So, I’m going to admit to something a little embarrassing – I watch “The Bachelor.” It started off as a family thing, where we’d all watch and text each other to make fun of it, but now I just watch it regardless. It’s ridiculous, and at times offensive, but it’s sort of like having junk food-not great for you, but soothing in its own way.
So I was watching the latest season of “The Bachelor” (the most dramatic season ever!), and suddenly, I heard a contestant, Elizabeth, tell another woman, Shanae, that she has ADHD. In fact, Elizabeth uses this as a defense when she is accused by Shanae of being “two faced” and “not paying attention to her,” claiming that she has difficulty focusing on more than one person at a time.
And Shanae, who has already been established as a villain, says (I’m paraphrasing here), “Oh sure. Don’t only kids have ADHD? Yeah, you have ADHD, I have ADHD, everyone has it.” She then tells all of the other women in the house that Elizabeth has ADHD, and everyone is appalled that Shenae told them about Elizabeth’s “mental health challenges.”
The next day, several people came to Elizabeth’s side in the press, including a former Bachelorette, saying that they too have ADHD, have experienced what Elizabeth is discussing, and that Shanae is just a real jerk.
Now, I suppose people discussing ADHD openly is a good thing-so much better than when kids were told “Don’t tell anyone about your ADHD! It’s not their business!” (and yes, that did happen, quite a bit, about 15 or 20 years ago and beyond). As well as celebrities jumping up to say that they have ADHD too.
So why does the whole thing make me feel so icky?
If you’ve watched any of the seasons of “The Bachelor” franchise, you can’t miss the fact that every episode is heavily edited, to depict intrigue and drama among the contestants. So ADHD has become part of the plot, along with group dates and rose ceremonies.
Would the same have happened if a contestant said she had Crohn’s disease, and had a stomach ache? Or diabetes, and was concerned about her sugar? Would ABC have kept footage of a contestant saying, in response, “Diabetes? Yeah I don’t do well with sugar either. Everyone has trouble with sugar, we all have diabetes.”
While shining a light on ADHD is always welcome, treating it as something that is just a plot point is unfair, and irresponsible. The desired end, in this case filmed acrimony between two contestants, isn’t always justified by the means.
Maybe ABC should get back into the Afterschool Special business. And do one on ADHD.