"In recent seasons, an interesting thing started happening" on The Bachelor and Bachelorette, says Alyssa Bereznak. Chris Harrison, she says, "has kept his promises of 'historic' drama. The latest string of Bachelor(ette)s have recognized their celebrity power, leveraging it against the show’s air-tight production schedule and (reportedly comprehensive) season contracts to transform its structure. As a result, the franchise’s meticulous storytelling and sponcon opportunities have been upended by the whims of each season’s protagonist. And while there’s no denying that this shift has resulted in captivating television, it may also be what threatens the show’s very existence. Thursday night’s episode of The Bachelorette is the latest example of the show’s dissolving narrative structure. In the fourth episode of season, Clare torched the show’s nine-week selection process for a preemptive fantasy suite date with 32-year-old South Dakotan Dale Moss. After deciding he’s her 'match,' the Bachelor machine went into self-preservation mode with startling efficiency. Neil Lane FedEx-ed a ring to La Quinta, Clare and Dale got engaged, and Tayshia Adams emerged, fully sequined, from a limo to take her place. It was as disorienting as it was captivating." Colton Underwood began the "me-centric" era by wresting control of the show from producers. "Whether producers were encouraged by the ratings generated by Colton’s legendary fence jump, or future contestants learned that they could, indeed, break some unspoken rules, we do not know," says Bereznak. "But subsequent seasons became far more lead-driven." Bereznak adds: "Was Clare’s one-woman protest against the Bachelorette production schedule entertaining? Sure! Will the Clare-to-Tayshia switch go down as Bachelor Nation lore? No doubt. But all of it was likely an expensive, time-consuming logistical nightmare, one that chips away at the show’s claim that going on reality TV really helps people find true love. It might be more appropriate to call Thursday’s fiasco an allegory: If some semblance of order isn’t restored to the series, the show itself will soon be history."
TOPICS: Clare Crawley, ABC, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Colton Underwood, Dale Moss, Reality TV