First disclaimer to this post is that I was working out at the gym, and when you are working at the gym (as Paul McGreal notes, below) you sometimes encounter the bad habits of others, such as fellow patrons singing amusing versions of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” At other times you just can’t escape viewing an episode of The Bachelor, which was being projected on a large screen near the treadmills last night. Second disclaimer is that I actually have written before about employment law and reality TV (my argument was that Donald Trump’s “you’re fired” on The Apprentice had a lot to teach us about the at will employment rule).
So, with those disclaimers (I am *not* a big Bachelor fan!) I must say that the episode I watched was high in emotional content and rather shocking. The bachelor (a pilot, Jake) has gotten his choice narrowed down to four women, and he visited each contestant in her hometown. One contestant, Ali, was told during her hometown visit that she faced a difficult choice. Either she could leave the show and return to work (as an advertising executive), or she could stay on the show and lose her job. Given that there were three other contestants left and that the outcome was uncertain, and given that Ali “loved her job,” she ultimately made the choice to leave the show and keep working. Although many reality shows are “scripted” this genuinely seemed like an agonizing decision for the contestant.
Looking around online today, Ali seemed to be catching some flak for her choice to put career first. I asked my employment law class about this today (in the context of work-family balance) and, to the contrary, they seemed to think that Ali had made the right decision. Law students are obviously more career-oriented than some viewers of the show might be, to be sure. But am I right to think that these issues still have some currency? Anecdotally, this issue of moving about seems to be more difficult for women who are trying to have a career (but I could be wrong about that). I would definitely be interested to hear some perspectives from itinerant-law-professor types.
While it certainly is too bad that Ali had to make such a difficult decision about work and her relationship in front of millions of viewers, maybe her experience could call attention to this issue, and lead to further exploration of whether this choice (or society’s expectations) about work and relationships are gendered.