Why I still watch The Bachelorette…

Another season of the Bachelorette is upon us, so I thought I would reflect on my relationship with the franchise in general.  I have to admit I didn’t watch season one or two of The Bachelor.  At that point in time you couldn’t have paid watch reality TV.  Without anything to base my opinion on, I deemed it misogynistic and exploitative, not to mention fake.  After all, who could really fall in love on a show like that?  How could the process of quick elimination work when we all know how hard dating and finding that special someone can be?  Then came the Bachelorette and Trista.  When told from the point of view of a woman, the same process seemed to make much more sense.

After all, a woman who goes on a show entitled The Bachelorette probably really wants to get married.  I don’t think that’s the case for most of the Bachelors, as evidenced by their final rose relationship track record.  A bachelor goes on the show and is exposed to 25 women who fight over him and all of a sudden he thinks, “If these 25 women all want me, how many more women are out there that would want me, too?”  Ego takes over and even if he really did think he might want to get married in the beginning, the seeds of doubt have been planted.  The exception to this has been Jason, who from the very start of the show was obviously genuine in the fact he was ready and looking for a wife – so much so that he braved scores of angry women and the media to follow his heart and dump Melissa for Molly.

The process used in the Bachelor/Bachelorette isn’t really new.  It’s not that different from the process used in historical romance novels depicting England’s “Ton” and the courting process.  People would meet at a ball, the gentlemen would decide who they were interested in and would then “call” on their choices.  The women would then pick (with the help of their fathers, brothers, or uncles– perhaps the Chris Harrison role?) from their suitors.  The suitors may have visited for tea and cakes or perhaps walked with them in the park, but it wasn’t like they dated for months trying to figure out if that person was the one.  With today’s all time high divorce rate for people who “know each other” and live together before marriage, it doesn’t seem like it’s a worse way to do things.

So when Trista fell in love with Ryan and we got to watch them get married, and have babies, it was proof enough to me that there was  a chance that the show could really work.  I sat through seasons like Jake and Vienna in order to catch glimpse of real romance like Trista and Ryan, Jason and Molly, Allie and Roberto, even Andrew and Jen (who didn’t work out – but were no question in love).  I guess you could say that my relationship with the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise is like that of a woman who has married a reformed player.  I stay committed because I believe that there’s something real there, but I never let down my guard because I can still always get played.

I’m hoping that this season with Ashley no one gets played and there’s a couple who walks away 100% in love.  If the producers (who I know make half the choices anyway)don’t manipulate the season with the “Bentley” storyline or create unnecessary tension with surprise revelations, I think Ash might have a shot.  My money’s on J.P. and “Cupcake”.

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