However, unlike previous seasons, this age-shaming has actually proved to be a somewhat positive: Because instead of actually perpetrating this idea, producers are going out of their way to establish that the people making these remarks are, in fact, the ones who are ridiculous. It’s a worthy lesson.
Take that time a few weeks ago when 26-year-old Ashley I. went on a tearful rant about the fact that her crush, Jared, was choosing to date 34-year-old Clare over her. Ashley I. fumed that she wasn’t going to let some cougar steal her man.
“I’ve had to deal with an old lady before, and it’s really freaking me out ’cause this is exactly how it is,” Ashley I. complained. “I hate it.”
Her sister Lauren, also a cast member, agreed that 30-somethings were the worst because they were so desperate that they would hook up with anyone. Specifically, she called out 30-year-old Juelia and 31-year-old Tenley. Lauren explained that she could afford to be pickier when she didn’t see any potential matches.
“So they’re just drunk and, like, will do whatever they want with anyone … ’cause they’re old,” Lauren explained. “And, like, I’m 24, and I don’t want anyone here. And I want to go home.”
On the after-show to analyze the episode, host Chris Harrison decided he wouldn’t let Ashley get away with her ageist remarks. “Ashley, what is your problem with old ladies?” Harrison demanded.
“I’m 49, so I must be thoroughly repulsive to you,” said “Scandal” star Josh Malina, serving as the evening’s special guest. “I apologize for even being on this couch.”
Ashley I., suddenly bashful, launched into an explanation about how she once liked a guy who was in his 20s, but he instead went after a woman who was 12 years older than him and it left some scars.
“And she was mid-30s? That is disgusting,” Harrison said dryly as the audience cheered on his sarcasm.
“I don’t think 31 is old! I don’t think 41 is old. My parents, in their 50s, they’re not old,” Ashley I. protested. “But I think that, you know, you’re going to say something bad about any girl after the guy you like.”
Cue awkward silence as the visibly amused guests tried really hard not to roll their eyes. “I’m going to do you a huge favor, we’re going to take a break. We will remove that shoe from your mouth very quickly,” Harrison said.
Likewise, on future episodes, producers showcased the cast members in a way that if they make a derogatory remark about someone’s age, they come off as looking even more lame. This includes the Clare-Ashley I.-Jared love triangle. Jared, by the way, is also 26.
“I’m confident that he is more attracted to me than her. Like, seriously? She’s 34,” Ashley I. boasted. “Does any 26-year-old really wanna go out with a 34-year-old? Her eggs are almost dead.” (As you can imagine, Twitter really loved that comment.)
Of course, Jared chose Clare for the date, which led to lots of sniping from both men and women. Ashley I. called Clare a cougar who uses her “voodoo boy magic” and “sex appeal” to attract men. Mikey, who had a crush on Clare, started bashing Jared for dating a women who’s older.
” You want to date a girl 8 years old than you? That’s your prerogative, bro,” grumbled Mikey, age 32, who accused Jared of wanting a “sugar mama.”
As the producers let Ashley and Mikey rant, they looked like the desperate ones. Same when Ashley S. (already billed as the “crazy” contestant) insulted Clare, who left one rose ceremony in tears: “I guess Clare wants to stay here in paradise. I also think she’s 34 years old and she wants to find love. I get it,” Ashley S. said sadly. “And it’s probably pathetic, like, to herself. She probably feels pathetic.”
To its credit, “Bachelor in Paradise” producers display equal opportunity ageism. For example, 29-year-old Joe didn’t take it kindly when 32-year-old Dan took him aside to give him some advice. Like all “older” guys ages 35-40, Joe speculated, Dan was trying to be the hero.
“Hell, you’re 36 and on a reality TV show,” Joe grumbled, missing the mark by four years. “I mean, who can really take you seriously?”
Dan, watching the show at home, also took offense when Ashley S. called him an “old man” and “the grandpa of the group:
Overall, even though producers are making it clear that it’s ridiculous to call a 34-year-old or a 32-year-old too ancient for love, we couldn’t help but feel relieved when Clare — a three-time “Bachelor” cast member — escaped more reality TV humiliation and finally left the show on Sunday night.
Although, unfortunately, given the theme of the season, she could have phrased her exit phrase a little better: “This is my retirement from ‘Bachelor in Paradise,'” she said.