Feature

Published on March 24th, 2017 | by Raffaella Gumbel

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Meet the Bachelor fandom

My Bachelor journey began with Sean. He was a loveable blond Texan with big dreams and a big heart. Week after week, I watched him search for his one-and-only, which translated to making out on the beach with a multitude of women. I quickly fell in love… not with Sean, of course, but with my new guilty pleasure show.

In the ever-changing day-to-day of high school, The Bachelor was my constant. Whenever my homework stress got to be too much, I’d just turn on ABC and watch Juan Pablo shockingly refrain from proposing to Nikki, despite giving her the coveted “Final Rose.” If I had a bad day, I’d watch Kaitlyn cause drama by having overnight dates with men before the “Fantasy Suite.” If I was fighting with a friend, seeing the epic drama unfold between Corinne and Taylor instantly dwarfed my problems.

While The Bachelor used to be my guilty secret (I’d clandestinely watch from my computer every Monday at 8), over the last few years, I started discussing the show with friends and teachers, and marveled at how captivating two hours a week of people making fools of themselvesusually topless and drunkcould really be.

I can say with confidence that all of us know at least one Bachelor Superfanwhether they exist in or out of hidingor at least one person who watches the weekly Snapchat stories in which a group of 3 or 4 people watch the show live and offer their humorous comments. What started as an embarrassing habit has blossomed into a huge conversation topic and an excuse to get together with friends on the worst night of the week.

“I think a lot of people watch it and they don’t really admit that they watch it because it’s kind of embarrassing,” Sienna Brooks (‘17), a fan of the show, said. “The show’s kind of like a conversation piece. I think it’s more fun to watch it with friends because, throughout watching it, you comment on all the characters’ actions and you have to talk to someone about what you’re feeling or what you think is going to happen.”

Indeed it feels like the show has become a new topic of discussion around Samo. When I pitched this story, our journalism teacher brought up how she hears her ninth grade English students discussing it in her class. She’s also had to encourage me and a few of my friends to get back to work when the drama of the previous night’s episode seemed like more fun than making newspaper page layouts.

McKenna Davis (‘19) talks about it with friends across different groups.

“I typically watch it alone, but I do talk about it when I get to school.”

Furthermore, viewing parties have started cropping up in friend groups all over the school. I held my first viewing party this season, for which I printed out homemade fantasy-football-style brackets and watched my friends eat all my goldfish in their pajamas while seeing if it was Corinne or Rachel who would snag the “First Impression Rose.”

“The first episode [of the season], it was probably 10 of my friends and we all watched it together and had food and it was kind of a party,” Brooks said.

Even though, according to Broadcasting Cable, The Bachelor has far higher ratings for women ages 18-49 than for all people in the same age group, don’t be fooled into thinking these viewing parties are just for females.

“My brother really likes watching it with me, even though he won’t admit it,” Brooks said. “He’s really mad if I spoil something. He’ll get so mad at me.”

So why are people really so hooked on the show? Why did people like me feel compelled to spend passing periods with my world history teacher discussing whether Andi was going to end up with Nick or Josh? Why are screenshots sent back and forth of online bios of female contestants? What really makes it so addicting?

The short answer: it’s freaking entertaining. It taps into our enjoyment of competition and fantastical locations and dates as well as the weird interest in watching one woman tear another woman down (or man, if you watch The Bachelorette which of course I do). From all the articles I’ve read from “smart women who watch The Bachelor,” it’s clear that one of the motivations is that our love lives don’t seem so bad when compared to living with 30 women all dating the same guy.

Maybe it’s kind of strange that I get together with all my feminist friends and watch institutional sexism played out for 9.5 million viewers to watch. It’s probably not doing any favors to the female empowerment movement to laugh while grown women take their tops off and fight about what kind of woman really deserves the jerk who’s “here for the right reasons” this year. But it’s a fun escape.

“I mean, it is a stupid show and it is really weird but it’s fun to watch it and it’s fun to get into it and I think it’s not something to be ashamed of,” Brooks said. “It’s really fun.”

And she’s right. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the serious stuff and connect with people you don’t usually talk to on something silly. If The Bachelor has done nothing else, it has united us on one front.

“Rachel was my favorite,” Brooks said. Me too, Sienna. Me too.

 

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