Why Is Kissing On The Bachelor So Gross?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
The Bachelor always includes a lot of kissing. One man is looking for love among 25 glossy women — it's kind of his duty to kiss at least a few of them. It's also the current Bachelor's "thing." Arie Luyendyk, Jr. is known as "the kissing bandit" because he, uh, steals kisses. This means he locks lips a lot. But the kissing always seems gratuitous, more so than any sex scene in any movie. It's too much in every way: The kisses last too long, the cameramen get way too close, and the noises are... disquieting. (How on earth do they even get those noises? How close are these mics?)
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During Monday night's episode, Luyendyk smooched a number of women. He swallowed Becca K. on their one-on-one. He gnawed on poor Krystal's face during a concert. He rained down on Bekah M., and got slurpy with Sienne, who took home the rose from the group date. Every single kiss was harrowing. My sister, a Bachelor newbie, opted to cover her face with her hands. (I, a seasoned viewer, looked gracefully down at my computer screen.) We are not alone — disgust with Bachelor kissing is somewhat widespread, at least in the Twittersphere.
Luyendyk isn't the only Bachelor-adjacent man to be accused of sloppy kissing. On last season of The Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay's eventual fiancé Bryan Abasolo garnered attention for similar reasons. His kisses were passionate, but they were also sloppy, like a drunk Pac-Man eating pasta. Abasolo later defended his kissing style on"Will You Accept This Ride?" Similarly, Bachelor in Paradise made a big to-do about Josh Murray's kisses with Amanda Stanton during season 3. Both Murray and Stanton stood up to the kissing criticism on After Paradise, claiming that Murray "didn't really kiss like that." (Unrelated to kissing, Murray and Stanton later broke up.) And who can forget when Kaitlyn Bristowe brought Nick Viall back to the privacy of her hotel room and we had to listen to their squeaky kissing sounds?
We witness on-screen kissing all the time. And, for the most part, kissing on TV is incredibly satisfying. I count June's (Elisabeth Moss) kiss with Nick (Max Minghella) on The Handmaid's Tale as one of the most exciting moments of my year. But when smooching moves to reality television, it becomes something less sweet.
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Part of the problem is that it's simply too real. In the figurative sense, The Bachelor makes us faintly aware that we're peering in on the beginnings of intimacy. (In scripted work, a camera can make the decision to let us feel less, erm, included in the sexy stuff.) But in the more literal sense, The Bachelor features real people doing real kissing. Fun fact: Actors rarely use tongue.
"In general, tongue doesn’t really translate," the actor Benjamin Bratt told Access Hollywood in 20111 regarding on-screen kissing. In life, sloppiness can be forgiven, but, in film, it might be less aesthetically pleasing.
Actor Jason Ritter, an avid fan of the show, explained it pretty well on Monday night's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
"There's a lot of gross kissing [on The Bachelor]," he said. "I mean, they tell you in movies and stuff to not do certain things you do in real life just because it looks and sounds gross, and on The Bachelor, they're all mic'ed up." Normally, we're not privy to the "gross stuff" (like tongue), so observing it on The Bachelor feels awkward.
The good news is that it's perfectly natural to dislike all the kissing on The Bachelor. It's unfamiliar, and it probably is a little gratuitous. (Did we need a full 30 seconds of kissing? Probably not.) The bad news is you're probably also a really gross kisser. We all are! Real-life kissing has real-life problems. It's drippy, confusing, and perhaps a little hectic. If the participants are interested in one another, it can be really fun! So, seeing it on television is like looking in a mirror: We're confronted with what lust actually looks like. And that's not always tidy.
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