Culture

Let’s Talk About This Hype Around Megan And Tiffany From ‘The Bachelor’

Oh boy, have we been waiting a long time for something like this.

The formula for The Bachelor is simple: 25 lovely ladies engage in vicious bloodsport for the affection of one amorphous blob/overgrown Salada. Said Salada will often have a Colgate smile, a decent job, no immediately evident criminal history, and in the case of this years’ Bachie Richie Strahan, enough empty-headed one-liners to constitute 16 straight episodes. Cool bananas!

But, earlier this year, Megan Marx — a freediving ocean lover from Geraldton and the woman of my vaguely heterosexual dreams — slightly messed with this by leaving the show early. She chose to leave despite being a favourite in the competition and later described her time on the series as “weird” expressing discomfort with all “the drama”.

In recent weeks it’s become apparent that Marx has now found real love. After a solid month of mutually affectionate Instagram posts, she has opened up about the developing nature of her new relationship with fellow Bachelor contestant, Tiffany Scanlon.

I met Tiffany in a very strange situation. Well… we were kind of dating the same guy. And it was filmed and put on TV ?. From that first cocktail party, it was like this instant calibration between souls, as if we had known each other once before. Friendship ripened into something bolder, trust in a very strange situation was formed, and now every adventure we have rivals the other- and continues to make plans for itself. Yesterday I flew this beautiful woman to The Abrolhos islands for her 30th birthday! I have to admit that I felt so so proud to be with her, my favourite person, celebrating such a momentous occasion on the water- a mutual love of ours. She is so confident in the ocean and in every adventure, as if every new experience is a winning of the lottery somehow; a chance to grow and learn and develop. To Tiffany, experience wins over the worldly acquisition of ‘things’ every time- and I think this is why she is so open-minded, so accepting of others, so fun and so at ease with letting winds blow her towards a variety of opportunities. She’s helped me to disintegrate many of the ideals I’ve had that were harmful (about relationships, about career and ‘stability’) and for that I feel set free. Thank you for always asking questions (detective Tiff), for being curious about people, ideologies and the universe; for loving people with such a wholesome love that I don’t know if I would ever be able to emulate. It inspires me. Happy Birthday Tiffany. I love you.

A photo posted by Megan Marx ? (@megan.leto.marx) on

In the past 24 hours, this information has sparked international headlines and caused huge celebration from people who have never even watched the show.

It seems a bit weird to obsess over some strangers’ relationship, sure, but also I’m totally on board with it.

THIS IS SO GOOD

I can honestly say I’ve never been more thrilled to see something that has come out of reality television. And it’s not just about the happiness between the women involved — this new relationship carries a huge symbolic weight against the show itself.

The issue with shows like The Bachelor — other than 25 women battling for the attention of one man, which sounds terribly patriarchal and gross — is that they do little to accurately emulate growing relationships. They instead serve to almost parody moments of love blossoming, by attempting to squeeze as much authenticity out of arbitrary interactions between contestants as they can. It’s all set on a backdrop of dramatic muzak and manufactured extravagance, the likes of which don’t actually exist in real life.

These shows are atmospheric fodder for people who fantasise about epic loves and visions of extravagant marriages set to the tune of Alicia Keys’ ‘I Ain’t Got You’ or essentially any track from Michael Buble’s discography. Which can be fine! I love me some ‘Home’ by the Buble, and fantasies of romance have a habit of occupying some of my quieter afternoons. However, the romantic fantasies of this show and many like it don’t include the LGBT community, of which I am a card-carrying member.

We, for some disturbing reason, still can’t even have our marriages even legally recognised in Australia. According to the mainstream, it’s perfectly acceptable to showcase and romanticise 25 fabricated affairs to millions of people across the nation, but not okay for those who have been in love for decades to finally tie the knot.

The Bachelor has seen some subversion in the past in terms of representation. Last year, The Bachelorette, flipped the old model of women-fighting-for-their-man on its head, and in doing so created an environment where men are the ones who need to put their best foot forward to escape elimination. Suddenly they’re ours to ogle. (It’s also worth a casual mention that The Bachelorette is infinitely better than The Bachelor, with Lady-Bachie almost always having an actual personality, and I frankly cannot recommend it enough.)

Still, gay people — and certainly everybody else excluded from these narratives — are left to watch this madness unfold, never quite seeing themselves depicted on-screen.

More Please!

Let’s be clear: Megan and Tiffany haven’t given their relationship a public name, just heavily insinuated with the utmost joy that their connection has certainly surpassed gal pal status. But just this series of Instagram posts has ripped open some of the cracks in the mainstream pop culture/Bachelor machine that have been visible to some of us in the audience since its beginning.

By cuddling up to her on-screen competitor, and cultivating a genuine relationship away from the cameras and hysteria, the pair have broken the fourth wall of reality TV, and given a wink to those factions of society who ogle these shows for the entertainment and absurdity that they are.

And for the gay community, this union has me fist-pumping.

A television show that relies on the traditionalist notion that women are to be with men (or more accurately, one man), being flipped off by two of its queer contestants who skip off into the sunset hand-in-hand, is a show that becomes immediately redundant. The Bachelor can no longer live under the illusion that we’re content with overly manufactured and heteronormative tripe — the televised equivalent of speed dating — to get us by.

All I need now, after The Bachelorette wraps this week, is for two of the blokes on the show to hook up and I’ll feel like a whole person again. My money is on Rhys and Aaron. Possibly involving a sordid affair with former Bachie Sam.

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Brandon Cook is a writer and photographer from Melbourne. You can find them on Twitter here.