I’m now at a point in my life where I can freely admit that yes, I not only watch The Bachelor, but I enjoy The Bachelor. Sure it started as obligation watching during my courtship of my darling wife, but now it’s become dude I’m into it watching. I could care less about the quest for true love and the plights of those involved and I definitely don’t care if nun-chucks like Cargo Pants Brad, Vineyard Ben or Born-Again Virgin Sean find what they’re looking for. But I’ll watch every week because quite simply, that shit is hilarious.
The Bachelor is train wreck television- it’s a staged dumpster fire in exotically awesome locations. It’s a sociological experiment of extreme proportions and luckily we all get to watch. It’s fascinating in the way animals at a zoo are fascinating.
None of those statements are meant to be compliments.
But there’s a weird undercurrent to The Bachelor that really starts to rear it’s disfigured head right around this time- when the pool of ladies shrinks down to the final three. Reality (as much as it exists on the show- which isn’t saying a lot) becomes disjointed as the Bachelor finds himself living multiple lives at once. Oh, and we’re totally cool with this by the way.
For example, this week’s episode had them in southern Thailand (which no joke, looks like one of the most beautiful places in the world) as Sean spent adventurous days with the final three ladies: AshLee, Catherine and Wedding Dress Girl. They swam through caves, were entertained by Thai marching bands, and did math games while sailing on Thai schooners. The fact that one dude is gallivanting around Thailand with a different woman each day isn’t necessarily the strangest thing, though. I’m sure that stuff happens everyday in Thailand. No, where things get odd is how each day, each date homeboy is on, seems to exist in it’s own bubble.
Let’s say the days in Thailand break down like this:
Monday: Wedding Dress Girl
These days are only one day apart, but in the world of The Bachelor, the other days simply don’t exist. It’s as if each day ends with a giant reset button being pushed and the slate being wiped clean. The Bachelor is all about living in the moment, existing in your immediate surroundings with the person around you only. They seem to be taking the idea of carpe diem a tad bit too literally.
Here’s where things get even weirder, though- when The Bachelor breaks that fourth wall; when he lets things from previous days seep into the current day’s existence. It’s like The Truman Show, when cracks of the manufactured reality start to become apparent to Jim Carrey’s character. This isn’t really noticeable on Day 1, but it becomes noticeable on Day 2 and cracks in The Bachelor‘s manufactured reality start showing up with one single line: I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.
This is a throwaway line for the most part. It’s something people in relationships say all the time. But this is different. This dude has multiple relationships going on at once- relationships that are meant to appear as exclusive and in that moment as possible. As viewers, we buy into this. We are meant to simultaneously forget about the other girls and also see how one girl compares to the other. We can acknowledge the existence of the other days, but they can’t. It’s a delicately written agreement. You know like the agreement we make with our bodies before going to a wedding- I’m going to drink 18 free gin and tonics tonight and I just want you to hold up until we get back to the hotel room. But once people on the show start cheating and acknowledging the other days, the deal falls apart. They’re effin’ up the ish.
You can’t start a date on day 2 by telling Day 2 Date Girl that you haven’t been able to stop thinking about her because that means that yesterday, while you were with Day 1 Date Girl, you were thinking about Day 2 Date Girl as well. In the world of The Bachelor, that girl on Day 2 or even more so the girl on Day 3 doesn’t exist until it’s time for you to stand on a deck or a dock or next to a fire place and contemplate which one of these ladies you’re sending home. Up until that moment, it’s all about the gal you’re with and enjoying the ridiculously elaborate dates meagerly paid Production Assistants have been scrambling to assemble and coordinate. Breaking this delicate arrangement isn’t fair to those P.A.s, it isn’t fair to the girls (who really have no leg to stand on when complaining about what’s fair anyway) and it isn’t fair to us, the viewers. We had an agreement– you live completely in the moment and we judge the shit out of while you’re doing it. Case closed. Now go enjoy Thailand while we make snarky comments.
I’m fine with the cat fights, the passive-aggressive back stabbing, the messing with people’s emotions. But it’s upsetting the fractured reality of the show that bothers me the most. I know this is all game- that it’s all some sick, twisted joke contrived by the producers, but it’s when things fall off the rails for me. That coupled with the absence of the large group of girls- the wonderful dynamic that creates all the things previously mentioned that I am 100% totally fine with and it’s the line in the sand that separates The Bachelor with other television shows I really like.
The end result of crossing said line, I don’t care how The Bachelor ends.
As much as I want to be happy in the end, when The Bachelor chooses his lady and want to ultimately feel like this…
I really don’t care, am a little bored and kind of feel like this…
But oh well, that’s life. You have to take the good with the bad and if anything, take a cue from The Bachelor and live in the moment.
And for God’s sake, don’t let anyone…ANYONE…take your sparkle away.
With that being said, I think he picks Catherine. But I’m also completely baffled by Wedding Dress Girl’s staying power and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she won.
All images from ABC.