With Female Empowerment at an All Time High, Have We Outgrown ‘The Bachelor’?

Network Ten

By now it’s common knowledge that Jimmy Nicholson‘s season of The Bachelor is getting the lowest ratings of any season to date.

Last year, Locky Gilbert’s season opened 681,000 views, which at the time, deemed pretty dire. In 2019, Matt Agnew‘s season — where we met the iconic Abbie Chatfield — opened in 828,000 metro viewers.

Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins, our most disastrous bachelor to date, received the best ratings (of course he did), opening to 940,000 metro viewers back in 2018.

These numbers show that within the last three years, the show’s ratings have steadily gone down. But, why? Well simply put it’s not Jimmy, it’s us.

A lot has happened in the last few years. In late 2017, the #MeToo movement gained incredible momentum with the exposure of Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator, thanks to the relentless work of journalist Ronan Farrow.

Farrow’s piece, titled From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories, was published in the New Yorker in October of 2017, sharing the stories of 13 women who had experienced sexual assault from Weinstein. It also delved into the systematic misogyny that allowed Weinstein to get away with this behaviour for decades, and laid out the reality of what it means to be a white male in power.

Since this piece went live, nothing has been the same. It was an audible moment in history when women around the world began to realise that silence isn’t their only option.

This change has been noticeable in large-scale ways, as well as in smaller, everyday ways, both of which have made a huge difference in how we consume media, engage in relationships and communicate with the world.

Overall, women have become more honest. We were always honest, but we’re being loud now, too. And when I say honest, I don’t just mean with the world and other people, but honest with ourselves, too.

Our society is built on structures that we’ve outgrown, such as monogamy, heterosexuality and cis-gender norms. Through an increased transparency and connectivity with each other, we’ve been able to hear other people’s stories and truths, which has made our reality more colourful, more free and more powerful.

Women are the most powerful they’ve ever been and we’re feeling it. Our work is not only being recognised, but also encouraged. The gender pay gap while still an issue, has slightly decreased. Our stories are empowering, inspiring others and becoming symbols of change. There are female board directors, film producers, athletes, CEOs and business owners.

To think that women weren’t even allowed to vote until the 20th century shows how far we’ve come. We’re slowly coming into our power. We’re finding our voices and we’re using them far more than we ever have before.

With that being said, shows like The Bachelor — a reality TV show where 20-odd women date the same man and compete for his affections — seems a little past its time. And it’s starting to show.

This season of The Bachelor Australia is the least dramatic we’ve ever seen. This is because most of the girls, who are usually the source of drama, don’t seem to think the show is worth losing their marbles over. TBH, it’s about time.

Now I know that the reason we even watch reality TV is to see people lose their sh*t a bit. You can’t say that watching petty drama isn’t entertaining! But what has changed is women realising that they’ll be fine even if they don’t get the guy.

The Bachelor originally kicked off in the US in 2002, where it’s has been a hit year after year. They’re currently up to their 25th season. Back when the show was created, it made more sense. Reality TV was new and dating shows were super popular, because everyone wanted a nice house, a beautiful wedding and lots of kids.

Back then, there was no diversity of gender, race, sexuality or identity being shown in the mainstream media. The men wanted wives and women were taught to measure their success and happiness on whether or not they had a husband and kids. It was a different world.

Nowadays, women are independent forces to be reckoned with. It’s become empowering to be single and successful on your own, being financially independent and happily choosing to do life as an individual is celebrated, not looked down upon.

With this new perspective, The Bachelor doesn’t have the same value as it used to. The prize for the winner is a fiance, but if the women don’t feel like they desperately need one, then there’s no fight. And without the fight, there’s way less drama.

Look, I can’t lie. I still enjoy parts of the Bachelor franchise. Prior to the Australian version being axed, Bachelor in Paradise was always a juicy time and I’m definitely looking forward to Brooke Blurton’s season of The Bachelorette, because it’s moving with the times.

Bachelor in Paradise is all about being open-minded, exploring relationships with multiple people and ultimately finding true love. You have to be pretty sex positive to be on that show, otherwise you won’t survive. And to be honest, I wish it would make a comeback.

The Bachelorette flips The Bachelor on its head, with a female at the forefront and the men are the ones competing for her love. But this year, the Australia Bachelorette is Brooke Blurton, who will be the franchise’s first pansexual and Indigenous lead.

For reality TV shows to stay relevant, they need to be reflecting the real world, which as it is right now, is a beautifully diverse mix of people who are all into different people and types of relationships.

The Bachelor has the potential to remain relevant for years to come by opening up the diversity and exploring different types of love stories. Then we’d be in for a good goddamn show.

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