“The Bachelorette”: A Misogynistic Mess

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collage by Grace Tucceri using images from Creative Commons

Michelle Young is faced with the hardest task of her life: finding the “perfect” man.

Grace Tucceri, Writer

An abusive dance teacher body shaming young girls, over-the-top beauty pageants pitting young ladies against each other … the list goes on and on. Sadly, reality TV has been horrendous to women for years, but nothing can reach the lows of ABC’s hit series “The Bachelorette”. The show, which is somehow in its 18th season, makes objectifying women into a competition with loads of drama thrown into the mix. 

This season is centered around Michelle Young, a 28 year old elementary school teacher from Minnesota. She once was “the girl picked last for prom and first for basketball” and is ready to return to the dating scene after finishing second on Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor”. In the opening montage, she is shown teaching her class of fifth grade students. Cut to a few shots later, where a little girl exclaims how she is “so excited” for Ms. Young to become the next Bachelorette. 

What she doesn’t know is that her teacher is going to be wearing skimpy clothes and loads of makeup in front of 30 or so men, all vying for the most attention possible. Finding someone “genuinely passionate and completely authentic” is going to be quite the challenge on a show that is notorious for being overly scripted.

Finding someone ‘genuinely passionate and completely authentic’ is going to be quite the challenge on a show that is notorious for being overly scripted.”

The premiere quickly takes a turn for the worse once the men start to show up. Chris, a self-proclaimed “southern gentleman”, got his eyebrows done just for the occasion. Ryan boasts “I can plow a field, ladies” shirtless on a tractor. And LT showed up in a stripper costume with no pants on. The oversexualized appearance of a few contestants reflect the stereotype that men are meant to be eye-candy for women and looks matter more than personality. Worst of all, Michelle believes the bar to be pretty high this season after seeing only five men. 

Another flaw within the program is the fetishisation of foreign languages. Romeo starts speaking in French and attempts to woo Michelle by asking her to be his Juliet; she immediately bursts into laughter and admits how she thought it was cute to not understand a single word he was saying. Both Jack and Clayton chose to use “ciao” as their greeting of choice while putting on a face accent in an attempt to sound exotic and suave

Between the hand-slapping games and awkward cannoli feeding segment, there was a minor redeeming factor. Joe got real with Michelle about the two of them being biracial and from Minnesota about the George Floyd protests and ongoing Black Lives Matter Movement. It can be hard to discuss such heavy topics on a show where a contestant rolled out on a toddler-sized fire truck, but it somehow did not come off as fake and heartless. 

Truthfully, the “intimate” conversation between Michelle and contestants are hard to take serious most of the time. (Craig Sjodin/Creative Commons)

Unfortunately, everything that followed turned out to be quite shallow. After walking down the massive staircase in a tight-fitting gown, the time had come for her most important task yet. The concept of a “first-impression rose” rushes the process of thoughtfully developing a relationship and instead makes it into a gimmick. On top of that, calling out the men in order of preference one-by-one can be considered a petty thing to do

While “The Bachelorette” tries to make viewers experience the “sparks, butterflies, and everything that you want to feel” as described by Michelle, it fails in every possible way, for it lacks positive female role models and embraces toxic masculinity. Amidst the overuse of uncomfortable camera angles to commercials encouraging women to apply for the next season, there is too much fluff and too little femininity