Don’t Hate on Reality TV, Especially on “The Bachelor”

Before high definition television, there was a television craze over a genre that most people even myself began to criticize. That was reality TV.
Reality TV seemed to be the new cop-out for networks that were suffering in the sitcom or drama series department. “COPS” aired in 1989 as one of the first reality TV shows due to a Writers Guild of America strike. Many people denigrated reality TV as “stupid” because producers were just putting crazy people in insane situations and letting the world feast off of it. You know what? Those cast members signed up for it, and I am along for the ride.
Reality shows have come in all shapes and forms, from as prominent as “Celebrity Fit Club” to as insignificant as “Nanny 911.” Above all, like a book, reality TV can take us into worlds and scenarios we can only imagine. “Survivor” started this craze. We saw a group of strangers thrown into a remote location fighting for food, water and immunity. In “Wife Swap” we got to see what it would be like to switch mothers from two completely different environments and observe how they could adapt, bringing a whole new credibility to John Locke’s tabula rasa.
Most reality TV is competition-based, naturally, because competition brings out both the best and worst in people. From Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” to my personal favorite, 50 Cent’s “Money and the Power,” we see the human nature emerge courtesy of some sly producing and devilish casting.
While there have been many ultra-entertaining reality TV shows, there is one that I have only gotten into recently that trumps all. Dare I say it? It’s “The Bachelor.”
I will preface my defense by defending myself first. On Monday Jan. 5 at around 6 p.m. I returned to my apartment from a long day of class and soccer practice. Naturally I was exhausted, and the first thing I did was sit down on the couch next to my roommate Nick as he was watching the NFL Network recap of the weekend’s playoff football games. After those were over, we were too lazy to move. We scrolled through the TV guide and saw that “The Bachelor” was premiering. Neither of us had ever seen the show, and were amazed that it was beginning its 13th season. The producers had to be doing something right to bring back nearly 10 million viewers every season. We decided to see what the fuss was about. What we found was amazing.
For those unfamiliar, “The Bachelor” is a reality TV show that airs every Monday on ABC. A seemingly perfect single man is convinced that among the 25 girls pre-selected for him he will find true love. I’ve taken statistics with Professor Shirey and I know that 25 may not be a very good sample size, but that’s what makes the show so awesome.
Here is what I find ridiculous, yet awesome about the show.
First, the bachelor is perfect. ABC shows no flaws. Second, all these women are already in love with this man, and they don’t even know him. Third, all of the contestants thank the bachelor for the extravagant dates he takes them on when it is the producers and creators of the show who plan everything. Fourth, the bachelor is allowed to be a “male slut” because he is technically dating all of them. And last but not least, despite all this you get so emotionally tied to the show!
Nick and I picked our favorites during the first impression show, and we stuck to them. We each picked one woman and wagered that whoever gets further in the selection process will have a load of laundry done for him. For those who are curious, Nick picked Jillian and I picked Molly, who are both in the final four, thank you very much.
Yes, it is ridiculous that we are rooting for two women who we have crushes on to win this game, where the grand prize is marriage with another man that isn’t us. But it is a far-fetched reality so that it doesn’t even matter.
Men can only dream of having 25 gorgeous women at their choosing, and every woman dreams of finding that perfect guy. “The Bachelor” puts the two together in a form that makes it difficult to turn away.
Reality TV is hardly reality, but what it really does is put real people into unreal situations and capture their real reactions; in other words, it is television genius.