Amazing-or Is It?
November 26, 2007
By Phil Perkins
Of all the so-called "reality" shows, perhaps none other is as detached from reality as ABC's "The Bachelor." The latest edition's bizarre ending only underscored how unrealistic the concept of finding a life mate is in a televised, largely scripted setting.
The bachelor, for those smart enough not to watch the show, starts with a group of 25 young women from presumably all walks of life-however, there are several uniform characteristics, chief among them physical attractiveness along with single status. You have to wonder what motivates them to participate in a venture where they have only a four percent chance of winning the prize. Granted, the bachelor is physically attractive and rich, so that's what must draw them despite the odds.
As the weeks go on and the suspense builds, the bachelor must weed the candidates down to a final two, in the meantime meeting the top three or four's families and going on overnight dates with them. All the while, much of the conversation that transpires while the cameras are running centers on the bachelor telling his lady friend of the moment what an "amazing, awesome" person she is-and then of course repeating variations of those words to all of the remaining contenders, including those he does not select to continue. The young women, desperate to distance themselves from the competition, continually profess to the bachelor how fantastic he is and how they're falling in love with him. Gloria Steinem could only cringe at such behavior, and this is one of the very few times I would agree with her.
By the time the last show of the sequence rolls around, the bachelor has narrowed the field down to the final two contenders, one of whom he will presumably select as his future wife-assuming that she accepts his proposal. It should be noted that almost never is marriage the final result of this program, no matter that an engagement ring is given and a proposal is often accepted at the end of the last show. And that may be just as well.
In the latest edition just ended, the bachelor broke with the script at the end and decided that he did not love either of the final two contenders enough to ask for her hand in marriage. To the extent that he was being true to himself as well as the young lady whom he may have entrapped in an unhappy marriage, bravo to him. However, the premise of an ending with an engagement, and all of the events that transpired as the show moved through its phases, led the two devastated young women down a primrose path that only ended in disaster and heartbreak for them. The bachelor, because of all the accolades he showered upon them as well as pressuring them in turn to profess their love for and devotion to him, certainly bears a large share of responsibility for the heartbreak that resulted. However, ABC and the producers of this exploitative show should not get off scott-free either.
The Bachelor, unreal as it may be, unfortunately reflects the shallowest elements of our modern culture. Too often in our modern relationships, false and fleeting intimacies are accepted, poor substitutes as they are, for the harder to attain real thing. In our drive for instant gratification, legions of opportunities to truly connect with others are lost, simply because they may take some of our precious time.
It's easy to shower someone with compliments about what an awesome person they are if you don't in fact have to walk a mile with them or in their shoes. In truth, we are only "amazing" or "awesome" to the extent that we allow the light of the One who created us to shine through. Otherwise, we are feeble lumps of clay whose many words, no matter how poetic or moving, are meaningless at the end of the day-as meaningless as "secularized" holidays stripped bare of their true import.