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Commentary Relays Edition

Bachelor drama heats up too much 

A graphic depicting a therapist and a patient speaking to each other As therapist language has bled into our everyday language, reality TV stars have taken to using it to their advantage. Graphic by Meghan Holloran | Photo Editor

“The Bachelor.” We all know and love it. But the toxicity of it is getting hard to ignore, from misuse of “therapy speak” to encouraging woman-on-woman conflict. 

I know, every reality TV show needs drama; that’s the whole point, but the men and women on screen are still people. 

“Therapy speak” is the unique and specialized language that mental health professionals often use when interacting with clients or patients. There are great reasons to use “therapy speak” when supporting your friends, but “The Bachelor” uses a lot of this language too. Many people noticed that Joey, this season’s star single guy, used a lot of the same phrases over and over again while talking to the contestants. It’s important to note that this is a common occurrence on “The Bachelor;” it’s not exclusive to season 28. 

Some of the phrases Joey used with nearly every woman were variations of “I appreciate you feeling so comfortable to open up to me,” “I appreciate you being honest about that,” “Honesty is so important to me” and “I want to feel like a safe space for you.”

These are great things to say to make someone feel comfortable talking to you about sensitive topics, but to say the same thing to every woman to make her feel “special” feels wrong. The producers should encourage the star to get to know the women vying for his heart, but if it is always the bachelor who repeats these phrases with free will, then I know I wouldn’t feel special as a contestant watching the season back. Even if I won.

To have these deep conversations where each woman opens up to the bachelor, they need to have some sort of trauma to unpack. Trauma is seen as beneficial for a contestant on “The Bachelor” because it gives them a reason to win the star’s attention.

What is that telling women (or anyone for that matter) about their worth, as well as their worthiness to find love? “The Bachelor” makes it look like having trauma is the only way to form a meaningful connection and even makes it look easy to navigate. In addition to having trauma, the women have to be healed enough to put the bachelor first and to stay on the show but not so healed so they won’t cry on camera. Finding women with a painful backstory is prioritized by the producers. 

We see this phenomenon in one way or another with each woman. Lauren lost her dad and wasn’t healed enough to continue with the show. Kelsey A. lost her mom and was healed enough to continue (and win) but not to the point where she wouldn’t cry on camera. Daisy lost her hearing, which was difficult for her, but what caused her to cry on camera was that someone dumped her because she thought it would be too difficult to deal with. She wanted someone who would love her despite that. Each woman’s trauma is important and valid, but the show prioritizes the need for a unique and tragic story to stand out. 

Another way to stand out is to cause drama. “The Bachelor” rewards woman-on-woman warfare and immaturity by giving the drama more screen time. In this season’s third episode, the drama made up over half of the screen time. One contestant, Maria, was consistently involved in the drama between the women and consequently got loads of screen time because of it. She even broke the record for most screen time before hometowns, leading by 24 minutes. 

The biggest drama of the season was between Sydney and Maria, and the drama wasn’t even about them! Medina talked to her friends in the second episode about feeling weird about her age, and Maria slapped back and belittled Medina’s concerns. This small disagreement led to an entire 2-on-1 date with Maria and Sydney, who wasn’t even involved in the first place. 

2-on-1 dates are insanely common on “The Bachelor.” This is likely because the dates cater to drama and typically cause even more. And everyone loves drama.

Each of these toxic factors — misuse of “therapy speak,” romanticizing trauma and generating drama — are ways for the bachelor and the contestants to get screen time and brownie points from viewers or the bachelor himself. Drama and screen time leads to more followers on social media and a larger group of supporters. Maria had an army of people actively defending her and posting hateful, and even racist, things about other contestants this season. It took her until “The Women Tell All” episode, when the women who have been sent home — all but two — are interviewed to confront this issue. 

“The Bachelor” needs to do a better job supporting the contestants. I understand that drama makes reality TV, but sometimes it goes too far. “The Bachelor” shouldn’t be about toxic drama and women tearing each other down. It should be about what they publicize: finding love.

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