At its core, ABC's romantic reality series is an opportunity for hopeful singles to try their odds with network-selected potential matches towards the goal of exiting the experience with a fiancé. It might just be a matter of weeks, and it might be limited amounts of time spent with a roster of more than 20 guys, but that doesn’t exclude the lucky woman in the title role, this season on The Bachelorette it’s Andi Dorfman, from enjoying the benefits of dating, particularly the early stages. But more than its core purpose, The Bachelorette is a prime time television show that brings in ratings for ABC and promises its viewers two hours of quality reality entertainment. So can you blame her for indulging her suitors’ attempts at stolen kisses? She’s single, getting filmed and paid to mingle, and we tune in expecting some action.
It might be uncomfortable for Andi’s elder relatives to watch her take advantage of what the multiple men she’s dating have to offer, but we strangers who turn on our TVs every Monday night crave drama, a little humor and some version of a love story every week. Courting isn’t worth a watch without the classic lean in for a kiss at the end of the night. We would be angry not to be given the reward after a particularly troubled contestant finally gets the kiss he has wanted to have for so many weeks. Not only that, when every date ends up in one or multiple make outs, we know we’re getting what we came for. This season, Andi has even given us a little more. And why shouldn't she? Andi should kiss whoever she wants, whenever she wants.
Besides, it's just more fun that way — and we've been missing out on that fun for a few seasons. After some warming up, The Bachelor's Ben Flajnik upped the makeout ante, but the previous season with Bachelorette Emily Maynard had our girl refraining from a great deal of kisses. Of course, she did have the excuse of not wanting her daughter to see all of that and she did eventually get romantic with her suitors, but it grew boring to watch her play the conscience card.
The next Bachelor Sean Lowe wasn’t too much better. Ever the "good guy," he was raised in a religious home and had not-so-private beliefs that at least let him kiss sparingly, but made for some rather mild fantasy suite drama. The following season, Sean's fourth place finisher Des Hartsock offered a lot of promise as The Bachelorette, but her rather quiet ways and neutral personality came up short on the entertainment aspect, even during the times she gave us what we wanted in the smooch department.
And then there was Juan Pablo. The Venezuelan former soccer “star” wanted to be choosy while using his daughter as an excuse, yet really went for it with choice contestants. Not even his chiseled torso and exotic accent could fool us into thinking his season was anything less than a disaster. Even amiable, friends-with-all host, Chris Harrison was not a fan of Galavis.
So in May, we went into Andi’s season disappointed on the heels of the last, and hopeful that the charming southerner would deliver what we really look for in the show. Dorfman believes in the process and made it clear very early on that she was all in. Now, all in for the process of the show means more than just the conviction that you can fall in love and leave with a Neil Lane ring and exotic black tie proposal. "All in" is an attitude that also applies to dating all 20-something contestants the show throws your way and going with your brain, gut, and heart when it comes to getting lost in the moment while having a deep conversation on a date. Andi has been doing this by kissing whoever she feels like kissing, and frankly, it has made for great TV.
Her choices seem more valid, her connections with the men seem more palpable, and this commitment to love, lust, and a little fun makes the season more compelling than the last few combined. I’m pretty sure most girls in their 20s would have no problem with a little lip locking with a guy they’re dating that's going well. Cameras aside, shared blankets by a campfire, candlelit dinners in historic European cities, strolls through French cities and gondola rides through Venice are basically formulas for a makeout. By kissing most (all?) of her suitors, she’s not “giving away the farm” (and even if she was defying this Bachelorette rule, so what?). She’s testing physical chemistry, pretending to ignore the video surveillance, letting go of reason in favor of emotion, and exercising her romantic freedom as a woman. That’s what she’s there for and, newsflash, that’s part of the purpose of the show.
There’s a reason the editors and producers leave Andi's amorous moments in there. If you’re not okay with it — and you should be because it's 2014, for goodness sake — pick up your remote, fast forward through the kissing, and take your slut-shaming derision elsewhere.