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The Bachelor/ette: It’s Not Fun Anymore

June 25, 2010

I admit, I did not watch the first seasons of The Bachelor, it seemed crude and painful and terrible.  However, last summer while visiting a dear friend in Portland, she got me hooked:  every night, no matter what we were coming home from, we’d crack open one last bottle of wine, light up one more smoke, and watch an episode of Jillian’s quest for marriage online.  We were a few weeks behind in the season, so it made for a nice mini-marathon.  I returned home from vacation and watched the remaining episodes alone (though still often at midnight and not while entirely sober).

Then I watched the following season with Jake as “the Bachelor”, that ended with him picking the Skeezy Girl over the Cuddlebug.  And then HE followed ME over to Dancing With the Stars and became a contestant.  Now, his fiancee Vienna was not someone I’d hang out with, but I can see why Jake picked her.  This is why I am fascinated by this series — despite the pageantry and constructs, the focus on ratings and drama and compulsory upper class white heterosexuality, in the midst of this dynamic commentary on gender and sexual roles that are still firmly entrenched in the norm of our culture, there are moments of witnessing actual genuine sexual and romantic chemistry between people.  It is a bit like discovering a beautiful birth in the midst of a trash heap.   I am not especially proud of spending so much time looking at a trash heap, but I’m not especially ashamed either.

Well, until now.  I already knew that reality television lets loose some damaged people who have seriously committed crimes, but yesterday it was reported by HuffPo that not only have the couple split, but insiders of the show witnessed Jake exhibiting intimidation and violence towards Vienna just this past Tuesday night on the set.

“Jake was visibly angry,” the source told Radar. “At one point out of nowhere he wheeled back and I thought he was going to throw a punch. He pulled his arm back and his hand was in a fist.”

I am an earnest enough person that I admit to being a little shocked by the reports of Jake’s behavior during the break-up television special taping.  Then I look at the words in the last sentence and think, WHAT THE FCK ABC? WHY DID YOU THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO PUT TWO RECENT EX’S IN A ROOM AND PROVOKE THEM AND FILM THEM?  I don’t ask that question to give Jake a free pass.  The reports are saying he appeared to be ready to throw a punch at Vienna and had to be held back, and that is never ok, but I’m also not going to give a pass to the television producers who set up this tableau and put her in the position to be almost punched.  I’m a big fan of taking 6 months apart after a breakup, even if you want to remain friends, and that is because emotions run really, really high, it is difficult to think logically.  Which, of course makes great television, because in the same story, in the same breath of recounting the incident, the television people are thinking:

“The execs were screaming at him, ‘What the heck are you doing?’ And the camera people were all like, ‘Oh my god, we can’t use any of this,'” the source said. “Vienna is scared to death.”

Wow, really?  “We can’t use any of this” is your biggest concern?  Well, apparently they found a way to make the footage work, because the special Bachelor break-up special is still planning to air.  Or they at least jumped into the PR machine quickly to cover their ass:

“The atmosphere was emotionally charged,” producers acknowledge in a statement. “However, and contrary to reports that have surfaced about the interview, at no time was anyone ever physically in harm’s way, nor was anyone ever threatened with physical violence.”

Of course not, because then they would have wasted all that money.  Now it’s considered an investment.

Maybe I need to stick to just watching The Millionaire Matchmaker.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 9:42 am

    maybe it’s time to retire these shows. I think it was Vonnegut who said shows get into trouble when actor start making up their own material.

  2. June 25, 2010 11:39 am

    I need a Vonnegut-A-Day Calendar.

  3. June 25, 2010 12:41 pm

    Maybe FryButt needs weekly horoscopes that are made up entirely of Vonnegut lines.

  4. June 25, 2010 12:51 pm

    Ok. First things first. The whole concept of “The Bachelor” was completely flawed to begin with, and here’s why. Most any guy with an ego big enough to go on a show like this is not going to settle for one of the 25 women the producers selected to be on the program. What they would do is play the game, go through the motions, leave “heartbroken,” and then take their pick from the millions of women who watched them back home! Seriously, except for that first loser Alex Michel (where’s HE at this point?), this is a genius method for these douchebags to become hot properties.

    I’m sure the producers are starting to realize this, and are now trying to “force” a better result from the guys who star on the show, and maybe that’s part of the reason you get a result like this. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if they did better screening of these doods.

    Conversely “The Bachelorette” worked (at least the first season) because Trista Rehn was sincerely looking for a guy, and Ryan Sutter was just some regular joe who was willing to put up with the format. They are, to date the only successful couple via this series.

    Really, it should be “The Bachelorette” only, for a lot of reasons: it allows a lot more and different men to be seen by viewers, it puts the woman in control, and it would likely produce a better result. But nobody asked me to produce this show, and I wouldn’t, even if they did!

  5. June 25, 2010 1:36 pm

    Dean, I agree that The Bachelorette is more agreeable to watch — I find it more palatable watching the men jockey for attention (and show their true colors readily). I do believe Jake fell in love with Vienna, he is that earnestly of a doofus, which means he’s also that clueless to the actuality of what it meant, who he was with, how it would play out, etc.

    Also, Ed and Jillian are still together from last season’s Bachelorette, which means it’s been a whole year of engagement — I think that puts them in second place for the longest couple. You’re right to mention the aspect of post-show dating opportunities. It’s really just a fantasy island personal ad. I can see why the producers have primarily been picking candidates for the following season by cannibalizing the current contestants, because they’ve had longer to screen people and see how they read for television, but it’s producing an insular cycle that’s feeding on itself in bad ways.

    I wouldn’t want to produce the show either, though I wouldn’t mind if you did some consulting for them. Or maybe someone at ABC will just read this and steal your ideas.

  6. June 25, 2010 3:20 pm

    I wouldn’t want to produce the show either, though I wouldn’t mind if you did some consulting for them. Or maybe someone at ABC will just read this and steal your ideas.

    Most likely. I have seen things I’m sure I heard from Dean first, filter into television. I’m thinking particularly of something I saw once on Desperate Housewives – maybe the flash forward conceit, or it might have been something else.

  7. June 27, 2010 11:51 pm

    I hate pretty much any reality dating show. The worst was that one where all the dudes were fat and/or busted… I think it was “Average Joe”. The Joes were supposed to be competing for these really attractive chicks. They totally screwed the Average Joes when a ship of hott young studs came to the island and they had to compete with THEM. Not surprisingly, none of the Joes made it to the end.

  8. June 29, 2010 9:21 am

    I eschewed reality shows for as long as I could, but I finally started watching them because no-cable-makes-lisa-crazy. So I’m now watching Survivor and Big Brother – I’ll even check out Chef Ramsey once in a while.

    But try as I might, it’s hard to watch the Bachelor/Bachelorette. It takes inanity to a whole ‘nother level. Apparently there is only one known adjective in the B/B universe and that is “awesome.” I’ve heard there are drinking games centered around this phenomena. I don’t think my liver could take it.

    Add to this the current Ali’s penchant for saying “like” constantly like a 12 year old – like, ya know? I just find I can’t slog it out for 2 hours and always end up shutting off the teevee.

    I did manage to see several episodes of the Jake Show, though. And I guess my whole point of commenting here is to say that I agree with the general consensus that The Bachelorette is less unseemly of a show than The Bachelor but really for one main reason – that sleeping with the final three business!

    I got seriously ill watching Jake “take it to the next level” with the final three contestants – I mean, ewwwwwwww. I think Vienna got Jake last after he’d been ~leveling~ with the other two. Am I the only one to worry about STDs in this day and age? C’mon – where are my fellow germophobes.

    Now as far as I understand it, The Bachelorette doesn’t behave the same way? Have there been exceptions? I don’t know.

    I don’t mind inauthenticity on my reality shows, but pure out-and-out skeeveyness?

    Oh, and talk about letting the certifiably insane on reality shows, someone talk about Russell on the last two Survivor episodes. Apparently, he’s an out-and-out malignant narcissist – the last thing he needs to be on is teevee.

  9. July 6, 2010 1:13 pm

    @weelisa: There is definitely some double-standard stuff going on with the “fantasy suite” when it comes to Bachelor v. Bachelorette, as the Bachelorette seems to have be very careful about how she plays the overnight – last season, I think she only did one early on to ‘have more time with the contestant’ because he left and came back, etc. Btw, don’t get me started on that bullisht, I wish there was a moratorium on both dramatic non-health emergency early exits AND the incessant mention of ‘being here for the right reasons’ because of the hucksters who have showed up on the show to trick the other contestants.

    I think I’m watching the show to see if one day, someone will look right in the camera during an exit interview and shrug and say, “we didn’t really have any chemistry.”

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