Yes, The Bachelor franchise is cheesy, unrealistic and arguably degrading to both men and women. BUT it's also highly entertaining and a perfect, fluffy-beach-read-visual treat.
Since its debut in 2002, I've watched almost every season (eeesh).
I know what "pulling a Mesnick" means.
I remember Erica's tiara.
I can tell you all about "Prince" Lorenzo and the Navy pilot ("Love lift us up where we belong!").
Years ago, I even joined co-workers in a packed conference room to watch Trista and Ryan's wedding. (Um yeah.)
And yet, each year I wonder why I still watch this train wreck.
My thought process goes something like this: I'm too busy/old/can't possibly watch... well maybe I'll give it just a few minutes... awww, he seems nice... wait, Jennifer Weiner is live tweeting? Crap. Roped in again.
And so, dear readers, here is why I still watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette...
- The franchise follows the same formula almost every time: 25 young, perfectly-coiffed, pageant-dressed (or suit-wearing) beach-ready "contestants" arrive via limo to look for love.
Chris Harrison (who never ages) is our dapper host. A tantalizing mix of guy-next-door and drinking buddy, Chris is our Xanax. He confirms to us that yes, these eligible contestants have dropped everything "to move into the mansion," and yes, they are "here for the right reasons." (Cue the Des rap.) We anticipate bold introductions on the first night. (Think: riding up on a horse/dressing up as a knight/wearing a wedding dress.) We know that the cast will typically include a single mom, the party girl, the crazy one, a hairdresser and at least two girls named Ashley. We know that the weekly cocktail parties are essentially interviews. As such, we expect that 1) someone will jump into the pool to get attention,
2) b*tches will "steal away" the Bachelor, and
3) each person will comment on the need to "step up my game."
We know that the deadly First Impression rose "puts a target on your back."And we know that five little words* create an artificial sense of both power and fear.
- Fueled by hormones and vodka, the contestants experience insta-euphoria. Everything mediocre suddenly becomes "AMAZING." Episodes later, contestants will declare that "___ is the perfect city to fall in love!"
At least one date will include a panoramic helicopter ride and one will include bungee-jumping/rock/wall-climbing ("if we can survive this... we can survive anything!") Around week #3 someone will suddenly freak out that "WE. ARE. ALL. DATING. THE. SAME. GUY!" Expertly edited, the show's drama will continue to unfold via group dates, 2-on-1 dates, and cat fights/dude fights. Emily Maynard will rightfully exclaim, "I'm gonna go all backwoods hood rat West Virginia on your a$$!" And in an effort to starve the rat that feeds "Reality Steve," producers will attempt to lead us astray: ("Will he ever find love? Will she go home broken-hearted?'') We learn that we must "stay tuned for the MOST dramatic season ever..." as they cut to paramedics assisting someone who has: 1) drunkenly tripped down the stairs, 2) broken a finger during beer pong, or 3) torn a cuticle. Then it's time to eavesdrop on the juicy hometown dates. Oh, hometowns. [Because every parent's dream is to meet his/her future son-or-daughter-in-law-on-national-television-when-that-person-is-also-umm-"dating"- three other people. Riiiiiight.] Finally, we look forward to the rejection limo confessionals. Devastated cast-offs sob to the camera, fondly recalling their four-day courtships. Somehow they find solace knowing that they too will "make someone happy... someday." (Sniff.) Maybe they'll become recycled Bach/ettes? In Brad Womack's case, he earned not one but TWO chances to find love! (What's that you're saying? It didn't work out? Maybe third time's a charm?)
And so, after hundreds of episodes, we continue to root for the underdog, cringe at the hot tub/Fantasy Suites, and swoon during the tender moments. Call it a Masters in Anthropology. (Sure.)
*Will you accept this rose?
Jennie lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two young daughters. For more satire, follow her on twitter @jenniesuth
credit: photo I took at my best friend's wedding!