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'The Bachelor' is called 'nonsensical' and 'ghoulish' for ignoring female empowerment

Heather Gardner
Video Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

For the 22nd time on The Bachelor, a single man will give a rose to the girl of his dreams — after spending weeks dating multiple women at once, weeding out the competition, and breaking hearts along the way.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Fans of the dating show have been sucked into the over-the-top, dramatic world of finding love for years. They’ve also latched onto the brand’s many spinoff series, The Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor: Winter Games. But in the age of #MeToo and Time’s Up, many are wondering if The Bachelor has become outdated? (It’s interesting to note that the show premiered in 2002, two years before Facebook rolled out to college campuses — Twitter launched two years after that.)

Critics aren’t just calling out the fact that the show’s premise goes against these popular feminist movements. Many are upset that on Monday night’s episode Arie Luyendyk proposed to Becca Kufrin, changed his mind, and neglected to respect her wishes after he ended their short-lived engagement. One person on Twitter said the plot line was “sickening.”

This isn’t the first time The Bachelor has come under fire for being removed from the cultural conversation. Last year, ABC halted production for Bachelor in Paradise after cast members Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson had a sexual encounter while intoxicated, leaving consent in question. The network launched an investigation, but concluded there was no evidence of misconduct, and no charges were brought against either party. Bachelor in Paradise season 5 premiered a week behind schedule with no mention of the alleged sexual assault.

While the brand moved forward seemingly unscathed — they had record ratings for Bachelor in Paradise that year — some fans did question the show’s procedures. Has sexual assault happened before in the brand’s 16 year existence? Does alcohol or drugs blur the lines of consent between participants? Are men and women wooed into vulnerable scenarios by lights, cameras, and television fame?

The questions might never be answered given ABC’s strict nondisclosure agreements. Contestants can be sued by the network for up to $5 million if they reveal show secrets, and to some, sharing their #MeToo moments from the show just might not be a risk worth taking.

And still, interest in The Bachelor and the spin off series are high. 7.4 million people tuned into see Arie give his final rose last night, a ratings high for this season. And both men and women line up each year to audition for their shot at love on reality television.

Is it time for a Bachelor update in the #MeToo era? ABC chose not to comment, but what do you think?

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