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Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelies: The Bachelor (or Matrimania Gone Terribly, Painfully Wrong) March 4, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
Tags: , , , ,

the-bachelor_lTo protect my dignity, I must say this right up front: I have not watched The Bachelor in a very long time. I recall seeing parts of the first season, and it took almost no time before it  lost its appeal even as a guilty pleasure. Today, even the idea of the show makes me squeamish (Seriously. Just think on that picture you see to your left ). So, I did not watch the now-unfortunately-infamous finale of the most recent season, which aired on ABC Monday night. But apparently millions of Americans did, and I have since watched clips and read this detailed recap, so that I could post about it here: Not only was the finale a true “shocker,” it also underlined our culture’s deep misogynistic and matrimaniacal impulses in horribly unsettling ways.

From what I know about the show, The Bachelor has, over the course of its lifespan (please, shrivel up and die already!), almost always concluded each season with a man proposing to his “favorite” female from a large cohort of eligible women. Occasionally, the Bachelor of the day doesn’t move quite so fast and simply commits to pursuing a relationship (this, if I recall, is how Season 1 ended). But the real thrill – the only thing that will satiate an audience fully – is if the Bachelor gets down on one knee and seals the deal. We thirst for commitment. We want men to want marriage as much as  women (ostensibly) do. Yes – goddamnit, we want to see “real” men who can “stand up” and fulfill their proper roles: We want them to have, hold, and love us forever!

Because if it happens on TV, it can happen in our lives.

After past seasons have ended, many of the couples have broken up. But none of them have been dumped during the post-season finale ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. And they have most certainly never been dumped and immediately REPLACED BY THE OTHER GIRL!

Which is — you guessed it — exactly what happened during this season’s cruel and unusual finale.

I know – and to a certain extent, I agree – it’s futile to feel “bad” for anyone involved, since they signed up for the show in the first place.

But still.

According to the producers, both of these women were kept in the dark until they were brought on set (separately – at least they kept them separate) for evil-Bachelor Jason to do the deed. That’s just plain cruel.

And if we look to some of the rhetoric leading up to and after Jason’s proposal to Melissa, we can begin to understand the way our culture has, in many ways, “spoken first” – these women have almost no choice but to embody the heteronormative ideology that constitutes our understanding of gender and sexuality. Take a look:

In response to Molly’s (who is soon after rejected by Jason) insistence that she can “settle down” with Jason and still have a career, Jason’s mom says:

Here’s a young lady who says she loves you to pieces, and yet she has a career, and career’s important to her. But I think foremost for you, you want somebody who is family oriented

After Molly is officially rejected (later to be selected), Molly recites the sentence that we all like to repeat to ourselves:

I just think he’s making a huge mistake.

Then, six weeks later, Molly’s dreams come true (UGH, how could you still LIKE him, Molly?!), and Jason dumps poor Melissa (the original fiancee). First, she calls him a “bastard” (yay!), but then later, away from Jason and alone with herself, Melissa blames the breakup on herself, saying:

There’s something wrong with me

No matter their relationship to the man in power (Jason), all three of these women end up repeating and reproducing contemporary culture’s “common sense” catchphrases about “normal” gender roles and ways of thinking.

It’s just fucking sad.

— L


1. Lauri - March 4, 2009

It’s always been my dream to get on the bachelor, be selected and then turn the guy down. Unfortunately, my breasts aren’t big enough to see this through.

When you think about it though, doesn’t the Bachelor sort of happen in real life, in a less obvious way? I think there’s an earlier episode of Sex and the City where Carrie ponders how people get together with their spouses, and there’s a person-on-the-street montage of people giving their answers. One guy says “it was just musical chairs, she was the person I was with when the music stopped.” Don’t you see this amongst married folks? Say someone has a relationship at age 25, and maybe it lasts for a few months or a few years, but because they might consider themselves too young, they don’t get married. But then, maybe when they’re 30, they start dating someone and think, “is this the one?” Is the guy/girl they meet at 30 necessarily any “better” than the one they met at 25? Is the relationship necessarily “better”? I would dare to say, probably not. So I don’t think people choose who to marry, I think they choose to get married (when to get married) and then select from the available options. I actually think the fact that he picked one and then changed his mind is good in the overall scheme of things…most people just “love the one they’re with.”

Not that I’m defending the show. I agree with you that is misogynistic and doesn’t say a whole lot for the male gender either. I haven’t watched it since season one, when the big issue was whether he should chose the “fat” girl.

2. Rachel - March 4, 2009

Sorry, I just have to share this somewhere – no all that related to The Bachelor, though related to fighting singlism: Bella DePaulo discovered a Singles Manifesto from 1974. Read excerpts here.

3. Amy - March 4, 2009

SO TRUE. The rejects’ limo rides of shame are the most disturbing – whether the tone is sad (“there must be something wrong with me”) or hopeful (“some day my prince charming/fairy tale ending will come”). Where have all the feminists gone?

Yet I can’t stop watching….

4. Singlutionary - March 4, 2009

The thing I am so so so disturbed by is the way in which Molly took him back. How can she trust him? Oh vomit.

Jason is the original douche nozzle.

This is desperate dating at its WORST! But it seems that the less self respect people have, the more likely they are going to be on TV. I guess parading the lowest common denominator across the small (HD) screen every night makes us feel good (or feel more numb).

Stuff like this makes me worried for America. How can we be a country that has so much with so many educated folks and still act like this?

5. Onely - March 4, 2009

ALERT ALERT everyone! On Amy’s blog she posted a video interview of Jason, where he says he is going to START A SUPPORT ORGANIZATION FOR SINGLE PARENTS!

I don’t really know what to do about this other than hold my finger on the vowel key for a long time



6. bobby - March 4, 2009

I’m getting nauseous…thank you 😉

7. Joe - March 6, 2009

i suspect that the women on the Bachelor were blinded by their competitiveness to the point that they don’t realize what a tool they are competing for

8. moncler shop london - September 24, 2014

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