People love to hate on ABC’s dating reality show “The Bachelor” because– well, it’s insultingly cheesy and contrived. But anyone who has actually watched an entire season understands the extent to which, regardless of how cringe- and puke-worthy the show can be, it just sucks you in like an industrial-strength Hoover.
I personally think it’s genius how the producers of The Bachelor manage to manipulate the emotions of the characters and the viewers, so that by the time the season finale rolls around, the bachelor’s decision as to which woman he will propose to genuinely feels like life-and-death to everyone involved and everyone watching.
If you think about it, their strategy is clear: Find one single, good-looking man with rock-hard abs who is genuinely looking for love (and neglect the fact that his personality is completely lame, because it won’t matter, trust us.) Then find 25 single, hot, increasingly desperate-to-find-love women who are attracted to him upon seeing a photo. Throw the women into a big mansion and make them compete for his love through a series of fantasy dates– bungee jumping in New Zealand, flying in helicopters over tropical islands, having dinner in a castle nestled in a vineyard, etc. Let the women stew in jealousy as each one comes home and raves about her date and her “connection” with Jake, which anyone on that show would feel like she had because she has to fight to get his attention and hasn’t even SEEN another man in several weeks.
By the end of a couple months, there will be 2 women left whose parents Jake has met and who have met Jake’s parents. They’ve gone this crazy experience together of being on a TV show and traveling all over the place, and the emotions are so heightened from having to spend these romantic dates together and then not see each other for a few days that Jake honestly feels like he is in love with both women and they honestly feel like they are both in love with him.
Neil Lane arrives on the scene and gives Jake his pick of massive diamond rings. He considers the personality of each girl, tries to make a decision about which one he will dump and which one he will propose to that day. It seems completely absurd to an outside viewer, but to those who have been following, it seems like a completely legitimate and tragic decision.
One arrives in a helicopter first. The viewer knows she’ll be the dumpee, but she thinks she’s about to get proposed to. She walks up to Jake. He dumps her. Both of them sob, because the break-up was really so sudden and now he’s going to propose to someone else, so it’s not like they can continue casually dating on and off. It’s over. Both Jake and the girl and all the viewers are sobbing at this point.
Then the other girl arrives. It doesn’t matter how immature and abrasive and cross-eyed she is– the moment he asks her to marry him, millions of people become immediately convinced that they have the kind of unique love that will last a lifetime, and that this was a true fairy-tale romance.
A montage of their story commences as a cheesy ballad called “On the Wings of Love” plays in the background, and people are made to feel bad about themselves for not having fallen in love on the peak of a mountain in New Zealand or in a mud cave in St. Lucia.
Then the lucky couple breaks up two weeks later, and the cycle begins again.
Genius. Pure genius.