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The Education of the Bachelor

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The Bachelor and its spin-offs may be cheesy TV, but the show is a goldmine of fruitful conversation between Erin Gordon and her daughter.

For years, I’d ensure my kids were out of earshot when I watched The Bachelor.

They’re teens now so I couldn’t legitimately decline when my 16-year-old daughter asked to join me. At first, I prefaced each episode with a lecture that she soon began prophylactically reciting: “I know, this is not real life. Let’s start. I’ve got Chem homework.”

A few episodes in, something fascinating happened. This frivolous show enabled us to have surprisingly meaningful conversations. For example, when one woman revealed to The Bachelor that she’d been raped, she said, “I didn’t tell my parents because I felt so ashamed.”

I paused the TiVo.


“If that ever happens to you, you tell.”

“I know, mom,” my daughter said with that eye-rolling tone. But I was thrilled to have the opportunity to remind her that she should turn to me when she was hurt.

We’ve had many pause-and-discuss deep dives, including talks about the difference between physical chemistry and lifetime compatibility, and that repeated exclamations of “This yacht is cool,” do not constitute the basis of a marriage.

Still doubt the value of watching The Bachelor with teens? I have two words: Hannah Brown. Initially, I couldn’t stand “Alabama Hannah” but she proved intuitive, strong and likable as The Bachelorette. She sought deep, rather than superficial, connections and refused to let the men’s opinions of other contestants dictate her choices.

Search YouTube to see how fantastically this former pageant queen handled herself when a heinous guy dubbed ‘Luke P.' tried to dominate and control her. For any feminist working hard to raise feminist kids, it’s exhilarating.

My teen’s horrified expression when Luke P. tried to gaslight Hannah made me prouder than the A she’d later earn in Chem. From Hannah, my daughter learned that if a narcissistic misogynist won’t leave you alone, you still have power – pick up that rose podium and move!

We’re on to Bachelor in Paradise, the franchise’s cheesiest show. Even if my daughter has learned all she’s ever going to, I hope we continue watching. It’s given us something else to cherish: good old-fashioned mother-daughter bonding.

With a Perspective, I’m Erin Gordon.

The mother of two teenagers, Erin Gordon is a novelist in San Francisco.

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