Why I Won’t Watch The Bachelor or Bachelorette

4/5/2018

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Way back in 2002, a new reality television show hit the airways, promising that the world could follow one man’s journey to find “true love” through the lens of a camera. Fast forward to today, this reality series is still going strong with legions of devoted fans and no series end in sight; in fact, with the integration of social media into our daily lives, this show and its participants are only picking up steam to continue for years to come. I am speaking of course, of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Generally speaking, I have no issue with reality TV or those who choose to be a part of it; my issue with this particular show and some of its fans is simple.

Coming from the LGBTQ+ community, marriage has not always been guaranteed as a possibility in my life. While my community marched, campaigned, and worked tirelessly to earn the right to marry their partners, straight people were on TV, treating it like a trivial game meant to be won, rather than a commitment to a lifelong partnership.

What’s even more, is that I have seen numerous fans of the show claim that allowing LGBTQ+ people to get married will ruin the sanctity of the act, yet they throw their full support and time behind this silly reality series, implying that it is genuine and somehow a more appropriate way to honor the institution of marriage. Somehow, I think the dismal rate of successful, long-term relationships of the couples from the series says otherwise.

It’s not hard to see why; the Bachelor or Bachelorette spends several weeks dating multiple people at once, while totally detached from their real lives; it’s a fantasy, and not one that many people I know would enjoy in reality. Why some people think it’s ok for one person to date 20 or so people at once on television and condemn those who do it in real life confounds me; I’m not advocating for either, I just think it’s a little hypocritical to compromise your values for a television show.

Sure, I understand it’s entertaining and if that’s your cup of tea, sip away. But you cannot pretend that the fabricated, carefully-edited “love” shown on this series can in any way compare to an LGBTQ+ couple who have built a life together and want to honor that partnership by getting married. This show trivializes the institution that straight people are clamoring to stop LGBTQ+ people from destroying, but take a look at this show and you’ll see that the straight community has done a pretty great job at taking down the institution of marriage all on their own.

In recent years, there have been a few reality dating shows that had an LGBTQ+ focus, such as A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, featuring both men and women vying for one suitor’s heart, and Finding Prince Charming, which was exclusively about gay men finding that special someone. It’s great to see the representation, but is that where we as a community want to go? Towards trivializing an act that those before us worked so hard to earn?

While I don’t have the answers to those questions, I do know that these shows came to be through series like the Bachelor and Bachelorette. I don’t mind if people watch and enjoy this show, but just stop pretending that it is anything more than a reality television show meant to entertain and stop making exceptions to your beliefs to allow it into your life. You can’t condemn a legitimate partnership on one hand and then be betting on whether or not the final couple will be married for longer than six months (or whether or not they get married at all).

Personally, I don’t watch the show (I foresee several “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it” comments heading my way) but for those who continue to do so, make sure you’re giving the same respect and opportunity for marriage and love to everyone; if you can do it for a couple who barely know each other on a reality television show, it should be easy to do it for those who are truly in love.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.