The older and more informed I get, the harder it is for me to see shows like The Bachelor as fuss-free entertainment. We can poke fun at Nick Viall’s turtleneck (seriously, who from wardrobe OK-ed that one?) or mock the cliched quotes about falling in love, but the fact of the matter is that once a contestant allows her own psychological traumas to be seen, watching The Bachelor becomes almost too real to be entertainment. Corinne Olympios has been the most interesting part of The Bachelor this season. Say what you will about her, but Corinne's feminist journey on The Bachelor is actually pretty inspiring.
Corinne Olympios started Nick’s season of The Bachelor in the vein of Chad Johnson — the villain, unconcerned as to what the other contestants would say to her and about her. Corinne was in it to win it; namely, she was in it not to be famous (I truly believe this), but just to bring home a man like Nick and live, as they say, happily ever after. Raquel would, of course, move into their marital home, too, and nanny their children and make cheese pasta. While the other women on The Bachelor were seemingly content for three minutes of conversation with Nick every five days, Corinne took a different approach — she bombarded Nick, interrupting his conversations with the other contestants every chance she had just so she could get those three extra minutes and, perhaps, steal the minutes away from her competition. It was very Mean Girls, especially all of the parts about gathering around the watering hole.
The other way Corinne tried to woo Nick was with her body. Corinne led with her sexuality when it came to Nick, straddling him in a bounce house (yes, I just wrote that sentence), covering herself in whipped cream á la Varsity Blues, and propositioning him in his hotel room in Bimini, Bahamas when all of the other contestants were asleep. Now, I’m not here to sex-shame Corinne. A woman is allowed to express her sexuality just as much as a man, and, save for the night in Bimini, where Nick told Corinne their sleeping together wasn’t “a good idea,” Nick was happy to go along with Corinne’s advances. It takes two to tango, as they say, and if Nick wasn’t into it, he would have let her know. The problem is not that Corinne pursued Nick sexually — it’s seemingly why she pursued Nick sexually, but more on that a little later.
"I am done trying to impress these men. I'm ready to be me, and whatever happens happens. But I will never kiss up to a man ever again in my life." - Corinne
Following hometowns, Corinne became a completely different person. Gone was the villain. She was more vulnerable, probably because she thought she was falling in love. Nick had met her family, and she had at least secured herself in the fact that he liked her enough to do that. Corinne clearly felt here that she was close to getting her man, so the over-confident act could go. But it wasn’t for long — Nick eliminated Corinne at the next rose ceremony, and the first thing that she could do when he was escorting her to her limo was apologize to him. Nick dumped Corinne, and Corinne apologized. This crazy detail wasn’t lost on Bachelor Nation, especially with former Bachelor contestant Caila Quinn:
In a last-ditch effort for love, Corinne told Nick, "I'm sorry if I ever did anything to make you upset." Being the bland talking head that he’s been all season, Nick assured her that she hadn’t done anything, that his relationships with the other women had simply matured faster.
In her limo exit interview, Corinne divulged even more about herself and her history with men. It got really real — but in a good way, because these lessons are important to learn, even if The Bachelor was the one teaching them.
I'm trying to say things that men think are appropriate, and you know what? I'm done. Done trying to show my men how much I worship them and I love them and I care for them and I support them. I need that ... I am done trying to impress these men. I'm ready to be me, and whatever happens happens. But I will never kiss up to a man ever again in my life.
For her sake, I hope that she sticks with this, because Corinne, mask off, is so much more interesting than the character she was playing all season long on The Bachelor.
Honestly, this brings her behavior into focus. Looking back at the overt sexuality and the jealous overtures, Corinne may have been doing all of these things not because they come naturally to her, per se, but because it’s what she thought Nick wanted, maybe based on what she also thought her exes wanted, since it seems like she had a pattern. A sexual woman; a strong, aggressive woman; a flirty woman, ready to giggle at his jokes. Corinne seemed to feel like she needed to assert herself sexually in front of this man she liked in order to gain his affections. After Nick turned her down in Bimini, Corinne became upset, saying that she was an idiot and she never should have come to his room. She was humiliated because she put herself out there. Had this not been part of an act of trying to be the “cool girl” that Gillian Flynn honored in Gone Girl, I suspect that Corinne would not have been so crushed. She would have been like, “You don’t want to sleep with me? OK, cool,” or maybe she wouldn’t go to Nick’s room at all.
Corinne’s not alone in her actions here. We see it on The Bachelor, and we see it in our friends and our family — women who think that they have to be some sort of sexualized, overly-feminine ideal in order to be considered as a quality mate. The problem is, a façade doesn’t protect you from getting hurt. It just prevents you from being with someone who really wants to be with you for you.
Every woman I know has gone through what Corinne went through on The Bachelor, except maybe not in a helicopter wearing a bandage dress. Gender roles being what they are, we as women have been taught to be sweet and petite, to not talk out of turn, to apologize for… well, for everything. It starts with pretending to like your crush’s favorite band, and then maybe it rolls into wearing the clothes he likes and pretending to have the same political views. It could escalate to doing things that you’re not ready to do because you think you’re going to lose him if you don’t. Slowly yet surely, you lose yourself, the person who is, despite what you think, capable and deserving of love, in order to become some ideal of what a woman "should" behave like.
Strike me down if I thought that Corinne was going to be the feminist hero at the end of this season of The Bachelor, but she’s my hero. She’s a phoenix, rising from the ashes of Bachelor heartbreak and hopefully, going out into the real world knowing that the relationship ideals that The Bachelor touts as gospel don't always hold up in the real world. Let’s hope she takes this knowledge and disseminates it to the women of Miami and the world, slowly turning the tides like the Atlantic Ocean that crashes in front of her and Raquel’s high-rise apartment.