by Madison Palmieri ’22 A&E Staff
Even before the current season of The Bachelor premiered on Jan. 4, fans and critics alike knew that the season would be different: the show’s lead, Matt James, is the first Black Bachelor. Once the season began, however, viewers quickly realized that Matt would not be the only cast member to make this season unique.
James’s history-making run as the Bachelor is being overshadowed by the rampant bullying that is occurring between his suitors. While The Bachelor franchise—and reality television in general—is no stranger to fights and feuds, the appalling behavior of many of this season’s contestants has sparked an outcry among fans.
Signs of the trouble that was to come appeared on night one, when contestant Victoria Larson, who refers to herself as “Queen Victoria,” made her dislike for the other girls known.
However, it was not until two episodes later, when contestant Sarah Trott interrupted a group date to speak with James about her concerns regarding their relationship, that more suitors exhibited unkind behavior. Even though Trott apologized to the contestants on the date immediately after interrupting their time, the majority of the women, including Larson, did not accept her apology.
Their rudeness caused Trott to remain in her room for quite some time, while the other women complained about her. One contestant, Kit Keenan, assured a couple of her fellow contestants that if Trott remained in the house, she was going to make her living situation difficult.
Some of the women, however, refused to stand for the unkindness. Katie Thurston attempted to comfort Trott, who ultimately self-eliminated from the competition. After Trott left, Thurston reminded the other girls to be cognizant of how their actions could be perceived as bullying.
Unfortunately, her advice fell flat. When new contestants joined the show, those already present continued their campaign of unkindness, with Larson stealing a new arrival’s crown, Anna Redman spreading damaging rumors about another newcomer’s reputation, and MJ Snyder going full-on high-school mean girl when she declared that she liked the group dynamic much better when only the “OGs” were in the house.
Although James ultimately sent Redman home due to her behavior and eliminated Larson during a rose ceremony, previews suggest that Snyder may emerge as a major antagonist, leading fans to criticize the show for giving bullies a platform.
Maria Gentile ’22 acknowledged that “half the point of the show is drama,” but emphasized how it is “frustrating, upsetting, and getting to the point where it’s not entertaining since it is just straight-up mean.”
Kara Berlin-Gallo ’21 remarked how she feels that “the show is glamorizing bullying by having it take up so much time. Seeing this behavior could trigger victims of bullying who are watching the show. The producers should be ashamed of themselves.”
Some contestants, such as Larson and Keenan, have attempted to make amends for their actions via social media, posting apologies to their Instagram stories. The Bachelor franchise, however, has yet to officially acknowledge the behavior it has enabled, leaving viewers to ponder the showrunners’ responsibility to their audiences as well as to the victims of this mistreatment. Although host Chris Harrison promises that each season of the show is “the most dramatic season ever,” this installment may unfortunately prove to be just that.