Early on this season on The Bachelor, it seemed clear who the "villain" of the year was going to be. Chelsea, the laser-focused single mother who quickly made a splash with Arie and the other contestants, seemed like she was about to steamroll this season with little regard for other women in the house. Lately, though, Chelsea has left behind the villain role on The Bachelor, and it speaks volumes to how strategic video editing on reality television can color viewers' opinions of certain stars.
It's kind of tiresome that dating shows have this notion that there must be a "villain" or "bad guy" in the mix in order for things to be interesting, but it's to be expected at this point. Most viewers of reality TV are well aware that some show business magic is sprinkled behind the scenes in order to produce a product that will give them something to tweet about and keep them coming back each week. Us viewers shouldn't be shocked that this happens, but we should be aware of how that editing, if it occurs, can change our opinions about people who aren't always deserving of our scorn. Chelsea, it seems, may be a prime example of someone who fell victim to early type-casting as a "villain." (Chelsea also bears a resemblance to Olivia Caridi, Ben's season's "villain," so this path was sort of to be expected.)
Chelsea quickly made a name for herself as the villain, and was billed in articles everywhere as the one to watch out for as the season continues. She earned the first impression rose, and was noticeably put out on any occasion when the other women were shown more attention than she was. Her overall tone was a typically competitive, "I'm here to win, not to make friends," kind of vibe. Recently, though, the title has been shifted onto another contestant, Krystal, who is about a hundred times more extra than Chelsea ever was. Or, at least, that's what we've been shown.
Since the focus shifted to Krystal and her apparent conflict with the other women in the house, Chelsea has been largely left out of focus. We definitely still see her around and she hasn't exactly had a shortage of time with Arie, but it seems that the whole "villain" storyline she seemed to be a part of in the beginning has been entirely left behind. Krystal is now the one fans love to hate, but, again, viewers should remember to be at least somewhat skeptical of the information they're being fed. Yes, Krystal seems to be more overtly at odds with the rest of the house than Chelsea ever was, but we'd be naive to think that there's not strategic editing going on there, too. This is reality TV, and producers have to make sure there's intrigue, even if it's seemingly manufactured.
It's worth noting that The Bachelor doesn't out-and-out make stuff up. Everything that Chelsea or Krystal says or does was really said and done by them. But, it's also important to remember what could be left out. Context is everything, and, in a two-hour episode detailing the goings on of a whole week, things are bound to get left out.
In 2015, Cosmopolitan interviewed Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, a former associate producer on The Bachelor with three seasons of the show under her belt, about her experience behind the scenes of the show. She was quick to detail how exactly producers on reality television allegedly learn to create the scenes they want to showcase. "It's this really weird skill set that's not only manipulating people into performing how you need them to, it's even just having an ear for syntax as people describe their experiences and editing in your head so you can build a first-person narration from people who aren't narrators," she claimed to the magazine.
Shapiro also went on to say that though it's easy for viewers to buy into a character, these women are at the mercy of situations regular people can't begin to imagine, making it even more impossible to judge a person's true character from the bits we see in the final cut. "You can't really fathom the power of editing, or of isolation, or of being cut off from phone and Internet and all your friends and family. You're not really eating or sleeping — you're drinking all day, you don't have your regular food," she said. "You're being interviewed three times a day. For a layperson to understand what that's going to be like is really impossible. And you have very, very smart people making these shows."
So, while Chelsea has managed to move past her villainous persona for now, fans should also be cautious who they target with that title next.