Why we should all hope the new Bachelorette gets her happy ending

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Why we should all hope the new Bachelorette gets her happy ending

By Karl Quinn

Many people can’t understand why anyone would go on TV hoping to find the love of their life. What hope, then, do they have of understanding Brooke Blurton, whose turn as The Bachelorette marks her third outing on Ten’s roses-champers-and-romance franchise.

“I never doubted that it would work,” says the 26-year-old of reality TV’s shortcut to Happily Ever After. “It hadn’t been successful for me the first two times ... but now I know it works.”

The name’s Blurton. Brooke Blurton.

The name’s Blurton. Brooke Blurton.Credit:Ten

Blurton isn’t about to reveal the identity of her chosen one. She’s not even saying if it’s a Mr or a Ms Right. But the West Australian social worker, whose mother is Aboriginal-Malaysian and whose father is English, is willing to reflect on the fact that she has made history by becoming the first openly bisexual and first First Nations person to front the enormously successful franchise anywhere on the planet.

“The show has really needed the diversity push, it has been quite behind the times in that,” she says. “I think it will shine a light on the communities I represent, First Nations and being part of the LGBTQIA+ community – the alphabet mafia.

“It’s not the final product, it’s not the end, but it’s a start in representing these groups.”

Having made it to the final three in the Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins season in 2018 - during which she revealed that she had dated both men and women in the past (while also declaring “I’m not bisexual”) - and having had an almost-fling with former Bachelorette Alex Nation on Bachelor in Paradise the following year, Blurton is a known commodity for network and viewers alike.

Blurton, who was born in Carnarvon, Western Australia, is a proud Noongar-Yamatji woman.

Blurton, who was born in Carnarvon, Western Australia, is a proud Noongar-Yamatji woman.Credit:Ten

“Brooke is someone dearly loved,” says Ten’s executive producer of the show, Hilary Innes. “There’s a luminosity, a lovely openness and an aura about her.”

She also has a remarkable back story – not that we’ll likely get much more than hints of it on the show.

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In October 2019, Blurton delivered a remarkably frank TedX Talk in Perth, where she talked about “my actual identity, my cultural identity, [which] is so much more important than my TV identity”.

She described growing up with a drug-addicted mother, being too light-skinned to be accepted as Aboriginal, too dark-skinned and poor to be accepted as white. She talked about being bullied and teased, of finding her grandmother collapsed in the backyard after she’d had a stroke and being the one to call the ambulance, and of her mother taking her life three days later. She talked about being sexually abused at the wake after falling asleep in exhaustion from the stress and grief. She was 11 years old.

She talked about going to live with her father and his wife and the fact that for the next two years she didn’t speak, finding release only in kicking a footy. At 15, she was kicked out of the family home. A kindly teacher took her under her wing, and helped her see the value of an education, of hard work, of taking control of her life. And she talked about her work helping other kids struggling with their identity to find a path to belonging.

Having come out to Nick Cummins on The Bachelor, Blurton enjoyed a steamy almost-romance with Alex Nation on Bachelor in Paradise the following year.

Having come out to Nick Cummins on The Bachelor, Blurton enjoyed a steamy almost-romance with Alex Nation on Bachelor in Paradise the following year. Credit:Ten

If it addresses these things at all, The Bachelorette will do so only fleetingly, by allusion. But the facts of Blurton’s story are such that only the most churlish could wish her anything but a fairytale ending.

“I feel like this season will show my personality and show a bit more depth, without diving into the things I spoke about in the TED talk,” Blurton says. “I’ve promised myself to be open because I want young people to feel as comfortable in their own skin as I do.”

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If she can shift the dial a little on people’s attitudes she’ll be delighted. “A lot of people aren’t exposed to Indigenous culture or they don’t know much about it, and this season will show a glimpse of how important it is to me, and how it’s important to all Australians to recognise and acknowledge it. Also, obviously, opening people’s eyes up to sexuality, seeing it on mainstream media.”

But, she says, she’s not just Brooke-the-bisexual, she’s also just Brooke. “I’m not defined by the person I’m dating or sleeping with.”

For all that this season is about representing it is, she says, “also partly about my story, and me finding the person I want to spend the rest of my life with”.

“That’s the overarching thing I’d like people to see,” she says. “That love is love, and it doesn’t matter who it’s with.”

Or even, perhaps, where you find it.

The Bachelorette is on Ten from Wednesday, October 20.

Find out the next TV, streaming series and movies to add to your must-sees. Get The Watchlist delivered every Thursday.

Email the author at kquinn@theage.com.au, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin

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