My Guilty Pleasure: Why I watch the Bachelorette

By Glo Robinson

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After religiously watching every episode of the summer season of the Bachelorette, I can fully attest my undisclosed love for weekly Monday night premieres of the reality soap opera. For several years, I was always opposed to the idea of watching a competition for love. “The Bachelorette” is a perfect example; Desperate single men compete for the love and marriage of the single woman, the bachelorette. I’ve always have the strong belief that love is a natural concept and cannot be competed for. It’s a chemical science with properties that can’t always be forced to attract one another. I never wanted to watch “The Bachelorette” because it went against my belief on the concept of love. Despite my reservations, my addiction to this engineered televised competition for love was conceived when I was sharing the amusing experience with friends as we made sarcastic comments about the bachelors as they attempted to make their individual mark on the bachelorette for a first impression in the season premiere.

Although it was entertaining to watch the male contestants appear out of the black limousine to greet the bachelorette, making a memorable first impression -some introduced themselves by serenading her or riding on unicorns, for example- my sensible thoughts and inquiries never retired. In fact, I began to wonder how the experience of searching for a “soulmate” on a show like the bachelorette affects a person and why I am allured to watch this false reality.

I learned the contestants of the show are not allowed to interact with the outside world. For 8-10 weeks, these participants can’t access their phones, internet, television, or pretty much any device to connect with the outside. I like to look at this as national televised social experiment where the contestants (the bachelors) are not aware they are a part of this “experiment” Then, when they go on dates, those are the independent variables and the bachelors’ reactions’ and emotions’ are the dependent variable as the bachelorette acts as a control.

Even though the contestants are aware of the regulations and at the end of the day it’s their decision to undergo that experience, I truly wonder why they do this. Is it really for love? I’ve always been skeptical of the participants selected for the show, and wonder what they find more alluring; finding their soulmate or having millions of american viewers watching them in a social experiment about our sociology.

If a contestant on a show like the bachelorette was truly looking for their soulmate, one could argue there are other ways to find love on the planet, especially with the technology and applications available in our media driven world. For the people who are seeking a soulmate and choose an unconventional way by having america watch their search for a soulmate, how many contestants on the show are actually “in-love” with the bachelorette by the first episode. If we decide to acknowledge reality for a moment, what are the real odds the bachelorette is their true soulmate? As I watched the interviews of the eager bachelors in the first episodes, they all feel fervent about wanting to spend time with the bachelorette. It sounded like grown-men talking about their fanciful relationships with this women, trying to convince the viewer they share this “deep-connection” with her, even though they realistically only have talked to her for about 20 minutes.

As the season progressed, I could see the men who spent more time with the bachelorette begin to “emotionally invest” themselves by opening up about their feelings. Besides breaking the cultural stereotype that men don’t have feelings, the show definitely disproves this antiquated idea. The show highlights the idea of men having a difficult time opening up their feelings as they express they are “falling in love” with the bachelorette. Even though, (to be honest) I am not completely sure how much coaching they are given about how to appear on screen as each week becomes more intense as more so-called “feelings” are revealed.

The reality of the matter is that the contestants are forced to only focus on this one woman and voluntarily worship her. Think about it, when 25 people of the same gender are secluded from the outside world, stuck in one house, and share the common goal of fighting for the love of one woman; This becomes intriguing to me as I viewed the Bachelorette as a  sociological experiment with “love” as its vehicle.

During the show, a series of dates take place. Some are “one on one” with one contestant and the bachelorette. Others are group dates with several contestants and the bachelorette. I like to think of the group dates as the real social experiment of the show as all the men are constantly competing for the attention they seek and how they critique one another. Of course, with direction from the producer, the desperate love-lost men converse to the camera, trying to persuade the viewers they are the one and only match for the bachelorette. Even though the commentary is somewhat repetitive and you could arguably say “every season is the same,” I’m always, overall, drawn to the exaggerated, but relatable drama the show has to offer. We’ve all been in that place of trying to impress someone to substantial degree, maybe going above and beyond reason, but it’s always amusing to watch desperate men in a fishbowl  with absurd stipulations to fight for the pearl in the sea, as they unknowingly participate in a social experiment.

When it comes to television, I find it a soothing way to unwind and relax. A show like the bachelorette for some might be “background noise” as they complete homework or fold laundry, but for me, I have defined a new meaning. As much I love a show with stimulation and thought provoking themes that ponder in my mind, this reality show touches the basic emotions that any human can relate too. I’ve always seen the topic of love as a cliche, but its  relatability is what keeps me watching this show. In this case, when I watch the interviews with the contestants and hear their endless rant about revenge, or their “grand master plan” to win the heart of the bachelorette, these exaggerated ideas and emotions I can connect with on a minimal extent. Overall, I will admit I enjoy watching the bachelorette even though I feel somewhat guilty.