We Deserve a Podcast: Our favorite reality shows that are definitely absolutely about gender justice so you should feel very fine bingeing them, in fact you’ll be a better feminist if you do.

If you’re anything like us, we could not have rolled our eyes harder at the previews for Listen To Your Heart, the latest concept from The Bachelor franchise. And if we had listened to our hearts, we likely would not have watched this spin-off. But lo and behold, a global pandemic happened, sources of entertainment dwindled, and we found ourselves enthralled, once again, in the always entertaining, always problematic world of The Bachelor

ON ANTI-TRUST AND LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

As much as we weren’t expecting this show to be good, we were pleasantly surprised (or our expectations for “fun” have collectively lowered during this pandemic). First and foremost, these contestants can sing! Rudi and Matt’s “Shallow” performance is a must-see with honorable mention to their rendition of “Tennessee Whiskey”. Although the premise of the show is corny, it was refreshing to see a more “normal” reality-competition show that wasn’t focused on 20+ people vying for one person. That typical format of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette notoriously does not bring out the best in the contestants—especially the women. Of course, the show likely looks for and prods women contestants into fulfilling every female stereotype in the book. It’s a tale as old as time: women pitted against each other for having one common goal. In Listen To You Heart, we see contestants focused on finding their own match and we get to see much more natural, “real” looking relationships in between their romantic serenades. 

LTYH contestant saying

On The Bachelor, there’s really only room for one woman. Only one woman can win (though in our eyes, getting a sweet sweet influencer deal is probably more of a win than ending up with a lot of the recent Bachelors. That’s a story for a different day). This feels a bit like the somewhat canonical lone female CEO, the one woman who makes it to the top of her corporate ladder, or whatever her version of the corporate ladder is. It’s great that there’s a female CEO, it’d be even better if there were more than one woman in the c-suite. Having multiple types of relationships and multiple ways women were able to forge successful partnerships meant that viewers got to see there are many ways to be a woman. And as we’ve seen in past television shows of all kinds, Bachelor-related or not, having one of anything isn’t really diversity. Having one gay character implies that there’s one hyper-specific way to be gay. Real diversity is showing that no identity is a monolith, and you accomplish that by showing complexities within an identity.  

We liked Listen To Your Heart because the show allowed each woman to be a little bit more like herself and a little bit less like the role she was supposed to fill.

LTYH contestant saying "it's just so magical!"

ALL IS NOT FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR

While Listen To Your Heart does have a healthier competitive style, there certainly are still some classic sexist tropes lingering. Like all reality-competition shows, you’ve got to play the game. In Listen To Your Heart, you not only want to find love, but you want to win the singing competition as well. Throughout the series, we’ve seen double-standards of women and men playing the game in similar ways and being treated very differently. Most notably, Julia and Brandon. Both forwent relationships with people who were interested in them to see if the sparks would fly with each other. 

While both inevitably got voted off the show, the vitriol against Julia seemed a lot harsher than what Brandon was given. For the record, Sheridan (the man Julia passed up) has no ill-will towards Julia and even reached out to her when he saw the backlash she got. Double standards are so 2017. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, people!

LTYH contestant saying "game on"

As much as we were prepared to hate Listen To Your Heart, it definitely grew on us. *Spoiler alert* Bri and Chris ended up winning but many of the couples have released music for your listening pleasure. Or you can continue watching Rudi and Matt’s “Shallow” performance on loop like we are! 

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