A recent development in the Vietnamese-language adaptation of the popular television show “The Bachelor” has set the Internet abuzz. And it has a distinctly LGBTQ turn to it.
A new trailer for an episode of the Vietnamese “Bachelor” shows the female contestant Minh Thu, 20, telling official Bachelor candidate Nguyen Quoc Trung that she wasn’t interested in him–before she headed offstage with another female contestant, Truc Nhu, 27. Thu is a student, Nhu a stuntwoman.
Thu told Trung: “I went into this competition to find love and I’ve found that for myself.” Then she approached and embraced Nhu. “Come home with me,” Thu said. Nhu than gave her rose to Nguyen, and said: “I know you’ll find someone who really loves you.” Then, together, the pair left the ceremony.
Later, after Nhu talked with Trung, she said that she would “stick around.” Still, viewers, cast, and staff of the show are said to be reeling.
According to Vulture, the show’s executive producer Anh Tran said “Myself, the story producer, the director, the host … I think ‘jaw drop’ is the only way I can describe everybody’s face.”
The Bachelor television program first premiered in America in 2002, and was a ratings smash. Since that time, the show has been exported to over thirty countries. There have been many bachelors and bachelorettes.
However, there has not been any instance of two show contestants leaving the program (or its elimination ceremony) together. Two contestants from the Australian series, Tiffany Scanlon and Megan Marx, began dating after the season closed in 2016. But the Thu-Nhu partnership is the first such instance of a pair joining together during the show.
According to the New York Times, most of the reaction has been on the international scene, not in Vietnam: “One apparent reason: Acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships has become so commonplace in the country that they are no longer all that surprising. … Vietnam is seen as a leader on gay rights in Southeast Asia, a region where social conservatism is common and some governments still enforce draconian laws that criminalize gay sex.”
The country decriminalized same-sex marriage (without full legalization) and allows for registration of a new gender. The first Vietnamese Pride parade occurred six years ago.
However, Vulture notes, “While homosexuality has never been criminalized in Vietnam, same-sex marriage isn’t legally recognized and employment protections for LGBT people remain out of reach. But the pair of producers note that a recent run of Vietnamese films about gay people — as well as an out trans contestant on Project Runway Vietnam — have led to increased acceptance.”