This week, for the first time since I was peer-pressured into watching the Bachelor franchise two-ish years ago, I listened to a recap podcast.
To be clear, this was not your typical Bachelor franchise recap podcast. The hosts did not judge contestants on their attractiveness, nor did they speculate about the significance of the First Impression Rose. Instead, it was POLITICO’s Dan Diamond and Jeremy Siegel, discussing COVID-19 safety precautions and public health messaging as seen on The Bachelorette. They were inspired by this tweet, which apparently garnered more attention than Diamond had anticipated:
They also talked about the NBA’s championship bubble. It was a pretty fun episode—highly recommend. But the episode got me thinking: neither this podcast nor the Bachelorette season premiere itself mentioned what kind of COVID-19 tests the contestants were taking, how often they were tested during the show, or any data from the show’s filming.
As I explained last week, differentiation between the various COVID-19 tests now available is a major gap in American public health messaging. Everyone from White House staffers to the patients at my neighborhood clinic wants to be tested with the fastest option available, and they want to do it without going onto the FDA’s website and reading through every test’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It’s crucial for anyone publicly talking about testing to get specific about what kind of tests they’re using and why—this type of messaging will help people make their own educated decisions.
The Bachelorette had an opportunity to not only show average Americans the COVID-19 testing experience, but to also explain which tests are more useful for particular situations, and, yes, explain how to interpret some COVID-19 data. In interviews with Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, producers on the show described how contestants went through regular testing with the “full nasal test” and undertook quarantine measures. But first of all: the “full nasal test” could refer to one of about 40 nucleic acid and antigen tests which have received EUA, and second of all, talking in general terms about your show’s testing protocol makes it hard for a journalist like me, much less for an actual public health expert, to evaluate what you did. And, most importantly, it only gives the TV show’s millions of viewers a general idea of the options available to them when they need to get tested themselves.
The best thing I could find on Bachelorette testing, through some pretty targeted Google searches, was a headline from the Nashville Scene reading: “The Bachelorette Recap: Testing Positive for Love.” Which, honestly? I’m glad someone used that joke.
What I’m saying is, I want a Bachelorette COVID-19 dashboard. I want numbers of all the tests conducted, I want to know their manufacturers, I want a timeline of when the tests happened, and I want to know all of the test results. If anyone reading this has a contact at ABC… hook me up.