TV

There’s No Reason We Can’t Have A Queer Bachelor Or Bachelorette In 2020

If the franchise can introduce sisters as Bachelorettes, surely we can have a gay or two as a treat.

The Bachelor The Bachelorette gay osher

For the last few years, I (and others) have had an annual argument on Twitter with Osher Günsberg, host of The Bachelor Australia universe. It begins when, during the airing of any season of the show, Osher is inevitably asked by someone when we will be getting a queer version of The Bachelor or Bachelorette.

There’s a few reasons that Osher always gives as to why it hasn’t happened yet, or might not happen. Some of these make more sense than others.

As someone who has written for TV, I know that getting a TV show made in this country is extremely difficult (but also please give me a TV show). This isn’t Osher’s personal decision, it is based on networks and executives and boardrooms and money and advertising and a whole bunch of other stuff. Because of this, Osher believes that for a queer dating show to work in Australia, it has to be already proven to work overseas.

When people bring up shows like the queer season of If You Are the One, the explanation is that that isn’t the same because it appeared on MTV, which is a cable channel, not a major network. Aussie networks need a proven example, which seems to mean a massive broad hit that appears at primetime on one of five channels in a country that has an exact replica of Australian TV.

It is true that networks are risk-averse, and a queer show would definitely be a risk.

However, I also think that The Bachelor as a product is established enough that if it was part of The Bachelor universe, it would have a very solid start and in-built audience. The show’s franchise has already evolved into giving us The Bachelorette and now Bachelor in Paradise, and both of those have been successful.

Besides that, the next season of The Bachelorette is going to revolve around two Bachelorettes at the same time, who are sisters. This is being reported as ‘global first’.

I’m not a scientist, but ‘global first’ seems to imply this has never been tested anywhere else, it has never been proven, but the network is willing to try something different because of how successful and established the show already is. SOUND FAMILIAR?

Can Gays Even Fall In Love? An Investigation

Besides the network reasons, for several years (including in this year’s ensuing discussion) Osher has questioned if the format itself will work for queers.

He has consistently referred people to watchFunny or Die clip from 2013 called ‘The First Gay Bachelor with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and George Takei’. In this short clip, Ferguson plays a gay Bachelor who is overlooked as all the gay male contestants ignore him and all hook up with each other.

This hypothetical issue, and the concept of ‘scarcity’ has been a running argument from people as to why this sort of format wouldn’t work for queer contestants.

There are a few reasons I think this is bad reasoning, especially to use this year.

The first is that no matter how much we like to think of these shows as ‘reality’, every single version of this type of show is heavily produced. Contestants would know what they are on the show for (to be gay), and to do (fall in love in a gay way), and I think could easily remain single-focused in order to get screen-time. Or even to fall in love for real, and not just with any other queer person that exists near them!

Queer Bachelor

The second argument is that… Bachelor in Paradise exists now.

If you haven’t seen Bachelor in Paradise, it is an island full of single men and women from seasons of The Bachelor who all connect with whoever they like, and at rose ceremonies each man gives a woman a rose to stay on the island, or vice versa. Not only does Bachelor in Paradise exist, but this year they introduced three contestants who have never appeared on the franchise before.

This goes against the inherent format of the show, but they were willing to do it in order to spice it up a bit. The rules of the franchise are obviously flexible, and the parameters moveable.

This is the PERFECT format for a queer version. When there’s talk about needing the queer drama to be ‘compelling’, and the stakes to be high, I would just ask… have you ever met the queer community?

You can talk about networks, and economics, and risk as the reason a queer version wouldn’t work, but you absolutely cannot use the format or a lack of queer drama as a reason to not do this type of show.

There is nothing like queer drama, and there is always queer drama. It is, some would argue, inescapable to a hellish level.

A queer Bachelor in Paradise would work a lot like the queer season of If You Are The One.

Every contestant, male, female, and some non-binary people, are all open to dating any gender. This would immediately DOUBLE and TRIPLE the excitement of the current format. We’ve seen men and women dating and falling in love thousands of times before, and the show obviously changes to try and keep things fresh, from stunt casting Sophie Monk, to changing the parameters of Bachelor in Paradise.

What could be more 2020, more fresh, more new, than something that has never been done before?

Queer Bachelor

This Shouldn’t Be Too Much To Ask For In 2020

None of the explanations as to why this can’t work really satisfy me completely, and I can’t shake the feeling that execs might believe Australian audiences are too homophobic for it to be successful. If that is true, I don’t think decisions should be made in order to please homophobic people.

Progress isn’t made by making sure shitheads remain comfortable. It also doesn’t seem that the main audience of The Bachelor franchise would be in that group. It’s not on the ABC, and it’s demographic tends to skew young and female. The coolest kind of demographic!

Secondly, I think it would be underestimating audiences anyway. Over the past few years we’ve seen shows like Queer EyeDrag Race, Schitt’s Creek only grow in popularity — we have successful shows about queer people, or at the very least heavily featuring queer people, all of the time now. It works. It’s 2020, not 1920. We have a vaccine for polio too.

Some people have wondered if it’s good for us to be arguing for representation in this world of reality TV at all. If it’s really something that we need to be striving for as a community. And my answer is — no, it’s not. But I am not arguing for this because I think little queer kids around Australia need to see some gays fighting on TV about a rose. I am arguing for this purely because I WANT TO WATCH THIS.

We have watched season after season of straight people nonsense, straight people kissing, straight people dating, and that’s fine.

But I want to be rewarded by seeing my people being trashy and sexy and kissing and falling in love. I want to see less straight cis men treating women badly, I want to see less misogyny, I want to see more communication, more affection between men, and less toxic masculinity. Obviously those things can still be issues in the queer community, but I think it would be an interesting and refreshing change with a cast of great queer people.

I want to see the funny, smart, beautiful, messy, all-consuming, powerful queer spirit I get to experience in real life on my television. And I want to find out everyone’s star sign. I just believe the bisexuals will do it better.

And yes, it would never have been done on Australian television before, but someone has to be the first.

You can read our recaps of Bachelor In Paradise, where we rank all the heterosexual nonsense we see in the show here.


Rebecca Shaw is the co-host of the very regular comedy podcast Bring A Plate. She tweets @brocklesnitch