To anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that one of my lamest pleasures is reality TV. Specifically, shows in the Bachelor franchise. When they announced that after two seasons of Bachelor Canada, they’d be doing Bachelorette Canada for the first time, I was cautiously optimistic. Let’s face it: the two seasons of Bachelor Canada were kind of lame – little travel, everything looked so “budget”, and despite what I’m sure were the production company’s best efforts, the show just felt so “Canadian trying to be American” and naturally, failing.
Well, with this inaugural installation of Bachelorette Canada, I have been pleasantly surprised – the season is fantastic! As good, if not better, than its American counterpart. The lead, Jasmine, is a delight to watch, and I think that has made all the difference. The gang has done a significant amount of world travelling, and are now back to Canada for “hometowns”, where they visited Newmarket and Waterloo, ON and, drumroll please… our very own Winnipeg, home of fan favourite, firefighter Mike Ogilvie.
Spoiler alert: despite an amazing meeting with his family, Jasmine sent Mike home this past week. Their relationship was just moving too slow and he hadn’t opened up as much as he needed to for the process to work (read: things were developing at a normal pace for the real world, but doomed in this context). Poor Mike. When the season started, I didn’t quite understand the fan bases’s Mike-mania, but as the weeks went by, he kind of grew on me. Mike for Bachelor Canada 3? I’d be happy with that.
Anyway, I am going somewhere Winnipegy with all this. Did anyone else find that it was almost Winnipeg itself that was the contestant in this season, rather than Mike? As someone who at one point was intensely curious about Winnipeg’s inferiority complex and love/hate civic relationship, I found it fascinating that Winnipeg became such a plot point.
Could Jasmine, a travelling free spirit now currently based in BC, see herself in Winnipeg? (Mike didn’t see himself leaving his firefighting career here – but I always wonder how much of those “where would we live?” discussions make it to air. I was under the impression that firefighting is a profession in most places.) I don’t think the words “a boring old podunk town like” were ever uttered before “Winnipeg” but you can read between the lines. (Of course, all this took place before that Vogue thing happened… we’ll never know if that could have swayed things in favour of our hero.)
Well, it turns out that Jasmine grew up in Kenora, and so living in Winnipeg would feel like coming home in a way: familiar, comforting, known….but still. There was just something unspoken about the city that clearly was a roadblock. Settling. A step backwards.
Winnipeg was cast as the unfortunate underbelly of a seemingly all-star contestant. In all the years I’ve been watching this franchise, I don’t think a contestant’s place of residence has played such a prominent role in the lead’s assessment, except of course for Iowa in Chris’s season.
In the same way that most Canadians are hyper-aware of any references to Canada in the US television, when you live in Winnipeg, your ears really perk up when our city is mentioned or represented anywhere (except if it’s to name us the murder capital of Canada or the Slurpee capital of the world. That’s yesterday’s news.). And so, I just found it really interesting how there was never any real debate (spoken or implied) over whether Jasmine would want to live in some random part of Ontario, but Winnipeg? Come on. Without question, that would fall into the “things the we do for love” category, and maybe not even then.
Poor Winnipeg just can’t catch a break. (Although now that I think of it, Drew didn’t do Toronto any favours either.)
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for production during this season. Was the “Winnipeg Factor” really such a huge thing, or did it get a little help from the editing department to make it play out as a bigger issue than it really was? And if so, whose idea was it to cast Winnipeg as this insurmountable obstacle – all biased and oblivious producers from Vancouver and Toronto? Is it possible a Winnipeg producer could have exploited his or her understanding of the local inferiority complex to betray us in this way? I know it was an obvious choice—everyone knows Winnipeg makes a great butt for jokes—but it did feel a little tired and predictable. And considering how great this season was, that was a bit of a letdown.
So — did you watch this season? Am I overreacting to/overanalysing the Winnipeg issue? Would love to know your thoughts.