‘Tis the season of love, chocolates and inevitable bitterness. For those of you planning to boycott the Hallmark holiday in full, allow me to suggest an alternative: turn on “The Bachelor.”
If there ever was a reason to feel lucky as a singleton on Valentine’s Day, it’s because of that show. You may be lacking in the rose department, but at least you aren’t competing for one on a nationally televised “journey” to find your “soulmate.”
I have a long list of theories to explain America’s guiltiest pleasure, though I think I can sum it up. “The Bachelor” was designed to highlight only the best and the worst of love.
The best moments, though unrealistic and glorified, are meant to give viewers something to hope for. The worst moments, though shamelessly dramatized, are meant to make us feel better about the state of one’s own love life.
Reality TV critic Andy Dehnart said it best.
“It is at once a window and a mirror, showing how real people react and interact in extraordinary situations,” Dehnart said.
The series premiered in 2002 as a one-hour reality program that featured an eligible bachelor searching for someone to share his life with in a roomful of women he had never met. It was filmed in six weeks and brought viewers along for the ride, which included exotic islands and romantic cocktail parties. By the final episode, one woman stands and we all deem her “winner” with a prize delivered from cupid, himself: love.
The artificial, edited, manufactured kind of love that lasts around 13 months on average.
The show was a novel concept nonetheless. The idea that a man would propose to a woman he met a mere six weeks before was unheard of and viewers were, and continue to be, captivated.
Surprised? So was Jason Carbone, who at one point worked behind the scenes of “The Bachelor.”
“If you had told me when I was a little boy that someone could go on a television show and two hours later marry a millionaire, I would have told you you were nuts,” Carbone said.
Well now, it’s anything but nuts. More like commonplace. After 25 seasons, 625 contestants, a spin-off and hundreds of those terribly cliche romantic moments, “The Bachelor” ratings are through the roof.
I know you want to hate it, just like you want to hate Valentine’s Day but let’s be honest, the series gives us every reason to love Feb. 14.
When you’re feeling less than lovestruck, remind yourself of this: you aren’t on prime-time television vying for the affection of one man in a twisted modern day polygamist mansion. You aren’t octo-dating with the girl of your dreams and six of her boyfriends. You aren’t being publicly mocked every 7 p.m. Monday. Thus, your love life is a shiny token of honor in comparison to at least 625 people.
Let it be known, you don’t want a rose.
Carly Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.