best when viewed in low light


You should be watching The Bachelor

Move beyond your initial intellectual rejection, and please consider the following:

1. The Bachelor is great TV. And I don't mean it's just entertaining and junky and easy to watch, though it is. I mean it is cast, scripted, and expertly constructed to make you want more - at every commercial and at every turn of events through its HOUR AND A HALF of programming each week. Not only does that require an incredible amount of foresight on the part of the producers, it requires hours and hours of editing to create characters and plotlines out of real life interactions between humans. And that brings me to my second point...

2. It's more real than reality. We humans understand the world through stories - when we talk about ourselves, we rely on stories that (we hope) illustrate the qualities we like about ourselves. When we explain where the world came from (in religious contexts or not) we tell stories about how gods or universal forces constructed our lived experience through ancient examples meant to convey a set of values and behavioral norms that we find acceptable in our society and culture. Today, we explore these norms through media - television being the most accessible and mainstream because it's free and ubiquitous.

3. The cast - as we experience them, anyway - is not a group of "real people"; we don't see them as whole selves, we see them as characters. Each represents a different archetype of the way that people behave in relationships. One is loveable but very jealous, one is a tease, one is two-faced, one is relaxed but stand-offish, and so on. They are as much a commentary on how NOT to date, than how to win the game and find true love in the process.

4. Not only are the characters unrealistically exaggerated, the ironic part of the show is that the bachelor is the least important character. He may be the star, and the nominal focus of plot development, but it is the relationships among the women that make up the bulk of the drama. And that's no accident. Jake is an everyman. In this highly stylized scenario, he represents the fantasy of every man - to be the object of desire for many women. More women than one man can actually handle. And though it appears that Jake is the one that gets to make all the choices, as we watch each episode, and each round of eliminations, it is the women who have made their choice to leave. Maybe they don't like him enough to put themselves out there, maybe they are so bothered by the competition that they excuse themselves, or maybe they just don't recognize that it is, in fact, a game.

5. And love is a game. The competitive element of the show is a replica of real life, with all the good and bad parts exaggerated so as to make the most mundane events appear dramatic and meaningful. But this is what we do in our own minds as we navigate our own romantic stories. We cast ourselves as the hero or heroine, and everyone else as players in the narrative of our romantic lives. This one was too needy, that one was too controlling, this one would have worked if only... And we're not so much competing with every other man and woman out there, as we are competing with ourselves and our own expectations. And good luck with that.

6. And last, but most definitely not least, for all you snobs out there who think that trashy reality TV is below you: Years ago, before TV and even books were around to entertain us, everyone sat on the porch watching their neighbors intently and talking about them. I mean, really, what do you, in your own lives, spend the majority of your time thinking and talking about? PEOPLE! And, more specifically, what people do and what people do to you! And, of course, all the things that people are doing to and with each other behind closed doors. It may be true that gossip isn't intellectually demanding (though I would argue that it takes a great deal of intuition and acute perception to observe and understand all the little nuances that give away people's real thoughts and feelings about each other), or that having curiosity about other people's relationship has somehow become taboo, but... when you really come right down to it, knowing how to relate to people, find love and procreate is ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS. It is, after all, why we're here.

I give you, The Bachelor: On The Wings Of Love

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