I’ve been a
reluctant member of Bachelor Nation for close to seven years now. And while I have almost always wanted to be friends with the franchise’s female leads, Katie is the first Bachelorette that I could actually see myself getting a drink with. For the first time in recent Bachelorette history, I am not intimidated by its leading lady. And since I am an average-looking, single female in her 30s who sees almost all other single women as a threat to my chances of ever landing a boyfriend, that’s f*cking saying something.
It’s not that Katie isn’t absolutely gorgeous, because she is. And it’s not just that she’s, as they keep saying over and over again, “sex positive”—or because she uses a vibrator, because literally every woman does (if you think we are having better orgasms with men than with our toys, you are delusional). It’s that she—and I absolutely mean this in the best way possible—just doesn’t seem like one of those cool girls. Katie Thurston is not the Regina George of the Bachelor franchise (she would probably find the whole concept of The Plastics to be sexist and limiting), and I am absolutely here for it. And while some viewers may have jumped off the Katie train when she got into it with some of her castmates on ATFR last season, her not being friends with the Kits, Chelseas, and Abigails of Matt’s season (who all star in each other’s Instagram stories in NYC now) only made me love her more. Because, same girl, the cool girls wouldn’t like me that much either.
For years, I’ve watched this “reality” show in the same way I watch Grey’s Anatomy or, more recently, Bridgerton: to see gorgeous, unattainable, unrealistic characters and storylines play out on my TV. The line between celebrity and Bachelor contestant is so blurred that I’d have the same reaction to running into Rachel Lindsay on the street as I would Regé-Jean Page. Okay, well maybe not the exact same…but you get it. And as that line blurred, the pressure on franchise contestants, especially leads, grew. They felt the need to be polished, to give off an “aspirational” vibe that women would see and think, “damn I want to be like her.” But we don’t see that as much with Katie; instead, we see her and think, “damn, I am like her.” And wasn’t that the point of reality TV to begin with?
So, clearly I was primed to love Katie as the Bachelorette from the moment her first season promo came out with her looking truly uncomfortable in a bright purple zip-up skirt. Like, yes please, I would also try to wear that piece of “fashion” and not know how to hold a rose. And the fact that Chris Harrison was going to be nowhere near our television screens had me all the more excited. Katie, quite simply, did not disappoint. She swooned over every attractive man like she was watching a Marvel movie in the comfort of her own home, prepping her vibrator for a post-viewing masturbation sesh starring Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk (yes, I said what I said). She struggled to walk in her heels, couldn’t pretend to not be creeped out by the skin salesman, and had multiple uncomfortably open-mouthed makeout sessions in true awkward “what do I do with my tongue?” fashion. She also fangirled over Kaitlyn and Tayshia because let’s admit it—they are the cool girls, and what not-cool girl doesn’t still secretly (or not so secretly) want the cool girls to like her?
We also learned a bit more about Katie’s background during the premiere: that her parents got divorced when she was young, she grew up poor, and isn’t sure if she wants children. What a trifecta of relatability, amiright? The show still only represents the top 1% of attractive people, but hats off to ABC for opening up the leading role to someone from a lower tax bracket! And finally, some representation for the women of the world that don’t see their bodies solely as vehicles for the creation of other bodies! Finally, some normalization that first can come love, then comes marriage (if you want, also cool if you don’t), then comes a long happy life of travel, leisure, and never having to worry about passing on generational trauma!
I know we are talking about a franchise that is rooted in patriarchal norms, has a large conservative fan base, and is still SUPER problematic, but boy does this awkward girl finally see a bit of herself in the Bachelorette. And not only is that refreshing, but it’s also going to be a hell of a lot of fun to watch an outspoken, kinda weird, not conventionally Instagram model-y woman fumble her way around a cocktail party and into the fantasy suites.
Image: ABC/Craig Sjodin