Is The Bachelor Actually Mean This Season?

Photo: Courtesy of Craig Sjodin/ABC.
The Bachelor is sold as a no-holds barred competition series that eventually turns into a fairytale for the ages. Yes, there are young women bashing cars into each other for some guy’s attention, but, by the end, our leading man will find The One, and all the concussions will be worth it. It’s bloodsport wrapped in romantic packaging. Usually, The Bachelor manages to walk this fine line well, helping viewers forget the dating show is actually built on a cynical conceit filled with rejection and drama. Yet, the 2018 season isn’t exactly pulling its weight when it comes to throwing rose colored glasses on a fairly dark series. If you don’t believe that’s true, look no further than Monday night’s “Week 3,” which was plain old mean.
The leading victim of all of this sadism is Bibiana Julian, who was already given the Spicy Latina edit last week. This time, however, Bibiana is simply forced to withstand the Bachelor at its most bizarre, and most cruel. The first striking instance arrives during the first “Week 3” group date, where the ladies of the original G.L.O.W. show up to teach the season 22 contestants wrestling. Yet, Bibiana is instead subjected to a random tirade by one of the G.L.O.W. alums, Angelina “Little Egypt” Altishin.
Learning how to wrestle on a date is obviously a wild idea, so Bibiana and costar Amber Lauren Burnham playfully run back and forth on the turnbuckles. It’s worth noting Bachelor Arie Luyendyk Jr. and burgeoning villain Krystal Nielson had been displaying the exact same behavior moments earlier and no one yelled at them. Yet, Bibiana and Lauren are called “absolutely pathetic’ by Little Egypt, whose wrestling name already feels a touch racially insensitive decades after G.L.O.W.’s inception, and told to stay in a corner.
Okay, fine, let’s just go along with the idea wrestlers are merely playing a character and anything they say or do should be taken with a grain of salt. That can explain away why the G.L.O.W. women continue to antagonize Bibiana, telling her, again, that she’s “pathetic,” and go so far as to unsettlingly pull Tia Booth’s ponytail. However, it doesn’t excuse Little Egypt for attacking Bibiana’s name and her mother. That’s deeply personal. After hearing the spelling of Bibiana’s name, the wrestler asks, ignoring the rules of grammar, “Does your mom know how to spell when she gave you that name?” That’s rude, and it’s even more rude to hear someone ask a woman of color with a very clear Latinx accent that kind question.
Yet, The Bachelor allows Little Egypt, who herself is Turkish according to IMDb, to continue, saying of the Miami native’s name, “It just doesn’t even make sense. ‘Bibiana?’ What is that?’” This is the kind of questioning people of color shouldn’t have to withstand in 2018, and especially not during a dating show that pretends it’s a fairytale.
The purposeful humiliation of Bibiana doesn’t end with GLOB — Gorgeous Ladies Of (The) Bachelor — because the indignities continue at the rose ceremony cocktail party. The former Dolphins cheerleader puts together a sweet and thoughtful cabana set-up for her imminent alone time with the Arie, explaining the layout is the most “her.” But, within what looks like seconds thanks to editing, Arie is obliviously making out with Lauren B. in the daybed, which Bibiana uncomfortably walks directly into. Arie shoos her away, asking for “five more minutes” with Lauren.
This is the kind of sad scene the Bachelor Powers That Be could have avoided by simply informing Arie that Bibiana created the romantic venue herself, and for their prospective date alone. It’s not like anyone else was smooching Arie in the down home country corner producers fashioned for Tia. But, they instead allow Bibiana to stumble into her precise nightmare situation. It’s all hard to watch. It’s made even worse thanks to the knowledge Bibiana apparently never gets any one-on-one time with Arie at all, leading to her elimination.
While Twitter’s favorite Floridian was clearly thrown to the wolves, she wasn’t alone. The Bachelor also dumped a ton of shade on contestant Annaliese Puccini, who spent the last two episodes detailing the sources of her many childhood traumas. Last week, it was a bumper cars, this week, dogs — many, many different dogs. Although women’s trauma wasn’t taken all that seriously when Bachelor season 22 filmed, that’s changed in the wake of the Me Too movement. While Annaliese wasn’t sexually assaulted, it still feels wrong to laugh at a young woman sobbing over experiences she finds very real and very traumatizing, even if they all sound ridiculous to viewers.
But, that giggling reaction is exactly what the reality show was aiming for when it created two drawn-out, true crime-style recreations for Annaliese’s stories. The first, from “Week 2,” showed a blonde child sobbing in the seat of a bumper car; the second, from “Week 3,” shows a little girl innocently looking at a comically small dog who’s viciously growling and snapping at her. Both instances would fit better in a late-night Investigation Discovery series than something as supposedly sweet as The Bachelor.
To add insult to injury, “Week 3” closes with even more footage of Annaliese spilling her “trauma” tales. If you weren’t already laughing at these over-the-top stories in the episode, it's likely you will as the California native shares her near infinite list of bad dog experiences, including an impossible-sounding one involving a pack of huskies. The Bachelor doesn’t take any of this seriously, so, viewers are encouraged to dismiss an eliminated Annaliese as well.
After watching The Bachelor treat these women with such mean gloves, it’s almost nice to see them leave a toxic environment like the mansion. Yet, as ABC executive Robert Mills confirmed after “Week 3” aired, Bibiana is headed to The Bachelor Winter Games. Let’s hope the franchise manages to avoid playing any more games with Bibiana’s head.
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