Saturday, June 26, 2010
By way of Nathan Bransford, I read that a "Bachelor" dumped his television fiancee to focus on his new role in a cable show. Should we feign surprise?
I'm not a "Bachelor" watcher, although I do get occasional updates on the show from my mother. To approach this as a show about people trying to actually fall in love requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief that I'm not capable of.
The cast of these shows is generally attractive enough to be able to pursue romantic relationships through conventional channels (nobody wants to watch ugly people making out in hot-tubs). If these people really wanted to pursue marriage, there are far more appropriate ways to go about it.
Their decision to pursue casting on "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" is premised not on a legitimate desire to marry the lead, but on a desire to become reality-television stars.
We almost never see "Bachelors" and "Bachelorettes" marrying their co-stars. We don't see former "Apprentices" in prominent corporate positions. Instead, we see the memorable characters from these shows moving on to D-list celebrity lifestyles: cable gigs, more reality shows, and party-hosting at Vegas nightclubs.
The artifice is apparent; the producers decide who is getting the rose, and who is getting fired. The competitors are competing for the camera's attention, not the Bachelor's or the Donald's. If they can make themselves an indispensable part of the producers' narrative, they're safe from elimination.
The contestants understand the rules, and ham it up playing whatever roles they fall into. The "villains" misbehave with relish because they know the producers will be keeping them around for a while. And there's always a twist or a scandal of some sort that feels pre-packaged.
The producers don't even bother to hide the strings anymore. They built in a rule on "American Idol" where the judges/producers can overrule an audience vote.
Of course some people can recognize the artifice and enjoy the skeeviness anyway. For them, there are the indispensable television blogs at The AV Club.