It is I, TFD’s resident citizen of Bachelor Nation. I’ve had plenty of money-related thoughts watching Bachelor In Paradise this season (my first time ever watching this installment of the franchise), so naturally, I’ve decided to put them to [digital] paper. Of course, I’ve had plenty of non-money-related thoughts as well…but that would make for a much longer blog post with much more rambling.
If you’ve never watched Bachelor In Paradise or any other Bachelor shows because you’re pretty sure you wouldn’t enjoy it, don’t. There is plenty of other entertainment out there, and honestly, these shows are two hours long — sometimes even longer — and in BIP’s case, they air twice a week. That’s too much of an investment for anyone who isn’t even passively interested, as the show is certainly not without its problems, and I definitely don’t consider it essential viewing (or anything, really…we all like what we like!). But, if there’s a part of you that thinks you’d find it entertaining, it definitely makes for a fun Monday/Tuesday evening. And if you, like me, are already engrossed in the drama, this is for you — it may not be a serious show, but that doesn’t mean it can’t spark some serious conversations!
Here are five thoughts about money I’ve had while watching Bachelor In Paradise this season, in no particular order:
(Note: I have yet to view this weeks’ episodes, so these thoughts are as of the episode that aired 8/28/18.)
1. I can’t help but feel a little bit bad for the residents of the town of Sayulita, Mexico, where the filming takes place, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. There’s no doubt that such a popular show being filmed there for four seasons has had an impact on its culture, especially paired with the notion that people visit Sayulita looking for an inexpensive vacation destination. Oftentimes, when we see foreign destinations as “cheap,” it is to the detriment of people who actually live there — something this writer deftly discusses in one of my favorite pieces on TFD, about how Southeast Asia doesn’t exist simply for westerners to “find themselves.” Bachelor In Paradise also rarely shows much of Sayulita itself (I think only one or two dates so far this season have included a couple actually doing something in town). They are in Mexico, but does any of this show have anything to do with Mexico? All we see is a gaggle of mainly white, stupidly attractive people on an admittedly very beautiful beach. Of course, I haven’t been able to find any studies or articles on the actual impact of the show’s filming on the region, so this could all be speculation on my part. But I think it’s worth considering that someplace that seems like paradise to us may be entirely different for the people who actually live there.
2. I am not the biggest Krystal fan, but I have to say, Chris’ “cute” little date with her doing yoga really irked me (especially after I noticed several people pointing out the same thing on Twitter). In an attempt to get to know her better, he set up some yoga mats and asked her to teach him some moves. Now, if my boyfriend asked me to do that, I’d say it was sweet! He knows I enjoy yoga and have mentioned a few times how I think he’d potentially benefit from doing more stretching. But here’s the thing: it’s not what I do for a living. Krystal is literally a fitness instructor. If someone I had known for merely a few weeks (if that) asked me to, say, edit an email for them, not even as a favor but as a date activity, I’d be annoyed. Who wants to work (for no money!) when they are supposed to be on a date? Granted, maybe Krystal didn’t mind it, but I think this kind of move when you don’t know someone very well is inconsiderate at best.
3. On that note, am I the only one that feels like the guys’ jobs are of much more consequence on this show than the women’s? Watching this season, I know that Krystal being a fitness coach has come up in conversation multiple times (with the caveat that it’s often because of people commenting on her physique). I know that Tia is a physical therapist and Jaclyn (who went home after one episode) is studying something to do with psychology because I watched both of them on Arie’s season. But other than that, I don’t think I could tell you what any of these women do for a living. Yet we know so much about what many of the men do: Grocery Joe literally has the nickname to remind us that he owns a grocery store. Colton used to play football, so obviously that needs to be discussed. Kevin’s intro heavily featured him in his fireman getup. John’s “nerd” status as a successful programmer is often there to remind us how endearing he is (which I totally buy, to his credit). Kenny’s wrestling has been featured in several episodes of different versions of the franchise. Even Jordan’s modeling career comes up in every other conversation he has. I’m sure at least some of the women mainly have careers as Instagram models/influencers now, thanks to their large social followings after their involvement in these shows…but if Jordan’s modeling is such a big deal, why isn’t theirs? Of course, a lot of that probably has to do with Jordan’s chattiness and personality in general, but to me, this focus on the men’s careers is just yet another way the Bachelor franchise is fully a product of the patriarchy. I may find it entertaining, but I also have to remember exactly what it’s selling. Men get to be defined by their jobs, while we mainly associate the women with their romantic ties, or lack thereof. (If you’re interested in reading more about the gender dynamics of the show, I loved this piece from De Elizabeth for Allure.)
4. I can’t talk about money and Bachelor Nation without bringing up Venmo John. The ultimate sweetie! John has spoken about being half-white and half-Chinese a few times on the show, and he is one of the few non-white contestants who have made it this far into the season. He’s a super successful programmer, having built the app for Venmo, and it’s clear the show assumes he’s very well-off — in the opening credits, he’s even shown jokingly counting money. And of all the non-white contestants on this season, I certainly feel like he’s gotten the most airtime. (Jubilee, a Black contestant who has appeared on multiple iterations of the franchise, barely got a two-second explainer when she decided to leave on her own accord this season.) Of course, he’s sweet, goofy, and obviously quite attractive (a franchise prerequisite I probably don’t need to mention), so I’m glad to see him in every scene I can! But I also can’t help but feel like the main reason he’s gotten so much attention as a non-white contestant is that he is so much more impressive than most of the other guys, if we’re going by mainstream ideals of what “impressive” means. Now, I am not saying I think any attention should be taken away from John. I also know that this show is a contest, and whoever stays does depend on their interpersonal relationships with the other contestants. But on a show where the majority of the participants are people with “average” jobs and lives anyway, why can’t more of those participants be people of color? It seems like people like John have to be more successful to start with, just to get their foot in the same door. (The franchise has a long history of glorifying whiteness, which you can read more about here.)
5. Finally, of all the tired tropes in the Bachelor universe, I think we most need to retire the idea that someone could be “there for the wrong reasons.” Everyone is there for the right reason, in my opinion — even if that reason is wanting to spark a career as an Instagram influencer. While the Bachelor In Paradise contestants do get paid for appearing on the show, The Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants do not. I think the notion that someone should be expected to take that much time away from their “real” lives and not ever try to maneuver a career move out of it is silly and unfair. The franchise has essentially become an influencer factory now, with every other contestant posting Hello Fresh #sponcon on a regular basis — and who cares? For better or worse, “influencer” has become a legitimate career path. I understand why people would have a problem with influencers in general, but I think that’s just a bigger issue with capitalism (one many people much smarter than myself have written about), and one that “fixing” a show like this would never come close to solving. I think anyone participating in a Bachelor show has a better chance of getting some money out of it than actually finding love. So why shouldn’t they try?
Holly is the Executive Editor of TheFinancialDiet.com. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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