Bachelor Winter Games misses the mark

The problematic rhetoric in the show about international love

Bachelor Winter Games logo.
Screenshot from YouTube

Things aren’t looking too great in Bachelor world right now. As if things weren’t bad enough, Arie Luyendyk outed himself as being the worst Bachelor in history by proposing to one girl, breaking up with her on TV and proposing to a different girl shortly after on this week’s finale of The Bachelor. Unfortunately for this series,  this comes right on the heels of an even more problematic Bachelor spin-off, Bachelor Winter Games.

The premise of the Winter Games is to bring together the favourite contestants from all the international versions of The Bachelor/Bachelorette as well as from the American franchise. Contestants were from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Sweden, Finland, England, Japan and China.

The new spin-off was advertised as being a show that had contestants from around the world coming to find love and demonstrate unity across the globe. 

In a time of political turmoil in the US with a massive division between countries, the initial premise of the show was actually a commendable idea to promote inclusivity. 

Unfortunately, the result turned out much differently. Not to fault ABC, but the contestants seemed to create more division amongst one another because of their language or cultural differences. 

The first and most glaring example of this was an incident with Yuki Kimura from a The Bachelor Japan. Kimura was the only contestant who didn’t speak at least an intermediate level of English, and they actually had a translator on set so she could understand what was going on. Whenever she was shown on camera, however, it would be her making hand gestures to communicate as the other contestants laughed mockingly. Sure, Kimura was sometimes laughing with them but it definitely wasn’t a good look for the contestants or ABC. 

It was also obvious that Kimura didn’t have a real shot at finding love on this show, because even though Winter Games advertised itself on the premise that love could transcend language and culture, she seemingly wasn’t being taken seriously as a result of such differences. 

In a house where everyone else speaks English, it was unlikely that a relationship with Kimura would occur and instead the focus turned to her language difficulties and the barriers it created between herself and the other contestants.

Another example of this “othering” of people from different cultures occurred between contestants Clare Crawley from the US and Christian Rauch from Germany. 

The two were coupled up at the beginning before falling into a series of arguments. All of these disputes started with Crawley starting her point by saying “I don’t know if this is a communication problem,” or “I don’t know how you do it in Germany.” 

This sort of separation really takes away from the point of the show and, in fact, does the exact opposite of what it advertises. In a show that’s supposed to show  love can exist between anyone in any country and in a time where the US — the country hosting Bachelor Winter Games — repeatedly points the finger against other countries, it doesn’t help to have a TV show that focuses on and mocks the differences between people in other countries.

Of all the couples that have stayed together since the show aired (a surprising amount considering this is The Bachelor franchise) they all lived in the same or similar countries. Ashley Iaconneti and Kevin Wendt “won” the Bachelor Winter Games and were deemed “the first international couple of The Bachelor world”. But they aren't from places around the world. Iaconneti is American and Wendt is Canadian, so language and culture remain highly similar. 

The Bachelor franchise has screwed up more times than is possible to count at this point, but promoting a show about inclusive love and then having it actually show  love isn’t possible is an unprecedented failure.

Bottom line: ABC, if you want to produce a show about love around the world, make sure people aren’t being marginalized because of their language differences or blaming cultural differences for their relationship problems.

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