Rachel Lindsay has made it known that she's a huge fan of Clare Crawley, but she's not such a huge fan of how ABC is promoting her season of The Bachelorette.
The latest piece of promo turned quite a few heads, mostly because of the classic movie it references. A new poster features Clare in jeans and a blazer. She's leaning against a wall, while in the foreground, a man is putting on a sock. It's a gender-flipped version of the poster for The Graduate, which is a 1967 movie about an affair between 21-year-old Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) and the much older Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Benjamin then falls for Mrs. Robinson's much more age-appropriate daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). The tagline at the top of the poster reads, "It's about time."
The movie has made "Mrs. Robinson" synonymous with an older woman who dates younger men, and it all makes sense when you consider that at 39, Clare is the oldest Bachelorette in franchise history and most of the men who were named as her potential suitors were quite a bit younger, with ages ranging from 25 to 40.
Rachel appeared on the latest episode of EW Live on Sirius XM, and while she admitted she hadn't seen The Graduate, she didn't love that so much attention was being paid to the reference the ad was making.
"I didn't like it," she said. "I didn't understand it and I don't think we should be questioning what the ad is and that's what we are talking about more than we are about her and her season, 'cause I'm excited for Clare. I've been a big proponent of her. I'm not sure how all of this goes down with all the rumors that are going around but I am excited for Clare and for her to have this moment."
When host Jessica Shaw explained the plot of The Graduate, Rachel was not any happier about it.
"That's the movie?!" she said, laughing. "OK, I'm watching it tonight. What?! Now I'm hot. I gotta call somebody. I did not realize that. OK, now I'm a little bothered."
Rachel is not the only person to be "a little bothered" by the comparison.
Said one fan on Twitter, "Making Clare into 'Mrs. Robinson', an older lady who seduces a young man only for him to fall in love with her daughter, is *a choice*."
Said another, "Turning Clare Crawley into 'Mrs Robinson' because she's THIRTY NINE is making me mad??"
We shouldn't have expected anything less from the same franchise that made Colton Underwood pose for a remake of the 40 Year-Old Virgin poster, but there was at least a sense of humor there. This just feels sort of rude, especially when you consider that a major part of the movie is Mrs. Robinson being replaced in Benjamin's eyes by her much younger daughter, sort of like how Clare is being replaced by Tayshia Adams, who is a full 10 years younger.
But Clare's not being replaced by Tayshia because a man prefers the younger woman. Clare is, according to sources, being replaced because she successfully finds love and doesn't want to bother dating a bunch of other men she she knows she doesn't want to be with.
The fact that the poster is also gender-swapped here doesn't really make a ton of sense, because she's taking the place in the poster of the younger person even though she's the oldest Bachelorette. Then again, we're talking about a woman who is 39. She's not "old" and is only "older" because of who producers cast to be on her season.
In that same vein, The Graduate didn't make a lot of sense either, because in real life, Hoffman was 30 when the movie filmed and Bancroft was only 36.
All of this is to say that this is an unexpectedly layered film reference for The Bachelorette to make, and overall it just feels kind of mean. As Rachel pointed out, we shouldn't be sitting here questioning whether an ad for the show was offensive or appropriate. We should be excited that Clare is doing the show at age 39 (a full 15 years older than reigning Bachelorette Hannah Brown was), and we should be excited that she finds love so quickly that we get a second, equally exciting Bachelorette in Tayshia Adams.
Why is this show making complicated movie references when it could be teasing and celebrating the best, most thrilling, most positive twist its had in years? Why is it insinuating that Clare is so old that "it's about time" she found love? Why does this already feel sort of icky?
Maybe we'll find out when the show returns Tuesday, Oct. 13 on ABC.