Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Defense of "The Bachelor"

I have a confession. Monday nights, after the kids are in bed and lunches for the next day are made, I cozy up on the couch to watch The Bachelor. The gist of the show is that The Bachelor (this season, "Matt") dates 20 or so women - at the same time - in hopes of finding true love.

It's reality TV at its best. And its worst. How can we root for a "hero" who's dating multiple women? How can we cheer for "heroines" who would subject themselves to this humiliating contest? It might seem like the plot is too contrived and the characters too shallow to hook us. And yet we're sucked in.

Why? For me, it's the glimpses of real, raw emotion. These human, imperfect, characters are fascinating to watch. Take the untrusting, semi-aloof Chelsea, for example. While riding in a romantic horse-drawn sleigh with Matt, she admits she can't stand holding hands with a guy in public. She considers it a distasteful public display of affection. What?! There has got to be an interesting backstory there.

Then there's Shayne, the unapologetically spoiled actress. While skiing down the slopes, she takes a tumble and Matt races to her side. Before she's even brushed the powder off her designer snow-pants, she digs some lip gloss out of her pocket and reapplies it. When Matt laughs and asks her what other necessities she's brought, she proudly shows him her blush, a brush, mascara, etc. Is this a sign of utter superficiality, or is she hiding something behind all the makeup?

Somehow, we begin to care about these people. We want them to find love. Or at least I do. I have to banish my husband from the room because his running commentary ("What a tramp" - I'm paraphrasing) spoils the mood. But sometimes, we get to see that rare mix of vulnerability, hope, and attraction that happens at the very beginning of a relationship. That's what keeps me tuning in.

Maybe one of the women will inspire a character in my story or give me an idea for a scene or a plot twist. Maybe the show is just a guilty pleasure. A new season of "The BachelorETTE" starts Monday, and I'll be on the couch.

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