Reality TV isn’t something I tend to share on this blog, but I had to make an exception for The Bachelor. YES I SAID THE BACHELOR. I hated admitting that I watched every episode this season until all of the internets agreed that this may have been the best, or rather most entertaining, season the show has ever seen. I’ve never in my life watched an entire season of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette until now. And why the hell did I? Well, many things. First and foremost, Monday night TV just seemed so bleak. Besides HIMYM, which I watch online anyways, there was nothing engaging me to look past my laptop. So my boyfriend and I casually put on The Bachelor as mildly amusing background fodder. Little did we know, we would actually start watching it. Like, really watching it. Well maybe more me watching it and making him look up at the really intense parts.
What’s super ironic about the fandom generated around this season is that, like me, a lot of the viewers loved this season because they generally despise the conceit of the show in the first place. A reality show competition involving a group of women fawning over a singular suitor? That sounds like the lamest and saddest thing ever. Yet so many of us threw the towel in and indulged this season. Why? Well, darling, let me count for you the ways.
1. The Bachelor
I caught a few glances of Desiree’s season so I did know who Juan Pablo was only because every time they said his name, a magical latin guitar riff had to follow. Once ABC began promoting JP as the Bachelor, people began noticing because it was not your typical pick. The contestants were going to have to fight through the language barrier and had to think of the Bachelor as a father as much as a husband – and also, think of themselves as a mother. This put an interesting spin on everything especially since the Bachelors and the Bachelorettes have not been known for their diversity (seriously). So already, things were looking at least vaguely interesting.
2. The Women
On the very first night, JP took a shine to Sharleen and from then on out seemed hooked on her. I was too. She was as awkward and verbose as she was stunning and I think a vast majority of women like me took a liking to her. Because, in JP’s words, she was different. Good different. Sometimes I wonder if the producers planned things this way in order to make the audience actually pay attention. Well, it worked on me. Seriously, I think half of why I watched the beginning of the season was to see what she would wear, say, and do. And the moment she voluntarily left, Andi quickly picked up where Sharleen left off. She was not quite as reluctant to the process, but immediately started shining as a genuine beauty inside and out. So, naturally she left as well. Her dramatic exit after spending a night alone with JP is what really sealed the deal. Her Bachelorette deal.
In addition, I have to give props where props are due. I hated Clare the entire season until the finale, when she finally allowed herself to throw in the towel and become real about her feelings. Her bright-eyed and bushy-tailed demeanor, so desperate to fall in love with an a-hole like JP, drove us all insane. And in the end, she came out on top, needing nothing more than to say she’s happy he’s not the father of her children. Boom.
So, in conclusion to #2, this season was great because some of the contestants were finally interesting (Nikki, the winner, not included) and unscripted, showing us that the choice is as much theirs as it is The Bachelor’s. They challenged the premise of the show and reminded us that love – even reality tv love – needs to be a two-way street between equals.
This is really more of an extension to the previous reason. Because of the contestant personalities chosen for this season, we actually began buying into the competition because we had people to root for, and against. There was something redeeming about the fact that JP wanted Sharleen so bad even though she was so far from the cookie-cutter image of what he actually wanted; so while I rooting for her to GTFO, I was also kind of ready to forgive JP for his sins if he had enough sense to actually choose Sharleen in the end. I also really wanted to see what her home date would have been like. But I’m very happy she left. And that she kept her head held high, never stooping to the level of the other rejected contestants who so openly bash JP. She’s class all the way.
So for the first time in my life ever, I actually cared about who was getting the rose. Weird how that can happen.
At some point towards the end of the season, it seemed like Chris and the Bachelor producers began to give in to (and join) the media ridicule of the entire spectacle. Because the process so obviously didn’t work this go around and JP was being criticized left and right, the producers of the show were painted into a PR corner. If they continued to ignore the downfalls of JP, they would lose all the attention garnered from the girls leaving the show. Without their two beloved heroines, they needed to reel us in with seeing Juan Pablo in the hot spot; seeing Clare – the epitome of perfectly dramatic and overbearing Bachelor contestant – denounce the man she was so willing to give all of herself to, was enjoyable. And they knew this. They had to have known this. Gone are the days of making out under a waterfall and riding horses on a beach while the sun sets. This was really what everyone wanted to see.
With all of these twists and turns, The Bachelor finally succeeded at making us tune in. I wanted to know what controversial or shocking thing was going to happen next! I wanted to hear what these girls thought of Juan Pablo. I wanted to see the people I like leave happy and the people I disliked leave unhappy. They got me. They figured out the formula, the balance between love, drama, and hatred. Making internet headlines week after week, I’ve never heard or actually talked more about The Bachelor than I have in the past few months. And that, my friends, is tv magic.
Not only that, but I now find myself wanting to know what is going to happen to Andi. Had they picked any other girl, I wouldn’t have continued to want to watch. Sharleen was obviously so uncomfortable with the whole thing, that it had to be Andi. She seems to be charming, intelligent, and strong (at least the show has painted her that way) which makes her a perfect candidate to be at the helm of the show’s next iteration. I’m already wondering what men they’ll pick for her. And even though I know it won’t be nearly as interesting as JP’s season, I’m planning on watching. Thanks a lot, ABC.