Bachelor in Paradise

OPINION: Bachelor in Paradise isn't dramatic so much as it's problematic - and there's a clear-cut reason why

Escapism only goes so far.

By Jess Pullar
When July rolled around this year, Australia was ready for some fresh, binge-worthy escapism television.
There were only so many times we could re-watch Tiger King, binge through nine seasons of The Office or indulge in a Real Housewives marathons (zero judgement here, folks).
That's why when the first promos for Bachelor in Paradise Australia aired, we were all too keen to re-place our bums firmly on the couch and witness a new wave of drama to unfold.
So that, we certainly did. But there there was something else much more troubling bubbling away beneath the usual spats and sweeping statements that are rife on the show.
Let's make one thing clear here - the Bachelor franchise is just one of many reality TV shows that projects problematic behaviour and societal issues disguised beneath the pretence of 'petty drama'.
And each time these shows go to air, we're continuously left questioning whether to actually be worried about casual objectification and what looks like worrying mental instability paraded as entertaining content to watch.
But just because there's a screen between us and the talent, cast for a very specific purpose, doesn't mean that what's happened behind those cameras isn't very real.
In 2020, where there's already a plethora of other issues to be dealing with, we reckon it's high time to call it out.
Reality TV raises a host of problematic issues - but there's one we can't ignore anymore. (Network Ten)
Bachelor in Paradise's 2020 season was a straight-up cocktail for problematic behaviour.
Even if you haven't been watching, you'll more than likely be aware of one Ciarran Stott, whether by name or his iconic blonde, Draco Malfoy-esque locks.
This 25-year-old hasn't held back from making his opinions heard - something we'd have no problem with, if it's for the greater good of humanity.
The only issue here was that his opinions really, really weren't.
Ciarran was once one of the country's most loved reality stars after his stint on The Bachelorette. (Network Ten)
In the first few episodes, we watched the once-adored Mancunian embark on a self-inflicted sensational fall from grace as he jumped from female to female on the show.
In a nutshell, Ciarran went from a flirt-fest with Cass, then jumped into bed with Abbie, attached his face to Jessica, then dropped her like a stone for Kiki when the former Bachie star arrived later in the season.
Oh, and let's not forget this all unfolded in front of his ex-girlfriend, Renee.
Like a mature, understanding and upstanding citizen, she honestly didn't have all that much to say on the matter. Sure, her unease about his actions was periodically evident, but it never became a thing.
Now, don't get us wrong, the show is about finding love, and that's always going to involve heartbreak and to-ing and fro-ing.
But it wasn't so much the accelerated switcheroos of Ciarran that troubled us - it was what happened when the tables were turned on him that really made our our skin crawl.
Ciarran's behaviour was, to put it lightly, woeful. (Network Ten)
Enter Matt, yet another reject from Angie Kent's season of The Bachelorette who instantly set his sights on Renee.
Like any cast member of any dating show that's aired in living history, Renee obliged when she was asked on a date by Matt.
But unlike how Renee acted when she saw her ex throwing himself over a multitude of women on the show, Ciarran, frankly, lost his sh*t.
The guy literally trash talked Matt, telling anyone who'd listen that he'd broken the 'bro code' for not asking Ciarran if he could date Renee first.
The riled up Brit also rallied a bunch of his male counterparts to back him up with Timm in the lead (who consequently called Matt a "dog") for his actions.
Ciarran paraded his romance in front of Renee, but she sure as hell wasn't going to do the same as easily. (Network Ten)
And while in years gone by, this kind of behaviour would often be swept under the carpet in TV land under the pretence of being the usual ~drama~, we can't ignore the straight up sexism we just witnessed.
Seriously, it's 2020, why is the idea of a woman being a man's property even being referenced, let alone paraded on national television?
Honestly, why are we still seeing straight up sexism on Aussie TV? (Network Ten)
We understand that the show is there for the escapism and binge-worthy drama, but frankly, there is no place for this kind of behaviour, and to put it on television is not only hugely problematic, but also potentially damaging.
What's more, there were a bunch of other moments that could have aired as opposed to giving this kind of toxic masculinity air time.
Brittany Hockley, who dated Timm on the show, called it out herself this week.
"I'm a bit disappointed at the lack of showing the real relationships – there were so many beautiful moments between some of the couples but think it was really overshadowed by the boys' behaviour," she told Now To Love.
We couldn't agree more - Britt said there were plenty of sweet moments between her and Timm that never made the final cut, and where is the blossoming love story of Alisha and Glenn?
Hell, we'd even have frothed over more of Britt and Niranga's adorable (yet strictly platonic) bond.
And perhaps the worst part of all is that this kind of misogynistic content isn't anything new to the realm of reality TV - toxic male culture is all-too-common in these shows, and this lends itself to the worrying potential of viewers thinking this is the norm.
We can only hope that others are informed enough to understand, and call it out as problematic and wrong.
And perhaps one day, that might just trickle down to the narratives perpetuated on these shows.
In a year's time, we'll be looking more to the couples who actually found love as opposed to the fruitless, pathetic feather-fanning behaviour these cast members called 'bro code'.
We hope those in charge might remember that when it comes to the final cut.