Has The Real World Completely Ruined The Bachelorette Fantasy?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Don’t worry, there are no Bachelorette finale spoilers ahead.
The Bachelorette is supposed to be a fun summertime game show meets romantic fairytale. That’s why the ABC series is filled with gowns, ridiculous date ideas that turn into ridiculous competitions, and so, so, so much Champagne. As the temperatures heat up outside, you’re supposed to forget all about your problems while watching a Nice Lady attempt to kiss enough frogs to eventually find her prince charming. And, you’re supposed to like that prince charming — that’s what all the editing is for.
But, the magic of pageant-style dresses and buff men running up large poles isn’t enough to distract viewers from the darkness anymore. That’s because The Bachelorette has become the darkness, as disturbing detail after disturbing detail is leaked to the public about Becca Kufrin’s many suitors. While watching Monday’s “Week 4,” it’s nearly impossible to enjoy Becca’s love journey, which was filmed months ago in a reality TV bubble, as the real-world, real-time facts about her would-be fiancés color everything on screen .
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One of the greatest offenders on this season of The Bachelorette is Lincoln Adim, who reportedly pleaded guilty to indecent assault and battery last month following an incident on a 2016 Boston cruise. The reality TV contestant allegedly groped a woman during the boating event. After the #MeToo movement rocked the cultural zeitgeist starting in October 2017 — and continues to, as Chris Hardwick's ex-girlfriend Chloe Dykstra shared her own story of relationship violence just last week (she did not name her alleged abuser in the post) — Lincoln’s antics as a contestant aren’t amusing or bizarre, they’re jarring.
As we see in “Week 4,” the ABC reality show wants us to giggle over just how silly Lincoln is as he defends his supposed flat Earth beliefs to a room full of his Bachelorette competition. “So if this is the Earth and it’s [a] circle, are we here and the water is there? And if the water is there, why isn’t it falling down on us?” he asks in a talking head interview, using baffling hand gestures to prove his point. Usually, fans would write off that kind of nonsense as a harmless grab for screen time and, probably, a desperate audition for Bachelor In Paradise.
But when you take Lincoln’s very recent past into account, none of this is adorable. Instead, in a time when perpetrators of sexual assault are losing their cultural cachet, it seems like the series is trying to make one of those very perpetrators seem adorable through editing. Considering the gravity of Lincoln's accused crimes, which became public knowledge weeks ago, why wasn't his cutesy “Week 4” moment replaced with another scene in the meantime? Yes, the Bachelorette filmed months before its present airing, but that doesn't mean the series can't edit its many narratives as more information comes to light. Especially when it comes to a mid-tier suitor like Lincoln, who is clearly being kept around for drama's sake.
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The Bachelorette's rose-colored glasses problem is even more ingrained when it comes to obvious front-runner Garrett Yrigoyen. Garrett, as fans found out late last month, has a history of racist, transphobic, fat-shaming, and anti-feminist social media use, liking Instagram photos that took shots at plus-size women, Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, child immigrants, and more. The meme involving young immigrants — which read, “When a kid makes it over the wall and you have to throw him back” — feels especially upsetting as immigrant children are being separated from their families at the border and held in cages.
While The Bachelorette is using Lincoln as comic relief, Garrett, who has since apologized for his offensive social media behavior, is no such trope. Rather, The Bachelorette is billing the First Impression rose winner as a true leading man. He and Becca skip through Park City, Utah, share romantic wintery kisses, and speak about Becca’s beloved, late father, all while the Bachelorette gushes about how handsome Garret is. At the time, long before Garret's Instagram scandal broke, this entire experience is what dreams are made of. But how are viewers expected to fall for this supposedly great romance now, when we know Garrett very recently found mocking little boys who wear makeup and the idea of tossing a child over a fence palatable, no matter the mea culpa (which arrived after his Instagram likes became public, not before).
Maybe watching Becca fall for Garrett, as she announces she is in “Week 4,” wouldn’t feel so deceptive if her politics matched the ones his social media activity reflect. Yet, that is not the case. Becca’s own Instagram is filled with seemingly liberal snapshots. Last August, she showed face at a Donald Trump event by giving the middle finger. In February 2017, she wore a shirt with former vice president Joe Biden’s face emblazoned on it; the tee read, “Biden my time #2020.” At the Women’s March, Becca smiled while holding a sign that declared, “Keep your politics away from my lady bits.” It’s easy to see how Becca might just be one of those liberal feminists Garrett was happy to ridicule before he allegedly realized his “mistakes.”
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So, it's unfair The Bachelorette is allowing Becca to fall in love with someone she has no idea could be harboring opinions so far from her own. Considering the show’s extensive vetting process, shouldn’t someone have at least told her what was behind Garrett’s broad shoulders and charming smile?
The feeling that Becca is being lied to doesn’t end with here, however. “Week 4” also drops in with Colton Underwood. The Bachelorette has been terrified that Colton is lying to her since “Week 2,” when he admitted to dating Becca’s former co-star and friend, Tia Booth. Yet, Colton has spent the last two weeks swearing his feelings for Tia are over, and he is there for the right reasons. Unfortunately it is now impossible to believe Colton’s promises, as pictures of the former football player and Tia passionately making out are all over the internet. Even Bachelorette BFF Bekah Martinez finds all of this apparent subterfuge infuriating.
It doesn’t matter how much Colton spends “Week 4” defending Becca’s desire for honesty from her suitors. We all know this ends with Colton’s pledges of fidelity seeming less-than-truthful.
After the horror of he-who-shall-not-be-named, Becca deserves better.
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