in , , ,

Can We Talk About How Awfully Bachelor In Paradise Portrays Mental Health?

So… Bachelor in Paradise, huh? This season has only four episodes out, but it feels like it’s been 84 years since Abbie Chatfield left the Island on episode two.

The latest season has been controversial for a number of reasons, between the bullying of Abbie Chatfield, casting diversity, and more – but what I really want to dive into is the show’s relationship with mental health.

Episode three aired on Tuesday, centring around new-comer Renee Barrett and her bombshell secret that would expose her ex-boyfriend Ciarran Stott of some drama, blah blah blah. The marketing was very sensationalist and dramatic, and as a viewer I was ready for some piping hot tea.

Instead, I received a horribly chaotic episode where I watched Renee sob like she was having a trauma response, crying “I can’t” as she tried to get away from her ex and the other contestants that were pressuring her to discuss events that she didn’t want to.

A huge part of the episode follows Renee and Ciarran in their respective distress, both crying and wanting to leave.

We see people from the crew (it’s unclear whether they are producers, camera people, etc.) follow Renee and talk to her while she’s a blubbering mess, and Ciarran get frustrated with her while she sobs hysterically, and eventually she is comforted by friends.

Basically, it’s fucking horrible to watch. It was triggering to my own anxiety, because Renee seemed to be so distressed that she wasn’t speaking coherently. Girl, I’ve been there, and this shit is NOT entertainment. The fact that we are expected to consume this ~drama~ as if we didn’t witness something akin to an emotional breakdown is beyond me.

Soon after, we witness Jamie also have what looks to be an anxiety-driven breakdown, when he starts to get hysterical at the thought of his best mate Timm leaving the island. Inclusive of tears, begging and trying to physically prevent Timm from leaving.

Now look, Jamie is a controversial figure. But even I was uncomfortable with the way his very obvious distress was not only mocked – but at some point, even encouraged on screen. Mainly when producers neglected to tell him that Timm hadn’t left the island. Jamie proceeded to try and leave the island to go after Timm, and the producers let him until he had actually disappeared and needed to be found?!

Jamie was left to wander aimlessly and distressed on his own while he was laughed at by other cast members, and it ain’t right.

Twitter was a mess – despite Jamie previously receiving heavy criticism for his behaviour and portrayal on the show, even the haters were sympathising with him and showing concern for his mental health after the tears.

So this begs the question – how is this okay? How have we normalised terrorising contestants on TV for laughs? Since when did emotional distress constitute compelling drama?

We know that reality TV like Bachelor in Paradise are meant to be a bit bitchy and dramatic – that’s why we watch them right? However, I can’t help but feel that there’s a big difference between two girls competing for a date – and placing a couple, who had a messy break up, on an island together with their dirty laundry aired out for everyone to see while they both cry.

This whole season has felt like a shitshow. Bachelor in Paradise is supposed to be about hot people hooking up finding love on a beach – but now it’s devolved into petty fights and manufactured discontent that seems to cause genuine distress and trauma-like responses from contestants.

It’s not funny, and it’s not entertaining – I genuinely had to walk away because I hated watching Renee so distressed.

It makes me wonder how much of a role the producers play in creating these situations, because the editing and dramatic music definitely makes it feel like these awful interactions are either manufactured or encouraged.

Osher has since confirmed that there are mental health professionals available on set on Bachelor in Paradise – but I don’t know if that’s good enough for me. Maybe we should try eliminating some of the storylines that require the need for mental health professionals in the first place.

Between Renee and Jamie’s respective break-downs, and Abbie Chatfield’s constant discussions of the on-set bullying she experienced from other contestants as she was edited to be the season ‘villain’, it looks like we have a long way to go before these shows stop being toxic.

Image Sources: Twitter

Ita Buttrose Throwing A Tanty About Sensitive Millennials Is Peak Boomer Energy

Kanye West And Will Smith’s Tears Are Not For Your Amusement