If lately you find part of your Monday night routine consisting of a cheap bottle of wine, a box of thin mints, and ABC primetime, you are not alone. Whether you love it, hate it, or hate that you love it, ABC’s The Bachelor has had millions glued to the television for the past 18 seasons. For some of us, it’s our guilty pleasure, for others, it’s the reason we are no longer speak to our roommate – deleting the “new episode” from the DVR is no JOKE. Why the madness? Why has the overly-dramatic waterworks, the swift declarations of “true love,” and incessant cat-fighting become such cultural phenomenon?
We love the “idea” of love. If everyday romance involved a sexy man on horseback giving you a rose, there would be no need for fairytales. Our voyeuristic curiosity leaves us wondering why we ourselves are not being whisked off to Venice to be fed chocolate strawberries on a gondola. Men, if you ever questioned where such ridiculous date expectations came from, say hello and shake hands with Jake Pavelka, or any of the other show’s bachelors. The show creates a fantasy full of limo arrivals, pampering, and affection.
Overlooking that underlying message. The premise of the show essentially tells women in their twenties they should be frantically searching for a man to marry, and furthermore, if the clock has ticked into your thirties, you are a particular breed of desperate. Now when it comes to levels of sanity, contestants are either labeled as America’s Sweetheart or America’s Nutjob, both of which are milked greatly by the producers. Race is also factor in the show. If you are not spray-tan orange, you are still white, as women of color are rarely cast. But somehow we seem to ignore this portrayal of women, because Chris Harrison promised us, “The most dramatic rose ceremony ever!”
Everyone loves a good train wreck. As horrible as it is to admit, there is something entertaining about watching someone who had a few too many cocktails, push out tears and pretend to be broken-hearted over someone she just met. As each of their mascara-stained faces are sent packing, you can’t help but chuckle to their “woe-is-me” speeches about how dumbfounded they are that the Bachelor didn’t pick them. “I just really thought we shared a special connection…” All of the jealousy and backstabbing from a house full of stir-crazy women sure makes for good reality TV.
“Ladies, Brad, this is the final rose tonight.” Thanks Chris for clearing that up, we apparently cannot do the math without your dramatic pause and point of reference. For those unfamiliar with a “rose ceremony,” picture the mounting anticipation of the judge’s decision at a dog show: only instead of blue ribbon, you get a flower. There is always a big surprise; maybe it is a last-minute change of heart or a show favorite that has been duped, but “big surprise” means even bigger ratings.
“The Bachelor is the show that answers the question: How much wine do you have to drink until the guy making out with twenty different women seems like he’d make a good husband?” – Jimmy Kimmel
Joking aside, this show has a way of making us grateful for our real, imperfect dating-life; one that doesn’t involve a picnic under a waterfall or a breakup on a glacier. Instead of taking the The Bachelor too seriously, let it be an escape from your Monday frustration and a party with your girlfriends. Just remember, true love can be extraordinary and exciting without all that glitter and hype.