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The Bachelor’s Alexis was a shark, not a dolphin, but that is not the real question

The Bachelor’s Alexis was a shark, not a dolphin, but that is not the real question
Aspiring dolphin trainer Alexis gets a rose from Nick Viall while wearing a shark costume. (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC)

The Bachelor made history last night when Nick Viall gave Rachel Lindsay a first impression rose—the first time in the show’s sad history that a black woman has received that acknowledgement from The Bachelor.

Yet there is far too much conversation today about something else: 23-year-old “aspiring dolphin trainer” Alexis, who showed up wearing a shark costume. While she was absolutely wearing a shark costume, some media outlets are treating this ridiculous thing as a debatable point, when it seems pretty obvious that this was just another example of the show’s misogyny, as it turned her passion into a joke.

Entertainment Weekly, for example, deemed this worthy of a poll, as if we can decide facts based on what people voting in online polls think. Even if it’s in good fun, it’s like writing a post and creating a poll to ask readers whether the sun rotates around the earth or the earth rotates around the sun.

But there is no question: It was a shark costume. It’s a shark costume you can buy right now and have delivered to your door.

In response to a BuzzFeed post, shark researcher David Shiffman explained, “It has gills. Dolphins don’t have gills. Why are we having a ‘community poll’ about this?”

Did Alexis really think she was in a dolphin costume?

There is reason for the confusion: Alexis kept insisting that she was dressed up like a dolphin. “It is a fucking dolphin,” she said when asked by another woman. Later, in a stand-up interview, she said, “It’s a dolphin. Dolphin.” She did not seem entirely sober in either segment.

Nick told her “you know this is a shark, right?” and Alexis insisted, “No, it’s a dolphin”—or at least the edited version of her did.

That Alexis wants to be a dolphin trainer but is too stupid to know the difference is the narrative that the show pushed, and even smart people uncritically bought it, blaming Alexis.

But it’s no surprise that the limo productions are heavily produced theatre, with producers orchestrating the women’s first impressions. The real question, then, is not what her costume was, but why she was wearing it in the first place.

Was this costume her choice? Does she legitimately not understand the difference? Did the producers force her to wear this just to create another dumb woman character for the show and Bachelor Nation to mock during the season premiere of The Bachelor? Was she just joking and playing along—she laughed every time she insisted it was a dolphin costume—but the editing cut around that to make her look stupid?

Host Chris Harrison, never one to pass up an opportunity to humiliate a woman, said in an EW interview back in December that he knew the difference but she didn’t: “She just didn’t know that it was a shark costume. She thought it was a dolphin costume and I had to explain to her how the fins are clearly different and a dolphin fin is curved and a shark fin is straight. I said, ‘You have a shark costume on,’ and she was like, ‘No but I love dolphins.'”

But during the premiere, Alexis acted as if wearing this was not her choice: “Can I please get out of this fucking thing?” she asked, looking off-camera, when she and Nick were finished with their one-on-one conversation. Nick joked that she had to wear it or else he’d send her home.

She didn’t take off the costume, and she did make it through. And The Bachelor successfully made another woman look like an idiot in front of millions of people, and the entertainment media played along.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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