The issue of ageism isn't anything new in the world of entertainment. Age discrimination against women has long been a problem in Hollywood, with celebrities like Emma Thompson and Helen Mirren speaking out against ageism in the past few years. There seems to be no more perfect venue for the issue of ageism to take root than in the Bachelor franchise. Criticized for its lack of diversity and its contestants’ tendency to slut-shame other contestants, Bachelor’s latest issue is possible ageism on Bachelor in Paradise. On Sunday's episode, Bachelor In Paradise contestants made ageist comments about other contestants, and it was so unnecessary.
Now, let's be clear. I go into every episode of The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, and Bachelor In Paradise with proper expectations. I don't expect the franchise to be groundbreaking. I expect it to be what it is — a dating gameshow where looks and entertainment factor matter more than pure intentions or integrity. But even fans are not too pleased with the fact that its premiere threw some significant shade at older female contestants, namely Juelia and Tenley.
Juelia is 30 and Tenley is 31, which means that they automatically get written off by many others (both men and women) on the show. I shudder to think what will happen when Clare shows up and shocks the gang with her withered 34-year-old self. The Bachelor franchise hasn't quite favored older women in the past. In 2014, Wet Paint scrounged together some data about the average age of the men and women on The Bachelor/Bachelorette. In the five seasons of The Bachelor from 2010-2014, the average age of the Bachelor was 31.2, while the average age of the female contestants was 26.3. In the corresponding seasons of The Bachelorette, the average age of the female lead was 26.2 while her male contestants' average age was 29.1.
But it is often the contestants themselves who voice the most problematic opinions. Case in point: Lauren Iaconetti. The Bachelor In Paradise intruder put a target on her back in the house with her hysterics on night one. She also made herself unappealing to the audience with her comments about Tenley and Juelia's age. Lauren confessed to her sister, "I feel... like... that Juelia is old. And I feel like... umm... Tenley... love her, so cute. Old. So they're just like drunk and will do whatever they want with anyone because... they're old." First of all, as a newcomer, Lauren should be treading lightly, not throwing shade at other contestants who already have a solidified (to quote Ashley I.) fan base behind them.
Second of all, since when is 30 considered old? The men in the house might be attracted to a younger woman for more surface-level reasons but, if these men are really in paradise to find love as they claim to be, they're not going to be looking for a self-absorbed 24-year-old. They're going to go for an age-appropriate woman who has her life together and knows what she wants.
Bachelor Pad alum Michelle Money spoke out about Lauren's comments with her tell-tale sass.
Others outside the Bachelor Family tweeted similarly shocked responses to Lauren's statements.
The ridiculous ageism doesn't stop there. Apparently, ignorance and ageism runs in the family. In the Episode 2 promo, Ashley I. was seen crying (again) at the prospect of Jared dating Clare. Though the true extent of the drama will not be revealed until the next episode, we did catch glimpses of Ashley I. saying through tears, "I hate it when they're with old ladies, I hate it. I hate them more... I don't get it."
These ageist remarks feel to me like the insecure rants of a pretty girl who looks for any excuse to put others down when she doesn't get what she wants. Let's just hope that the rest of the cast can maintain a modicum of decency and act like mature adults during the remainder of this season. I'm not holding my breath, but I can always hope.