- The Bachelor -'The Bachelor' Is Not — And Never Has Been — A Safe Space
Matt James introduced Monday's new episode of The Bachelor by claiming he wanted to "provide a safe space" for its contestants, who are hired to expose their vulnerabilities on television while encased in a pressure cooker void of sleep, communication, and unplucked eyebrows. The sentiment was tied to the Twitter-baiting bullying storyline that's plagued the entire season, serving as a punctuation mark that attempted to prove the series had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to bad behavior. But, as my colleague Chelsea Duff outlined last week, when it comes to bullying, the call is truly coming inside of the house. The Bachelor has never been a safe space — nor does it want to be.
How do we know this? Well, anyone who watched the episode could pick up a few clues: If production decided Anna Redman's behavior — spreading a rumor that Brittany Galvin was an escort — was so abhorrent that she needed to be eliminated immediately, why keep hyper-bully Victoria Larson in long enough to face the rose ceremony, except to incite drama? If production decided that it was valiant to speak out against bullies, why relegate whistle-blower Katie Thurston to a group date, versus a 1:1? If production worried about its cast members, why set them up to be relentlessly tormented online? (It's hard to imagine what contestants like Anna will face, given beloved cast members like Rachel Lindsay have experienced online abuse.) And if production was so worried about how an accusation like Redmond's would harm its contestants (even though, it should be noted, sex work should not have such a stigma), why not... just not air the accusations?
Because this is The Bachelor. And such behavior is literally written in the rules. According to Amy Kaufman's Bachelor Nation: Inside The World Of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure, legal paperwork excuses the series from toxicity. Just take the following clause:
I UNDERSTAND, ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT PRODUCER MAY USE OR REVEAL PERSONAL INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE EMBARRASSING, UNFAVORABLE, SHOCKING, HUMILIATING, DISPARAGING, AND/OR DEROGATORY, MAY SUBJECT ME TO PUBLIC RIDICULE AND/OR CONDEMNATION, AND MAY PORTRAY ME IN A FALSE LIGHT.
Though we've seen contestants booted for physical abuse in Bachelor's past, when it comes to emotional abuse, it seems there's quite a tolerance policy. Which makes it sigh-inducing to see the series pat itself on the back for its long-overdue elimination of contestants with whom James has less chemistry than 8th grade English. Sure, James and The Bachelor eliminated the monsters that are Victoria and Anna, but even Mary Shelley didn't let Dr. Frankenstein get away scot-free.
But... here I am, writing an article about it. Would I be giving The Bachelor attention if not for those "embarrassing, unfavorable, shocking, humiliating, disparaging, and/or derogatory" pieces of information that make millions tune in every Monday? My complicity.... it's aliiiiiive.