Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

Bachelor Nation.jpg

Bachelor Nation
by Amy Kaufman
Dutton Books (March 6, 2018)
320 pages
Advance copy provided by publisher

If you're reading this post, chances are high that you are a fan of The Bachelor franchise; "fan" may be an exaggeration, but this includes those of you who watch episodes and clips, here and there, so that you can snark on either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, and their corresponding potential loves, with your friends. 

We don’t want to see them getting married. We just want to see them getting proposed to, because the idea of someone wanting to spend the rest of their life with you is better than actually doing it.
— Comedian Nikki Glaser, quoted in Bachelor Nation

My foray into the world of rose ceremonies began in 2003, with Trista Rehn's stint as The Bachelorette; I'd not watched the two previous seasons of The Bachelor, but I was hooked after the debut of this spin-off. Many years later, more than I'd like to acknowledge, I'm still watching. I'm thankful for the advent of online viewing services, like Hulu, so that I no longer have to stay up late on Monday nights and endure endless commercial breaks. 

Villa de la Vina - or the Bachelor Mansion, as it’s known to millions of viewers - is hidden off a canyon road just a few exits on the Ventura Freeway past the Kardashians.

Thanks to her position as a writer, covering celebrities, film and pop culture, at the Los Angeles Times, author Amy Kaufman was able to build a unique relationship with the franchise; however, as soon as she stopped playing by their (unspoken) rules and voicing her own opinions of the show, the network revoked her access. 

There was no final rose. I didn’t get a chance to say my goodbyes. No one even offered to walk me out.

Not only does Kaufman share some of what she encountered during her insider's view of the production, but she also delves into the why; for example, why are we watching this show? Most of us are highly educated, successful women who are likely very supportive of gender equality and might even consider ourselves feminists. Why do like-minded individuals agree to become contestants on one of these shows? 

Young women in the twenty-first century who are college educated and have managerial positions - in other words, the main Bachelor demographic - have been told for years they can do anything they want. And yet these women still face pressure to be thin, beautiful, and stylish.

It's an interesting question, and one that could likely spark lively debate; initially interested in the secrets she might divulge, Kaufman exceeded my expectations when she shared some of the research she'd done on the topic and I began asking myself deeper questions...and also wondering how I would ever pack to appear on one of these shows.  

Both genders are told to bring clothes for all climates: swimsuits, winter jackets, sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops, casual day clothes, gloves and warm hats - plus fourteen formal outfits, in case they make it through all of the rose ceremonies.

Highly readable, compelling and unique, I devoured Bachelor Nation in under two days; if you are even remotely interested in this topic, I highly recommend Kaufman's book! 

 

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