Bekah Martinez knows the Bachelor playbook to a tee. Which is why, last week, the Bachelor season 22 alum took the opportunity to shame Tia Booth and Colton Underwood for being photographed together in a suspicious light.
“Yeah, were [sic] totally 100% friends with each other! We’re TOTALLY not planning on getting back together JUST to be on your season/sitting here playing friends and then talk shit on Twitter (we’re gonna get so many followers from this manufactured narrative LOL)!” Martinez tweeted, mocking the two contestants. Booth and Underwood are pushing the limits of The Bachelor’s flimsy premise. Underwood, an NFL player who also dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, dated Booth before he appeared on The Bachelorette. Then, on the current season of The Bachelorette, he wooed Becca Kufrin, a friend of Booth’s. He told Kufrin that he dated Booth — in his words, they’d spent “a weekend” together — but explained that they were just friends now. Nothing would ever come of it again.
Tia+Colton: “yeah Becca, we’re both 100% over each other! we’re TOTALLY not planning on getting back together/probably engaged the minute we’re in paradise (we’re gonna get so many followers from this manufactured narrative lol)” pic.twitter.com/xs642erU1a— bekah martinez ♡ (@whats_ur_sign_) June 15, 2018
Then, there’s that picture. Underwood, a Bachelorette season 14 alum, and Booth, a Bachelor season 22 alum, are currently in Mexico filming Bachelor in Paradise, now in its fifth season. Based on the photo, they’ve found their way back to one another. Booth sits on Underwood’s lap on a pier. They both, for the record, look bored. But the position is compromising: No one can deny that sitting on someone’s lap, at least according to The Bachelor formula, is a version of love. The photo is also a one of a series of photos shared by influential, scoop-breaking Bachelor blogger Reality Steve. Underwood and Booth broke a Bachelor rule by lying about their intentions on the show.
For her part, Martinez broke a Bachelor Nation rule by revealing it all on Twitter. Martinez, a 23-year-old best known for briefly going missing (on a weed farm!) earlier this year, is a new class of Bachelor contestant who’s willing to do that, and she might just be the answer to the franchise’s glaring issues.
For the purposes of this conversation, let's define what the term Bachelor Nation is and isn't. The Bachelor and its offshoots (The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, Bachelor Winter Games) overlap, but they’re often at odds in terms of their sexual and gender politics. The shows are, by design, formulaic and uphold firmly traditional values — heterosexual marriage, love, ceremony, and all that. Bachelor Nation is a community of post-Bach podcasters, wine designers, and hawkers of HelloFresh. There’s been some discrepancy about this, so I’ll clear it up: Bachelor Nation, at least on Refinery29, refers to the people who were once on one of the shows in the franchise. It does not refer to Bachelor fans.
Martinez’s inflammatory tweet caught the attention of Raven Gates, another member of Bachelor Nation. Gates appeared on Nick Viall’s season (round 22) of The Bachelor and went on to meet Adam Gottschalk on Bachelor in Paradise round 4. She and Gottshalk are still dating, and Gates sometimes live tweets episodes of The Bachelorette. (That’s the preferred Monday night activity for most alums.) Gates, a friend of Booth’s, accused Martinez of manufacturing her own narrative on Twitter.
“Acting like friends for the sake of being on tv and getting followers is a manufactured narrative,” Gates wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Look in the mirror.” She didn’t tag Martinez in the tweet.
Martinez, ever direct, wrote back, “Why don’t you just @ me?” In another tweet, she pointed out that her relations with Booth had always been tense. The history here is complicated. Booth and Martinez seemed like fast friends. They appeared together on an episode of The Bachelorette as supportive “gal pals” for Kufrin just two weeks ago. But in their shared time on The Bachelor, Booth slighted Martinez. Trying to win the Bachelor game, Booth warned Luyendyk of Martinez’s intentions.
“I feel like she may be on a different page than the rest of us,” Booth told Luyendyk, grimacing. She implied that Martinez’s tender age — Martinez was 22 at the time — made her less than ideal. Luyendyk sent Martinez home that same day. (He probably would have done so anyway, but the optics are certainly upsetting. “She made things fun,” he remarked, looking pained, when Martinez left.)
“Tia started this when she acted like my friend then threw me under the bus on our season,” Martinez wrote on Twitter. “We were cool for a bit after mutual apologies but the way I’ve seen everything play out with Colton is so fucking shady.”
Bachelor Nation isn’t usually this fractious. Like any group of individuals, Bach Nation presents a united front. They all appear in event and personal photos together, smiling. They profess to be friends. In fact, looking over a Bachelor alum’s Instagram, it appears they no longer have friends outside the franchise. This is a family, like a giant tree, right? Realistically, probably not, and it’s startling to hear Martinez be so frank about it. She’s violating a Bachelor Nation rule, engaging in some light call-out culture for the sake of her friend Becca Kufrin.
Martinez has always been a rule-breaker for the franchise. For starters, she has short hair. The Bachelor, in its fifteen years on the air, sticks almost exclusively to women with waist-length blowouts. She entered the show in a Mustang and a short cotton dress. When she left the show, she somewhat famously went to recuperate at a weed farm. (She went to clear her head but forgot to tell her mom that she wouldn’t have cell service. She was then listed as a missing person and generated many frantic headlines.) She later took to Instagram story to explain her struggle with sponsored content, a popular career choice for Bachelor alums. She has done some sponcon — on May 31, she shared a discount code to swimwear retailer Albion Fit — but she’s also mocked sponcon. In one video posted to Instagram caption “just your average sponsored post,” she mocks the popular Sugar Bear Hair gummies. She’s also very young. She was 22 when she started filming the show, the youngest a contestant had ever been. (Luyendyk was 36.)
She’s just never fit inside the Bachelor mold — which is a good thing, because the Bachelor mold isn’t working. Earlier this year, Luyendyk’s season of The Bachelor had abysmal ratings (until it crushed Becca Kufrin on camera), and The Bachelorette is currently struggling with two PR crises regarding its contestants. It made headlines with the first Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, in 2017, but the season received depressingly low ratings. Plus, on that groundbreaking season, fans discovered that contestant Lee Garrett had a history of racist tweets. The franchise is stalling in part because its desire to be edgy won’t line up with its desire to be traditional. Martinez can’t fix that herself — she probably won’t appear on another show — but contestants like her might be able to change the narrative.
Deep in their Twitter feud, Gates got angry. She accused Martinez of stirring drama exclusively to get followers.
“Hey everybody!! Make sure you follow @whats_ur_sign so she can get those followers so she can stop talking shit about her friends.. Like tia!!” Gates wrote.
Here’s where Gates unwittingly points out the difference between Martinez and herself. Gates, an upstanding citizen of Bach Nation — you might call her patriotic — would never admit that she’s in this for the followers. Martinez might. She’s thirsting for attention, and gleefully aware of it, surfing the current wave of self-love and self-care confusion.
I reached out to Martinez for comment, curious what she thought of her role in Bachelor Nation. She seemed, predictably, a little unfazed. Bored, even.
“I’ve always been polarizing for fans of the show,” Martinez wrote in an email to Refinery29. “People either love me or hate me. I don’t feel like there’s much I can do to change that, so I don’t really worry about making waves cause there will always be haters and supporters.”
She added, “I’m incredibly grateful to the franchise for the wonderful experiences I’ve had, and don’t want to burn any bridges, but I don’t really wish to be one of those people who goes on 4 or 5 seasons/spinoffs of the show.”
Martinez does not appear to be filming Bachelor in Paradise right now, much to Bachelor Nation’s loss.
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