By JACOB TRASK
When I was 12 years old, my older sister would claim the TV on Monday nights to watch The Bachelor on ABC. My mom would join her, and my Dad lounged in his prized recliner while he read, occasionally glancing up at the TV to chuckle at something ridiculous. I always felt compelled to join them and complete the portrait of a full family spending time together. And that’s when I discovered this incredibly odd, inhuman, shockingly revealing show that hides beneath the disguise of one of your sappiest network TV shows.
It’s The Bachelor (or Bachelorette), and it’s easily one of the most love-it-or-hate-it shows on television. It’s mainly aimed at a nation of teenage girls and young women, and has continuously been at the top of TV ratings since it started in 2002. I’ve watched here and there with my mom and sister for the last nine years, but since I started watching regularly two years ago, I’ve noticed a trend of absolutely ridiculous behavior among contestants, and I’ve realized that The Bachelor and it’s spinoff shows are some of the funniest shows network TV has to offer.
It took one less-than-sober night binging Bachelor in Paradise for me to realize exactly how insane the show is. In the spinoff, 15 to 20 previous Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants gather at a beach resort in Mexico and they just hang out. They go on dates with each other and they spend long days drinking on the beach, and at the end of each week, people that aren’t “paired up” go home. Obviously they invite the most eccentric characters from previous seasons to participate, and chaos explodes among them. But watching this show made me realize that the whole thing is a social commentary thrown together by some incredibly clever producers.
Don’t get me wrong, the show is not good. I apologize to any die-hard Bachelor fans, but the show is quite obviously not good. Sometimes it outdoes the hokiest, corniest shows ever broadcast on TV, but there’s something so entertaining about watching 30 beautiful women or braggadocious men traveling the world, fighting for the attention of one deeply superficial person.
It says quite a lot about us as humans that people want to go on TV to compete with others to fall in love with a person they’ve never met. Even more so that some young men and women confirm after one date that they are falling in love with a person who’s dating 20 other people. And even more so that single mothers and fathers will leave their kids for two months to go on the Bachelor “for their child”, then go to Mexico for another three months for Bachelor in Paradise.
I’m convinced that although the show has locked down its target audience that treats it like a real romantic show, the real intent of the show is to say “look at how ridiculous people can be.” And that is why I feel no guilt or shame when I watch this show. Sometimes it’s actually hilarious, and the TV experience I get when watching a high-stakes episode of The Bachelor far outweighs the social criticism I’d hypothetically receive if I wore an announcement about my TV watching habits on a t-shirt.
The show has hooked me, but I’ll say it now without shame. If TV executives are going to make shows about stupid people acting absolutely crazy, why should I feel ashamed for wanting to watch them. If you haven’t seen these shows yet, set aside your previous perceptions and give them a watch. You very well might surprise yourself and binge watch a season of Bachelor in Paradise.
The current season of the Bachelor follows the ultimate white-bread, goofy ex-contestant Arie Luyendyk, on his two-month journey to find love with a whole basket of women. The show is approaching its conclusion, but with the competition thinning to its final four women, now is the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon. The Bachelor airs on ABC at 8 p.m. on Monday night, and is streamable on Hulu.
Jacob Trask can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.