I am an educated, intelligent woman. I have a college degree from a top 10 university, and a law degree from a Tier 1 law school (there’s also a Master’s stuck in there somewhere, but we don’t talk about that.) I have a successful career and a wholly acceptable social life. I’ve been in fulfilling relationships, all of which I ended because I was planning on physically moving away and they weren’t willing (or able) to follow. (Also, one was gay, which posed an insurmountable barrier to that relationship). I am independent. (I do own two cats — I feel it necessary to mention that in the interest of full disclosure). And yes — I love the Bachelor.
I haven’t missed a season in years. Every season I ask myself why I bother watching it. Every season I bemoan the endless sea of skinny white girls who are ten years younger than the bachelor, and who have no desire greater than being a wife (ahem. . .reality tv star). Every season I complain about how bland and uninteresting the bachelor is, and how contrived the whole thing is.
It’s hard to put my finger on why I watch it, but after discussing with several of my friends (also educated, intelligent, independent women), I think I have a better grasp on its allure. First and foremost is the actual act of watching it.
The Bachelor has evolved into a communal show. I first watched the show when I was teaching in New York City, and living with three other girls. We’d have a long, grueling day, and there was little better at the end of a school day than to open a bottle of pinot Grigio (or three), order some KFC, and just binge on mindless tv. We talked more than we watched the show. That tradition carried into law school, although we upgraded the quality of the wine and exchanged home cooked meals for KFC. (Also — why KFC? We lived in New York, the greatest city ever for take-out). Upon receiving a bar license and beginning my work as an attorney the wine upgraded (again) but we returned to take-out (Indian, preferably, but occassionally some Thai). In fairness, I’ve also watched the show on my own — but always with the expectation of a texting frenzy when it reaches Pacific Time, or the knowledge that we’ll dissect it again over a future episode.
It’s almost a flashback to the idyllic, TV / radio watching of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when watching television was a rare and exciting thing to be shared. It creates a sense of community. How many of us would watch the show were it not for our viewing parties (or fond memories of viewing parties?)
Secondly, there’s the pure escapism of the show. Few things are more fantastic than watching one man fly around the country wooing different girls. The dates are extravagant and impressive. And we don’t even have to waste time listening to boring things like what they talk about — it’s edited out to the most interesting, salient points! And then there are the dresses. . .oh, the dresses. How those women come to possess the number of evening gowns that they have is beyond me. Is there a magical closet on set? Do they recycle them every year? Do they trade with the girls who are kicked off? Either way, the dresses at the elimination ceremonies alone are enough to make me want to tune in each week.
And finally, there are the train wrecks. It’s always somewhat obvious from the first episode who the trainwreck of the season is. It’s the person performing wretchedly, who picks a fight, or has horrible chemistry with the lead, but somehow survives. Ah, you say. The producers have picked this season’s trainwreck. They usually make it to being the sixth or fifth girl before they’re kicked off. (With one notable exception — how Jake Pavelka picked Vienna is still beyond understanding). And yes, they’re there for drama, and it’s staged and it’s fake, and ridiculous. But I think we all have a little mean girl inside us, and there’s something almost therapeutic about watching these bitches behaving badly, and watching the inevitable complaint that’s made.
Is it a guilty pleasure? Maybe. But I’ll admit to it whole-heartedly. I rejoice in finding a kindred soul who will watch the Bachelor with me. I try and coerce my non-viewing friends into coming over and watching (usually with the promise of food). And do I sometimes dream about staying in that mansion, with 30 eligible men vying for my hand? Sure. But I also know that I would never propose at the end.
See? Told you I’m intelligent.