It’s finally over.
After weeks of intense glares, random crying, and glittery cocktail dresses, the 23rd season of The Bachelor has come to a close!
This was my first experience with the infamous reality series. I started watching it for the same two reasons that anyone starts watching a show: 1) you just finished another show or 2) the continuous onslaught of ads and commercials eventually gets the better of your curiosity.
Here’s the story of my experience.
The first episode was….strange. I mean, how couldn’t it be? You get introduced to 30 women, or at least half of them, as they desperately attempt to make a good impression on Colton, some random man they’ve never met. Then they run around like headless, blond chickens, and make awful jokes – my favorite of which was when Onyeka appeared while Colton was talking to another woman and yelled, while wearing a snorkel, “I heard you were drowning in some b*tches!” Not to mention the sacred roses that, according to Tracy, can’t be touched by anyone other than Colton, and the dramatic testimonials every 5 seconds.
My first reaction was, “Why am I watching this? This is so archaic and strange. It’s like some middle-aged heterosexual man’s fantasy. And I’m pretty sure I’m not middle-aged nor a man.”
But then my second reaction was, “It’s genius.”
Like young adult novels flying off the shelves, reality TV shows like The Bachelor are repetitive but effective. They use the same tropes of romance and drama with the same plots and the same characters – they just switch around the actors and their backstories. For drama to keep you on your toes, you have matchups every week. First it was Caelynn versus Hannah B., two pageant queens who were once close friends but their rivalry turned bitter in the heat of competition. Then it was Demi and Tracy, the young against the old, calling each other “immature” or “bitter hag” you know, because if you’re 23 you’re practically a baby and over 30 qualifies you to be a grandma? But Demi kept getting into conflicts left and right and next she was up against Courtney! Their fight was more boring with just a lot of crying and catty comments but it was enough to make Colton cry too so the producers kept it.
And then for romance, well it’s the basis of the entire show. Colton leaves every girl with an intense makeout session, and by the hometown episode, you’ve heard “I’m falling in love with you” four hundred times. You root for the quiet, down-to-earth girl and he continues to choose one of the twenty blonde barbies, simply because they can cry on cue.
The list goes on and on and as you watch the show you can spot each and every manipulative moment. You know how it’s going to end but you watch anyway – why?
Because you want to know how it ends. Or, you want to know why you keep watching it in the first place.
You know that Chris Harrison and those faceless producers are pulling the strings, coaxing women to share extremely sensitive stories of sexual assault and divorce, advertising Colton’s virginity as a thing to be won, and calling the season “the most dramatic season of The Bachelor yet!”.
Like the rest of America, you wonder who’s going to be sent off next, who’s going to fight over a rose, and how many more shots they can show of Colton showering before he buys a curtain.
And that’s the key – you wonder. You keep thinking about what could happen and end up becoming so engulfed that, before you know it, you’re watching the next episode.
It doesn’t matter if all that happens in that episode is a few catty remarks about a woman’s age and a one-on-one that’s hilariously awkward – as long as they can make you question the ending, you’ll keep watching.
Either ironically or wholeheartedly, you’ll watch out of pure curiosity.