Is This Year’s “Bachelor” Helping Us Think Beyond The Stereotypes?

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I’ve been sucked into The Bachelor again. No excuse really, other than it’s the perfect wind-down tv that gives me an added connection to NC and something to comment about on Twitter.

While this season has some disconcerting constancies about it – that include Osher’s perfect hair, the gaudiness of the mansion and it’s general “whiteness” – it is much more interesting than the preceding few because the producers have given us a “Bachie” with personality this time.

I’ll admit that it’s refreshing to meet a man who doesn’t rely on his Ken doll looks and sculpted body to attract women; a man who is actually prepared to make an effort to talk to the women and even crack the odd self-deprecating joke; a man whose vocabulary extends beyond ‘I like to go to the gym’ – even when it is quite evident that he does like the gym…praise be.

For those of you that have no intention of watching it, this year’s “Bachelor” is thirty-year-old Nick Cummins, an ex-Wallaby star – which I understand is an Australian rugby union player – also known as The Honey Badger, and for his career modeling boxer shorts. Don’t worry, I fact-checked this on your behalf.

Seemingly, from a salt-of-the-earth and genuine Aussie family that doesn’t mince its words and just wants their boy to be happy, Nick is the boy next door – although you do require a dictionary to translate his ockerisms.

To be honest, it’s hard not to like him. He appears to be comfortable in his own skin and exudes a level of confidence in the company of women that never comes close to arrogance. And I want to believe that in spite of his rumored playboy antics on the Northern Beaches, he is ready to settle down. I’m not as sure how well he’d fare as a Trivia Pursuit partner – although, who am I to judge? – but for a rugger bugger, he seems quite tuned into his female side and genuinely interested in finding his soul mate.

Of course, the success of this show relies on the recording of fly-on-the-wall bitching sessions in the house, during which the women are witch-hunted to hoist up the ratings.  And this year’s bunch of beauties don’t disappoint. As each week passes, their resemblance to an undersexed pack of rabid dogs as each of them fights for a piece of Nick’s flesh (or one of his off-the-cuff one-liners – that none of them really get), is becoming more and more uncanny.

I don’t like to knock my own gender, but there are a handful of “Princesses” in the house that are about as suited to Nick as Dutton is to immigration, and who have been carefully selected to keep the entertainment factor of the show pumping. Their role is to rouse the pack to a state of near blood-curdling cannibalism, because the camera loves nothing more than a group of fighting, bitchy women, to the point that sometimes I honestly fear for Nick’s life.

Funny really, because in The Bachelorette series, the men are always portrayed as mild-mannered besties, who would give up their lives for their best bro over the supposed object of their affection; whose main ambition in the competition (it appears) is a prolonged male bonding session at the expense of Ten.

And perhaps there’s an element of truth in that and how differently competition plays out between the genders. Women are (generally) better communicators than men and if you’re brave enough to expose yourself on the dating “Hunger Games”, you’re unlikely to be phased by a few minor confrontations about how much time you spend with your prey.

Men, on the other hand, are often blind to what’s in front of them until it slaps them in the face.  Evolution, toxic masculinity and saving the world have kept them far too busy to develop that much emotional dexterity, and for many of them, a comment such as ‘We need to talk’ can be a peril worse than canal root surgery –  obviously, I’m stereotyping here and that may just be MY husband.

So while it’s refreshing to have a bloke who doesn’t take himself too seriously, let’s not knock these girls – whatever their real reasons for going on the show. Give them their five minutes of fame. Who knows how hard they’ve had to work to look that good in a cocktail dress. After all, men are consistently patted on the back for their ambition, while we’re always accused of not being forthright enough – a no-win situation, in my view. Let’s not shame our gender’s proclivity to dissect, analyze and strategize, but rather embrace their humor and commend them for getting up there to have a go.

The Bachelor

Call me a sad, vacuous, half-wit but I’m glued to The Bachelor on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The Bachelor
Photo courtesy of Russell Jenkins at http://www.flickr.com

 

But only for research purposes – OBVIOUSLY – for my thesis on women and modern-day dating practices.

 

I was a ‘Bachelor’ virgin before this series. I’d heard about the hype, of course, but being the staunch feminist that I am, I was appalled that women existed who would subjugate themselves to such a demeaning social experiment on television, and so I denied myself.

 

Then I remembered how much I used to enjoy Big Brother, and it also became harder to ignore the tweets that continually bombarded my twitter feed whenever #TheBachelor aired, and I kind of missed not being part of something which creates so much controversy.

 

So I lost my Bachelor V plates this series.

 

And I DO know that the bachelorettes have CHOSEN to do this show and feminism is about women having choices, but the premise of the show still sits uncomfortably with me, no matter how many times Blake gratuitously takes his shirt off.

 

But in spite of my feminist conscience I still watch it.

 

It might have something to do with this season’s Bachelor, Blake Garvey, who is undisputedly both the thinking and drinking woman’s crumpet. So far he seems perfect. Not only is he tall, dark, handsome and successful, he’s super hot even by my middle-aged standards, (and far from afraid to whip out his guns at every perfect camera angle), worships his mum and family and his biological clock must be ticking loudly because he’s told us on more than one occasion that he wants babies as soon as he finds his princess.

 

And HE WANTS MY BABIES!…I mean, he wants babies.

 

So obviously, he can’t possibly be ‘real’ – but who cares? That’s what entertainment is all about – being able to suspend belief and pretend for a few hours each week that such men might possible exist in another universe. Even I ovulate when he talks about wanting to procreate, and my ovaries were well past their use-by date years ago.

 

And visually the series is a real treat after a hard day at the office and having to stare at the man you’ve been married to for over twenty years. It’s set in some of Sydney’s most beautiful properties and landmarks and if romance is your thing, the producers must have hired the ghost of Walt Disney himself to invent the romantic dates. We’ve had ice-skating in a winter wonderland, extreme sports that test even action man Blake (who seems on occasion as vulnerable as the ladies, which makes us love him even more), buckets of Champagne and oodles of tear-jerking sentimentality.

 

Did I mention how much Blake wants babies?

Sleeping baby
Sleeping baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But this is a reality show and no reality show is successful without a huge dollop of dirt, some serious sordidness and social antagonism to feed its viewers.

 

It’s those uncomfortable parts of the show we all love to hate (that make us cringe awkwardly on the sofa and force us to make polite exits to the kitchen to make excessive cups of tea) – yet secretly love. It’s several weeks into this series and the masks on Blake’s potential harem are beginning to crack – even Mr Perfect has expressed the odd perplexed look on occasion. We’re down to the final ten women now (roughly), although you don’t need a degree in psychology to pick the final line-up of lucky ladies from the start – it’s the mean girls from high school who do most of the bitchy thoughtful commentary about Blake and the other competitors, and without stereotyping, they’re the bigger personalities who no one would dare get into a cat fight with.

 

The humor is subtle in The Bachelor. It emanates from the frozen, bunny-boiler looks of the contestants, the ‘why did she wear that?’ moments and the looks of innate fear that sometimes pass over Blake’s face when his guard of perfection comes down and he inadvertently shows us some personality (or forgets that he’s on telly).

 

The programme is cleverly edited to mislead the public and to cultivate the suspense. Women who should have been ousted in week one, are ominously still there as catalysts and occasionally Blake makes a highly suspect decision at the rose ceremony, (that has obviously come directly from the director), when it comes to which women to save with his roses.

 

The obvious question is: why he is there at all and why are the bevy of beautiful women he is dating there too? If they can’t attract a partner, who the fuck can?

 

But who the fuck cares what their reasons are. This is entertainment, folks!

 

And this gorgeous man does want babies, which makes those of us with weeping ovaries ignore the rights and wrongs of the philosophy of the show.

 

I lie awake at night and worry about whether the women have considered the risk of cold sores. And even though Blake is obviously the perfect man, bigamist Blake doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong in playing the field to find his perfect woman, even though the Blake Harem cackles and plans his death, Games of Thrones style around the Champagne cauldron, as soon as the series ends.

 

I’m glad I don’t have to date anymore. It looks truly terrifying. Extreme sports aside, imagine having to wear false eyelashes, smile ALL the time and watch what you eat.