My Love Affair With The Bachelor
I am bat shit crazy about this season of The Bachelor. My obsession took me by surprise: I was previously the type of person who turned up my nose at reality television, and was more likely to listen to a Mozart horn concerto, or watch a Pedro Almodóvar film, than indulge in the cheap, delicious dessert that is reality television. But the lust, tears, and shameless ambition of this season's competitors glued me to my screen, and made me a convert. And I haven't been able to shut up about the show ever since.
The artificialness of the show's circumstances fascinates me. In The Bachelor, women from all different states, educational backgrounds, and classes are all put in one house, competing for the chance to marry a man named Arie Luyendyk Jr. Along with Arie comes diamonds, screen time, and future Instagram fame, so these girls come with their game faces on. Feisty Bekah straddles Arie during their make out session with gusto, and chooses a sleek cat suit with matching whiskers for the wrestling challenge. The contestant Annaliese sobs about everything from bumper cars to dog shows, and Kendall brings a taxidermied animal to her first date with Arie. These girls' desperation for screen time has me riveted, and it is amazing to see the extent to which someone will embarrass herself to capture the attention of millions of Americans.
But here is what really fascinates me. I watch the show with a group of girls every Wednesday. We all consider ourselves intelligent, modern feminists who are against the patriarchy's exploitation of women. But here we are, watching a show that makes women wrestle each other in embarrassing costumes, and compete against one another for the attention of a man. Isn't this show backwards, and even destructive to the women's movement? Should we be supporting it, much less brain-washing ourselves with this junk? And if we consider ourselves such big feminists, why do we love it so much? I skimmed through Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and promptly forgot about it a week later, but the misogynistic Bachelor runs through my head all day, distracting me from my work, and making me wonder what crazy thing Krystal will do next, or whether Bekah's young age will be a deal breaker for Arie. Why do we love a show that represents everything we're supposed to hate?
I have a theory. It's the romance of the show that draws us in. I think that despite our modern cynicism, deep down we all want a chance to find that special someone. And this show gives us the chance to live vicariously through the characters as they search for their future husband in an exotic locale with beautiful diamonds on their necks. Dreams are a powerful thing, and in this case, our dream for romance trumps our better judgment.
But I honestly don't have the answer to my question. I guess I'll have to keep watching the show to find out.
© 2018 Mark Nimar