When, oh when will I learn that scrolling through Instagram is only going to f*ck up my life? Apparently never. Last night, I was looking at my memes at like 10:30pm, as one does, when I came across one that seriously (and I mean seriously, not in the hyperbolic way I often mean it), upset me to my core.
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Thanks for ruining my life, Brett!
Yep, apparently should-be Bachelor, Mike Johnson, and Demi Lovato are flirting. Because it wasn’t enough that Tyler C. started dating Gigi Hadid milliseconds after getting a drink with Hannah Brown, now we had to go lose another Bachelorette guy to an infinitely hotter female celebrity that none of us will ever come close to being. And as happy as I am for these ladies (especially Demi, more than anyone, she deserves a win), I also can’t help but feel bitter as all hell for the rest of us in Bachelor Nation.
Over the past few seasons, my problem with The Bachelorette in particular, even compared to The Bachelor, has become increasingly hard to ignore. The whole premise of the show hinges on this: we are meant to believe that conventionally attractive, tall (I’ve met many of these guys—even the ones you would not expect are, in fact, tall), decent men with jobs just can’t find a woman to settle down with no matter how hard they try. They haven’t met the right woman yet! It just hasn’t happened for them! Yeah, right. Compound it with the fact that most of these guys are barely even 30, and it’s just impossible to suspend your disbelief quite that far. Like, hi, in the real world? If you’re a hot guy who isn’t a complete monster and you want to find a girlfriend? Step outside. Announce yourself. The women will find you. On the other hand, if I had a dollar for every smart, gorgeous, funny woman I know who can’t find a guy to commit, I’d have enough money to pay for at least a few therapy sessions, because clearly this all is dredging up some unresolved issues.
We’ve known for years that celebrities have watched The Bachelor. But seeing them shoot their shot and succeeding is a whole other level. It feels weird, doesn’t it? Like an invisible fourth wall is being broken. A crossover episode from two different shows on different networks with vastly different popularities. (Okay, so maybe that one’s a bit literal.) It makes sense, considering famous people are people, and people watch The Bachelor. But it’s only the men who are making this leap. Wells starts seeing Sarah Hyland, and a few years later they’re literally relationship goals. Tyler Cameron dates Gigi Hadid and goes to her grandmother’s funeral mere weeks after sliding into the DMs. Nick Viall goes through four Bachelor franchise shows, only to break up with his final pick and then date January Jones. Mike Johnson gets put up for Bachelor talks, but ends up flirting with Demi Lovato when (spoiler alert) he gets passed over. (Sorry guys, but multiple outlets are reporting that it’s going to be Peter.) Meanwhile, Lauren B gets Chris Lane, whose 668k Instagram followers are nothing to scoff at, but he’s not exactly a household name. So now it’s real: you can get a shot at A-list fame, at least by association, but so far it’s only possible for the men.
On the one hand, who can blame these guys? Why would you settle for some Alabama beauty queen or a 22-year-old influencer when you can have a literal supermodel? Who in their right mind would set their sights on a Paradise stint when you could have red carpet appearances and trips to the Grammys? Look, obviously anyone, guy or girl, going on a reality show wants fame to some degree—but now the degree to which they want fame is out there in the open, and even crazier, it’s not even out of reach for them.
It’s not just on these guys, or the brave celebs who shoot their shot on Instagram. The female contestants on The Bachelor have their own credibility problems, namely, that they’re angling to become influencers. But here’s the thing: being an aspiring influencer does not preclude you from also wanting to find love. You can do both genuinely. You can’t exactly genuinely fall in love with the lead while biding your time until you can have your people connect with your all-time celebrity crush. And when you think about it, which is the bigger taste of fame: selling some detox teas on Instagram and getting invited to Stagecoach, or being taken as a guest to the VMAs after-party? In short, who actually has more to gain?
Part of the fun in watching is that these guys are supposed to be attainable, if not slightly aspirational for us regular folk. They seem to have the qualities many of us want. “Peter’s so cute!” “I love Mike, he’s so sweet and has the best smile!” “I die at how sensitive Derek is!” These are sentiments I see on Twitter, in Bachelor Facebook groups I’m in, and in my group chats with friends. The Bachelorette claims to present us with the homegrown, down-to-earth, good guy who means well and just genuinely wants a wife (or so we see in those awfully long intro videos). And when even he trades up? Whatever was left of this tenuous fantasy of men really going on The Bachelorette in hopes of finding love with the lead is shattered. As these seasons continue, if they continue, we’re going to have to do Olympic levels of mental gymnastics to believe any one of those guys really gives a sh*t about the Bachelorette and isn’t just angling for his next career move or a chance at dating Selena Gomez or whoever. It’s already been happening with the rise of influencers, and now it’s going to be even harder to buy what Mike Fleiss and co. are selling us. So the question will be: Will they change up the product or continue to peddle the same bullsh*t?
Images: Brett Vergara / Instagram