Shelf Love

The Bachelor (Tell Me About)

Short Description

Is it real love or fantasy TV? I hope you're here for the right reasons: to learn how The Bachelor franchise produces a fantasy of romantic love. We cover the lingo (Rose Ceremony, Fantasy Suite, Frankenbiting), the scandals, the couples, and all of the commercially-viable aesthetically romantic gestures that construct "romantic love" on The Bachelor.

Tell Me About is a series that introduces me and you to new genres and sub genres of romantic stories across media. Podcast host and Bachelor Nation Expert Jhen (The Blachelorettes, Monogamish, Stacked) joins me to discuss romantic love, what audiences expect from the love stories on The Bachelor, and how these stories make her feel.


tell me about, video available, tv show discussion

Show Notes

Is it real love or fantasy TV? I hope you're here for the right reasons: to learn how The Bachelor franchise produces a fantasy of romantic love. We cover the lingo (Rose Ceremony, Fantasy Suite, Frankenbiting), the scandals, the couples, and all of the commercially-viable aesthetically romantic gestures that construct "romantic love" on The Bachelor. 

Tell Me About is a series that introduces me and you to new genres and sub genres of romantic stories across media. Podcast host and Bachelor Nation Expert Jhen (The Blachelorettes, Monogamish, Stacked) joins me to discuss romantic love, what audiences expect from the love stories on The Bachelor, and how these stories make her feel.


Discussed: The Bachelor

This episode is available on YouTube, with video, graphic additions, etc. Watch here:

Guest: Jhen

Jhen is an expert on The Bachelor, the co-host of The Blachelorettes podcast, as well as host of Monogamish Podcast and co-host of Stacked.

Shelf Love:


Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] And so how do you feel when you watch The Bachelor? What is the emotional undercurrent that keeps you going back for more

Jhen: Me personally, I like mess. I like the mess.

Like I said, I view it as like a scripted series. So you already know there's going to be a villain, it's going to be someone who either wants too much time with the lead or someone who is lying about being there for the right reasons, quote, unquote,

Andrea Martucci: selfish and inauthentic. Okay.

Jhen: Right. So you kind of get to see the story and at the end you kind of get to feel like, oh yeah, I'm glad they picked that person, seems like they have a good connection. Or idiot y'all should have picked the other people. Don't you know that because it's not real.

Andrea Martucci: This episode is also available on YouTube. So check out Shelf Love's YouTube channel, if you'd prefer to watch this conversation.

Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast and community that critically examines the meaning and structure of romantic love stories in pop culture. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, Jhen is here to tell me about The Bachelor.

Jhen, thank you so much for joining me. This is your third time.

Third time's a charm. On Shelf Love

Jhen: All right Lil' John. Calm down. You sound just like Lil' John, a Bachelor in Paradise right now. So this is really giving me life from the very beginning.

Andrea Martucci: Let's do it already meta. Would you share a little bit about yourself? Who are you and why have you come on Shelf Love for the third time?

Jhen: Well, Andrea's holding me hostage in her basement. So she brings me out whenever she wants me on the pod. That's why I'm here for a third time. Aside from being shackled there and being forced to play with children in my spare time,

this metaphor is all uncomfortable.

Jhen: Don't worry. She's she lets me out.

It's okay. It's fine. I, we don't even live in the same state right now, but. I am Jhen, I host three podcasts because I'm an overachiever. One about non-monogamy, which I've talked about on here before called Monogamish, one called Stacked, which is kind of like Andrea's about romance novels only, not really. And then the other one

Andrea Martucci: Incomparable, Shelf Love is.,

Jhen: you know, the other one happens to be about The Bachelor franchise called Blachelorettes.

So I'm here to talk all things, Bachelor Nation. That's what it's called by the way, the whole collective.

Andrea Martucci: You are well positioned then to speak to this audience on this topic. Tell me about is a new series that introduces me and you, the listener, the watcher to new genres and sub-genres of romantic stories across media.

And my guest, the expert is going to share how the genre, whatever it is, how the genre structure explores romantic love and what audiences expect from the love stories and how these stories make them feel deep in the cockles of their heart or other places. Can you tell me about The Bachelor and Bachelor nation?

Did I get that right?

Jhen: Yeah. You did bachelor nation. So. The Bachelor is a reality dating show, which [00:03:00] started in the early 2000. Think about 2002, where it is a man who has a bevy of women to choose from. And he ultimately gets engaged to them, one of them at the end, but you know, the one true love sort of pairing, right?

You have to have these women compete for you to get to that point. And so each week women are eliminates. Eliminated. That's what it's called. It's that home via rose ceremony, where he hands out roses to the woman he wants to stay on and to continue to find love with. And there's this whole thing caught up with being here for the right reasons, which is being here for love or here for the wrong reasons which have to do with fame money, all the things that come with reality TV and those experiences. Right? So The Bachelor was first. The next year we got The Bachelorette, which is when I started watching. cause I don't even remember who that first guy was. He was a thing. The first Bachelorette was Trista Sutter. And she's still married to her husband by the way, the guy that she chose on that season, they're still together.

They have a beautiful family. It's amazing. And there've been several spin-off shows as well, Bachelor Pad, which was kind of like a Big Brother style show. But more fun and Bachelor in Paradise, which is, think exes on the beach, but like,

is it Survivor plus dating show?

Jhen: I mean, there's. In the beginning, there were definitely some dates that reminded me of Survivor.

Actually one of the most recent episodes involve a snake massage. So that feels kind of Survivor-esque to me. I don't know. It's very odd and they've other done spinoffs like Winter Games where it's kind of like competing in winter sports and winter type things. And then there was now the most recent iteration during the pandemic was Bachelor Listen to your Heart, which was a music show competition.

That had a romance element to it. Interesting. Yeah, it gets confusing, but the most important show in The Bachelor franchise is Bachelor in Paradise. It's the best one, like, forget about all the other ones.

Andrea Martucci: the first Bachelor came out how long ago?

Jhen: 2002. So it's like the very beginning of reality dating shows.

So around that time we had Joe Millionaire. And as we stayed in the early two thousands, we had Flavor of Love with Flavor Flave. Rock of love with Brett Michaels, for the love of Ray J those are just some reality. Dating was a popped up and on MTV. They were doing Next and Date My Mom and all sorts of other Room Raiders, just reality dating shows kind of blew up from that point onwards.

Andrea Martucci: And so some might question. when the premise of my show, particularly in season three, is that we're exploring, narratives of romantic love in fiction and pop culture, uh, fictional representations. This is literally called a reality show. However we of course know that reality shows are highly produced.

And [00:06:00] so I'm calling it a fiction. Because we understand that they're crafting a story that we, the consumers are going to receive, but I wonder if we could maybe even start just off the bat at addressing that. You talked about being there for the right reasons, the quote, unquote, wrong reasons. I wonder if we could engage for a moment just in how fictional these relationships are, and the audience's understanding or engagement in the idea of authentic love, real love, or just for the cameras, et cetera.

Jhen: So I think if we're looking at The Bachelor franchise from the very beginning, It was definitely more of a right reason scenario where it's people who mean dating apps.

Weren't a thing in 2002, you know what I mean? I think existed or E-harmony, I mean, I was also like 12 at the time, but I thought it was like, isn't this kind of sad to like, be online, like emailing strangers. That's weird. But I was absolutely obsessed with watching strangers come on TV and compete for the love of one. Cause issues. Right. But I think it's also just because that in-person element at the time made more sense. So people in the beginning were definitely interested in meeting someone new in a different way. And were probably a lot more invested in the love story element that could potentially come from it, because again, those early Bachelor and Bachelorette, so they weren't winning media deals, they weren't getting any of that stuff.

They were just there. And if you found love great, if not, you got to go home and cry about it. And then everyone else got to watch it on TV months later. so we have that, but as we've entered the 2010s,

Andrea Martucci: What are we in now? The twenties, the 2020s,

Jhen: 2020, we've lived through five decades by the way. It's upsetting. But yeah, eighties. nineties. Two thousands. Two thousand tens

Andrea Martucci: And today. Now that's what I call living living.

Jhen: But now once you realize that we, social media is pled a lot of opportunities for people, right? So we've seen people who've been on reality shows in general transition from one thing to another thing. And so why not use the same platform. I mean, it's reality TV, right?

So of course, you're there to find love as much as you can find love with someone that you probably maybe spend three hours with, if you're chosen at the end, um, aside from the overnight dates, which I will get to, but there is a lot of how do I say this? Nice. People are there for the clout. Right. But let's just be honest.

In 2021, I am not believing that 90% of these people decided to come on a reality TV show to have their face and embarrassment on camera, because they were desperately in love with someone they never met or saw before. They become influencers as a [00:09:00] result of being on the show. Right reasons versus wrong reasons.

It's a matter of time period, I would say.

Andrea Martucci: Gotcha. Okay. So tell me your favorite romantic story from The Bachelor franchise.

Jhen: Ooh. Okay. So I will say that most of The Bachelors and Bachelorettes and matches that come from those, most of them don't last. They have a very high breakup rate. Usually after the show, it doesn't work out, but Bachelor in Paradise has one of the track records. So most couples that actually get engaged on Bachelor Paradise stay together for long periods of time and eventually get married. So my favorite one out of that batch, I would have to say they're not together anymore, but Krystal and Chris, so Krystal was a villain on her season of The Bachelor. The Bachelor was Ari. He was very boring, and Chris was not a villain, but an unlikable character on his season of The Bachelorette.

So when they met on the beach, they had this very weird connection that were kind of like, they'd like each other, like this is odd, but they genuinely connected and like fell in love, got engaged at the end of the process, they actually got married on following season of Paradise and had people who were at Paradise come through there. As like a date sort of thing. So, I mean, like I said, they're not together anymore, so it's a success story for the time. But I think that that was a good redemption arc in a way for two characters that we were made not to like, based on how it was produced.

Andrea Martucci: Interesting. Okay. And so why do you love it? And by the way, I I've jotted down the villain. I love that people are being created as characters and character archetypes in, in the plot. So I think you're, you're reinforcing that the narrative that is being wrapped around the footage of real people, doing real things, perhaps with the influence of knowing that they're playing a part. How that narrative wrapping is creating a narrative structure that includes villains, heroes, heroines, et cetera.

And that there are similar plot points that we would also expect in a romantic narrative. So why do you love The Bachelor and how does it represent to you how the genre of, I guess, reality dating shows explore romantic love.

Jhen: I love The Bachelor because I started watching what it was Trista's season.

And I remember they did that big televised wedding when she and Ryan got married, Brian's her husband, by the way. And I remember thinking it was so beautiful. Like I loved weddings was so elegant, so romantic, and I loved the idea of people being able to find each other, despite distractions. I don't feel comfortable calling other people distractions, but that's pretty much what they are.

It's kind of like that one true love, that one true pairing coming through at the end of the process. Of course, as we've [00:12:00] continued to watch the show, it's not that anymore. Now it's just like any other scripted series to me it's just purely for entertainment. I'm not officially invested in any of these love stories.

I don't go home and lie awake at night, thinking about how beautiful it is when these people get together. Because 90% of the time they break up shortly after. I think it definitely plays into a lot of a happy for now kind of romance idea that a lot of people are having, like you hope for the one true pairing that will last forever, but you know, more than likely you're going to get a happy for now or were they even happy in the first place?

Andrea Martucci: And I'm curious because if we think about how the cast is assembled for this show, everybody is conventionally attractive. right. And I wonder if you could speak to that a little bit, but then also there's the competition aspect of this, where there is this idea that over the course of the the season that you have the protagonist, The Bachelor or Bachelorette, has to choose among these options and the, the options are competing for the attention or affection of that protagonist. But then also this sort of idea that you must be able to find somebody among this selection of people. I'm wondering if the attractiveness of the people, according to conventional hegemonic standards, how that plays a role in this idea of who one is attracted to, or is there an idea that like there's almost a level playing field because everyone is like equally attractive, so attraction is not supposed to play a part.

I kind of wonder how it's playing with our ideas around desirability in romantic partners, how that interacts with physical attractiveness and also playing into the competition.

Jhen: Oh, absolutely. I'm going to start with the first part where it comes with conventionally attractive people. And that usually means white Midwestern women or men.

Um, like for the leads, they love a former football player. They love a former athlete of any kind tall, white. Blonde. Dark hair. Doesn't matter. He has to have played football or written a bench at some point in his life. For The Bachelorettes, there is slightly more diversity because sometimes they have dark hair.

Okay. They're not like all blonde or anything, or they're occasional blonde where usually there's dark hair. But the first black bachelorette wasn't until 2016. So that's

Andrea Martucci: 14 years into the franchise.

Jhen: Yeah. And the first black bachelor was not until 2020.

Andrea Martucci: Ooh. Okay, 18 years in.

Jhen: Yep. So there is obviously always been an issue with highlighting who is considered conventionally attractive, right?

And it tends to be white people. There are not a lot of people of color. And when you look at more recent seasons, they've tried to be more diverse, but they've still given darker skinned people villain storylines, or not giving them any [00:15:00] screen time at all. And the people who are the leads, who are people of color.

So we've had one Black, well, we had technically two Black Bachelorettes, even though Taisha is biracial. But they both chose white men and the Black Bachelor also chose a white woman. So it's a very, also particular idea where even when you have women of color making it to the finals or men of color making it close to the finals, they're never going to get picked because there's always going to be this conventionally attractive white person who is going to do that for you. And so we talk about race representation on the show and how that influences the pipeline, right? Because when you had Rachel Lindsey as a Black Bachelorette, she got so much racist vitriol online. Oh, how could anyone ever love someone like that, kind of thing?

Like, and so it's feeding into this idea that dark-skinned woman or people of color are not desirable.

And so we go through the same thing and there's also like a religious element to it where we are now only having white Christian contestants or leads. And what does that look like? Does that mean that Jewish people, Muslim people, anybody else's not able to be loved.

And so it's kind of an echo chamber of what certain parts of the country. And I would say certain parts of the world experience, but put out on a mass scale. So it can be very damaging to people who do not fit these conventions. And I think that a lot of the people of color who follow the franchise, but a lot of times calling this out, we're kind of like, okay, cool.

Thank you so much for giving us a Black Bachelorette. Maybe it would help if you would give her some Black men to possibly date or, you know, on Rachel's seasons, they had a racist on her season, for the first Black Bachelorette, they had a racist man on the season and they brought Black men. But none of those Black men dated Black women.

Andrea Martucci: Wow. Like, that's not what we mean when we say diversity.

Jhen: Exactly. Like literally there's a guy, they put her on a date with, and he had never dated a Black woman in his life. They had to cut out so many portions of the date for airing, because it was so uncomfortable. She had to send him home. Because he could barely even talk to her.

Andrea Martucci: Wow. So (inarticulate) wow. Well, yeah, do they take into account at all? Is there any conversation about the preferences of The Bachelor or Bachelorette in choosing the pool of, uh, candidates, competitors, prospects.

Jhen: I mean, I think that for some people who are chosen as the leads, they may have a bit more say than others, but I know for sure.

I mean like now they're casting specifically for certain people, they kind of tend to have an idea of who they might want. So they might cast a wide net. So, for example, if you were to become The Bachelorette, yes. I know you're married and have a whole life, but if you were to do The Bachelorette and you [00:18:00] had been on a season of The Bachelor, they kind of have a group of guys who they think might suit you, whether or not it's what you actually want or it's what they believe that you want.

That's a different thing, but they have a group of guys you're like, okay, these guys might work with Andrea, but they're also gonna have a batch of guys that might work with me and with any other woman that they could potentially cast. So it's a much wider pool. And then they can choose from that. Especially with COVID now, who's available. Who can quarantine. And the thing they don't talk about on the show is that these contestants have to leave their jobs for could be days could be months, to compete on the show and they don't get paid for that.

Andrea Martucci: I think that like SNL lampooned, The Bachelor in at least one sketch that I can think of and I believe every single contestant was like, I'm an influencer. Or there was some joke about that because like you're talking about, you have to have either a very flexible career or you have to feel like this directly ties into your career ambitions and it's going to help you, whether you win or not just the exposure, or, yeah, it tends to attract people who have certain types of jobs or certain types of interests because. for many reasons, I would have no interest in doing this, not least of which I would like literally nothing about this sounds fun to me. The entire experience, imagining myself in it would make me cringe to death.

So you think about like, what is the kind of person who this sounds fun for, or sounds advantageous and who doesn't have other things going on in their life that would preclude this being a good choice.

Jhen: Yeah. And there's a funny one they just did with the guys that just came out for the new season.

They were like, okay. Uh, you can guess he's either a personal trainer or a medical sales rep. When do you think he is? That's a more recent sketch they did. And yeah, that, that's a thing. It's definitely a thing.

But that's why I think The Bachelor and Bachelorette have. A lot more issues in say a show like Bachelor in Paradise. Bachelor in Paradise has just kind of giving people that second chance to maybe find someone, not stick to one person.

So it's an equal amount at the end of guys and girls, and yes, you're giving roses to people you want to continue the relationships with, but it's kind of a more warp speed situation. So when you're on The Bachelor, you have to like fight for time with one person. So it's 30 women trying to fight for attention from one man.

And that man only has certain many hours in a day. He has to go on individual dates with people he's interested in. There are group dates. There's a lot of levels to this, but once you're doing Bachelor in Paradise, it's kind of like you get to meet a lot of different people and decide, okay, who do I want to pursue something with.

And they bring down new people all the time. So someone you comes down those steps and you're like, oh, I think I might have a better connection with that person. Let me talk to them. Let me see how that goes. And so it kind of diversifies a dating pool. And if you want to explore more, you can, if you found someone you want to stay locked in with, you can, but you're on a beach in Mexico, unlimited [00:21:00] cocktails and getting to spend like 20 hours a day with the person you're interested in.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jhen: So it's just like really drilling in in warp speed time what could potentially work and could not work.

Andrea Martucci: Right. And now what are the rules of the genre? What is considered romantic within the universe within the world created on The Bachelor? Like you mentioned overnight dates earlier.

So what is an overnight date and how does that play into the relationship building or at least the story of a relationship building?

Jhen: I'm going to take you through the process. So you go through several weeks. And then once you get down to a final four persons, you have hometown dates, where you go to their hometown and you meet their families and they plan a date for you, indicative to their area and you decide, okay, who you want to continue with.

So once you've gotten to your final three people, because of course it's an elimination process. You have to send someone home. Then you have fantasy suites. So that's what the overnights are called. So you spend all day with the person. And then at the end of it, you can decide if you want to spend the night together in a room, no cameras.

Or if you want to go back to your individual hotel rooms,

Andrea Martucci: Do they decide this together? Or do they

Jhen: they decide this together. Based on

Andrea Martucci: I'm picturing one person being like, yeah, let's do it. And the other one's like, eh,

Jhen: yeah, they decide together. If that's something they're comfortable doing. We've had people not do fantasy suites, because of religious reasons or because they get sent home.

And so that that's also possible. I mean, you're having a lot more dedicated time with those final four contestants compared to when it was like 30 people in the house. So what if the 10 minutes you spent with them before across that entire time? Now you're spending a whole day with them and you're kind of like, oh, this is not the right fit for me.

So you can send them home with that opportunity. And then once you get to the final two, you usually get, you know, they meet your family and you kind of get to see how your family interacts with these people and what they think, things like that. And then of course at the end, there must be a proposal.

And that's a new thing. I mean, it wasn't always that way in the beginning, but at the end of every season, now there's a proposal. There's been a few seasons where that hasn't happened in recent times. And people were like, ah, how could he not propose? This is ridiculous. That's the whole point, right? Just like in the end of a romance novel, there has to be a happily ever after some people believe that proposal is absolutely necessary because you've had people who've been like, oh, I don't think I'm ready to propose. You're like, why did you come on the show? You know, the engagement happens at the end. Why did you come if you don't want to propose?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

There's, I guess an understanding that the proposal is not like legally binding it's.

Jhen: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: It's, it's a metaphorical conclusion for the season.

Jhen: No, it is an natural, like you shop for rings and everything. They have a ring guy that comes in and you choose a ring and you get down on one knee and you propose to the person. And if they're together for a certain period of time after the show, like in real life, they get to keep the [00:24:00] ring.

But if they break up before they have to return it.

Andrea Martucci: Wow. There's a lot of incentives there, um, building up right. To maintain the facade. I'm sure you hear many times the name of that jeweler and, I mean, I don't know. I mean, I'm just seeing the product placement opportunities, the brand name opportunities here.

Every relationship you've talked about so far assumes heterosexuality also. So did I hear recently that there is a new season coming up with a gay man who will have only male contestants? Did I make that up?

Jhen: No, that was a that's something they considered doing. So a former Bachelor came out as gay recently.

Um, but he's a very problematic man. There is the person that he chose on his season he ended up, you know, stalking her and harassing her at a period of time. So we don't want to give that person a platform, obviously, but they're like, oh, well, since he was already The Bachelor for women, and obviously he doesn't like women, maybe we can just do a gay Bachelor and have him do that or have someone else do that.

So it's a good idea. I'm always down for a gay version of anything. Don't get me wrong, but not with him. And there has been one queer relationship on the American Bachelor, just one. Um, it was actually a Bachelor in Paradise. There was someone who had gone down recently come out as bisexual was seeing a woman before they came to the beach and they brought that woman who is not in Bachelor Nation has never been on a show before they brought her there for them to further their love story and possibly for ratings.

Don't quote me on that. We can never know.

Andrea Martucci: How could we, how could we possibly know?

Jhen: Right.

Andrea Martucci: Right.

I think you've hit on some of these points. What I'm trying to zoom in on is like this show seems to be trying to simulate what it believes is important in a romantic relationship.

So once you get to the end, the overnight fantasy suite seems to be simulating, is there sexual attraction or opportunity for intimacy, let's say. As I will always say, romantic love does not have to require a sexual intimacy, but it seems like this show is putting that in there as what it believes to be an important element.

There's does this person get along with my family? Can this person fit into my life? Like in my hometown. Are there other things that this show really, thematically recurs as sort of like, oh wow. Person did blank and that is romantic and that makes them a good romantic partner.

Jhen: When people have left the franchise, they've talked about romantic things at the person they were most interested in did for them. Like on one season, the girl was like, listen, like he would sneak me notes when we were together, so I could read them alone. So I could know he cared about me kind of thing.

Or like when I would hand him a rose at the rose ceremony, he likes to write a little note, like, and it's like, can take it and, you know, read it later. But like they do a lot of grand gestures for dates and things like that. And even the limo [00:27:00] entrances. I forgot to mention that.

So it starts with our lead standing outside the mansion and people pull up in a limo and some of them have fantastic entrances. Everyone's in their eveningwear, you know, it's a whole thing. Some people make it fun. You know, there was a guy who had a pickup. And it was like a ball pit in the back of the pickup truck.

And he popped out, you had a girl who went on to become a bachelorette who showed up with her vibrator and, said that she hoped that she wouldn't need this anymore.

Andrea Martucci: Oh boy, like, finding a romantic partner means you would have no need for this anymore. Okay. All right. Yeah. Well, at least we know where she stands on that.

Jhen: Right. You know, I mean, but she's our at sex positive Bachelorette. Um, so it was more of like a joke kind of thing. She was like quarantining at the hotel. So, you know, I guess I won't need this anymore. Once we're done with this kind of vibe,

Andrea Martucci: kind of vibe. heh.

Jhen: Okay. some people who do fun entrances like that, you have people who just give them like little gifts, like, say I'm from Jamaica. I'd probably do something corny, bring something Jamaica and, you know, pan chicken probably. You know, just something fun. It's also, yeah, it's also awkward. When you're meeting them that way, and then they have to meet like 20 other people behind you. They have to like quickly hand off the the gift of a producer. It's like, oh crap.

And then on the dates themselves, it's things like, you know, solo flying in an airplane over romantic field, romantic picnics, horseback riding on the beach or whatever it is. And then there's a travel element to it as well. Where you usually you film at the mansion for a time, and then you do like an international tour go to different countries and different states and see different things.

And so there's just, there's a lot of elements to it, I think. And so it's grand gesture romance, and performative romance, as opposed to. Not always being able to have those genuine intimate conversations and connections about what you want in a relationship.

Andrea Martucci: Right. If they're having a long walk on the beach, it's really more about the aerial shot of the grand vista of beach and what they're wearing and all of this, more so than the content of their conversation, that, and of course they would only 20 seconds of that. They wouldn't show you the whole conversation, which is, which is really, I mean, you're implying this like where the intimacy would really, really grow. Yeah.

And so how do you feel when you watch The Bachelor? What is the emotional undercurrent that keeps you going back for more

Jhen: Me personally, I like mess. I like the mess.

Like I said, I view it as like a scripted series. So you already know there's going to be a villain, usually can pick out who the villain's going to be fairly early on. It's going to be someone who either wants too much time with the lead or someone who is lying about being there for the right reasons, quote, unquote,

Andrea Martucci: selfish and inauthentic. Okay.

Jhen: Right. And so. A lot of things like that. So you kind of get to see the story and at the end you kind of get to feel like, oh yeah, I'm glad they picked that person seems like they have a [00:30:00] good connection or idiot y'all should have picked the other people. Don't you know that because it's not real.

And I think there's like a an element of fantasy to it for me personally. There are people who take this very seriously. But for me, there's that fantasy element where I can just check in for a little bit, watch this, and then check out. I don't need to be wrapped up in this as an idea of what I consider love to be and what I expect out of romantic relationships.

Like, sorry, we can't be together. If you don't like, take me on a plane and fly me over beautiful city. And then, you know, give me a rose and telling me that I'm safe for another week. Like that's not how I view love and romance.

Andrea Martucci: Right. I mean, and you're also not monogamous. So

Jhen: there there's that, that's the other thing too, like as somebody who is not monogamous and not straight it's like, okay, okay. I guess this dude is hot. I mean, usually I don't think he is, but like, okay. I guess this dude is hot, but those girls in the house. Like let's talk about what are we going to do about it.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. to dig a little deeper on that for just a moment, this idea that the fantasy part of it is, you mentioned you like the mess, you like the drama, so it's dramatique, and you kind of don't see that in conflict with your idea of "real" romantic love.

Like, you know, this has manufactured drama that that's not real love.

Jhen: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: And then the other part of that is thinking about this as a fantasy where you acknowledge that the more fantastical visual elements that make this an escape, the international travel, the dates that are really extravagant and really like things you maybe do once or twice in your life, but like not the kind of thing that you engage in regularly, unless you're dating a billionaire.

And who wants to do that?

Um, a lot of this I can imagine on TV show is aesthetic enjoyment, aesthetic pleasure. The evening gowns, it's all about kind of the pleasure for the viewer, this voyeuristic pleasure. You acknowledged that is fantasy?

You've talked about people who take this very seriously. What is your sense of viewers in terms of acknowledging that the fantastical elements is fantasy, but also still kind of buying in emotionally to the romantic relationships, you know, (timer goes off) We hit the timer,


Jhen: As much as it is a show, these are real people. These are their lives. They are playing out some elements of their personality and their lives on camera. So it is not abnormal to be invested in real people and wanting them to succeed and feeling like if someone who is this kind of person who maybe wears the same makeup as me, or, you know, has the same sort of style as me.

If that [00:33:00] person can find love. This could happen to me too. And people who are just kind of like, I like to just be reinforced in that my marriage is solid. My love is good. My relationships are good. And I love seeing other people succeed in those things. So all of those things can be true. But we still have to remember, this is still produced.

And there's this thing called frankenbiting that comes up where you'll see, you know, people saying something, but it's out of context. So you'll hear their voice over a scene. But what they were talking about was not what was happening in the scene.

Andrea Martucci: Sorry franken - ?

Jhen: Frankenbiting

Andrea Martucci: biting?

Jhen: Yeah. Like soundbites, Franken.

Andrea Martucci: Oh, gotcha. Okay.

Jhen: Yeah. So things like that happen as well. For example, there's been some recent controversy on this season of Bachelor in Paradise, where a man came down in a previous relationship and he's a white man. This is important for context. And so he zeroed in on the single dark skinned woman on the beach.

Built a connection with her told her he just wanted to go slow, that things were progressing a certain way. And then his actual girlfriend came down the steps and he dropped her like a hot potato. And so finding out that this is something he and the girlfriend concocted to come on the show for likes, for followers, for whatever reason it was.

And there's a lot of clips of him saying very negative things about her. They're clips where you see his mouth moving. So you know that he said these things.

So it could be something related to something totally different, and it makes you see him a certain way. And it also reinforces those negative stereotypes. We talked about where it's like, he doesn't believe this dark -skinned woman is desirable.

Uh, he even said to somebody, oh, like she had no prospects anyway. Like what did I keep her from?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jhen: But you don't see who he's talking to. So you don't know if it's a producer, you don't know if it's somebody else was on the beach. And so it's things like that where people make their own choices on camera.

I'm not saying they can't be encouraged, but at the end of the day, your words are your words, whether it was the context that they were used in or not is another situation.

So things like that happen. You can see this, people can take it seriously, but I think we have to always remember that as much as people are who they are and they do put out elements of their personality.

It's not all.... real.

Andrea Martucci: Yes, it's called reality TV, but it's not, I'm sure I'm the first to point that out.

Jhen, how can people find you and your work online? And you have mentioned your podcast, The Blachelorettes, of course. So tell us a little bit more about the Blachelorettes, and what you talk about on that podcast.

Jhen: So of course the Blachelorettes it's the Black Bachelorettes, you just put those together.

My pod partner, Lex, that I talk about reality dating shows. So we've talked about Dating Around, we've talked about The Bachelor franchise and we also talked about Bridgerton for a bit because we were disgusted with how the romance was on [00:36:00] one of the seasons of The Bachelor that we just watched. We're like, screw it.

We want some romance. Give us Bridgerton. It's the same thing anyway, it ends the same. So

Andrea Martucci: with a proposal,

Jhen: with a proposal, just saying like it happens. We do live recaps on social media when the episodes air, episodes for the Podcast drop on Thursdays usually after everything. And you can find us on Twitter and Instagram, mostly @Blachelorettes.

you want to find me personally, it's @haveyoumetJhen n is spelled J H E N on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads because I also read romance novels.

And my other Podcast @monogamishpod on Twitter, Instagram, and learn about polyamory and non-monogamy

Andrea Martucci:

Jhen: and Stacked.Show to learn about our views on romance novels with my pod partner. Wow. I have a lot. I'm tired now.

Andrea Martucci: I'm tired. You are busy. You are a cook in every kitchen. Um, many pots on the fire. I don't know.

Jhen: I'm making a tres leches cake and invited a lot of tress and leches. I just want a cake. That's that's how I feel. Right.

Andrea Martucci: Nice. Well, thank you for taking the time to Tell Me About The Bachelor.

Jhen: You're most welcome. I'll come back any time to dive in deeper.

Andrea Martucci: Well, this was your third time, and I know that you are still feeling very competitive about ousting some others as top podcast guests on Shelf Love. So one more in the bag.

Jhen: Listen, I'm, I'm getting there. I'm working my way up the ranks to all you.

Other people who've been on Shelf Love longer and more times than I have I'm coming for you, but like in a less menacing and, competitive way than that sounded.

Andrea Martucci: So yeah. Come on. This isn't The Bachelor.

Jhen: Exactly. Exactly.

Andrea Martucci: thanks so much for spending time with me today and don't forget to subscribe to Shelf Love on YouTube or subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app. That's Shelf Love, two words. If you enjoy this content you can support Shelf Love on Patreon. Check that out at I'd like to thank Shelf Love's $20 a month supporters: Gail, Copper Dog Books, Frederick Smith, and John Jacobson.

That's all for today. Bye.