The Bachelor and I

Tonight, in US time, Nick Viall will choose between Vanessa and Raven. There will be tears no doubt, from The Bachelor and probably both of the ladies. There will possibly be a proposal and we’ll see Neil Lane pop up to remind us that diamonds come with many names and different cuts, all of which I will never remember. To Nick and the woman he chooses, all the best. I don’t know how long it will last but I hope for your sakes that it sticks.

Also, here, I made a thing:

rose small

Last week, in response to my tweets about The Bachelor, a good friend of mine told me that I watch ‘worse garbage’ than he does. That cracked me up. Yes, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette counts as ‘garbage TV’, so call me Oscar the Grouch cause I love trash.

(guys, I’m so funny)

I mentioned, once upon a time, that I got ‘hooked’ on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette over a summer break because there were marathons on TV. While I had seen the first ever season years and years ago and cheered when Trista Reynolds married her fireman, I never really followed the next seasons. But this one break, I had nothing else to do with my time, so I planted myself in front of the screen and let the experience wash over me.

Here’s the thing when you watch The Bachelor- you don’t watch it in earnest. I don’t think anyone truly does anymore. Anytime you read a recap of the show, it’s always sarcastic. The writer pokes fun at the fact that this is a ridiculous premise and is mostly producer-generated content.

But we watch it anyway because it’s fun watching other people’s lives. That’s what we like about reality tv. A wise man once said (okay, Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice) “We make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at the in our turn.” Watching reality TV is the latter half of that sentence.

The Bachelor/Bachelorette is a messy, messy show. A bunch of men or women show up to ‘find love’ with the Bachelor/Bachelorette. Personalities clash, everyone is sharing spit, someone takes off their clothes much to the chagrin of everyone else. We, the audience, are quick to identify the ‘front runners’ and the potential ‘baddie’ of the season. The producers are not always kind to the ‘contestants’- the talking heads section has truly odd labels for occupations ie: Twin, Bachelor Superfan.

While some people join the show for the fame of it all, some I think, are truly there because they want to get married. That’s the bizarre part that keeps the audience hooked- these people willingly sign up to parade their private lives in front of the whole country/world just to find ‘The One’. There is something to be admired that- the ability to put shame aside, allow yourself to be deemed ridiculous or naïve, and let yourself fall in love with the same person 20 other people are falling in love with.

I cannot imagine how boring it must be to live in The Bachelor Mansion. The contestants only have each other for company and their sole fixation is this one person that they’ve met at a cocktail party. Part of the ‘entertainment’ of the show is watching each person slowly crack over time, occasionally bringing out the nasty side in them.

That makes for good TV.

This form of reality TV is beautifully mind-numbing because it has a simple premise. And you can sit and watch beautiful people say silly things and act in unfortunate ways to vie for someone’s attention. It’s not a ‘serious show’ where you’re on the edge of your seat (well, those are very rare moments on The Bachelor/Bachelorette), trying to solve the mystery before the protagonist does. This show does not require much ‘brain power’, which is why it appeals to loads of people as an escape from the stress of their daily grind.

I guess as a generally judgemental person, this show is perfect fodder because that’s what every person on the show is allowing you to do- judge them solely on the editing of very smart people behind the lens. It’s terrible to make yourself ‘feel good’ by making comments about the choices of other people make, but that’s basically how gossiping works, isn’t it? Human beings (and perhaps animals even) love to gossip and prying into the lives of others- that’s why we watch dramas and comedies. The Bachelor franchise is the perfect setup because it feeds that side of us.

But there’s a silver lining to watching this show because while it feeds that terrible catty side of us, in its own way, it teaches us compassion. And it reminds us that in the harsh light of day, we are no better than the people we make fun of. Take for example, when you hear from the side of the ‘baddie of the season’ about how he/she was mistreated by mean comments on the internet or by the other contestants on the show: it reminds you that they are human beings with real feelings and that when they go back to their lives outside of the TV show, they have to deal with real-life implications of their choices. And who are we to say that we would not have made the same mistakes that they did when the social conditioning of the show makes you ‘put yourself out there for love’?

I enjoy watching this show. I believe it’s called a ‘guilty pleasure’, and I feel a twinge of that because it is, in the end, ‘making entertainment of someone’s pain’. But in a sense, they signed up for it, so it’s a weird morally grey area.

Yes, it is garbage TV. But we eat a bunch of garbage food anyway, so what’s the difference?

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