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“The Bachelor” 23

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“The Bachelor” 23

The new season of the Bachelor is full of exciting moments. (Facebook)

The new season of the Bachelor is full of exciting moments. (Facebook)

The new season of the Bachelor is full of exciting moments. (Facebook)

The new season of the Bachelor is full of exciting moments. (Facebook)


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By Emma Paolini

Season 23 is shaping up to be the most adventurous “Bachelor” season yet. Over the past six weeks, former “Bachelorette” contestant and Los Angeles Charger Colton Underwood has toasted champagne in the desert, kissed at the top of a rollercoaster, bungee-jumped in Singapore and foraged for edible plants in the jungle of Thailand, all in hopes of finding true love.

The season has not quite been a bed of roses for the former Bachelor, however. Underwood has found himself caught in the middle of arguments between the contestants week after week and does not seem to know how to handle it. More than once, overwhelmed by hearing different sides of the same story, Underwood has walked away from a gathering for some comfort and advice from host Chris Harrison. While the feud between contestants Caelynn and Hannah B. ended and both women remain on the show, another between Onyeka and Nicole ultimately resulted in the two getting the boot instead of roses. Drama-stirring Demi also made waves in the Vietnam episode when she visited Underwood’s hotel room to confess her love, only to be sent home by the Bachelor himself. Previews promise even more drama, particularly a much-awaited clip of Underwood jumping a fence and running away. Bachelor Nation can only wait with bated breath.

Another source of immense pressure for Underwood this season has come from the ceaseless discussion of his virginity. Underwood revealed that he is a virgin during “The Bachelorette,” and his characterization by both the show and the audience has focused mainly on that one aspect of his identity ever since.

Some discussions have been productive in breaking down the double standard between men and women regarding virginity; contestants Cassie and Hannah B. both, at points, shared stories about feeling shame or fearing ostracization from their communities due to their sexual histories. Underwood, on the other hand, has faced endless ridicule for his of lack sexual experience. Despite the clear double standard, the show never addresses the combination of purity culture and toxic masculinity that created it and often seems to encourage it. Jokes about Underwood’s virginity took over the premiere episode’s livestreamed watch parties and have not ceased since.

Season 23 has also introduced heavier themes than those in previous seasons. Elyse, the first self-exit of the season, shared the story of her sister’s battle with cancer and decision to refuse treatment so as not to threaten her pregnancy. Other contestants shared similarly heart-wrenching moments with Underwood during one-on-one time, but one in particular sparked national discussion. Former Miss North Carolina Caelynn discussed her experience of sexual assault during her time in college. She explained how difficult it was at first to speak up about it in the time following, and how ultimately only one of the multiple men who assaulted her faced consequences.

During her time as Miss North Carolina, Caelynn was also vocal about the topic, working for justice and resources for survivors like herself. Though Caelynn explained that she had told Underwood about her assault because it affects intimacy in her relationships, she also brought awareness to the issue by discussing it on television. In an era of high-profile sexual abuse cases garnering national attention, the perspective of survivors remains extremely important.

Despite this season’s foray into more serious topics, the final few episodes promise just as much drama and intrigue as past seasons. It seems Underwood may finally get his happily-ever-after, having already confessed to falling in love with Hannah G. Cassie, Caelynn, Hannah B. and Tayshia are also emerging as frontrunners, while Kirpa and Heather trail behind. With the tearful previews of the next few episodes, it seems anything is possible.

The final Rose Ceremony will air on March 12, and Bachelor Nation can only wonder who will receive the final rose and Underwood’s hand in marriage.

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“The Bachelor” 23