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.
Renee is reliving past trauma. She is legit having a panic attack and Keiran is only concerned with saving face and now getting aggressive and dismissive? Fuck that! #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Sarah Goussé (@SarahGousse) July 21, 2020
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.
Love how the producers are comforting Renee like they didn’t know this is the exact shit that was gonna happen lol #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Zeta Morgan (@_zetamorgan) July 21, 2020
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.
This is actually really uncomfortable and I feel like this should not be aired. Clearly Jamie is going through something. #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Kate (@KikkiTee) July 22, 2020
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?!
So the producers let him cry & walk all that way & leisurely tell him Timm is still there,plus film the cast making fun of Jamie. Nice mental health care. #bachelorinparadiseau
— j☺️ (@jojoeyjo9) July 22, 2020
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.
Ok, pull the pin. No more making fun of Jamie, that guy has some serious separation anxiety problems. Poor bastard.#BachelorInParadiseAU
— Nicholas Noël ?? (@nickrnoel) July 22, 2020
If anyone’s making fun of Jamie right now, I’d say maybe don’t. None of this is really OK, is it? #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Tahlia Pritchard (@Tahls) July 22, 2020
Because laughing at someone’s mental health issues is so funny ?. The cast and producers of #BachelorInParadiseAU should be disgusted in themselves for how they just handled the situation with Jamie.
— Stacey (@heartofgold81) July 22, 2020
Jamie crying is not funny it’s more just sad that he has such bad social separation disorder issues and everyone laughing at him is kinda toxic #BachelorinParadiseAU
— drazmemes (@drazmemes) July 22, 2020
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.
I know Ciarran is a bit of a shit head but last nights ep was actually disgusting to watch , him and Renee didn’t deserve to have everyone in their business and to have what’s clearly a traumatic convo forced to play on screen #BachelorInParadiseAu
— Amy xx (@Amz_Dancer) July 21, 2020
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.
Not for the first time I ask myself if the producers of this show are deliberately casting people who would be better off in intensive therapy than on television. Mental health issues aren’t entertainment. #BachelorInParadiseAU
— Jill Stark (@jillastark) July 22, 2020
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