The Bachelor Australia continues to thrive and it’s all my fault. Ashley Thompson writes.
Whether you like it or not, The Bachelor Australia makes Network Ten piles of money—thanks to well-educated middle-class Australians like me. Raking in 1.4 million viewers per episode, other well-educated middle-class females (who are not me) compete in glitterfied Gladiator-style arena for the “genuine” and definitely-not-fake, Blake Garvey.
I love it. I know it’s trashy—and make sure those who know I watch it are aware I do it “ironically”—but there’s no denying it.
Perhaps more accurately, I love the self-affirmation it offers the rest of us who were “never desperate enough to find love on reality television” or rather, expose our insecurities on a national stage. I both cringe and revel in the experience.
I even enjoy it when the show’s producers deliberately provoke my inner-feminist rage by making the girls compete in baking competitions and preschool activities to prove their domestic ability and maternal instincts. “It’s like feminism never happened!” I cry.
But when it comes down to it, we want the tears, the tempers, the jealousy, the exposure of self. Producers wouldn’t incite it otherwise. Blake is required to be sensitive and the girls to wear their hearts on their sleeves because the producers are not thinking about the perils of public vulnerability but about what we, the public want: drama, entertainment and to mentally switch off at the end of a day flooded with grim headlines.
But all of this drama is about self, not the other. It is about how Blake, or the girls, wants the other to behave in order to be deemed lovable or worthy of love. It’s a double-edged media sword where people like myself demand self-exposure and then criticise another’s inescapable flaws.
Perhaps the craftiest aspect of reality television is that I get to feel good about myself through the lens of prejudice. I love to laugh at the girls because they’re a lot like me but they’re not me and I’m comfortable with my “superior” life decisions.
I know that when we truly look at another person, recognise and accept their weaknesses, and love them anyway, we demonstrate a Christ-like love that allows each person to be free to be truly vulnerable to the other.
So where does that leave me and The Bachelor? It’s taught me a few things about myself and not all of them are pretty. It’s like a mirror’s been held up and I find, once again, I’ve fallen short of God’s loving-kindness.
Then again, it’s also just light-hearted entertainment skewed by a misleading genre title. Let’s just leave the “reality” out of it.