This Season Of The Bachelorette Is Mean, Sexist, & Should Never Have Happened

Photo: KCR/Rex/REX USA
I've always avoided The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, not because I'm looking for more highbrow entertainment (my Netflix history is about 50% The Vampire Diaries and 50% Disney movies) but because I am a romantic, and I never thought there was anything romantic about turning love into a competition. There are love triangles, occasionally squares, but, a love icosikaipentagon just seems ridiculous.

So, coming into the eleventh season premiere of The Bachelorette, I tried to keep an open mind. I suppose there are stranger ways to find love. Sarah of Sarah Plain and Tall was a mail-order bride, and she found love. There are certainly a few married couples whose early courtship consisted of sexts on Tinder. Maybe true love can bloom on television.

My optimism lasted about two minutes into the first episode, which spent a lot of time bragging about its “historic” twist: There are two Bachelorettes, Kaitlyn and Britt (both recent contestants on The Bachelor), and it’s the guys who decide which woman gets the honor of considering them as prospective mates. This “twist” immediately throws Britt and Kaitlin into the fighting pit, forcing them to compete against each other for male attention. One, will continue on in a quest for true love! The other, will flee this sexist macho-man fantasy. There’s a clear winner in this scenario — but it’s probably not the one the producers intended.

And it gets worse. The women are also boxed into warring personality types, like the characters in one of those direct-to-DVD, Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. Kaitlyn is the “funny” one. She makes dirty jokes, and isn't afraid to go skinny dipping. In the big-screen rom-com version of this scenario, Drew Barrymore would be cast in her role. Even though in almost any room on earth she would be considered gorgeous, for the purposes of this retrograde show, she’s stuck playing "the one with the great personality."

Which means that Britt is stuck playing “the hot one" — a  part that would go to Cameron Diaz in the movie. Naturally, Britt is calmer, and more poised. Even while talking about her nerves, she seems completely put together.

Photo: KCR/Rex/REX USA
When the dudes arrive, most make a beeline to Britt, and her "beautiful smile." Seriously, these guys should all get into dentistry, because they're so hung up on women’s teeth. Then, just when it looks like everyone is going for team Britt, a line of suitors not only chat up Kaitlyn, but bring her little gifts fit for, you know, a cool guy’s gal, like a jar of moonshine, and a hockey puck paired with a bad sex pun. What was Britt’s one and only gift? A package of tissues. It was a mean-spirited reference to the many tears she shed during her stint on The Bachelor. The message is clear: She might be drop-dead gorgeous, but she’s a drag, man. And in this live action game of Fuck, Marry, Kill (with the kill skipped—perhaps because of time constraints?) everyone knows you marry the fun one.

As the evening drags on, and the men discuss the women over drinks, one gets obnoxiously drunk and says: "I want to date them both because I'm selfish." Another inserts himself between Britt, and an unsuitable suitor, later explaining that he stepped in because she's "the girl who could be my wife." Ah, so he was concerned not because he’s a decent guy, but because he fears his property could be damaged. Gross. When the inebriated fellow gets handsy with Kaitlyn, she laughs it off, but in her confessional, she tells him, clearly and forcefully, not to touch her ass again. Why didn’t she say it to his face? Maybe because doing so would have been so uncool — and totally not in keeping with the fun girl ethos.

I suppose we should take comfort in the fact that the same lout gets booted from the show after he asks one of his competitors, “Why am I not raping you right now?” and refers to Kaitlyn and Britt as “hoes.” It’s the small victories.

In the end, the dudes vote for Kaitlyn as their Bachelorette, and Britt is sent home in tears. Even on a show that’s pretends to give a woman some control over her almost certainly staged destiny, the whole thing boiled down to a pack of guys sitting around over beers, mulling the age-old question, "Do I want the hot one or the smart one?" Neither woman is allowed to be anything more than the sum of that reductive descriptor.

We’re all losers here.
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