I think the time is ripe to take a cold hard look at the "reality show" we've all been watching called the Bachelor. The internet is rife with rumors and speculations about the show. There's nothing new in that. This show franchise has been a staple of internet boards since its inception. Whats different is the nature of these rumors. Countless former contestants, now far less terrified of ABC and the draconian gag order it imposes and the serf-like contract they're forced to sign, are spilling about the show. And what's spilling is not only illuminating, its downright seedy. Rumors have swirled for years that this show is largely scripted but for the first time we are getting first hand testimonies from insiders that what we've all been watching is just as scripted as we've all suspected. The sole remaining question seems to be: where does the scripting end and where does the (if any) romance actually begin?
The first thing we need to look at is the latest installment of the Bachelor. Bachelor Matt Grant, from London and the movie Firedrake, romanced 25 women and ended up picking Shayne Lamas, the daughter of 80's TV star Lorenzo Lamas. Grant, billed as a international financier, expressed nothing but skepticism about the true motives of the lovely Lamas during the show. However, two of the lady contestants who dared mention the fact that Grant himself was an acting wannabe and had made the film Firedrake, were unceremoniously dumped the first night. Grant was, after all, a financier who "worked with the rich and powerful of London", not an actor wannabe. Right.
When she was dismissed as the last girl to be dumped, Chelsea threw a fit and scoffed at Grant is disbelief about Lamas. Inside sources inform this old pirate that Grant spent much of his time with Chelsea, and her fellow final 3 member, Amanda, making disparaging remarks about Lamas and her singular lack of an I.Q. Wonder how this lovestory is going to work out? Find out here: http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_272621006.shtml
And another one bites the dust.
Listen. I have no pretense about being a "journalist". I write this blog to make fun of people I think need it and to be a smartass but I think we owe it to ourselves to be honest about what we're watching. Truth is some people get powerfully drawn into this show and root for their favorites and hate on those they don't like. Nobody enjoys this vicarious pleasure more than your ol redbeard here but I think its time we took a reality check together. So lets see what we know and what we can piece together.
How do people get on this show? Well that varies. The show would love you to believe that people nominate worthy candidates who are really nice people who deserve love despite being wonderful and beautiful but just haven't met the right person yet. Some actually do get on the show like that, but most get recruited via the internet. Ok, not a problem. The internet is filled with lonely hearts sites trying to match up desperate singles. Uh, no. The most common route to get contestants on the show is by being recruited off their MySpaces. Hmmm? Why? Simple. Hottie's put their photos on their MySpaces and producers and the recruiting services they employ find them there. A great majority of the women who appear on this show have aspirations to be actors or performers. What better way to land a commercial or soap opera or whatever than to get some free face time on network TV? This is half of the reason this show never (or hardly never) produces a true love match.
The other half? Well that one's obvious, isn't it? The Bachelor's themselves, of course. Since this show first aired in 2002, there have been 12 Bachelors and now, two Bachelorette spin offs. (We'll leave current Bachelorette, DeAnna Pappas out of this for the moment.) That means: Alex Michel, Aaron Buerge, Andrew Firestone, Bob (blob) Guiney, Jesse Palmer, Byron Velvick, Charlie O'Connell, Dr. Travis Stork, "Prince" Lorenzo Borghese, Lieutenant Dr. Andy Baldwin, USN, Brad Womack, and Matt Grant have all tried their luck at this televised love lottery. Of these 12 men only two, (And I'm counting c-list actor Charlie O'Connell here--because at least he tried and had some luck) and pro fisherman Byron Velvick and his Rockyesque, perpetual fiance, Mary Delgado, have actually found love on the show. (Say what you want about the Velvick's but they have stuck it out when most couples would have quit.)
Taking a good-looking, successful, well-educated man and pairing him with twenty-five beauties of similar education and intelligence and seeing something develop shouldn't be this spectacularly unsuccessful. So why has it failed? Some people will whine now that marriage is hard; that finding the "one" is terribly difficult! Barbarossa, you're being unfair! First of all, kiss my ass. Next, lets take stock of what we know about marriage. Take a good look around you. How many people do you honestly know who reached their thirtieth, let alone fortieth, birthdays without hooking a spouse? C'mon, I'm not talking about your Uncle Bob, who wears the "I only came for the beer" t-shirt at family gatherings or your Aunt Bev who lives with twenty-six cats and has a 6 foot-tall bulldyke named Rose who is her "Best friend." I mean normal people. Yes, dear readers, even in this age of universal acceptance of everything including cannibals as an "oppressed minority' there is such a thing as normal. (If you don't agree with this; see my first point.)
We know these bachelors I listed failed to find love on the show, but just how many of them have not only found love, but have taken it to the next logical step of marriage in real life? Well out of these 12 puffed up popinjays one, only one, the notorious Blob Guiney, has actually gotten married. Blob married actress Rebeccca Budig in 2004. Of all twelve men, only Velvick had been married before he did the show and all of these men except Palmer are well over thirty and he's twenty-nine. That's twelve guys, combined age of almost 400 years, and a grand total of two marriages and one long engagement (two of them by Velvick). Wow, no wonder this shit doesn't work! My two sisters and I have been married more than all 12 of these jackoffs combined. My dad, Greybeard Barbarossa, 76 years-old, ties the whole bunch. He remarried after my mum died and managed both of them without the help of Chris Harrison. Wow, Pops Barbarossa 2; all Bachelor's combined 2. Lets all smirk at once, shall we? And this is supposed to be a show about marriage? Ha!
As I think we can see the truth is this show is about everything in the universe except marriage. It's about drama and its about entertainment...and thats fine. But I think the anecdotal evidence I looked up proves something else. The Bachelors are all from disparate backgrounds: One is a Italian "Prince" sort of, one is a pro fisherman, one a tire heir, two are M.D.'s, and one of those was an active duty serviceman. There are a couple of businessmen-types and one, Blob, is a 'character' about like Ace Ventura, I think. But there is one thing they all share in common: Commitment Phobia!
Mamma Barbarossa once told me that, "Any man not married by the age of thirty is a fairy!" That's a stereotype and like all stereotypes, it's unfair. But stereotypes are all grounded in about 85% truth as well. Mamma B's stereotype applied to the time she lived in and no longer applies now; people avoid marriage for a host of reasons today, not just homosexuality. Hell, homosexuals are the one clamoring to get married these days! But marriage, passe dinosaur that it is, hasn't really changed since ancient times. Its still a pledge and leap of faith to build a life with another person. The way we see marriage has changed however. Marriage now comes with an easy escape hatch if you're unhappy; a phone call to your lawyer generally does the trick. With Hollywood giving us all a shining example, people now change spouses like they change underwear--when they bother with either. Ancient Romans would fall down laughing at our rationale for marriage. They got married but would laugh if you told them they should be in love before they did it. They expected to be matched up by their parents, and then fall in love. Many did, many didn't but marriage has always been about commitment; something no Bachelor seems to possess. Lets face it, if you're young, pretty/handsome, educated, glib and successful, finding a spouse is about as hard as falling and actually hitting the ground.
I am afraid that in the final analysis it is we viewers who have the problem. Although I left behind any romantic notions about this show years ago, many haven't. We could still try romance if the producers wanted to, but they obviously don't. They would recruit more divorced people with proven records of commitment and they wouldn't arrange sham outcomes like Grant/Lamas if they really cared about love. They care about ratings. If we, the viewer, are aware of caveat emptor, then this is all about fun. When they start recruiting contestants off of match.com instead of MySpace maybe we can believe the producers are serious. Until then just know you're watching a pimped up soap opera and not reality and we can all enjoy.
Until next week when DeAnna explains why she dumped the guy she picked (yes, I have heard it from strong inside sources that this one is already over as well) Argh! If you'd like to dump on me or tell me I'm full of shit or whatever, leave a comment or let me have it at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who's Down with B.I.P.?
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