I have always been fascinated by reality (beware of loose terminology) television because of my profession in the field of psychology. The show most perplexing and disturbing by far is ‘The Bachelor’. The official show descriptions says, “twenty-four women are given the unique opportunity to find love” Mmmm. Find love? (or make an ass of yourself or lose the little self-esteem that you have). I think the majority of the viewing public see it as a form of entertainment and most know there is nothing ‘real’ about it. I often wonder how the women contestants missed that memo and why (for the love of God) someone doesn’t tell them?!
Oh, duh (light bulb)! That would ruin the fun if you’re idea of entertainment is watching a train careening into the side of a mountain. Holy matrimony, Batman. Maybe there’s some part of this pathetic display that makes the rest of us feel superior. It’s kind of like a Hunger Games where the bloodied bodies of teenagers are replaced with drunken, blubbering beauties with mascara streaked faces who can’t stop saying things like, “I thought we really connected,” and “I’ve got so much more to offer than her.”
I have only seen random episodes over the years, but am not immune to the magnetic pull. I have had to live with the sick shame the morning after when I awake to the memory of watching a full episode and at times (gasp), liking it!!! I have yelled at the television and laughed at the empty and ridiculous conversations between the women and Prince Bachelor Charming which seem to never change.
Am I the only one who has found myself rooting for one of these women to say something like, “You seem like a very nice person, but I’m not sure you’re the right one for me. Goodbye and good luck.”? I guess, again, it could be envy because many of my friends and I have dated hundreds (well, okay thousands) and not found Mr. Right. I know these men are quite the package, but is ABC so good that they find the perfect match for thirty women every season? Math is not my strong suit, but even I know that doesn’t add up right. I suppose the question above is rhetorical because we all know that it’s really about the chase, not the prize.
I would love ABC to select a nerdy and non-worldly bachelor once and see what happens, maybe someone like Gomer Pyle. “Well golleee, Jessica, sequins sure do look good on you.” The outcome probably wouldn’t change. I can hear the camera interview now. “He’s just so sweet. I just love how when given the choice between caviar and bologna, he felt comfortable enough to pick the bologna. We really connected. I see a future with him.” The psychology which allows these women to get sucked in is twofold; their hope for love and a need to win. Truth be told, these are common human qualities which make us all vulnerable to manipulation. We all feel worthy and validated when we are chosen above others. Maybe the show should be named ‘Battle for the Bachelor’.
The creators and production staff, not unlike the hunger gamekeepers from The Capitol in Panem, are forever switching up the circumstances and controlling things behind the scene. Their tools are innocent things such as roses, hot tubs, exotic locales, and wine. But when mixed with cameras, competition, clever editing and young women desperate for love (or attention), it becomes a wicked elixir sure to lead to heartbreak and embarrassment (oh, and ratings) or at least a good cry on the bathroom floor.
As far as alcohol, I thought it was widely known not to operate heavy machinery when under its influence. Only that doesn’t apply to all brains, now does it? (Woops. That sounded like the statement of a ‘mean girl’ which I am not, so scratch that.) I feel sad for them more than anything because I remember myself at that age, vulnerable and somewhat clueless about so much. It’s one of Erickson’s life stages of psychosocial development, right? No?! Well, right between Identity vs. Role Confusion and Intimacy vs. Isolation, it should say Blindly Unaware vs. Aha! I See the Light. Hopefully, most of us master this conflict (or at least see a flicker or a dim glow at some point).
So, if you hate the show’s misleading premise, ruthless tactics, and overall unethical style, I completely understand you. If you love the chance to escape reality in this show’s drama, suspense and mesmerizing interactions, I completely understand you. ABC will never be able to flash the program message ‘No hopeful, young, and single women were harmed in the filming of this show’, but I‘m sure they have plenty of signed consents to keep them honest. In the end, I hope none of these women walk away too emotionally scarred. I also hope they eventually find the happiness of a true, deep and meaningful love. In fact, I wish that for us all!