I don’t like to be The Ripper Guy. There are a million Ripper Guys out there, bashing away at everything. The goal here — generally, but with many exceptions — is to write thoughtfully and insightfully about things whose meaning might otherwise be overlooked. I’m not sure I ever really succeed in that, but at the very least I’m usually taking the subject seriously when I write about it.
That was the attempt, here.
For the first season in its history, I watched The Bachelor, which was the tale of a ham sandwich falling in love with one of the girls from Coyote Ugly.
I’ll admit, I had plenty of preconceived notions about The Bachelor, most of which were not good, almost all of which were confirmed. So I’ll say this right off: I am not a fan of the show. I think it is ridiculous, and I think even fans would have to agree with that. The premise — the way for a man to find “true love” is to run 25 (moderately insane) women through a tournament — is preposterous.
None of this is to say I wasn’t interested. Tournaments are inherently interesting. The single-elimination tournament is by far the most entertaining way to determine sports champions, even if it isn’t necessarily the most accurate. And the show does a nice job of setting up the People’s Champ vs. Villain matchup that pretty much single-handedly made professional wrestling the success it was (is?) and has been the overwhelming narrative in every Major League Baseball season since 1996.
Fortunately, the entertainment media play along.
Some Googling, combined with sitting next to my fiance, Abby, revealed there has been a tremendous amount of vitriol expended in Vienna Girardi’s direction. America, it seems, really, really did not want the ham sandwich to love Vienna, most likely because she is divorced, has surgically augmented breasts and had allegedly been a stripper or a Hooter’s waitress or posed not-quite topless for a photo or once kissed a girl and liked it. Nobody seems to know for sure what she did, just that at some point she did something vaguely skanky and therefore does not deserve to be loved. And certainly not by someone with abs, blue eyes and the charisma of a squash.
That, and it is painfully obvious she is going to systematically destroy the ham sandwich, who seems like the kind of guy you could literally kick in the face and then reasonably expect to hear laugh and say something like, “Well, I just got kicked in the face, so I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now.” But that is neither here nor there.
I’m trying hard to be fair to this show,* and to give it the treatment it deserves as a pop culture phenomenon. I have, after all, written about Miley Cyrus in this space, so I don’t have any room to look down my nose at anything.
*Not that hard.
By, man, this show makes that difficult. During the season finale, I had already begun annoying Abby with my commentary, so I avoided saying anything when Tenley, upon being tearfully discarded from the ham sandwich’s life, actually said these words: “Goodbye St. Lucia sun.” I did not question the sincerity of a man who, let’s face it, barely knows these women after just a few weeks of filming and, oh yes, dating up to 24 other women at the same time. I did not note that in 13 seasons of this show, not one single couple has gotten married (although supposedly one is about to do so), despite that seven of them got engaged on the season finale*.
*Granted, this was mainly because I did not know that at the time.
But when the ham sandwich chose the Coyote Ugly girl, and in total sincerity they played this song …
I mean, even Abby was shaking her head.
This show is awful. The shame of it is, it doesn’t have to be awful. This is not “Rock of Love.” The Bachelor, while ridiculous, is at least actually a show, not just a 30-minute YouTube clip. It’s formulaic, emotionally manipulative, and startlingly misogynistic*, but I can forgive all that as long as the show is willing to operate within some reasonable bounds of believability.
*If there was no opportunity to be on television involved, would any woman willingly enter a situation in which she was dating a guy who was also dating 24 other women? It requires the total forfeiture of pride and dignity.
I’m somewhat baffled women like this show. It would seem to represent the worst possible scenario a woman could imagine for dating a man. Women seem to desire, above all else, being made to feel special. This show makes all of them completely expendable. I don’t get the appeal, but I’m obviously wrong.
I’m not asking the show to admit it is ridiculous, but a little self awareness would be nice. Just don’t ask me to suspend everything I’ve learned about people and relationships in order to believe what I’m seeing is plausible. It is interesting enough to watch a single man date 25 girls and narrow it down to one. There’s enough intrigue and enough drama there to carry the show, especially when we’re all in on the secret that all of these women have a screw loose.
Why stuff the love down our throats? Why can’t we just watch the tournament and make our own decisions?
Actually, don’t answer that.