‘The Bachelorette’ TV show is sickeningPublished 8:58am Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Column: Pothole Prairie
Show of hands: How many of you believe that reality television is real?
OK, if you raised your hand, answer me this: Why is it that in every season of “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” there is always one date who is a complete jerk that all the other dates hate?
C’mon, seriously. The person must be a paid actor planted by the producers. It’s a hoax!
“Dates,” by the way, is what they call the 25 or so contestants who fawn and flitter over the bachelor or bachelorette.
Also, if the show were real, wouldn’t the bachelor or bachelorette gravitate more swiftly to one date, rather than remain on the fence over several of them for so long? OK, I can see some of them being on the fence and enjoying making out with a different member of the opposite sex every hour upon the hour, but every bachelor and bachelorette on every season? No way. There eventually would have to be a good girl or boy who just wants a good mate.
Obviously, she or he is in league with the producers to do and say the right thing for the sake of building suspense and, thus, TV ratings.
I can’t stand the show, but how do I know so much? My lovely wife, Lisa, watches it, and, call me crazy, sometimes I just like to sit next to her when she watches television, even if I don’t like the program.
Last week, however, I happened to be at a friend’s house, and his wife, also a friend, was watching it. The host Chris Harrison was interviewing this season’s bachelorette, Emily Maynard. During the first part of the interview, Emily spouted answers freely and easily, like she either knew the questions and had prepared her own answers or, more likely, the producers had provided her with answers. I suspect the latter because the answers were all fence-riding, suspense-building kind of answers.
But then Chris asked some questions for which Emily didn’t have pat answers. She puffed her cheeks, bit her lip and seemed empty-minded, as if to say “Can I glide past this part?” Admittedly, reality shows do have some moments of reality, when producers leave them hanging.
Contestants who have been on the show have spoken about some aspects of the experience. The bachelor or bachelorette actually gets to hand out the roses to the contestants who stay, but the contestants know beforehand who is getting eliminated. That way, producers can set up the order people are called out for the sake of more drama.
They are thrown into a setting where they can’t leave, often offered plenty of booze and urged by producers to talk, at least according to the contestants themselves.
The other unreal aspect is that the shows are heavily edited. They seem documentary-ish, but they are not. For instance, Emily cried after watching a video. But was this tear actually shed right after watching the video as presented or was it acted out separately or even while watching another contestant’s video? We never can tell. Editing can lead us to believe one candidate is leading but really isn’t. It’s all about drama, not reality.
What’s unbelievable is that the bachelor or bachelorette is expected to marry the winning date. And this comes probably after spending no more than, say, 100 hours with the person. How can a person choose a bride or a groom this way? It’s an insult to the institution of marriage. It’s sickening.
I wonder what they do after they get married and then watch the show when America gets to see it aired. Are they shocked at how the bachelor or bachelorette was necking with a runner-up two days before the final selection and proposition of marriage? It’s like the bachelor or bachelorette is allowed to cheat with 25 dates before selecting one person for life. How is this on TV without values-touting politicians not questioning the FCC licenses of broadcasters?
What gets me, too, is that what happens on the show is presented as news the next morning on “Good Morning America” and on ABC affiliates. This isn’t news. An honest news agency would expose the truth behind what is real and not real on the show, rather than play along like it is some kind of pro-wrestling recap.
These shows leave me trying to figure out what’s fake and what’s real rather than watching the actual show.
If you want reality on television, watch a sports contest. It’s honest. Well, except for the referees, sometimes. And don’t get me started on the sports announcers.
Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.