Review: The Bachelor (2015)

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I watched the live premier of The Bachelor this week. I know! I know! How could someone with such excellent taste in television fall prey to such a crappy show? Worse still, how could I even enjoy it?

I’d like to be able to say that I watched this show ironically. I’d like to say that I watched it exclusively to make fun of it and all the people on it. Because I did make fun of it. Oh, boy, did I make fun of it. My roommate and I had a snarky commentary running for the entire three hours.

But, as I started writing this review, I realized that there’s more to it than just jokes. Sure, its dramatic and demeaning and manipulative (all things which are great for TV), but as biased as this show is (I mean, who even picks all these model-sized women?) and as unkind as some of the contestants can appear to be (I know you’re competing for one really hot guy, but come on, you’re not that mean in real life, are you?), you have to remember that, at the end of the day, they’re all just people who volunteered for an opportunity, however slim, to find love. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

By surrounding himself with suitors, the Bachelor is immersed in opportunities to meet people and get to know them, seriously and with relationship intent. It’s an unusual method, but an effective one nonetheless. I could say that the show is sexist, though it’s been made successfully in reverse (The Bachelorette) and for persons of different sexual orientation (A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila), or I could say that its shallow, though I don’t see how that’s different than real life, anyway. However, the real problems with this show are twofold:

The first few episodes of the season, when there are still many suitors left to be eliminated, are rather like casual dates. This, in itself, is not traditionally bad. No one is in love with him yet, and very rarely does the Bachelor show any strong preferences towards one girl or another. He’s just meeting people broadly. However, when you get down to the final five or so, casual dating starts to become a problem. Suddenly real feelings are in play and they’re all directed at a single individual, an individual who couldn’t possibly hope to return them all. This is the time where we, as a monogamy-obsessed society, would expect him to make a choice. But it takes quite a long time and many shed tears for him to do so, all because of a show and their schedule. If you know earlier that you’re interested in someone – just one someone – or even that you’re leaning in a particular direction, than its wrong to drag out the heartbreak for everyone else.

The second major issue that I have with this show is circumstantial. Suitors are brought from all over the country to meet the Bachelor, to live in a mansion, and do nothing but exclusively date him, along with many other women, for months. They don’t go to work, they don’t see their families, and from what I’ve been able to glean online, they have limited contact with the outside world (i.e. television, internet, phones, etc.). The show isolates the couples, meaning that until they’ve chosen one another, they never have an opportunity to test their relationship outside of the mansion. They may have real feelings for one another within the context of a highly pressurized  situation, in which 100% of their time is spent pursuing one another, but without giving them an opportunity to see how their real lives mesh, the relationship can only ever be superficial. I’m sorry, but I may have to go so far as to liken that to mild Stockholm Syndrome, no matter how voluntary their participation may be.

So what do you think of The Bachelor? My feelings are decidedly mixed, but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below!

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