The Not-So-Mysterious Appeal of “The Bachelor”
By Kristian Porter, Northern Kentucky University
In a shallow attempt to appear cultured, I make it a point to not give in to watching reality TV.
I don’t keep up with the Kardashians, and I have no idea what the housewives are doing in Atlanta or why they’re all so desperate. I do, however, watch obsessive amounts of competitive cooking shows, but that’s not reality TV—that’s art.
I’ve held this superficial belief that I’m somehow a better person because I listened to my elders when they reminded me that television would rot my brain, but I’ve been living a lie. You see, there’s one show that I just keep returning to, no matter how much I try to will myself away from the screen.
I have a confession; I, a proud, intelligent feminist, watch “The Bachelor.” And I don’t completely hate it.
“The Bachelor,” if you’re somehow not aware, is a reality dating show in which some muscular, white guy takes a bunch of unbelievably gorgeous women on totally unrealistic dates, gives roses to the ones that he likes best and then eventually chooses one to propose to. The whole show is filmed over a six-week time frame. That’s right, folks. In just six weeks, the chosen bachelor is supposed to find the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
This season, “Bachelor” veteran Nick Viall is trying his luck at the dating game for the fourth time. At this point, you’d think the network would realize there’s probably a reason he hasn’t found love on these shows yet (hint: It seems like no coincidence that his last name sounds like “vile”).
As expected, Nick and his potential fiancés have brought the drama. Someone is always either crying, cussing or kissing.
So, it begs the question: Why in the world am I watching this show?
1. It’s a Guilty Pleasure
There’s a reason people love reality TV; it’s simple and there’s comfort in its predictability.
Every season of “The Bachelor” follows the same formula. Women are pitted against each other to fight for the heart of a man they only barely know. Despite their limited relationship, every woman insists that they see a future with the bachelor. After a few episodes, one woman emerges from the pack and is branded “the villain”; she is almost always accused of “being there for the wrong reasons.” What do they feel are the right reasons? No one has time for that question amidst the catfights.
This season, the villain is Corinne, a 24-year-old blonde bombshell who owns a suspiciously anonymous multi-million dollar company.
The drama with this contestant is so extreme that it is addictive. I want to not care about who Corinne insults or how she tries to seduce Nick; I desperately want to be indifferent, but I’ve fallen into ABC’s trap.
Every week, I feel like I’m digging through dirt, uncovering new astonishing facts about her. Just a few episodes ago, I learned that she, a 24-year-old woman, has a nanny named Raquel. Her nanny wakes her up in the morning, makes her bed and apparently makes a mean “cheese pasta.” The drama continued as Corinne became the only contestant in history to sleep through the rose ceremony.
Recently, she has started a feud with fellow contestant, Taylor, who doesn’t believe she has “emotional intelligence.” Corinne ran to Nick to accuse Taylor of bullying her and, in an epic plot-twist (we all saw it coming), Nick chose Corinne on their two-on-one date, leaving Taylor in the middle of the New Orleans bayou.
The episode ended on a cliffhanger, showing Taylor crashing Nick and Corinne’s celebratory date, and now I shamelessly have to tune back in next week. See what I mean? It’s horrible, but I can’t stop.
2. It’s So Obviously Fake
The best thing about “The Bachelor” is that it disguises itself as a reality TV show, but nothing about the dating game comes anywhere close to real life. Somehow, because of that, the show is more palpable.
A signature of the program is whisking the women away on fantasy dates: trips to tropical islands, hot air balloon rides, mock space travel. They are thrown into an environment that is just dripping with romance and saturated with sex appeal. How can you not think you’re in love when a super hot guy is sharing his feelings with you while you watch the sun set from your private jet in the Bahamas?
Nothing about “The Bachelor” makes any sense at all, right down to the initial premise. In real life, you don’t date 25 women for two months just to try them on for size and then decide which one you like best. And, even if you did, would every one of them be drop-dead gorgeous and an aspiring dolphin trainer? And would they all live together, watching every move you make with the other women?
No, you’d hang out with one girl you probably met on Tinder and assess whether you have the same taste in cuisine and Netflix Originals.
3. It Makes Me Feel Better
If I’m being honest with myself, the main reason I watch “The Bachelor” is the same reason I tell people I don’t watch reality TV: It makes me feel better about my own life.
Watching the lengths that the women go to compete for a guy who, frankly, seems like a douche, reminds me that all that time I spent pining for my ex-boyfriends’ attention could have been much worse—I could have been on national television.
I compare my own relationship with those on the show, and say a silent “thank you” that I don’t have to run a 100-meter dash against ten other women for a few hours with my boyfriend.
The women on this show tear each other apart, criticizing their looks, commenting on their promiscuity and flinging the word “bitch” around like it means hello. I feel an unfair sense of superiority knowing that I would never do that, while simultaneously getting a thrill out of judging the women who are doing it. It’s a gross symbiotic relationship, and one that I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.