Reality Steve

Reader Emails

“Reader Emails,” Conversation Cut from ATFR, & Ratings

Photo Credit: ABC

Hi RS!

Thanks for the entertainment you provide for the Bachelor/Bachelorette. I get no entertainment/enjoyment from watching the show, but your column is great! My question is actually about The Challenge, which I know you don’t spoil, but you seem to know a lot about what happens behind the scenes. A few weeks ago after Lolo quit, she claimed that production made her quit. Not what I really care about because that is totally believable, but in the same article she claimed that CT and Big T didn’t actually win the daily challenge and that the show was rigged. Am I really that naive to believe the competitions are legitimate? I can understand producers designing certain daily challenges that play to the strengths of different cast members in hopes that a certain team will win, but do they really rig the competitions and how so? Did they just claim CT and Big T had the fastest time when they didn’t? I know there’s nothing real about reality tv, but I guess I was just hoping on a competition show like The Challenge or Survivor that the competitions themselves would be legitimate. Any insight is greatly appreciated!

Comment: Others have spoken out about that and discredited what she said. We don’t know for sure other than what others who were there said, and Lolo’s credibility has been called out by a few. She might be the most overhyped player in the history of that show.

I struggle with: I am genuinely trying to be open to change; but I do not always find myself in agreement with social media posts saying that racism is always obvious or self evident because I see people as individuals with complexity in their values and decision making. It may be that I just can’t bring myself to put that much meaning into social media. However, I am trying to ask questions in an attempt to genuinely understand why something is perceived as racist so I can learn and broaden my own perceptions. I have often looked at things and considered it an example of being a poor human rather than ascribing the catalyst of the poor behavior as a particular cause.

Here’s my genuine question in trying to understand: has the Bachelor franchise always been this way? I don’t follow social media. I only started watching during Hannah Brown’s season because I was asked by a student at my church what I thought of Luke P and Hannah’s interactions. I’ve been reading your page since that point. I went back at the time and watched Sean’s season because my social sphere also had some overlap in the DFW area with them, and I had heard good things about his season. I’ve never watched or followed BIP so I don’t know what choices have happened there.

My question then, is this, was there a shift in production and a more rote system of “the process” between Sean’s season and now, and if so, is that part of what demonstrates all types of depersonalization of cast members, including misogyny and racism? Is Sean’s season perceived as racist, too?

It seems to me that the more production tries to force people into caricatures, the less we truly see authentic people and personalities. So the secondary question, then, is – have contestants always been caricatures or did it drift that way over time/with a production management change? My perception, again perhaps colored by social connections, is that Sean’s season was both more genuine and diverse. Can the “Bachelor formula” exist and not be both racist and misogynistic?

Comment: In Sean’s season, IG just wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. Plain and simple. Social media is a HUGE part of the contestants lives now that it wasn’t back then. I do agree Sean’s was more genuine. Hell, I think any season pre-IG was more genuine. But production plays a major role in how someone is perceived. And then that “character,” takes to their IG after the show airs to either continue that character, or, try and change the perception of that character.

Hi Steve,

Long time reader, first time emailer. I’m a big fan of the franchise I can’t help but get all wrapped up in everything each season, part of the reason I love your blog and everything you do! I love reading all the behind the scenes and extras that we don’t see on the show. I also love all the new bachelor podcasts that we’ve seen pop up lately. I can’t remember which one I was listening to last week, I wanna say it was pieper or abigail on bachelor happy hour and one of them was asked who is the most likely to be influenced by production and they responded with Katie. Do you think this is part of the reason she was chosen as bachelorette, because production figured she was easily producable, similar to their reasoning when they chose Pete? Yes.

Thanks for all you do, even though we haven’t had weekly spoilers months in advance your blog has still be a high point during this god awful year.

Comment: Thanks. I was glad to get you as many details as possible this season. Paid off in the end as you had everything you needed to know.

Hi Steve:

Wanted to get your opinion on why for the first time they are casting back to back Bachelorette (one who is white and another who is BIPOC):

Do you think production is doing this to see how the ratings compare having a BIPOC as the lead versus a white person? I agree with you that production really doesn’t care about what is going on (based on their no comment of the Rachel situation) and most likely only care about ratings. They are getting hounded to have a more diverse cast and leads and at the end of the year they will have some solid evidence (ratings wise) on who did better and how having a BIPOC lead versus a white Lead affects the ratings.

Does this make sense to you or do you think there is another reason they are doing this? Would love to hear your expert opinion.

Love your podcasts and spoilers.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

Comment: I think going with an 11th place finishing white girl wasn’t a good look. To then throw Michelle in there satisfies a lot of crowds. Both are well liked, we’ve never had two Bachelorette seasons in the same calendar year, so, I think they’re just trying something new. I doubt we’ll see this every season, or maybe even ever again, but for where we’re at now, I’m fine with what they’re doing. A lot of work ahead, but yeah, it’ll be interesting.

Hey Steve,

I’m really confused about the two Bachelorettes thing. I love both Katie and Michelle so I’m super excited, however I wonder, why do two? Do you genuinely believe it’s because Michelle wasn’t available they decided to do both? I don’t like the idea of Katie being a back up while Michelle gets ready, do you think that’s what it was? Maybe they wanted to appease everyone and have both races? I mean the Bachelorette tends to have better love stories/success/deeper conversations maybe the Bachelor knew they needed that? I know a lot of questions. Maybe this was just another twist to get ratings up. Also, do you think they learned their lesson from pinning two girls against one another during Kaitlyns season, and wouldn’t do that again? If airing a season during the fall was always an option, why are they just doing it now for the first time? Bachelor usually airs in Jan and Bachelorette in May along with BIP in the summer. So what would usually fill that slot in the fall on ABC? I would like responses to each question please.

Comment: Uhhhhh, yes ma’am. Too many questions that I have zero answers to. Sorry. I don’t know every single thing you’re asking me because I don’t make decisions on this show.

Hi Steve,

I think you have a good way of explaining the goings-on for the Bachelor Franchise, which has morphed into a larger national discussion at this point. Rightly so, in my opinion.

So here is my question. A lot has been written about changing casts, changing hosts, changing the schedule and taking a hiatus in filming; But have you heard whether anyone has discussed changing the PRODUCTION STAFF? Are any of them people of color? Here is why I ask. Just conjecture, but if the entire production staff were black/POC, couldn’t that solve a lot more of the issues than just working on the host’s “education?” I’d hope that by completely overhauling the behind-the-scenes organization, the franchise could be more aware and sensitive to these perspectives and equality.

Next, hire an anti-hazing consultant. That beer chugging, raw egg scarfing “game” this season would have gotten a sorority closed.

Thanks for all you do-you seem to have a good head on your shoulders!

Comment: All we can go off is their last statement this past Friday (which I posted in yesterday’s column) where they said they are looking at BIPOC people in Executive Producer roles. Will those ever be announced? Will they actually ever happen? We don’t know. They love releasing statements and expect us to just magically think it’ll all happen. Actions speak louder than words. We just don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, and unless contestants coming off the show speak out, we never will.

hey RS,

sending this pre-finale tonight so interested to see how ATFR goes. some questions on things other than Matt’s season:

1. You get a million dollars if you correctly predict one BIP couple. Who you got? There are sooooo many people to choose from, and I really don’t care or spend any time thinking of who I think should date who. It honestly does not matter to me.

2. Saw a tiktok about how Kaitlyn and Tayshia have been carefully calling what they are doing on Katie’s season “mentoring” vs “hosting”. But we do believe they will be fully taking over Chris H responsibilities (lol if u can even call them that) of final rose/date cards/playing golf right and not just having girl talk with Katie? I mean, we just won’t know until it airs (or possibly beforehand) until it starts filming. Could they do a rose ceremony without someone standing there and counting the roses? Sure. We’ll have to see.

3. If Dale is single, should he go on BIP? I can’t decide if that helps or hurts his image. I’m sure he would want to, but what’s the smarter choice, waiting til next summer? Unsure

Comment: I don’t see him doing that if he’s single.

Hey Steve,

Just a follow up from my email last week and an extra comment. I was the one who complimented you on your writing talent- I knew you had some sort of degree that was communications/ELA related! You are talented, you have a clear gift for writing, never stop.

Also, I’m just here to say that I had no clue who Emmanuel Acho was until watching him tonight on the after show. All I can say is, WOW. He killed it and proved to me that this show does not, in fact, need Chris Harrison. Seriously, bachelor nation does not deserve that man, so the producers better be thankful he was gracious enough to take on that role. We are not worthy, Emmanuel!

Comment: The ATFR definitely showed a lot of people, even though they absolutely won’t admit it because they can’t for the life of them admit they’re wrong, that this show can be hosted by someone other than him. Hope people can process that.

Watching Rachel Kirkconnell be crucified by Matt James on After The Rose was APPALLING. This is exactly why Chris Harrison came to her defense, not to defend racism, but to defend this woman from what was to come; he took a bullet for her. There isn’t a white person in the world who knows what it’s like to be anything but white nor is there any black person in the world who knows what it’s like to be anything but black. All the “work” Matt James thinks she needs to do will never put her in his shoes. Love transcends the greatest of hardships. One does not abandon his beloved because she went to an old south party and took pictures of her with friends long before she knew him. THIS IS THE MOST PETTY CRAP I HAVE EVER WITNESSED ON TELEVISION. I will never watch the Bachelor again and I have watched every single Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise since the very beginning. This was a shameful exhibition of public shaming deserving of someone who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan for God’s sake. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and thousands upon thousands of Union soldiers shed their blood and gave their lives to free enslaved black people. There is no amount of reparation that is greater than the sacrifices made in the Civil War for this cause. Blame Rachel Kirkconnell’s ignorance of racism on the fact that the blood shed in the Civil War lies in the dust of the past with all the history books that lie untouched in libraries and classrooms. WHITE AND BLACK should open up and read the pages of history together instead of crucifying one another on national television. Perhaps instead of “After the Final Rose” the network should have aired “AFTER THE CIVIL WAR.”

No need to reply.

Comment: Good. I won’t.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your takes. I’ll spare the formalities to get to the point. I think a HUGE missing piece of the initial reactions I’m seeing to AFR is the complex trope of black people having to appease white people’s tears and to forgive. There’s a long history of an expectation of forgiveness that’s consistently been put on African Americans (a sort of model minority mentality). And many in the African American community are feeling (understandable) pressure to resist this trope. Matt was put in SUCH a tough position. He would (and did) face a TON of pressure to reconcile on the spot. On the other hand, he would face a lot of pressure as a black man to not just appease a white woman’s tears. In a sense, it was a no-win situation for him to really process all the layers of his heart, his relationship with Rachael, and the layers of his identity in America.

Comment: Yup. Ashley said it last night. He was in a lose-lose situation really. He’s allowed to break up with her for whatever reason he wants. Anyone is. No one’s saying the decision was easy. But seeing how everything played out this season, and knowing that this guy had serious commitment issues from the beginning and he was never going to propose to anyone before this thing even started, yeah, we’re allowed to question how sincere he is with any decision.



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