Why Is The Bachelor Still Pushing The Villain Narrative?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The Bachelor loves a good villain. And we eat it up: The contestants I remember most from the last few seasons were those cast as villains.
Corinne Olympios from season 21 of The Bachelor will go down in reality television history as the contestant most comfortable with the title. Season 20 gave us Olivia Caridi, a journalist who gifted the internet a great many gifts. Season 22, which premiered Monday night, already has a villain: Chelsea Roy, a single mother from Maine.
These women — Chelsea, Olivia, and Corinne — have one thing in common. They were aggressors on the show. (In Chelsea's case, she's still an aggressor. We still don't know who wins!) The Bachelor loves a villain, but, unfortunately, it often prefers to vilify ambition. It casts its villains as greedy Lady Macbeths, plotting to take over the show. It's a tired trope: Woman tries to get ahead — woman is vilified.
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During Monday's season premiere, the other contestants weren't pleased that Chelsea got to speak with Arie Luyendyk, Jr. (the Bachelor) twice in one night. Not only that, but she dared "steal" Arie from another contestant. In a preview for the upcoming season, the girls are aghast when they see Chelsea kissing Arie on a group date. Chelsea tells the camera, "I'm making bold moves because, being a single mother, I deserve more time than others." I'm not here to argue that anyone "deserves" more time than anyone else on The Bachelor. (The only one who deserves anything on that show is Chris Harrison, who deserves to be released from his contract before he falls asleep.) But I do think it's time we dumped the idea that ambitious women are evil.
While it's still unclear as to how the rippling effects of Harvey Weinstein will mark The Bachelor, we've already seen some major cracks in the reality show's facade. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, as women grow more and more vocal about supporting each other, The Bachelor's competition feels especially stale. In the season 22 promo, one contestant says, "It's going to be absolute mayhem and carnage. Because women are ruthless." I'll give her that: Women are ruthless. But I don't think that's a bad thing, and it's time The Bachelor made this switch.
This is a show about 29 women trying to fall in love with the same guy. It's going to get weird. But it doesn't have to keep trotting out the same boring, and damaging, stereotype. Maybe next year, let's have a real villain — perhaps someone intent on getting the rest of the house to love the musical Cats? Now, there's a character I'll watch.
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Watch the full season trailer, below.
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