Megan’s sudden departure exposes the artifice of #TheBachelorAU

“It’s a television show!” Haymitch Abernathy, The Hunger Games (2012)

“It just seems like drama for the sake of drama,” Megan, The Bachelor Australia Season 4 Episode 7.

When Channel Ten teased that one of The Bachelor‘s contestants was going to walk out last week, I assumed it would be either Keira or Alex. They’re the show’s two most reliable sources of drama, and a walkout because of intruders is definitely a source of drama. The last person I was expecting to leave was Megan, who was my pick to win the season after watching the premiere. I was 100 percent wrong in my prediction, and I couldn’t be happier. Megan’s reason for leaving the competition is that the Bachelor mansion isn’t a conducive environment to falling in love. She’s right. Australia’s Bachelor/ette franchise has been successful with people staying together so far with the exception of Blake’s after show choice to dump the winner for the woman who came third, but it’s not going to stay that way.

 

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Megan doesn’t accept Richie’s rose. Image courtesy of Network Ten.

This is my first season watching The Bachelor, and the main reason I decided to watch was after seeing UnREAL, a drama set behind the scenes of a dating show created by former Bachelor producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro. Throughout the first season (and the uneven second season), we see Everlasting producers Rachel, Quinn, Jay, Shia and Madison manipulate the contestants into crying during their interviews and picking fights amongst each other. With the introduction of Intruders on Wednesday’s episode of The Bachelor, you could see the producers’ hands at work. So could Megan, and that’s why she chose to leave.

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Richie with his remaining Bachelorettes. Not pictured: Megan. Image couresy of Network Ten.

This episode of The Bachelor was masterfully edited, and gave Megan a beautiful character arc. We saw some of Alex’s insecurity and Keira’s hotheadedness, but Megan was highlighted beautifully. While Richie was on his single date with Rachael, the other bachelorettes were told to prepare for a garden party, which was presumably the next day. Richie didn’t show up for about five hours, but that’s because the producers had organised for him to meet three new contestants, despite having been told he’d be going on a group date with six of the final 10. As the contestants we know sat around the mansion and chatted at the garden party, we saw more of Megan than we usually do. She’s usually out the door at the first sign of drama, so all the screentime she got was noticeable. Megan spent her last week on The Bachelor thinking about the way the show works, and it all led up to her decision to leave.

At the mansion, there was some disappointment because Georgia, Noni and Keira still hadn’t been asked on single dates. As one of the earlier single date recipients, Megan pointed out what a many of the viewers had noticed: she felt special when Richie gave her a rose on that date, but in retrospect it doesn’t mean that much because he gives a rose out at every single date. There was some side eye last week when the girls found out that Kiki and Richie didn’t kiss, but Richie kisses on all of his single dates, so the lack of kissing almost seems more meaningful. Sure enough, when we cut back to Richie’s date with Rachael, there’s a kiss and a rose. Later when Megan and Alex are playing bocce at the Bachelor-less garden party, Megan compares the game to the show: you’re trying to get closer to Richie, and so is everyone else. How are you supposed to know where you stand?

Then the drama is amplified when Richie arrives on a helicopter with three new contestants. Alex isn’t happy, Keira puts on her usual overconfidence, and Rachael feels a bit hurt after the great time she had on her date the previous day. Osher introduces the new contestants and then announces that it’s time for the cocktail party, which means the rose ceremony will be that night. As we all know, the rose party is when the drama happens. Alex brings out the white rose, but at this point the others don’t even mind because they knew they would definitely be using it in this situation. One or maybe two of the new contestants ask if there have been any fights in the house, and Keira comes up. Later on, Georgia brings up what Kiki said to Keira, who unsurprisingly throws a tantrum, calling Kiki a peasant. It’s all unpleasant, but it makes for good television. It’s at some point during this sequence of events that we cut away to Megan saying it seems like “drama for drama’s sake,” and that’s when she’s done. The producers specifically orchestrated a sequence of events to create this drama: the intruders, then probably telling one of them to ask about fights in the house, and suddenly we have a television show.

When Megan tells Richie that she can’t accept his rose, she’s very classy. She’s had enough, and she tells Richie why without making a big scene in front of everyone. The process of the show is unfair, and Richie said he hoped she’d be patient, which again, is unfair. He knows what it’s like to be a contestant, but he agreed to do the show again and put other people through the same thing. Maybe Richie had his heart set on Megan but he couldn’t show it too much. The entire environment of the show is artificial. Let a man lead a polygamous lifestyle for a few months (and we know Richie’s taking advantage of that with all the kissing) to promote a heteronormative picture of monogamy doesn’t really make sense. Megan’s okay with the dating part, but not the rest of it. She was my favourite, so I’m glad she got to leave on her own terms.

Other thoughts:

  • They take the photos with the remaining contestants at the end of every episode, and this week’s only emphasises how staged it all is. The galleries are available on Ten’s website.
  • The intruder who isn’t blonde (I don’t know their names yet, this post is a dedication to Megan) is studying law with a focus on human rights. Given Richie’s tendency to make out with the contestants when he gets them alone, if she ends up winning he’s basically George Clooney.
  • Richie’s penchant for blondes hasn’t gone unnoticed, so I’ve been coming up with alternate titles for this season on Twitter. The first was “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. Tonight I came up with “Another Blonde Bites the Dust,” which doesn’t really make sense because the blondes aren’t getting cut.
  • Now I propose a cover of Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” titled “A Kiss and a Rose” because Richie is giving them to every girl with whom he goes on a single date. Hopefully it will be as good as Community‘s karaoke version.
  • Someone said that Georgia (the latest brunette on the chopping block) deserved to leave after what she did at the cocktail party, but Keira had a tantrum and called Kiki a peasant. This leads me to the conclusion that everyone knows that the only reason Keira’s still on the show is because the producers want to keep her for the drama. Also she’s blonde.
  • Oh also Georgia was eliminated. Megan not accepting a rose means two people leave the show. So we began the day with 10 contestants, it went up to 13 for a few hours, and now it’s at 11. Tomorrow will be back to 10, so the producers managed to stretch this out for an extra 2 episodes. #rosemaths
  • I quite enjoyed Rachael and Richie’s date, so while I will forever be on #TeamMegan especially now that she’s left, I could get behind Rachael as a possible winner.
  • I do get that it’s fun to watch and make fun of this show, but it also makes me incredibly uncomfortable, which I’m sure is evident in the piece. I wish it wasn’t so watchable.
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