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Why We Can’t Stop Watching ‘The Bachelor’ No Matter How Hard We Try

Zoe Liuag, Staff Writer

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January 1, 2018, people were making resolutions, reflecting on the past, bettering themselves for tomorrow, and…pressing ‘Series Record’ for the newest season of America’s favorite public showmance: The Bachelor. If you’re fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the show, essentially thirty women spend (and arguably waste) their time pining after the country’s most well-rounded, most sought-after, most eligible single man. Through a sequence of dates, said single man eliminates the women week by week until only two are left, at which point—and this is definitely the show’s greatest climax—he sends one home packing and gets down on his knee to propose to the other. It would be rational to stay mindful of the fact that the whole process takes no longer than two months, but who doesn’t want a Cinderella fairytale to come to life? The only issue is that that’s exactly what The Bachelor is—a fairytale. A carefully manufactured story that takes on all the qualities of a bad romance film. It’s a tacky, cliché love-fest without any substance, message or morals…but maybe this is exactly what has everybody hooked.

The Bachelor makes a mockery of the mere idea of romance. It forges all the complexity of a real, genuine relationship, muddling it with unnecessary competition and grandiosity. Every woman enters with the tagline “I could potentially be meeting the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with!” It’s a joke. A parody. And the worst part? Everybody eagerly watching from the edge of their seats, evening drink in hand, is aware of the show’s flaws. We know that the “lucky couple” will inevitably break up two months after their season and that there’s even a possibility most of the performances are staged. We can recognize that it’s not even the slightest parallel to what dating in real life is like, yet we eat it up. Our breath catches as he divvies out the roses as if they’re a symbol of his utmost passion for all twenty contestants. We swoon at every slow dance and gasp at each steamy make-out session and cheer when our favorites are chosen to continue to the next episode—like love is a game to be won with a championship ring or trophy at the end of it all. A more modern comparison to truly describe the spectacle, especially regarding The Bachelor’s notoriously theatrical season finale, would be as the Super Bowl of reality TV, even at one point peaking at ten million viewers.

The true brilliance of the show lies mainly in the emotional turmoil. As a society, we love The Notebook just as much as we love Titanic. We value passion directly alongside the tragedy that can accompany it. This, paired with the sickeningly delicious drama, tears, and catfights, creates the perfect cocktail for the show’s audience. It offers heartbreak and suffering in the most caricaturized ways possible, and entertainment has always thrived off of the pain. While it wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate to compare The Bachelor to the ancient gladiator games, both share an intensity that draws viewers in, even if that intensity is often presently feigned. It offers a safe haven to either empathize with or poke fun at the exaggerated emotions displayed on screen.

The Bachelor twists the beautiful, innocent concept of love into something cheesy and warped. It minimizes the very fundamentals of romance into a box that in no way reflects reality in any sense of the word. The audience is entirely conscious of this, but at the end of the day, these are the reasons the show does so well and ultimately why we continue to indulge. Feel no shame in your own interest in the franchise or if you occasionally find yourself falling victim to the hysteria of it. After all, we’re all in the same Monday’s at 8/7c boat.

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Why We Can’t Stop Watching ‘The Bachelor’ No Matter How Hard We Try