The Bachelorette returns tonight with a twist that The Bachelor previously used, having the season’s star be chosen by the pool of potential dates/mates. Before Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe have men compete for their affections, they’ll compete with each other for votes. If you any issues with that twist, it’s probably because you have issues with women, according to the show’s host, Chris Harrison.
First, why is the twist problematic? For me, it’s because it makes The Bachelorette even more sexist than it already is. It opens a season that is at least vaguely centered on an empowered woman by allowing men to decide whether or not she’ll have any power. And let’s not forget how The Bachelorette always ends: allowing the men to decide if they’ll propose to the show’s star or not, thereby returning the power in a relationship to the man. And all this comes from a franchise that recently turned a widow into a villain for entertainment.
But don’t take my overreaction for it. After the twist was announced earlier this spring, Slate’s Willa Paskin wrote that “female-on-female sniping is not the appeal of The Bachelorette, in which one woman gets to turn the tables and go shopping in a living Ken doll store. And yet this new ratings ploy means that the new season of The Bachelorette will begin in the spirit of The Bachelor, with two women competing against each other for men they don’t even really want yet.”
And one of the show’s previous stars, Sean Lowe, wrote that it is “degrading” because it “transfers the power back to the men on the show specifically designed for the women.” As obvious as that seems to me, some do disagree and defend the twist.
Chris Harrison’s response to Bachelorette critics
Chris Harrison–the show’s host who you’ll may remember from when he used a cast member’s death for ratings or from when he got his feelings hurt when people made fun of the show’s track record–has responded to this kind of criticism by blaming everyone else.
Here’s what he actually said on HuffPost Live today:
“I love that everybody–not everybody, some people–are upset about it, because obviously we’ve hit a chord and we’ve hit something personal in the people that are upset. It’s probably an issue that you have with yourself or you have with women.”
Later, he said this:
“I think you’ll be very proud of how the women act tonight, so if you have an issue with it, it’s probably within you.”
In a mild but obvious spoiler, Chris Harrison revealed that halfway through the premiere, one of the women will be gone, not that he’s treating them as disposable or anything:
“You’ll forget there were ever two bachelorettes.”
Then why have two?