As Australia prepares for The Bachelorette, B&T sat down with host Osher Günsberg and executive producer Hilary Innes to chat about the new season.
It’s very clear that this season of The Bachelorette is unlike any before: star Brooke Blurton is both the first First Nations Bachelorette, and the first who is openly bisexual.
As a result, for the first time, people of multiple genders will be competing for the Bachelorette’s heart.
“The casting of Brooke [brings] a momentum of its own,” Innes said.
“It’s different, and it’s brave on her part. I’m holding hands with her, as we are stepping outside a traditional comfort zone, I suppose, of dating shows internationally to tell the story of a bisexual, First Nations woman.”
Günsberg, who has hosted the Australian Bachelor franchise since its inception, firmly agrees.
“I’ve wished for this since they day I started – though, as with many thing, the timing has to be right. I’ve been quite vocal over the years when people have asked me, trying to explain to people how television is made: it can be difficult to do something like this.”
“You have to really wait for all the cogs to align before you can engage the gears. You have to wait for all the gears to the line before you even engage the throttle. And really, all the gears aligned.”
“We have the perfect star. We have the perfect time in a society. The conversation is ready, Australia’s ready. Traffic lights, we’re off.”
Reflecting on the significance of Blurton’s casting, Günsberg cited a core belief of his: “you can’t be what you can’t see.”
“It’s so important to show what the community actually looks like on primetime TV,” he explained.
Blurton is someone he describes as an: “incredible woman who’s so powerful and so smart and so driven by her purpose through the youth work that she does. She’s so driven by that. She has such a strong connection to country and culture.”
“She completely understands the weight of the communities that she represents. The non-heteronormative community and the First Nations, Indigenous community, and she is powerful enough and strong enough to hold those in each hand as she steps forward and tries to find love in a way that’s meaningful to her.”
Both Innes and Günsberg described the season as being full of raw emotional vulnerability, with Blurton herself having great authenticity with regard to her emotions.
For Innes, this season of The Bachelorette means Network 10 is doing “something really overdue, and so important.”
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But, I truly hope it opens the door to where we should be as a global community, about telling everyone’s stories: not just heterosexual stories. It’s not the way the world is, and [it] hasn’t been forever.”
More than that, having a bisexual Bachelorette, according to Innes, “is one of the most significant things that’s been done in a dating show for many years.”
She acknowledges that there have been bisexual contributors on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette before, but that these stories usually come out after the show has aired.
“I think there’s a lot of bravery,” she said of Blurton.
“I think she’s a really special, and strong, impressive young woman…[and] a great role model for men and women.”
Discussing this season more generally, Günsberg named Innes herself as a “legend in Australian television” and cited her as part of what makes the program so special.
To understand the franchise, he said, we need to look as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: “there’s food, there’s shelter, there’s love and connection. This show is about the size of that shelter.”
“I think the reason why The Bachelor works – where we’ve done nine seasons of The Bachelor and seven of The Bachelorette – [is because] we love love. We love a love story. And, I think part of us is also curious to see how other people go through the courtship ritual.”
People are “really going to get blown away when they see this season of The Bachelorette. We all have non-heteronormative relationships in our lives, people that we love that are in non-heteronormative relationships, that we might not have been present for the courtship part of that relationship.”
Ultimately, Innes said she opens a door, both for viewers, and for television more generally, regardless of network.
“There’s a lot of really amazing television being made which embraces diversity and inclusivity, obviously, but in terms of big mainstream brands, this is a world first. I’m really proud to be part of a network that made that choice. I think it’s time and yes, I hope it opens the door for our own brands.”
The new season of The Bachelorette will be, without a doubt, ground-breaking in more ways that one: Innes also spilled that a world record was set on the show. Ultimately, though, it is the fact that many Australians will, for the first time, see someone like them at the heart of a prime-time reality romance show.