The title of this post won’t mean anything to you if you aren’t watching the current season of The Bachelor. If you are, then you’ll know that this past Monday, bachelor Sean recently dumped Tierra (this season’s villain), out of concern for her well-being. (Yeah, we’ll go with that) I’m both a fan of the genre and an enthusiastic media critic, and my fandom allows me to recognize when a person is really an awful human being, and when they’re a mostly good person who said some mean things.

I believe that Tierra is the latter. Why? Well, I don’t think any woman would be comfortable in a situation in which they had to live and compete (exclamation point) with 15 other women over the same guy. Past bachelorettes have said that women are isolated, with no television, no iPods, no contact with their families, and an open bar. (A healthy and nurturing environment if I ever saw one) Tierra was the first woman on the show to receive a rose because she made such a good impression on Sean, so from the beginning, she was a target for wrath. I actually liked her for the first couple of episodes because she was feisty. And then I realized that she was going to get the villain edit because she wasn’t as obviously endearing as the other women, and then I wanted Sean to get rid of her just so she wouldn’t be made to feel ashamed of her snarkiness. Oops. Too late.

The fact that she made snippy remarks, rolled her eyes often, and raised her now infamous eyebrow in derision at more than one lady (or all of them), didn’t help her cause.

On the other hand, the other women spent a lot of time talking smack about Tierra behind her back, and I don’t care how kind a person appears to be. That type of behaviour isn’t attractive. My dad always says, “He who wants friends must show himself friendly”, I wasn’t seeing too much friendliness on either side.

Every reality competition show has an, “I’m not here to make friends” contestant. This season, it was Tierra. The catalyst for her ouster was a conversation between Sean and his other one-on-one date AshLee. After hearing several women warn him about what an awful person Tierra is when he’s not around, he asked AshLee what she thought. AshLee, for her part, was honest. Tierra isolated herself. She was rude. Worst of all, she was a completely different person around Sean.

On Tierra’s date, she complains about being hot and thirsty (not helping, but okay) she seems to be having fun, and then Sean asks her about her relationship with the other women. And…either she flat-out lied, or they edited out the parts where she was friendly. Either way, it effected how Sean saw her, and it effected how he treated her.

Knowing something was up, Tierra confronted AshLee when she got back. What followed was a lot of finger-pointing, and accusations on both sides that ended with Tierra proclaiming, “I’m done with this conversation!” and leaving the room. Except, she wasn’t done. When she overheard AshLee telling her side of the argument to the other women, Tierra stormed into the room and asked them all to stop talking about her so much.

What followed was the speech that inspired this post. Tierra told the women, among other things that she can’t control her eyebrow and if she smiled all the time her face would get fricking tired. (Her words) Up until that point, I was a staunch member of the “Get rid of Tierra” club. (Okay, it’s not technically a real club, but if it were, I would have been a member.)

Then I was like, “Wait…she’s in a house with 4 women. All of whom hate her. She has no allies apart from Sean, and no connections to the outside world. Of course, she’s going to be hostile!” On the other hand, she was rude. She made snide comments both during her camera confessionals and directly to the other women. Plus, there’s the question of her judgmental eyebrow raises, which spoke volumes without saying a word.

I could also empathise with her. Women are socialized to be  a part of nurturing, close-knit clusters. I’m a loner who keeps a very small circle of friends. I’m quiet, and when I’m not smiling it looks as though I’m angry. (I didn’t realize how angry until I was playing with the apps on my new laptop and accidentally set it on “surveillance” mode. I taped nearly a minute of myself cleaning the clutter from my dresser, all while looking like the most annoyed person in the world. I wasn’t annoyed, but I sure looked it.) In addition to that, I’m both blunt and sarcastic, which is amusing to me, but irritating to just about everyone else.

Another thing: I noticed that she was also a petite woman. Most of us have heard of someone on the shorter side having a “Napoleon complex“. (And some of us actually have one. Not me, but other short people. *ahem*) It’s really common for small people, (mostly men, but also small dogs) to be louder, bolder, and more likely to take down someone with other methods because they can’t do it with their size. She was in the minority. She was small. She felt attacked, so she lashed out.

I think Tierra’s worst crime was being a dramatic princess, who was self-absorbed, as well as overly competitive. If something could go wrong, it did. (This season she fell down the stairs, got hypothermia, and threatened to leave. Twice.) Plus she never missed an opportunity to complain and criticize. (The only people who like judgmental whiners are other judgmental whiners)

Instead of the women feeling sorry for her, they saw her issues as an attempt for her to get more time with Sean, which they may well have been. The last straw came this week, when Sean’s sister visited and told him not to pick the girl that no one likes. Sean came from that meeting with his big sister, Shay (who gave him some great advice), to find Tierra sobbing on her cot. The next thing you know, Tierra was being sent home because he was worried about her. (I think he was also tired of the drama surrounding her, but the worry is a more acceptable reason to get rid of someone)

Nearly a week after the episode aired, I’m still unsure about how things transpired. Was Tierra a genuinely nasty person who got what she deserved, or a kind person who was at the mercy of stress, an unnatural situation, and whomever edits this show?

Only God knows.

If a camera crew were to follow anyone going about their daily lives, what would be filmed is not just footage of people being warm and fuzzy. Watching (lots) of shows in this genre has taught me that things always aren’t as they appear, and if the producers want to tell a specific story, they’ll bend situations in a way that caters to their version of events. I have always been critical of the way women on these shows are portrayed as one-dimensional archetypes and pitted against each other. That hasn’t changed.

Now, whenever someone is christened the villain, I examine their (filmed) behaviour to see if that perception is my own, or if it’s the one I’m led to believe.

One could argue, that 15 other women who believe the same thing cannot be at fault. Then again, millions believed that the Jews were enough of a threat to humanity to be exterminated. For centuries, the earth was flat, and one dude who said, “Hey, maybe it’s round”, was considered crazy. And the guy who said that the Bible should be available to everyone instead of just the priests, was kicked out of his denomination.

In short: majority may rule, but sometimes it’s wrong.

I honestly think Tierra will be embarrassed by how she came across. It’s one thing to blame the edit, (which is a real concern), but it’s another to allow the stress of your environment to cause you to alienate yourself by behaving in a consistently inconsiderate manner. I’ll say one thing: it is possible to be cordial to people whom you don’t like. (I don’t always practice it when I should be, but I do it enough to know that it’s achievable) Perhaps she could parlay her status as a TV villain into a legit career in the entertainment field.

Just a thought.

I suppose this is what happens when an attempt is made to turn “falling in love” (whatever that means these days) into a competitive sport. People actually start competing, and get angry when they lose. In spite of its track record, I still watch the show. (In all seasons of The Bachelor and the Bachelorette, thus far, only 4 have made it to the altar. Hm.) . I’m not a fluffy romantic, I just like watching to  put my critical thinking skills to the test, as well as seeing if any season will ever defy my expectations.  They usually don’t.

However, this year has come close. For one, I never expected a bachelor to listen to the women’s complaints about the villain of the show. Normally, the men keep them until the end, and sometimes they even propose to them. But this season is different because the bachelor seems to care about how the women feel. (It’s an all-around odd situation, but bachelor Sean makes it less odd by not being an insensitive jerk, and by actually having genuine empathy for the women. For this show, that’s progress, folks. Not to say that the other bachelors have been insensitive, but really, some make you wonder what their end goal really was)

People are not as one-dimensional as they appear on reality TV, or in real life, for that matter. I once heard someone say, “We judge ourselves by our intentions, and everyone else by their actions.”  Good actions can be tainted by the wrong intentions, and bad actions can sometimes be understood when we discover the intentions behind them. It is very easy to brand a person with the title of “villain”, and judge everything they do through that filter. It is more difficult to take into consideration how we feel about people before we judge what they do and why they do it.

Personal bias can be taken into account because I have always been tripped up by my feelings and as a result, have adopted a more realistic (and detached) sense of dealing with situations. Rather than deciding how I feel about something first, I ask myself whether or not it is worthwhile.  By eliminating the cloudiness that my feelings may cause, I can see a situation clearly and without prejudice. Anything that is not useful gets cut off like a dead vine, regardless of how I feel about it.

In closing, the belief that understanding oneself is helpful to understanding other people is a valid one. After all, if a man or woman cannot see the defects in his or her own personality, they are ill-equipped to evaluate the defects in other people.

I can’t believe I learned all that by watching an episode of The Bachelor.





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