Clare Crawley, the oldest Bachelorette in history at 39 years old, was an unconventional but optimistic choice for the 16th and current season of “The Bachelorette.” After all, devout “The Bachelor” fans had been hoping for a more mature lead after Peter Weber’s season of “The Bachelor.” Now just three episodes in, some fans stand behind Crawley for her outspoken, strong-minded character, while others are left questioning the consistencies between her promises and actions.
From the first episode of the current season, it became clear that Crawley was looking for a dominant and bold partner to show an openly strong interest in her. In the second episode, Crawley criticized the men for not being assertive enough when trying to talk to her. While the group had previously expressed direct and obvious interest in getting to know her, Crawley’s need for validation sets the stage for how the men were expected to act. Her interest in a bold and openly devoted partner continues during a group date where the men are forced to play strip dodgeball, battling over extra time with her. This date sparked some concerns, putting pressure on the men to act in a way that they might not be comfortable with in order to assure their time with Crawley.
Sydney Markowitz, a senior majoring in psychology, commented on how this activity was degrading in addition to being an unnecessary demand.
“I think it was demeaning to the men,” Markowitz said. “And I think that if the roles were reversed, the producers would not have had women strip down to their underwear.”
Crawley’s determination to find an eager, authentic partner has been criticized due to her lack of reciprocated interest. In an escalating conversation, she sent home contestant Brandon Goss for not knowing enough about her prior to the show. To Crawley, Goss’s lack of research wasn’t satisfactory enough to prove his passion toward her. Crawley’s confidence is admirable but somewhat hypocritical. Not only was Goss’s response honest and distinct from the over-romanticized comments that most of the men made, but it truthfully addressed the aim of the show. This exchange left viewers wondering whether or not Crawley researched the men herself, since she too had access to their information prior to filming.
In addition to her imbalanced expectations, Crawley failed to validate the group of men by showing an overarching interest in contestant Dale Moss and unequally distributing her time among the men. Markowitz found these actions inconsiderate.
“She claims that she wants all of them to respect her, but she is not respectful of their time, hence her making out with Moss for 40 minutes while the guys were waiting to talk to her on a group date,” Markowitz said.
Crawley’s fascination with Moss not only invalidated the group but counteracted her intentions to get to know everyone. After a group date at a “roast,” Crawley became defensive of Moss despite her request for the jokes to not be taken seriously. She proceeded to ask each of the men about their exchanges with Moss during one-on-one conversations. These uncomfortable instances, along with Crawley’s consistent mentioning of Moss on dates with other men and disproportionate time spent with him, made overtly clear to the group what her priority was, creating a wall between herself and the others by the third episode. While this situation might be acceptable when translated to real life, it’s important to note the several weeks of quarantine and overall time the men invested in order to meet her, just to be pushed to the side.
The nature of “The Bachelorette” notably draws concerns about authenticity, but after three episodes, Crawley’s original motive to exhibit a realistic journey toward love has fallen short through her own questionable decisions. She has made evident her high standards and efforts to avoid settling as seen by her multiple attempts on the show and high range of age. However, this character lost some credibility after she remarks about meeting her husband after her initial, short greeting with Moss. Her strong will is further dissolved when she calls Moss her fiance in the third episode.
Crawley consistently states how this is finally her “time.” However, the irony is that this is her fifth appearance on a “The Bachelor”-produced show. Viewers wish Crawley the best, but have accepted that her clear thinking and honest attitude might not line up with what this season has to show for her.