More than 1.48 million Australians tuned into the final episode of The Bachelor. Tonight is the first episode of The Bachelorette, but will Aussies get behind it?
The TV show goes something like this: 25 bachelorettes simultaneously date one bachelor who eliminates one or more girls each week until he is left with just one, ‘the one’. Video cameras are capturing the girls vying for the bachelor’s heart, and the drama is edited into two episodes a week.
We just wrapped season three and according to Channel 10 freelance producer, Nicole Williams, this year’s season was the most successful. Its opening episode had 200,000 more viewers than the opening episode last year, and its finale had 900,000 more viewers than the finale last year, coming in at 1.3 million viewers.
Tonight’s spinoff premiere, The Bachelorette, which has the same premise as The Bachelor, but the twist is that it’s 25 bachelors competing for a bachelorette’s heart. “We all, including the producers of The Bachelor, hope that these results will transfer over to The Bachelorette and it will be a huge hit as well,” Ms Williams said.
The question is, will it be? Looking at past episodes and the way women have treated the contestants, it’s hard to believe that The Bachelorette is going to be able to date multiple men without attracting scathing criticism.
When US Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe had sex with one of the men competing for her love and did not choose him as the winner, she was heavily criticised. Similarly, in Australia, The Bachelor contestant Lana was slammed for sleeping with the bachelor, Sam Wood, who also didn’t choose her as the winner. Facebook posts called her a ‘hoe’ and ‘disgusting’.
Contrast this to the way Sam, the Bachelor, was treated after the news broke and it is far less damning. Some even encouraged him to ‘try before you buy’, and you might even conclude there is a double standard when it comes to the way we view men and women when it comes to sex and dating.
Project officer Erin Gillen, 23, is a big The Bachelor fan and intends to watch The Bachelorette, however, doesn’t think either show is helpful when it comes to portraying healthy relationships. “I wouldn’t say that either show is particularly empowering as it requires participants to engage in relationships in a very set way that follows a particular formula, with an ultimate end goal of engagement and marriage,” she said.
“Neither show acknowledges the diversity of ways that individuals engage in sexual and romantic relationships, or acknowledges that marriage is not for everyone. The obvious exclusion from these shows are members of the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning) community.
“Everyone should be able to make choices about their sexual relationships to suit their personal beliefs and circumstances, not pre-ordained societal standards,” Ms Gillen added.
For Kate Gunn, board member of The National Foundation for Australian Women and chief executive officer of Balance! Healthcare, filming The Bachelorette is a good idea because this show allows a woman to be in control, rather than a man. “I am always OK with things if they are balanced,” Ms Gunn said. “As with everything if you give men power then you need to do the same for women.”
The women on these shows have been criticised and called derogatory names, but should they be treated differently to the men? Or more importantly, will they be treated differently?
I guess we’ll find out tonight! – Alexis Page
Top photo taken by Ben Atkinson-James.