How The Bachelor Gets it Wrong

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the bachelor, reality show

The perpetual search for romantic fulfillment can lead us anywhere to find our soul mate—in night clubs, at work, in cyberspace, at church, on Facebook, and yes even on national television in front of 15 million people.

The Bachelor is one of America’s most popular reality TV shows drawing a committed viewership of more than 10 million people. The inevitable drama, the travel to exotic destinations, and the potential for life-changing romance have endeared The Bachelor to millions of Americans; but on a closer look, The Bachelor may have delivered more than we bargained for. By virtue of being a reality-TV show, The Bachelor occupies the bizarre, undefined space in which real life and entertainment are mixed together. Although there are people who believe everything on the show is genuine and those who believe the whole thing is artificially produced, it is fair to say that the majority of people fall between these two extremes. The problem is that The Bachelor preaches a gospel of relational untruths to an entire nation. Inherent in the show's philosophy is the idea that real, gushing romantic love is all you need to be happy.

The brilliance of the show, however, is that it's designed to show a microcosm of the way most single people approach relationships in the first place. Generally speaking, a single person will go through life intermittently evaluating a pool of relational contestants (albeit usually fewer than 25-30 people) for their own private relational contest. Both contestants on The Bachelor and people in their real lives endeavor on the exhausting journey to find their soul mate when they set to the endless tasks of comparison, assessment, and evaluation. The problem is, on the show, these selection tools have replaced the classical ideals of commitment, altruism, and promise.

Words like chemistry, passion, organic interaction, and finding that special spark dominate The Bachelor lexicon as he agonizes over minute differences in the contestant’s potential compatibility—not to say these are inherently malevolent but we should be careful how much we emphasize them. When faced with the reality of for worse,  for poorer, or in sickness, in which times we vow to love, passion and chemistry are hardly the essential ingredients. Although certain people may criticize him for being a playboy or unscrupulous, I at least applaud his honesty for admitting he is keeping all his options open. The non-committal life he lives on the tube is the life many people (men in particular) lead in private but will never admit to.

As another suspense-ridden season of The Bachelor comes to a close, let us remind ourselves that true love is never built on the unstable ideals of compatibility, passionate feeling, and so-called organic interaction. It is, rather, a bedrock of unselfishness, patience, and commitment that are the foundation of true romance and lasting relationships.

(Photo Credit: Kevin Foley/ABC Television Group © 2012 Disney)

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Quinn McDowell

the bachelor, reality show

Quinn is freelance journalist and professional basketball player for Willetton Tigers where he lives with his wife Lindsey in Australia.