Tonight Australians will watch, popcorn in hand, as sisters Elly and Becky Miles begin their joint quest to find love as our 2020 Bachelorettes. Yes, that’s right, there are two Bachelorettes this year.
In a trailer for The Bachelorette 2020, Elly, a 25-year-old nurse who appeared in Matt Agnew’s series of The Bachelor, is thrilled about embarking on the experience alongside her sibling.
“If we fell in love at the same time, it’d be crazy, wouldn’t it?” she says. Her 30-year-old defence contracting specialist sister Becky optimistically chimes in, “we both really want to find love out of this.”
RELATED: Full Bachelorette 2020 cast unveiled
The series is being touted as a fun, “world-first” that will see the two sisters each try to find everlasting love from a shared pool of 20 men.
While the saccharine advertisements are sprinkled with giggling and sisterly love, it’s time to point out the sequin-encrusted elephant in the room. There is nothing overly liberating or vaguely empowering for either of the women in this novel format.
OK, no one’s accusing the Bachelor franchise of being a bastion for female empowerment, but this is different altogether. Traditionally, the Bachelorette and Bachelor are positioned as the most eligible women and men in the country, with a surfeit of contestants scrambling and cajoling for a shot at love with these scarce and mystical beings.
Throw in two Bachelorettes however, and the power dynamic shifts inexplicably. Now, complete control has been snatched out of their rose-clutching hands and means neither woman is wholly in command of her experience from here on out. Now, the men also have the choice to decide if they prefer one woman over the other. Now, there’s guaranteed conflict headed to the softly candlelit Bachelorette mansion.
The franchise has positioned the series as the rollicking quest of two bubbly sisters to find love, but the more sceptical among us might chalk this new play down to one element: the propensity for guaranteed drama.
With explosive, blow-up-a-minute shows like Married At First Sight eclipsing all other reality TV shows in ratings (this year’s season rarely dipped below one million viewers per episode), tweaking the format to heighten the potential for clashes is a sure fire formula to attract more eyeballs.
Locky Gilbert’s soporific season premiere of The Bachelor pulled in just 681,000 metro viewers – the show’s lowest-ever viewership for a season premiere – so it looks like producers have cottoned on to the fact that going forwards, the love story might need to take a back seat to headline-grabbing controversy that comes with juvenile tantrums and cocktail party barneys.
It’s no mistake that Channel 10 has chosen two women – two sisters – to front The Bachelorette’s latest iteration. While the pair seem incredibly close and, it must be said, exceptionally effervescent – the fact they’re likely dating from the same pool of guys, each hoping to find a match for themselves, injects undeniable tension into their narrative.
RELATED: Bach star already dated a contestant
While we’re not yet across exactly how the show will play out logistically (although rumours abound), there are many questions we want answers to. Will the sisters be dating the same men? Kissing the same blokes? Putting on brave faces as they’re rejected by the men who favour their sister more?
Sibling rivalry doesn’t even begin to cover their incredibly awkward predicament. Unless everyone starting on the show has the temperament of Pollyanna, there’s guaranteed to be some fireworks. Yes, it’s very hard to believe that the franchise is solely invested in these two delightful women finding love, when their joint appointment sees the series engineered for maximum conflict potential.
Plus, two Bachelorettes feels like a bit of a rip-off after the mighty, empowered solo Bachelorettes we’ve seen walk the red carpeted path previously. When Sam Frost rose confidently from the ashes of a humiliating dumping after Blake Garvey’s season of The Bachelor, we collectively cheered. We whooped when Georgia Love ditched stock standard dates for the kinds of things she wanted to do (like perfecting the iconic lift in Dirty Dancing). We fist pumped when Angie Kent stole hearts and banished creepy contestant with zingers like, “If there is anything in my entire life that I’ve been super sure of, I will never allow a man to come in and f**k with my sisterhood. Never.”
Don’t Elly and Becky also deserve their own chance to shine and hold all the power and agency that comes with the experience for themselves?
Look, in the grand scheme of things, two Bachelorettes with diluted power isn’t the worst thing Australian women are facing right now, the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic hardship has cemented that. But surely the least we deserve is our pop culture carrying the faint whiff of female empowerment? Is that so much to ask?