By Madison Lattner | Staff Writer
I like to consider myself a fairly substantial person. I love to read, try to travel as much as I can, watch Netflix documentaries sometimes, and so forth. I shun reality TV, refuse to read any tabloids, and have yet to watch one full episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” When I’m unwinding with my TV, I indulge in “Downton Abbey,” Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa,” and stand-up comedy. This is, until, it is a Monday night at eight.
At that time, you will find me wine glass in hand, eyes glued to beautiful people following their scripts toward love. I participate in Bachelor Fantasy Leagues, drinking games, and attentively follow each contestant’s Instagram accounts. I have not missed an episode for the past six years, and I am not planning on quitting anytime soon. While I would probably not ask for a photo with any of the Bachelor family should I see them in public, nor buy any of the products they endorse, I consider myself a part of Bachelor Nation.
I am well aware of the faults in this show. It is ridiculously scripted, relies heavily on the contestant’s alcohol consumption, it is misogynist, racist, sexist, and objectifying towards women. My mother actually banned my sister and me from watching the show in our house because, “it makes a mockery of love.” The casting process and script removes any bit of “reality” this reality show might have (with the exception of Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, I love you guys). Yet, over 10 million viewers tune in each week to observe one individual’s attempt at love on national television. What does this mean for our nation? Are we so addicted to drunken banter and expensive dates that we overlook these obvious faults? Are we just too dumb to recognize the faults in the name of entertainment?
The Huffington Post offers insight specific to what makes Bachelor Nation intriguing to Millennials, specifically, “Explicit declarations of romantic interest are rarely made during the early stages of our relationships, when we are more likely to be carefully testing the romantic waters with a co-worker or soccer teammate or old college friend than we are to be sharing childhood stories across an exquisite dinner table with some guy who we met at a party. Perhaps most importantly, we modern women no longer feel pressured to choose between love, career, and everything else we want in life, as Ali’s narrative has forced her to do. We’re entitled Millennials — we want it all, and we plan on getting it somehow!”
Besides the drama and romance, something that really draws me to the show is the aspect of escape. Regardless of the work and stresses I face in my day to day life, it is comforting to immerse myself in the uber-romantic and whimsical world of the Bachelor. From the helicopter dates to honeymoon suites in the tropics, the Bachelor illustrates a fantasy. Any traces of reality are wiped out, thanks to the scripts and producers of the show, along with any connections to my own life. Julia Wayne, Assistant Editor of Wet Paint, elaborates on this appeal: “The Bachelor is fun to watch. You get to see these beautiful people doing things you definitely don’t do in your own life, drama plays out in really nicely filmed ways, and there are always surprises. Even if you read spoilers or think you know what’s going to play out, watching it happen is exciting, and sometimes emotional or cringe-inducing. The fantasy elements of the dates — helicopters, ice castles, the potential that someone will be dumped on a glacier — is like watching a sci-fi movie, but with really attractive people. Plus, with all the silly ‘fairytale’ talk, it’s a great show for girlfriend-party drinking games. (Drink every time someone uses a superlative!)”
A key point to understand while watching any Bachelor show is that it is fantasy. The many issues the show has, from the sexist structure of it to the nature of the relationships, is because it is based on fiction rather than reality. It is key for viewers to identify the show as scripted and not natural (one can only imagine the disasters modeling these romantic practices in real life would ensue). Yes, the Bachelor is both ridiculous and entirely void of reality. However, if viewers watch it with a grain of salt and sense of humor, the Bachelor can be a great escape from midterms and sad-looking bank accounts into the world of roses and pool parties.