Okay, I admit, I rarely watch TV. Now I remember why. Last night was a rare, open night, and my wife and I laid back and browsed the TV channels to happen upon an ABC reality show, The Bachelor. Here you have a former fitness model and born-again Christian trying to decide which of a multitude of women will be “the one.” For starters, I hope you agree with me that reality shows aren’t “reality.” Keep in mind that for all of the interesting visuals—Sean swimming with one bachelorette in a dark cave in Thailand, Sean in the fantasy bedroom with another date, Sean combing his hair in the bathroom—there was a cameraman right there filming all of this.
What’s wrong on so many levels is that Sean tells each of his dates that he can see spending the rest of his life with them. Each day Sean treats another fantastic candidate to the “date of a lifetime” which is all funded by ABC. Each woman feels herself falling in love with Sean. Then, one by one, they are sent home. So this is love? Think about the collateral damage this causes each person participating in the show. For example, last season, Sean was sent home by a bachelorette in the second to the last round. This year, he will pick “the one” for him out of all others. Really?
Now lets take this “perfect couple” out of the fantasy environment. Sean now will need to get a real job. Sean may be a nice guy, but this former male model will need a real career when he returns. Reality will be getting up and going to work. Living on a budget. Growing old. Having kids. What happens the first time after fantasyland that his partner gives him a dose of reality? Will he start second-guessing himself that perhaps he should have chosen the girl behind door number two? He was a runner up, and most of his dates will be too. What happens when they seek a real romance without the cameras running?
I figured that America has to be savvy to his, and the show can’t be a hit. I was wrong. Last week The Bachelor brought in 9.2 million viewers, which is a season high. This was the best non-finale rating in over two years and helped ABC tie with CBS for #1 network for the night.
My greatest concern is that America considers this kind of dating, romance, and love a reality. It isn’t.