Earlier this week, another season – the seventeenth run-through of completely overproduced dreck and nonsense, all crammed into the past seven or so years – of “The Bachelor” wrapped up on ABC. Blah, blah, blah, controvery, blah, blah, staged, blah, most dramatic ever, blah, blah, changed his mind after the last show, blah, blah, blah, fairy tale, blahbitty blah blah blah. It’s so formulaic as to be almost painful, and I’m honestly a little embarrassed to even have it programmed into my DVR.
And yet, I watch, every season since about the fourth or fifth go-round. I watch every episode, religiously, and go so far as to, when I’ve DVR’ed the week’s episode(s) to watch commercial-free later, painstakingly avoid any possible online spoilers. This worked great until 9:58 p.m. Tuesday night; Gretchen and I had plans to watch the final episode plus the two – because one would hardly be enough – wrap-up episodes on Wednesday afternoon. I carefully avoided Yahoo’s Entertainment pages, because they have a gift for including the outcomes right there in the article titles, and steered clear of blogs I thought might give it away. I knew the last show would be done recording at 10:00 p.m., and I wasn’t entirely sure what channel I had left the cable box on before turning it off earlier, so just to be on the safe side, I planned to wait until after 10:00 to turn on the boob tube. At 9:58, I logged onto Facebook, thinking I’d be safe playing a word game or three until the magic hour had passed, et voila! A spoiler, in the form of a friend’s status line. Less than a hundred characters, ruining a night’s self-headgames. Alas.
Fine, no big deal, my personal favorite candidate had already been voted off that particular island, so I wasn’t feeling much of an investment in the ultimate winner of the competition, anyway. We still watched, this afternoon, and listened to Captain Obvious – Chris Harrison, to most – narrate and interview to his heart’s content. And ours.
So, it’s done, at least until May, when my previously-mentioned personal favorite comes back as “The Bachelorette,” thereby setting herself up to lose any semblance of respect I might ever have imagined myself to hold for her.
Because, seriously? This is crap television at its worst. It’s a bare step up over “The Jerry Springer Show” (is that even still on?), and the only show I’ve ever willingly watched that is unarguably worse than this is “Temptation Island.” It’s predictable, right down to the same, tired lines, trotted out each season and uttered in tones of angst and shock, as though somehow the prior umpteen seasons didn’t give enough of a clue that it might be hard to fall in love with two people at once.
I have absolutely no idea why I watch, or why I enjoy doing so. I think part of it is because the sheer bizarreness of it delights me: how can we possibly have such a staged, set-up dating show aired in front of the world and then listen to the contestants insist how real and fairy tale it all is? Let me tell you, ladies and gentlement, ain’t nowhere in Grimm’s that mentions beating out 24 other contestants on unrealistic, fantastical dates in order to gain notoriety and scrutiny.
I also will admit to having been in a comparable – not similar, mind you, but roughly comparable – situation. When I was 19, I was engaged to Seth, and highly attracted to Willem. Was I in love with two men at once? Hell, no; with Seth, there was a mutual safety net, and with Willem, there was an intellectual and chemical spark, but either relationship would have qualified, in 1999, as love. But I was involved with both; one of my personal low points, in terms of dignity and pride, occurred when I left Willem’s room, not having had sex but having crossed several other lines, to go directly to Seth’s room and return his engagement ring. It was a bad, bad, confusing, selfish, unpleasant time, and I’m ashamed of many aspects of it. But I understand exactly how I ended up there, and would likely have chosen the exact same path all over again, knowing how it all played out. So, I do have sympathy for the, “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to date more than one person” line.
But still, why watch? Why expose myself to frequent, visual reminders of a confusing and painful time in my life, or seek out other people behaving badly when life provides so many other opportunities for similar voyeurism?
I just don’t know.
But you’d better believe I’ll be tuning in again in May.