In Defense of The Bachelor

What’s that now? Did you stop reading? Hold your horses and hear me out.

As one who reports on reality TV as if my life depended on it (literally, my job is to write reality TV news), I admit I was like you, reader, and was extremely skeptical about the entire process.

I confess, I watched The Bachelor/Bachelorette in high school. My TV taste has obviously changed in the past decade, and I hadn’t watched it since, until this past summer.

The Bachelorette, Emily Maynard, was down to her final four guys when I tuned in, and not knowing anything about this girl or the guys prior to the episode, I found myself extremely pulled in to her story and the guys she had left. This season was different than any other I’d seen, because Emily is a mother to a seven-year-old girl, so she’s purposely not sleeping around with the final few guys, since there’s so much more on the line than herself. I admit, I was Team Jef all the way, and was extremely (and perhaps, unhealthily) happy for this new family. I was pulling for them. I was gushing over every picture Emily posted of Jef coaching Ricki’s ‘Green Beans’ soccer team. I really thought they were going to make it. Until they didn’t.

But looking back on the entire season as a whole, I realized that yeah, I was drawn to the cast of “characters,” but I found myself emotionally attached to the situation in a way I never thought I would be. It was not like any reality show I had seen before. I’ve never been so intrigued with a group of people in a bizarre setting as this one. Back when I was watching the show as a teenager, the show was all about finding one true love. But as an adult, I’ve realized it’s the ultimate study in human behavior, and that’s why you should be watching it.

Ok, so forget about what you think about the show – the excessive kissing (and general whoring around), the cheesy rose ceremonies, the lavish and exotic dates. Let’s get back to basics of this show.

It’s the only program that truly captures how people react when their emotions are on the line. Not money, not a recording contract, but their emotions. How will these 25 people act when they’re thrown into one house, forced to live together, and even yet, vie for the same single Bachelor?

Of course they’ll behave differently because the cameras are on them. You would too. But I think that it comes to a point where yeah, they know that there’s a lens on them, but it’s such a background thought that they can’t help but let their real feelings come through. In everything they do, there’s a sense of truth and realness in it, even if the situations they’re put in are so ridiculous and would never happen in their normal lives. But even if they’re acting like a heightened, more dramatic version of themselves, there’s still a part of their true selves acting on the emotions.

So what happens if one starts to have feelings for that Bachelor? I doubt any of the Bachelor franchise ‘winners’ tried to be the last person standing in order to get fame or notoriety or money (If they did, then that’s an even more interesting aspect of social behavior). I’d bet that every single one who received the final rose was, at that very moment, completely and utterly in love with their on screen paramour. No doubt about it. It doesn’t matter if they break up days or months after the cameras stop rolling, it’s that in a twisted, fast-paced way – they found each other.

But when I thought about it, in the end, what makes this show so fascinating is that it’s really not even about the Bachelor/ette finding love. It’s how they got there, who took a part in that journey, and if they can withstand life without cameras around them. If someone you know just got engaged, you don’t ask if they’re in love – you ask how it happened. What is the sequence of events that led these two people together? A thousand different variations could happen if just one person in the cast of 25 is switched out, but their particular journey led them to this very outcome.

I’m a firm believer of the ‘everything happens for a reason’ mantra, and it especially holds true to this situation. If you’re meant to fall in love on a TV show, then so be it. If you’re meant to fall in and out of love in front of millions, then it’s only made you stronger for it.

So before you change the channel on Sean Lowe’s new season of The Bachelor, just give it a shot with a different outlook on it, because it’s not the process that makes these relationships fail. And it’s not that you can’t find love on the show. It’s how you deal with the aftermath.

(Abridged version of above: just watch The Bachelor so I can have someone to dish to on Monday nights, kthx)