OPINION: Bachelor really crossed the line

17th August 2017 4:00 PM
Leah Costa, 24, admitted she felt ‘degraded’ by her treatment on The Bachelor. Leah Costa, 24, admitted she felt ‘degraded’ by her treatment on The Bachelor. Channel 10

BACHELOR contestant Leah Costa has come out swinging after she was unceremoniously dumped for "hiding her past" in adult entertainment.

Our anaemic hero Matty J insisted he didn't object to her topless waitressing history but couldn't stand the fact she kept it a secret - which seems rather disingenuous, since the entire episode revolved around exposing Leah's "dirty laundry" and cementing her role as the villain of the piece.

Beautiful, bland Matty was not at all perturbed to see the other women reduced to a gaggle of bitching, sniping harpies.

One by one, they took turns to make snide remarks to camera about their most hated rival's seedy Achilles' heel. Then came the convenient opportunity: Matty's sister grilling each girl about the authenticity of their search for love.

They'd better be there for the right reasons! But wait, perhaps Leah is there for the wrong reasons, because - whisper it - she has a past.

Leah shouldn’t have to apologise for working in adult entertainment.
Leah shouldn’t have to apologise for working in adult entertainment. Channel 10

An appalled Keanu Reeves - sorry, Matty - was quickly informed that he was "the last to know", and was appropriately horrified Leah had not confessed. When he took her aside, she gave him the excuse he needed to get rid of her, by admitting she relished "pushing the buttons" of struggling fellow contestant Simone.

Mild-mannered Matty was disgusted. Not by the topless waitressing, you understand, but by her secret-keeping and her desire to "break" the hapless Simone and push her over the edge.

When Leah then exposed Simone's similar topless past and he confronted her too, she broke down in tears and told him she had done what she needed to in order to survive. Repentant, she was forgiven.

Meanwhile, as Leah furiously confronted the other girls, one asked, to delighted cackles: "Did he tip you?"

The producers must have been rubbing their hands in glee. At its most dramatic, the show pits desperate-looking women against each other to catfight over a nondescript hunk. And Australia laps it up.

Leah this morning said she felt "degraded" after last night's show, telling the Hit105's Stav, Abby & Matt with Osher she was "hiding nothing, he just never asked."

Whether or not she was hiding it - and she probably felt she needed to - Leah is not quite the first reality star who has worked in adult entertainment. Presenter Osher Gunsberg noted that the first two Bachelors were topless waiters, and had faced no trace of backlash or need for a confession.

"When you look at those photos (from her topless waitressing days), remember there were 13 men in the room paying for it," he said. "There's a transaction going on, and it's useless to shame someone for doing something like that."

Leah later appeared on Studio 10, where she explained that she was busy studying for an architecture degree and didn't have the time to spend 30 hours a week working in Woolworths - sadly, stripping off is often the easiest, fastest way for women to make money.

But she shouldn't have to explain her decision or apologise for it over and over again. The Bachelor producers picked two contestants who had worked in adult entertainment, no doubt to spice up the show. It means viewers can be both titillated by revelations about their racy history, while pretending to be shocked and condemning their bad behaviour.

Or there may be another way. Many viewers took to social media to express anger and disappointment at Leah's treatment.

Do we need this kind of narrative to create a ratings-smashing TV show?

Ultimately, Leah's biggest problem was that she didn't play the game. She made it pretty clear she wasn't really "there for love". She took matters into her own hands and moved in to kiss with Matty in front of the other girls (he backed off). She hadn't fallen for the vanilla demi-god, and as she admitted on the Kyle and Jackie O Show, she wasn't even sure that was possible: "I don't know if it's even him, I think the situation's unreal," she said. "How are you meant to find love in the situation? I think the girls that do are a bit desperate; it's a bit sad."

What is even more sad is shaming women and bullying them for the very attributes that put them on our televisions in the first place.

Continue the conversation in the comments, tweet @emmareyn, or email emma.reynolds@news.com.au.