Book Review: Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
Published March 2018
Let’s have a Bach Discush, shall we?
Hosted by Amy Kaufman, we’ll talk candidly about past contestants on The Bachelor, the tink-tink room, endorsement deals they land after the show, and what really went down.
Hosting regular viewing parties and using her journalism credentials to get us the inside scoop, Kaufman unabashedly watches and dissects The Bachelor. Even though she (and most of we, the viewing public) don’t buy into the love part of the love story, it’s fascinating to watch.
Have I mentioned my strange obsession with this show? I recently “came out” as a Bachelor viewer on Instagram.
OK, confession time. One of my guilty pleasures is hate-watching The Bachelor. I know, I know, I know, I know. The idea of finding your soulmate on TV while he simultaneously makes out with 20 other women is ridiculous, but still I watch. Obsessively. Maybe it's for validation. Maybe it's to see what the villain of the season will do next. Maybe it's out of shock that some of the contestants actually do seem like genuinely nice people. Whatever. Go ahead and judge me. So my #audiobook du jour is Amy Kaufman's Bachelor Nation, and it is FASCINATING! We get a look behind the scenes of the show, plus she examines the psychology and social constructs of why a show like this would be successful (yes, I just said "social construct." It's part of how I'm justifying this strange addiction to The Bachelor. It's all in the name of science.) . . The #marchmysterymadness tie-in: Spring into action to solve the mystery of why I and so many people watch this show. . . #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #bookstangramchallenge
Kaufman has become persona non grata with The Bachelor. She reveals too many secret details and infuses her writing with too much snark. What The Bachelor producers fail to realize is that the core of her obsession lies not in evil, but in fandom.
Bachelor Nation isn’t a takedown of The Bachelor. Rather, it’s a chance to revel in it.
We already know, Kaufman explains, how the sausage is made. It’s no secret that behind each of those fantasy dates is an army of cameras, crew, producers, sponsorships, and failed relationships. Although she reveals the interesting and icky details of the show, this isnâ€™t exactly comparable to pulling back the curtain to expose the Wizard of Oz.
Having said that, the details dished out here are a LOT of fun. It’s fascinating to hear about the long-running lack of diversity, interrogation tactics used in the one on one interviews, and the pressure to propose. Perhaps the most revealing detail: Clare Crawley didnâ€™t actually talk to a raccoon on Bachelor in Paradise. It’s all in editing magic. (is it weird that I’m a little sad that Clare didn’t make a BFF in the wild?)
But Kaufman digs deeper, too, examining The Bachelor’s role in feminism and modern society.
Does the show reinforce the old-fashioned notion that a woman’s worth lies in her relationship status? Does it promote the idea that to be desirable, women must be beautiful and thin, with their highest aspirations being marriage?
Questions aside, Kaufman embraces our right to love the show unabashedly. My shame-filled Instagram post above doesn’t necessarily need to be filled with shame. Love validation, hate-watching, train-wreck voyeurism, vicarious luxury; whatever the motivator is that makes us watch is okay.
And it’s a good thing, too, that so many watch the show. With ratings like these, there’s a good chance I can indulge in my Bachelor obsession for many rose-filled years.