There’s never a lack of drama on “The Bachelorette.”
Even with Chad’s final exit within the first five minutes on Monday night’s episode, the guys are still confronting each other, and that should come as no surprise.
As a reality dating show, “The Bachelorette” is a competition. And in that sense, it’s not so different from another reality show, “Survivor,” said Jaclyn Einstein, LCSW, CASAC, a psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan.
“In ‘Survivor,’ you win one million dollars and bragging rights,” she said. “The prize on this show is the relationship, but bragging rights and ego definitely play a role in it. The fantasy for some contestants on this show may be winning the relationship, hopes, and dreams for the future, while for others, it might be getting public recognition, travelling, etc.”
Like in all competition shows, group dynamics play a central role in the drama of “The Bachelorette.”
People act differently in a group than when they’re on their own. And one dynamic at play in “The Bachelorette” house is group polarization, or “the tendency of a group to make decisions that are more extreme than an individual member might make on his own,” Einstein said.
It could explain the contestants’ feelings about Chad, this season’s villain. Chad was portrayed as a hostile contestant who went as far as threatening another contestant. The house even got a security guard to help ease the tension.
Almost all of the guys had agreed that Chad was bad and needed to go, so when Alex, Chad, and JoJo went on a two-on-date, the guys waited in anticipation to see who would return. Chad was eliminated and Alex was praised as a hero, or in the guys’ words, “dragon slayer.”
“In this case, the group of men might be more willing to have an extreme view against another member because they have others to back them up,” Einstein said.
But the show is obviously edited to create drama, so it’s hard to know exactly how a situation really played out.
When “villains” are formed or confrontations take place, it’s all about how the producers are presenting it to the viewers.
“When someone is pigeonholed into a role, it may affect the questions that the producers are asking this individual, which might affect how the individual answers the questions, and that affects how it’s edited,” Einstein said. “And then when that person is labelled, that will affect the questions the producers ask the other individuals about that person. Their answers can also help create this vicious cycle.”
During a video interview on “Jimmy Kimmel,” Chad said he said and did certain things “in order to get the result that I want” but didn’t mean anything by it. He also said that he didn’t know why people were hating on him until he watched how he was portrayed on the show.
“At the end of the day, it’s a show — things are amplified,” Chad said. “We try to be ourselves and we try to be who we are but at the same time, whoever you are is amplified up about a million times.”
Even with Chad gone, there’s still a lot of tension and jealousy between the contestants.
Earlier in the season, the guys bonded around a mutual dislike of Chad. It was an example of a coping strategy called “scapegoating,” Einstein said. “It is easier for the group of contestants to focus on one man as ‘the villain’ instead of the stress and anxiety of competing against each other for the same woman, along with the possibility of being rejected.
Without Chad there, that common ground no longer exists. As Wells pointed out during Monday’s episode, “There was a wonderful thing about Chad that I think we all took for granted was that we had a common enemy. Now that he’s gone, I hope that we don’t try to find a new common enemy.”
Some “mini-Chads” have already emerged. On Monday’s episode, Jordan became the target of some ire, and Derek confronted some of the guys outside, including Alex and Jordan, for their clique-like behaviour. There’s always going to be pressure on a dating show.
Rejection is a major dynamic on any dating show.
“Think about all the rejection that is possible on the show for all of the contestants,” Einstein said. “If someone isn’t picked for a group date or an individual date, or if they are picked for a group date and don’t get the rose — all those things are constant potential rejections. Even the person who ends up winning the experience has experienced rejection throughout the show.”
But ultimately, competition is a part of dating in general.
“A lot of people are swiping left and right and comparing and contrasting before even meeting someone in real life,” Einstein said. “People are competitive in real life, maybe not as overtly as the guys on the show, but people are competing for the affections of one person.”
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