The probability that you know someone who watches The Bachelor is high, but is that good or bad? The show is generally not the best model for healthy relationships for its young, impressionable audience of young women. The Bachelor began in 1999 when Mike Fleiss had the idea to take a very rich man and pair him with 50 women who were willing to be his wife and let him choose which he wanted to marry. The show did not end well, as the man and the woman he chose divorced quite soon after. However from this experience, Mr. Fleiss developed The Bachelor and its spin-offs. The show has been wildly successful with millions of viewers worldwide, but at what cost? In a New York Times article, Suzannah Showler, an academic, poet and an avid member of the Bachelor Nation, the name of the fan base for the show, says “that [The Bachelor] has always pretended to be about the production of fantasy, but is really about how people make do. . .under inadequate conditions.” Showler explains how reality shows place their contestants into stressful situations that may even target their fears or insecurities to create drama.
Now when this is applied to real life, it becomes incredibly unrealistic, which is why a connection can be drawn between The Bachelor and the speed at which American teens are dating. When asked about how she thinks the show has affected America’s youth, freshman Taylor Houser responded with that “people might think the extravagant dates are what is needed to fall in love with someone. If this was not a show people would think it is absolutely crazy, but since it is entertaining no one seems to care what it is really showing and teaching people.” These young people are being influenced by a culture that values speed over quality, due to the fact that a majority of Bachelor(ette) couples do not stay together past all of the hoopla that is the show and wedding. Many teenagers are feeling the need to rush relationships because that’s all that the media shows them. This not only harms their concept of dating and relationships for the rest of their life, but it also perpetuates the culture that The Bachelor(ette) creates. The show has become more accepting throughout the 23 seasons it has been on the air; however, it has always had the stench of the patriarchy written all over it. By idealizing the large romantic gestures and disregarding homosexuality and the small intimate details of a successful relationship, the show continues to oppress groups of individuals who also show love. It continues to repress the needs of a real relationship by making relationships out of large expensive gestures rather than the connection between the people. So, where do we draw the line between entertainment and the health of society’s relationships?
By Ell Shelp-Peck, Staff Writer