Prepare for a serious eye roll. The Bachelor host Chris Harrison would like to make that argument that they have always been on the forefront of tackling social issues, and the Corinne-DeMario incident was just the tip of the iceberg.
First for some context: In an interview with Variety after this past Tuesday’s sit down with the Bachelor in Paradise cast (where they discussed what happened between Corinne and DeMario), Harrison was asked how it felt for the show to be tackling “social issues” now, implying that both the BiP incident and also Rachel Lindsay as the first black Bachelorette was new territory for the show. Harrison replied,
“We have always been at the forefront of social issues throughout the years. When we decided to do The Bachelorette, that was a big deal. I know it seems so silly and benign now, but honestly, from day one, The Bachelor has always been pushing social issues. Even Kaitlyn being slut shamed … cyber bullying … we’ve dealt with it all. Now, you’re just seeing it in a more noticeable way because it is such a big deal. But we’ve always sparked those conversations. Is it the right place or the wrong place? Who knows? Who’s to say? I think it’s part of what makes the show great. We’re trying to make a show that entertains, but it’s not lost on us, the social impact that we have.”
Ok, let’s break this down. Chris says that The Bachelorette was a groundbreaking show at the time. Maybe it was slightly exciting to have a show in which a woman dated multiple men at a time. But for the most part, the show perpetuates tired gender norms in which the man courts the woman. Not exactly what we’d call “ground-breaking.”
He also claims that they took on Kaitlyn being slut-shamed. While we do remember the horrible online bullying that went down during her season, we don’t particularly remember the show intervening in any way (correct us if we’re wrong!).
If anything the Bachelor franchised has only reinforced old heteronormative tropes in which white men try and woo white women. In 21 season of The Bachelor, only one, Juan Pablo, was not Caucasian, and that was only three years ago. And Rachel was the first woman of color to lead The Bachelorette since the show premiered 14 years ago! You want to take on social issues? Maybe you shouldn’t have waited until 2017 to talk about interracial relationships. Maybe you should even have a season that features a gay lead. Although at this point, even that would be passé.
We get that it’s Chris Harrison’s job to defend the show, but at the very least, don’t bullshit us!
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she’s not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.