January 2 marks the return of the sixteenth season of The Bachelor. And I plan on doing some serious hate-watching.
The Bachelor premiered with a simple, demeaning premise: a single man “dates” 25 women and eliminates them week-by-week until there is one woman left, to whom he proposes to. What a romantic story, right? “Just weeks ago my husband had a harem, and then one night he chose me among everyone.” That’s okay, because 99.9% of the time the engaged couples break up yet this show is still on the air.
Depiction of the first reality dating show, date unknown
Is calling it demeaning to women the understatement of the year? The bulk of the show is focused on the women cutting each other down, anxious to “win” the game by winning the guy. Every woman is knee-deep in rhinestones, foundation and eyeshadow at the nightly “cocktail” parties in which they fight each other for the man’s attention. The more traditionally feminine the contestant is, the “better” they do on the show. And one thing is always clear: if you are a non-white contestant, you will be gone before the first night is through.
If it’s evil, let’s just ignore it so it goes away, right? Not so simple. This simple show and its format has inspired some of the worst cultural icons in American History: Flavor of Love, Flavor of Love 2, Flavor of Love 3, Charm School, I Love New York, I Love New York 2, Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, Shot at Love 2, Boy Meets Boy, Rock of Love, Rock of Love 2, Rock of Love Bus, Daisy of Love, Real Chance of Love, Real Chance of Love 2, Megan Wants a Millionaire, and so on…not to mention the spin-offs: Charm School, Strange love, Bachelor Pad….
You’re welcome, America
You’re welcome, LGBT Community
Yes, I can choose not to watch The Bachelor. I wouldn’t even call it a guilty pleasure of mine. That implies there is some sort of PLEASURE derived from the experience. The Bachelor is like the ugly car crash you’ve sat in traffic for hours because of, and when you finally pass it, you think “man, this better be a horrible accident to justify all this traffic.”
Here’s the thing that equally fascinates and repulses me: nothing ever changes from season to season. The women, and I don’t think they are acting because that would require having a talent, without fail, will claim they are falling in love with the Bachelor after a total of about 35 minutes spent with him, all on camera. The dates are specifically designed so play on words can be used: there’s always a skydiving/bungee-jumping date so the woman can say “with love, you have to take the plunge”. There’s always some fancy dress-up thing where she can say “it felt like a fairy-tale and I was the princess!” Then, a private dance lesson where they can laugh maniacally over their stepping on each others feet. I know there’s a pun in there somewhere, but I can’t find it.
The Bachelor may also be the most meta-show in existence (and even more than Community!) The women never converse with the Bachelor about anything BUT the show and the experience. if the producers even wanted to attempt to convince us that two people are falling in love, they would maybe film the women asking “what movies have you seen lately?” or even “Just so you know, I’m lactose intolerant.” No. It’s always about “where do you see this going?” “what do you look for in a relationship?” and doing ridiculous things likes jumping out of helicopters on first dates, or having a private concert from Michael Buble. You know, the normal stuff.
It’s like fantasy football…but for the ladeees!
Based on the insane ratings, people love this show. I doubt everyone of those people are witty, sardonic hate-watchers like myself. Do people really think that these people are falling in love and rooting for them? I know that I am a cynic when it comes to relationships (I’d call myself practical, thankyouverymuch), so I can’t get behind all this fairy-tale, whirlwind dating stuff. If I was considering accepting someone’s proposal, I’d be interested in if I could share a mortgage with the person and could I stand looking at their face every morning for the rest of my life, not if we both thought the helicopter ride through the mountains was beautiful (because there’s always a helicopter ride). But, that’s why I’m not on the show, I guess.
The highlight of the show for most, I’m sure, is the interactions of the harem back at the house while The Bachelor wines and dines his “girls”. They cry, they fight, they cut each other down. You know, your basic internalized sexism stuff. In the end, the Bachelor has a hidden agenda: in the game of relationships, women should know their place. The ones who create the most drama stay the longest on the show, but the one who “wins” is always the woman who knows her place, who lets the guy take the lead, the woman who won’t challenge him, and the most well-groomed. No wonder most conservatives list this as their favorite show. [I swear I read that statistic somewhere, I’m too lazy to find the source right now.]
“I can’t wait to find my wife…among twenty-five fame whores picked by the network.”
Who’s the poor schmo who will be the harem keeper this year? Tt’s Ben Flajnik, loser, ahem, I mean, second runner up from last season of The Bachelorette (sometimes they do seasons for the ladies). He owns a winery. And…that’s about it. But wait, we know he’s deep because he munches on an apple while surveying his winery empire.
Penny for your thoughts, Ben? Maybe thinking about which grapes to crush next? If only he had a lucky lady to partake in such a philanthropic, upper-class industry.
Again, WHY DON’T I JUST SHUT IT OFF? I know, I have a problem. I love hate-watching too much. And believe me, there is plenty of stuff to hate on tv today, but the thing about The Bachelor is that it is just too damn earnest- it has no sense of irony or any awareness of itself.
Most important is the bitchfaces and the crying. if I had time, I’d start a tumblr called bachelorbitchfacesandcrying.tumblr.com (yes! the username IS available) This is from the previews alone:
Looking forward to the premier on January 2, where watching even five minutes can single-handedly negate my women’s studies degree.