“Queen” Victoria, Aggression, and Bullying on "The Bachelor"
This season’s villain was the “most” dramatically painful ever.
Posted Feb 26, 2021
My fascination with "The Bachelor” franchise is rarely lost on my readers as I’ve been writing about the series for well over a decade by now. Linked below are all the posts I’ve done in years past for any who are interested. While the most recent seasons have rarely been blog-worthy, it goes without saying that this season has been stirring up controversy since the beginning—which is where we will begin (a second post on the racial controversy surrounding this season will follow in the coming days).
While the franchise is often lovingly teased for its use of terms such as “the most dramatic season ever,” or “for the first time in ‘Bachelor’ history,” this season was certainly singular for the villainous women it cast. While it is not uncommon to have the standard “villain,” typically an outspoken and generally obnoxious person starting rumors, fights, and generally a pain to watch, it was unique to have a season with a clear ring leader with her crew of cronies. And of course, unsurprisingly, this individual dubbed herself a “queen.” However, unlike past “villains” who often ended up in tears themselves, or showed a level of remorse at some level over their misdeeds, this season, we witnessed someone who seemed downright pathological—unemotional, detached, gaslighting.
Even more disturbing and toxic was witnessing a culture of relational aggression and bullying emerge among a group of women that was truly cringe-worthy. Or in my case, fast-forward urgent. While many viewers put up with the obligatory screen time of completely irrelevant contestants and their “drama,” for whatever reason, producers gave excessive amounts of time to someone who seemed to viewers to be cruel and callous. Once booted from the show, her criminal record seemed to confirm what some viewers knew from the start. There was definitely something off about this contestant.
What is most troubling about this entire affair, in my view, is the promotion of aggression and bullying among women. Giving air time to discussions of the “varsity team” and “original girls” versus the new girls was not just petty and juvenile, but embarrassing for women at large. While there are certainly no delusions that "The Bachelor" franchise was ever intended as a feminist woman’s empowerment movement, there is a line, and I believe that this season, producers undeniably crossed it.
Reality television will always be compelling because, in essence, there is a shred of reality to it. When contestants get married, have babies, and come on reunion shows, there is an indication that there was in fact a level of “reality” to it all. It could not have possibly all been a farce if two individuals formed a lasting union. Young girls grow up watching the show, and yes, each season producers push the limits of proactiveness and titillation.
But highlighting verbally abusive behavior and relational aggression while celebrating it with attention is another level of questionable decision-making. Perhaps it is unsurprising I recently saw ads for a senior edition of "The Bachelor" as the reality is that many of us tune in for the sappy reasons. For love, for tears, for desire, and finding their “person.” No one is tuning in to watch the verbal WWF of women with extremely strong pathological tendencies who likely have a personality disorder. They just aren’t. Here’s to hoping for some sappy senior love in seasons to come.
Past Psychology Today Articles on "The Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" Franchise: