‘The Bachelor’ goes to Singapore and perpetuates nasty stereotypes about Asian food

PEOPLE are rarely shown eating on The Bachelor.

Throughout the history of the show, women have perched in picturesque settings with muscly, vacant-eyed dudes and untouched plates of food. But this episode night was different.

For the show’s fourth episode, production moved to Singapore, giving the group of mostly white, mostly blonde women some Crazy Rich Asians-esque fantasy dates. It was noted earlier in the episode that it was bachelor Colton Underwood’s first time leaving the country.

Colton took the women on a group date to the markets, where they shopped and participated, squeamishly, in leech therapy. Then it was time to eat.

Singapore is known for its night markets, a must-see on every tourist itinerary; there are numerous tours devoted to the best street food and drinks in the city. So it was inevitable that they would be a stop on this episode. The women sat down at a long table, and the food came out.

The Bachelor cast headed to Singapore

“You guys hungry?” said Colton. “What is this? Bullfrog?”

“They say frogs taste like chicken,” said one of the women.

And off they went, rehashing some of the ugliest American stereotypes about Asian food. The entire segment was designed to make the women try street food that is considered perfectly normal in Asia but “disgusting” to Western palates – perpetuating nasty stereotypes that food from Asian countries is dirty and unsophisticated.

“An animal’s feet – ewwwww!” said one woman, as they all talked over one another. “Wait, will I die?” asked another.

The show has never been known for its diversity. Only one woman of colour, Rachel Lindsay, has ever been the Bachelorette, and a major plotline on her season was a contestant’s racist tweets. Two women of mixed Asian heritage have won previous seasons of The Bachelor. But in the show’s 23 seasons, most of the suitors and winners have been white.

But even for The Bachelor, the episode felt especially disrespectful, especially considering that the travel segments of the show are usually flattering to their host country, given the freebies and sponsorships the show receives. The contestants were openly mocking food that – it was immediately obvious – they did not even attempt to understand.

This is not just a problem on The Bachelor. Chef David Chang has previously called out “hidden racism in how people perceive not just Chinese food, but basically anything that’s different from mainstream America” – including how people demonise monosodium glutamate, or MSG, in Asian cooking but seem unaffected by that same ingredient in Doritos. Filipino Americans grow up with hiya, or shame, about the smells and taste of their famous dishes, which include duck embryos. In 2017, Bon Appétit got in hot water for saying that matcha and turmeric, often used in Asian cooking, “taste like dirt.”