I’ll start by admitting something: I watched the season finale of The Bachelor last night. That was difficult but I’m glad I got it off my chest. If you saw it too then you know where I’m going with this.
The Bachelor — perhaps America’s most respected piece of absolute garbage — hit a new low last night. The finale was one of the most exploitive, cruel, and misogynistic things that has ever aired on network TV. And I’m sure the ratings were huge.
This season concluded in typical fashion, with a nonthreatening vanilla guy (in this case, an ultra-dullard named Arie) proposing to whichever contestant he deems worthy after several months of on-camera dating and PG romantic hijinks. The “winner” this time was Becca, a young woman who seems to be a generally good person. She was thrilled to win, to go off into the subset with her new fiance to find out what their life together will be like off-camera. That’s usually where it ends, and that’s all fine. Sure some other young women had their hearts broken along the way, but they knew that was part of the deal when they signed on. But what happened to Becca next was never part of the deal.
After the proposal — the typical “ending” to the season — it was revealed to viewers that Arie had since changed his mind, he was still in love with another woman and had decided to break off the engagement. Oh, the drama. Still nothing really wrong here — if he realized he made a mistake by proposing, breaking it off is the right thing to do at this point. But then viewers learned that he would be dumping Becca on camera. Everybody — Arie, the show’s producers and crew, and the viewing audience — would know that going in, except Becca.
ABC then aired perhaps the most tasteless 40-minutes of footage in the history of network television. The Bachelor Nation was invited to salivate as it watch the unedited footage of Becca showing up for what she thought would be a romantic post-show meet-up with her fiance (the two were still living in different cities). Of course Becca had no problem with ABC’s cameras being present for this happy affair — she was excited and in a great mood…until she realized, too late, what was really going on. There was confusion, sobbing, anger, a young woman repeatedly asking a man who had just humiliated her on national television to go away and not to touch her (he stopped touching her, but he didn’t go away and neither did the cameras). She repeatedly remarked, through her tears, on how embarrassed she was. As a viewer, I was too. It was, for lack of a simpler description, a major TV production baiting an unsuspecting young woman into the most humiliating and degrading moment of her life.
But then again, I watched it. Imagine the ratings.