We need to do better and stand against women/women fighting.
As a fan of true love and romance shows, I started watching “The Bachelor” a few years ago with my sister and my friends. We would drink rosé, make aesthetic charcuterie boards, and root for our favorite couples on the show. We would often laugh at all the cringe moments, and occasionally dramatize the feuds between contestants.
But after watching season 25 of “The Bachelor” with Matt James, I have a completely different perspective and opinion. It has been rumored by previous contestants on social media, like Dylan Harbour and Jed Wyatt, that the series is completely manipulated by the producers, and there is little to no free will for the contestants on the show.
Like always, I started watching the new season in January but quickly vowed to never watch the show again after viewing an incident of bullying. To briefly explain the incident that I am referring to, on week three of this season, a contestant was severely bullied in a group setting by 15 other women.
I am not the only viewer that now has a different perspective on the show after watching this season.
Senior at Sacred Heart University, Kali D’ Agostinis said, “I most definitely think bullying is a major theme of the show this season and is highlighted throughout the episodes more than the lead is highlighted which is sickening”.
The contestant who was bullied during the episode was told in general terms, that her feelings were not valid. She was called calculated, manipulative, and toxic, and the other contestants threatened her living situation, saying it would be “horrible” among the group. The contestant who was the victim said that she felt emotionally beat up and she was even mocked for taking Xanax.
The events that happened on this episode of “The Bachelor” were not only triggering for my own personal history of being bullied, but also deeply concerning for the message that ABC is broadcasting to the show’s viewers at large, and young women who watch the show.
There have been other instances of bullying on separate branches of “The Bachelor” franchise. Hannah Godwin, former contestant on “Bachelor in Paradise,” described her experience as getting “mean girled”.
It is easy for young viewers, or girls in high school to see this type of behavior and pick up on it. “The Bachelor,” being a dating show, also sets a precedent that the meanest girl will win the guy in the end, which is problematic on so many levels. That “prize” devalues the importance of female friendships, thus escalating the importance of being with a man.
This type of manipulated “reality” television condones bullying and mistreatment of your fellow peers. It is not okay to emotionally threaten your female co-worker, classmate, teammate, or friend and mock them for taking prescription anxiety medication, so why would it be okay on reality TV?
“I believe that if teenagers are viewing the show and experiencing all of these conversations and bullying, they would feel influenced to do the same. Especially as someone who began watching “The Bachelor” franchise as a teenager, I looked at these women as beautiful, accomplished, and famous—all because their lives are shown on a reality television show about love,” said D’ Agostinis, Sacred Heart University class of 2021.
I myself experienced bullying at a young age, and I wish there were more role models in the media who fought back against it, that I could have looked up to. And not just characters in fictional movies, but real people, experiencing bullying with a platform like “The Bachelor” to talk about it.
When you look at female friendships there can sometimes be a history of bullying or “mean girling” there, and I think it's important as a society for women to lift each other up, instead of tearing each other down. I honestly think that on a reality show like the Bachelor, viewers would like to see more friendships and support among the contestants, rather than bullying.
After the shit show of a year we’ve all had as a country, why would anyone want to watch yet another traumatic incident on television?
President of Her Campus at Sacred Heart University, Jackie O’Rourke, said that a possible solution to this problem of bullying could be for celebrities to come on the show and talk about the situation.
As a network, ABC may want to consider including a trigger warning before the episode to warn the viewer of any events regarding bullying that may take place.
“If “The Bachelor” were to have a warning message, I think all reality tv shows should,” said Jackie O’ Rourke.
There are many things that we could do as a society to change the normalcy of bullying on reality TV shows as a whole. With a push towards a more gentle and kind rhetoric on mental health, reality television should hold themselves accountable and contribute to a more positive dialog.
There is power in the viewers impact on the media. If we as a society refuse to consume things that negatively affect our mental health, we take back our power and change the narrative.