I want to start this blog by saying that I am one of the most vehement critics of the ABC cultural phenomenon that is the Bachelor(ette) franchise. The perverted premise causes me to cringe, and the drama that it creates disgusts and appalls me at every turn. BUT – and I want to say this now before I lose any readers who do enjoy watching the show – this blog post will NOT be a bash of the series and everything it stands for, and everyone involved in its production. That would just feel too simple…even if it would feel really good to write. Instead, I will try — in one page or less as usual – to hit on the good, the bad, and the ugly… the highlights and lowlights that get us all, myself included, so hot and bothered about the show that has taken over pop culture.
I have only watched one episode of the show in my entire life, and it just so happened to be an episode in the current season of the Bachelorette that just ended. For any big fans out there curious about which one I watched, it was the episode where JoJo cuddled with a horse, then later that night had another cuddle party on a king size bed with the four remaining escorts. But here is the thing… I KNEW how ridiculous it was while I was watching. Anger was boiling up inside me. But I was hooked. For 35-40 minutes I had to fight to keep myself from blurting out my feelings, and I could even feel the sweat forming on my palms when JoJo told one of the chubbier hunky guys that she didn’t love him. What was happening to me?! Did I really just watch the Bachelorette with my wife, her friend, and my mother in law?!
It just pains me that a show can become so popular when it is founded on the crushing heart break of other human beings. The way that it capitalizes on broken humanity’s need to be loved, is unforgivable. It’s degrading to both women and men. But there is no denying, it sells and people watch it. So, I guess I can’t really blame the show or ABC.
But what I CAN do is be upset at all of these men and women who actually sign up for this stuff willingly! I will give a break to those poor unsuspecting folks on season one, but ever since then, there is no excuse for anyone who signs up. I mean don’t get me wrong, I would do it just to travel the world and eat really good food for a few weeks. But some of these people actually think they are going to find love. Not even just love, but genuine, healthy, and authentic lifetime companionship type of love. I just want to grab their heads and shake them and scream, “Hello!! Of course you are falling in love with her when every hour you spend together involves plush room service and rosepetals and exotic beaches and a lot of white wine!” And then there’s this. “Don’t you know she just made out with the other dude in the hot tub 15 minutes ago!”
I mean, I used to have to try really hard not to judge people who watch the show. But the more I investigate, the more clearly I see the truth… EVERYONE watches it. Doctors, lawyers, pastors, teachers, business owners, retail clerks, high school students, grandparents, republicans, democrats, etc. If it is a people group with a name, someone involved watches the Bachelor. But surely not the highly educated, and definitely not feminists right? Wrong. I had a friend at Vanderbilt tell me that he knows a group of women — some of the staunchest feminists he has ever encountered, many of who have earned Ph.D’s – and they all watch it religiously.
One page could never do this topic justice, but maybe it will help spark some discussion. What is it about this show that crosses over all boundaries and invades every nook and cranny of our culture? I may never fully understand it, but I will no longer underestimate its power. I may forever shake my head at the romantic confusion it stirs in the hearts of millions, but I will also sneakily watch bits every now and then and peruse twitter after big season finales. I will never approve of the Bachelor franchise, but I have at least grown to respect it.
To wrap things up, I asked many people I know who are on both sides of this debate to sum up their feelings on the show in one sentence or less. Below are some of these responses, grouped in either the “HATE” or the “LOVE” column. (No surprises, there weren’t many who fell somewhere in the middle.)
“I love the Bachelor & Bachelorette series because its fake AND real, awful AND wonderful, manipulation AND nature, intimacy AND lust, misogynistic AND feminist, pain AND beauty, gritty AND a bit too easy at times – its human behavior at its best and worst at the same time.”
“The Bachelor(ette) is a fascinating and curious reflection of our culture and obsession with the pursuit of love – what many people see as the ultimate life fulfillment. It’s great television.
“It’s a social thing for me; I love to watch it with people!”
“The clothes, the exotic destinations, the drama, the hotties… what more do you need?!”
“The Bachelorette provides a plastic version of love and intimacy that sets young people up with the wrong idea of what those things look like in the real world.”
“The Bachelor/ette is to love and emotion what the NFL is to players’ brains.”
“Haha wow, like, it just really lowers my faith in humanity anytime I think about it.”
“Rigged, the whole thing is rigged.”
“The show literally makes you dumber by simply watching it. The superficiality of the pursuit portrayed in the show is what is so mind-boggling and even troubling about it. How does it infect our perception of what our real life relationships should look like?”
That’s all folks. Please feel free to comment below to stir up more discussion. If you want to read a few more links on the subject, here you go!
Links to explore for further Bachelor(ette) commentary: