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Reflections on an Interracial The Bachelorette Finale: A Series Ender In Tweets

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

August 3rd, 2010

Last night Ali Fedotowski, ABC’s “single gals should give up their careers to search for husbands lest they be miserable forever” cautionary tale — AKA, the star — of The Bachelorette season six, got engaged to Roberto Martinez. (By the way, no talk in the “After the Final Rose” post-script of Ali trying to win back her dream job at Facebook, which she quit to do the show.)

The series ended in the uber-predictable way we have come to expect from executive producer Mike Fleiss, including copious tears, ubiquitous bikini T&A shots, and those requisite product placements for Neil Lane diamonds and various luxury tourism destinations. Yet this finale marked two culturally significant firsts: though the series has previously always forced its stars to feign indecision and lead their runners’ up on until the very last moments, Ali became the first star allowed to send her Mr. Almost-But-Not-Quite-Right home slightly early, without putting him through a charade of a dramatic but emotionally dishonest final rose ceremony. More importantly, in doing so, she became the first of six Bachelorettes (all of whom have been white) to choose a non-white man as her potential future husband. This marks only the second interracial couple in the franchise’s history: only one of 14 (all white) Bachelor stars — season six’s Byron Velvic — chose a Latina, Mary Delgado, as his future ex-fiance. If you’re wondering why every single star of 20 seasons of ABC’s flagship relationship series has been white, it wouldn’t hurt to remember that the show is carefully crafted to reinforce advertisers’ biases, not to reflect the realities of Americans’ true desires, lifestyles, or beliefs. As I write in Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV:

“Corporate media lag behind Americans’ increasingly progressive attitudes around sex, love, and race. Just a year after Byron and Mary were lauded as a Bachelor ’success story’ on a reunion episode,* the United States elected our first Black president, Barack Obama, whose mother was white and whose father was Kenyan. Eighty-three percent of Americans approved of inter-racial dating in 2009, compared with 48 percent in 1987. Likewise, on Married by America, viewers selected a Mexican American woman named Cortez as the potential arranged bride for aw-shucks Southern boy Matt, who (like every other participant) was white. But after the couples started playing house, they were the first voted off by Fox’s ‘expert’ panel.”
(* Mary was arrested for punching him and splitting his lip in 2007; they broke up in 2009.)

If you’re the betting sort, the Vegas odds are in your favor that Ali and her network-procured “fiance” will break up shortly after the cameras stop rolling. After all, of all 20 couples created over Bachelor and Bachelorette history, 18 found tickets to Splitsville, rather than lasting love, from the franchise. But I’m not concerned with the question of whether or not they will stay together (and let’s hope they do, because, hey, even annoying people who giggle too much and think too little deserve happiness, too). Instead, I’m more interested in what this season of The Bachelorette has taught us about gender, race, romance, and more.

To that end, I’ve been livetweeting media analysis of The Bachelorette this season, as regular readers will remember. The following are last night’s tweets — feel free to weigh in below.

@jennpozner tweeted:

“Previously on #TheBachelorette, Ali left everything behind” Quit dream job 2hunt 4 TV hubby. Moral: Marriage is woman’s most impt ambition.

If Ali picks Roberto on #Bachelorette, he’ll be first non-white man chosen over 6seasons of the franchise. #RealityBitesBack

Of 14seasons of #TheBachelor and 6seasons of #TheBachelorette, each man &woman who starred has been white. #RealityBitesBack

Have Qs/comments about how reality TV represents of women, people of color, class? Send ‘em! #Bachelorette #RealityBitesBack

I write abt that in #RealityBitesBack book! MT @Mica4Life ABC doesn’t want 2risk losing ad $ b/c minority leads lose trillions

Finale time: bring on the tears. #Bachelorette ’s mom’s turn 2cry. Gender lesson: #WomenAreEmotional (Nice that she spoke lil Spanish, tho.)

Public gen supports interracial dating, #ABCNotSoMuch RT @ProfessorMichel I think they’re afraid…people’d freak out about interracial dates

#GenderRoleReinforcement: Men must always ask women’s fathers 4permission 2marry daughters. Even on so-called “empowered” #Bachelorette show

Just me, or ABC editing #Bachelorette finale 2make seem like Ali’s just going through the motions w/ Roberto…&in general? #ToughLuckBabe

RT: @JamilSmith: If Roberto is as “colored” as ABC has gotten thus far on “The Bachelorette”, we’ll have one about my shade on the show in 2034.

IF then! ALL 14 #Bachelors =white. RT @JamilSmith If Roberto=as “colored” as ABC got thus far on #Bachelorette, we’ll have 1my shade in 2034

Yep! (2b fair, all brunette white #Bachelors calld same) RT @literarychica “Roberto is the tall, dark, handsome man of her dreams”=exoticizing the Other?

Roberto’s been edited 2emphasize “hot” Latino w/much dancing, etc. RT @literarychica ABC can only have stereotypical Latino on #Bachelorette

More #GenderRoleReinforcement: Chris echos Roberto seeking Ali’s dad’s blessing 2ask #Bachelorette 2marry. #RealityBitesBack

“It’s very important that I ask 4his daughter’s hand in marriage. I can’t ask… w/out her father’s permission.” #Bachelorette suitor #Ugh

When ABC launched #Bachelorette, claimed “For the 1st time in TV history, a WOMAN has ALL the POWER!” Yet show always subverts wmn’s power.

Right? Alas, that’s counter 2 ABC’s frame. RT @StephCastagnier Good point! Agreed! 4once I’d like 2see a #Bachelorette take real control!

ABC doesn’t allow #Bachelor & #Bachelorette stars 2b honest til end of finale. RT @StephCastagnier If Ali doesn’t pick anyone I’ll b pissed!

Prob not consciously, but yes-that’s the message. RT @Teresa623 Ugh=right! That means he thinks she’s her father’s property &will become his

I explain how+why reality TV crafts narratives 2reinforce gender+race stereotypes in my book. RT @StephCastagnier Scripted reality sucks!

On all 20 #Bachelorette & #Bachelor finales: each star says “I have no idea what 2do/who 2choose”–& *poof* by end of ep, they’re “sure.”

Nope–2smart, 2ethical. To ABC, that goes on “con” list. RT @floridagirlindc @Shaw_Girl good call. @Baratunde would be a good #Bachelor

Ocean scene’s making me wish networks wld combine #Bachelorette & #SharkWeek. #BloodInTheWater! #DoUAcceptThisRoseAHHHHSHAARRKKK!

U R *def* not only 1. Several chapters of #RealityBitesBack touch on this. RT @BoldNewAdventrs Glad I’m not the only one noticing this.

Quick observation: why, WHY, does Ali insist on giggling any time emotion is expressed? #GirlsAreSilly #SoSayethBacheloretteProducers

“I love Roberto. I love him. I never ever…felt this good about a relationship.” This often means misdirection editing on #Bachelorette

Glad 2know u have critical media consumption habits. Thanks for ordering #RealityBitesBack! RT @Teresa623 Ordering book now.

.@beautyfoodie Thanks 4the RT. Though 2clarify, I said that kind of quote *often* means misdirection, tho not always. I make no predictions.

Thanks much! RT @Mica4Life I can’t wait 4the 10/26/10 release of #RealityBitesBack, a book by @jennpozner. More info: http://amzn.to/dzo4R4

Ali dumping [spoiler] b4 rose ceremony=actually “1st time in #Bachelorette #Bachelor history” producers allow star 2b honest w/runner-up!

Tokenism, typecasting, stereotyping. RT @Mica4Life Reality shows have always fascinated me, ALWAYS seems to be a racial quota thing going on

Step back from show, consider: dumping guy she’s not in love w=bttr than fake rose ceremony. RT @StephCastagnier Still doesnt feel right!

#bachlorette SHOW-not contestant pawns-deserve critique. RT @EricStoller I agree. RT @KARupert: Ali’s a moron.She gives all women a bad name

#AdBreak: “Free To Be, You & ME,” from 70s feminist kids stories, now reduced 2 Target ad ditty. #MoreCorporateCooptation

Ali: edited 2appear 2be most insecure #Bachelorette in 6-season history of series. #WillHePickMeWillHePickMeWillHePickMe?

Producers play up #Bachelorette ’s “will guy pick me back?” doubts 2reinforce same regressive ideas abt women+relationships as on #Bachelor

Oh, look — #ProductPlacementDiamond time. #TheBachelor #FairyTalesComeWithAPriceTag #RealityBitesBack

#BacheloretteGenderLessons: “I’m in love w/Roberto…there’s always that fear that he won’t love me back!” #WomenAreAlwaysInsecureWhiners

Thnx! Qs abt other shows? Ask…RT @Mica4Life I love how u r exquisitely dismantling #Bachelorette & #Bachelor. wish u could do this 4all TV

#ThisIsCoreBachelorMessage RT @hubbit Yep. Perpetuating notion that woman has no worth or identity w/out man 2make her his trophy. Appalling

Even on #Bachelorette where woman supposedly has “all the power,” women in the end wait nervously 2see if man will propose.

Jeweler Neil Lane stars in [spoiler’s] proposal to #Bachelorette. #ProductPlacementDiamondMoment #ThisFairyTaleSponsoredBy…

We now have 2 interracial couples in 20-season franchise: 1of14 white #Bachelor guys chose a Latina, 1of6 #Bachelorette woman chose a Latino

Me: Case by case. RT @StephCastagnier Do u believe in marriage? I don’t. I believe in commitment, love, being faithful w/out loosing urself

Why’d #Bachelorette producers play up Frank&Justin hurting Ali instead of her love-story ending w/[spolier]? answer next twt:

Answer: “It’s a lot of fun to watch girls crying…never underestimate the value of that.” #Bachelor producer Mike Fleiss.

‎”Do u think if u had that extra time…it would have changed anything?”–Chris Harrison, #Bachelorette host, cruel &smarmy as usual.

Memo to #Bachelorette Ali: #ForTheLoveOfGodWoman! Stop giggling every single time anyone says or does anything–it is often inappropriate.

Varies, but btwn 1 & 2 months. RT @atkinsjennifer How long from time #Bachelorette met all the guys to final rose? How long do they “date”?

Several months btwn finale shot & aired. RT @atkinsjennifer Also, how long from final #Bachelorette taping to tonight’s airing? Thx!

I’ve been annoyed by #Bachelorette ’s giggling all season. Still bttr than Trista’s baby talk, tho. RT @literarychica So I’m not the only 1!

‎”People are skeptical of this, of the love it creates, of this show”- #Bachelorette host. Why? Just cuz 18of20 couples split?

#SexismWatch: if #Bachelorette show supposedly exists 2allow women power of choice on TV, must female star wait 2see if suitor proposes?

RT @jamiic: @jennpozner Seeing final mins of #Bachelorette & cracking up @ “people are skeptical of this.” Thought of your reality love failure stats!

Not even a tiny bit! See my book: http://amzn.to/dzo4R4 RT @zgporter are u suggesting the show has anything 2 do with reality? #Bachelorette

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