyway, onward to the bachelors. She’s got a type. Tall, white, and handsome. Great. Christian, Grant, Jake, Ali (my biggest crush) are too good for this world. The rest are either too shtick-y, cocky, or boring to really mention. Except, of course, Daniel. Who likes to drink and strip, and says things like “If I was gay I would be in paradise” in reference to the sheer hot-ness of all these beefcakes. In this comment, we’re back to the weird homophobia of it all, somewhat under the surface just peeking out here and there.

The first impression rose gets dropped like some sort of horrifying red bomb. Jordan Rodgers is poised as a frontrunner and gets it. DUH. They look perfect together. This feels like Lauren B all over again. They’re white, they’re hot, and they’re traditionally couple-ish. We get it. Why are we even watching anymore?

Oh, I know why we’re watching, Because of Chad. The horrible human being who seems to be averse to feelings, have violent tendencies (per the “this season” clips which look terrifying), and shit-talks Ben aka the former love of JoJo’s life. You’re trying to win her over, bro. She’s gonna see this. Do they forget that? Do they not care?

I want to hug JoJo. I want to tell her that she can do better than this. That she’s more than gorgeous, more than “someone you bring home to Mom”, more than “someone who seems really grounded” (what does that even mean)? I do, however, think she’s gonna get her sexy on all season in a super empowered way.  So there’s that. I’m buckled in. And Ali, my Iranian brethren, come say hi sometime. 

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