Saturday, December 13, 2008

"He's In Love! He's Engaged!"....OK, whatever you say, Chum.

ABC just released the pre-show press release assuring fans of Jason and of The Bachelor, that the show formula worked and Jason is head-over-heels in love with the "girl of his dreams." Ok, ok, whatever you say. But before the partying begins in earnest, my friends, it's time for a quick reality check before any of you start confusing Reality TV with Reality. I can hear some of you grumbling already. Oh, Barbarossa! We just got the news! Let us enjoy it a while before you take a giant crap on our romantic dreams! It's just a show, after all! Sorry, my friends. I can see and practically hear the swooning going on in online Bachelor-land and before that gets too far out of control it's your friendly Captains job to piss directly into your porridge. I am already hearing disturbing rumblings about people picking "favorites" and the girls pics haven't even been officially released yet. I'm also hearing (even from veteran fans) that this time is different because "Jason is really sincere!" Besides, as a veteran watcher and writer about this particular crapsack, I am charged with dousing your unrealistic expectations with a bucket of ice water. It's for your own good after all. Trust me.

An article has recently resurfaced that was originally written five years ago (complete with insider interviews of shocking honesty) that definitely should be reviewed. I'll save you the time by quoting from it directly. This article, written by Alessandra Stanley of TV Watch, was written in 2003, when the first spate of Reality TV programs were becoming astoundingly popular. It's a rare look behind the curtain of just what it is we're all still ingesting. I'll start the review with this quote, which should put your romantic ideas into proper perspective:

''We wanted to shoot the show like a soap opera,'' explained Lisa Levenson, the co-executive producer of ''The Bachelor'' series and a former producer of ''General Hospital,'' an ABC daytime soap opera. ''The principal ingredient is developing characters that viewers can relate to, or watch and think, 'At least I am not as screwed up as that person.' '' (Ms. Levenson also worked on the ''Jerry Springer Show.'')

If that last bit doesn't warn you about the nature of what we're all watching, I'll be damned if I know what will. That's right, Lisa Levenson, Bachelor co-producer, used to spend her time arranging onstage fist fights between incestuous families, trailer-trash lesbians, and perverted dwarfs. Jerry! Jerry! Quite a resume builder that is. Especially when you're also producing a dating show that requires everyone to swallow what they're seeing wholesale. Soap Operas and Springer--god, what a combo! This folks, is the same person who is trying to get you to buy that Jason Mesnick, average joe from Kirkland, Washington, has found love on her TV show and it's the real deal!

True, people have fallen in love on The Bachelor and it's sister show, The Bachelorette. But unfortunately for Levenson, and her partner in crime, Mike Fleiss, it's been a while. What this article makes so clear is just what the focus and point of this show is. (Hint: It's not people falling in love) Fleiss made it clear, they could care less about that

''If the couples break up, viewers will find that interesting, too,'' said Mike Fleiss, Ms. Levenson's co-executive producer on ''The Bachelor'' series. ''It's storytelling, and viewers are more satisfied when we work the spin.''

"The spin". Yeah. They are producing a Soap Opera-like piece of entertainment. Their goal is to craft a story that draws you into the emotional journey about the quest for love, not to pair up lonely singles. In other words, it's about as real as a pro wrestling match, and if anyone falls in love during rehearsals, well, that's just fine. But if they don't, that's fine too, just as long as they produce good drama and ratings. Barbarossa, that's fine. But this is about the people, people like Jason, and he's really sincere! Maybe, maybe not. Let's see what the icon of the this series has to say about sincerity. Trista Sutter is the poster child for this franchise. She married Colorado fireman Ryan Sutter in her own incarnation of the Bachelorette and she is the lone peg on which Fleiss and Levenson hang their coat and point to every time someone tells them their show is a pile of faked shit that never works. Let's see what Trista has to say about those smashed and broken hearts every Bachlor(ette) contestant invariably leave in their wakes:

Ms. Rehn, perhaps having snapped out of ''The Bachelorette'' trance, had a prosaic explanation for why she appeared so enamored of Charlie, the man she rejected for the poetry-writing fireman, Ryan, in the finale. ''They need to make the audience believe it is going to go a certain way,'' she told reporters on Thursday, ''so they can have a shocking ending.''

Yikes! Even saintly Trista, who followed through and actually married her fireman and procreated with him just admitted she led some poor shlub along and make sure he got blind-sided so the producers could have some drama. Holy crack smoking, Batman! You mean Trista shamelessly led some poor bastard on and then trashed him on national TV just to make the producers happy? Yep, that's exactly what that means. And that's exactly what Jason Mesnick is going to do too. He's going to encourage a set of women to fall for him, so he can slam them down. Oh, Barbarossa, not Jason! He wouldn't do that! He has a son! Really? Have they changed the premise of the show? The press release says he's gonna' start out with 25 women all trying to be the last one standing. That means that 24 women are going to be unceremoniously dumped by Mr. Wonderful. But Barbarossa, Jason will be kind about it. He won't give those bad old producer's what they want. He has too much respect for women!

Uh huh. Ok, lets see what the producers say about that:

Ms. Levenson explained that even the most unpracticed contestants go into what she calls ''The Bachelor bubble.'' Isolated from newspapers, friends, television or any other distraction from the show, participants develop ''Stockholm syndrome,'' and identify with the producers' goals. ''They do not want to screw up, and they want it to be as dramatic for the viewers as it is for them,'' Ms. Levenson explained

Hehehe. Yep. They deliberately isolate the contestants so the can promote a Stockholm Syndrome among them. No wonder Jason always grimaces like he's making a hostage tape; he is. If Jason has so much respect for women (and himself) why is he doing this show? So he can fall in love--squeeee! Uh, no. He can do that at home. Jason has chosen to do this on national television with about 7 million people watching. He is no rube either. As a previous contestant on the MeAnna Pappas Bachelorette, he knows the ropes. He has agreed to take part in a show that you have just seen the producers refer to as a Soap Opera. He knows most of his fellow cast members want careers in show biz and that they came on the show for exposure. What does Jason hope to gain by this? I have no idea, but the fact there is more to this than just falling in love is what I just called it: a fact! What his true motivations are, I neither know nor care. I just know he has them and the fact he is going to drag his three year-old son into this is nothing short of loathsome, in my opinion...but that's his business.

I'm not trying to put people off watching this show. As you all know, I'm about as sanctimonious as someone on death row. If Jason wants to run his life this way fine by me. I'm just trying to make sure that my faithful readership (that would be both of you) keeps in mind just what we are watching. If this thing works at all, it will be as a happy byproduct of the process of creating Soap Opera quality entertainment. And know that many of you will soon sour on Jason Mesnick. You will start to like some contestant and then see Jason dump her. Popularity as a contestant on this show is one thing; popularity as the Bachelor himself? Ah, that's another. Meanwhile, caveat emptor, my friends.

1 comment:

AbbyRose said...

Indeed beware ~ great blog, per usual. The kid angle bothers me too. It is what it is. No sugar coating will make it appear any sweeter.

If Jason played nice with the producers then he will obtain a good edit. If not, then there will be heck to play with his edit. He did propose, so that will make great tv and $$ for the producers = count on a good edit. You are right that he may lose favor with viewers when their favorite 'ette is dismissed.

Really, favorites already in board land?! Wow! Um, I did not know that the name, faces and locales were released yet. ;)

How many shows have there been? Perhaps a look at the stats of successes will open the eyes. Nahhhh.....

Keep up the great work Barbarossa!