In this classic CC2K article, resident crapfest authority Rob Van Winkle expounds upon ABC’s long-running reality series.
I freely admit that I am as guilty as the next person in adding to the current epidemic of reality programming on our airwaves today. There is something undeniably compelling about watching everyday people humiliate themselves in front of a national audience. When they do this for money, we watch and wonder how far we ourselves would go in their shoes; when they do it for no other reason than exposure and (what inevitably turns out to be the wrong kind of) fame, we get a front-row seat to the pointless deconstruction of an already soulless individual. It’s a recipe for success if ever I saw one.
And yet, a quick look at the primetime lineups of all the networks will show you just how far this has gone. For every scripted show, there are two to three reality shows. Producers are stealing ideas from their competitors overseas, and even each other, to find the next lame concept to throw on the screen. And they will continue to do so for as long as the public continues to eat it up. This has to stop, and I can think of no better show with which to begin this crusade than with The Bachelor.
While everything mentioned above is as true of The Bachelor as any other show, there is another reason that causes me to turn my ire specifically in its direction, and it is this: it is incredibly fucking boring. Millions of people across the country have watched this show faithfully since the first Bachelor, whose name is Alex, chose the young big-titted girl whose name I refuse to look up over the slightly older Trista to be his mate. (This choice caused an uproar for many reasons. Women everywhere decried this blatant choice of body and youth over substance, using it as proof of man’s weakness for the flesh. Others of us only got angry in retrospect, when the spurned Trista became the first Bachelorette, causing the airwaves and supermarket aisles to be clogged for years with her irritating face and little baby voice.) The show has since had five other bachelors, and a total of two (going on three) bachelorettes. The ratings have steadily been very high, the ongoing relationships (and inevitable breakups — gee, who could imagine that a relationship created under such blatantly false and heightened circumstances could survive once people don’t give a shit about them anymore?) are cover stories for the various star-fucking magazines constantly, and it seems that the producers are forever searching for who will be their next star.
The problem is this: every episode of this show is exactly the fucking same as every other. Am I the only one who sees this? Fuck! Every week, I sit next to my wife as she gasps and tut-tuts over the machinations of the hunter and his/her bevy of targets, trying to guess the whole time who will ultimately “win” the heart of the star. What she can’t seem to see is that, except for the fact that the faces and names of the players change each time (except when they bring people back, rendering them twice as pathetic), the actual story arc is absolutely identical each and every time. Here is an outline script for a proto-typical example episode, with a Bachelor that I will impartially name Shitstain:
I. Announcer recaps previous shows, using same terminology every time.
a. “Shitstain was introduced to 25 beautiful women”
b. “The competition was intense”
c. “who will he choose next, and who will go home broken-hearted?”
II. Segment one — Group date Intro.
a. Shitstain narrates:
i. “Today we are having our first group date.”
ii. “I am really looking forward to spending some time with the ladies.”
b. B-roll footage of exactly what he has just said.
i. Women rush to find out who is going on date
ii. One woman “I am really excited about this date. I want to spend some quality alone time with Shitstain.”
iii. Other woman “I am bummed that I wasn’t chosen for this date. I want to spend some quality time with Shitstain.”
III. Segment Two — Group Date
a. B-roll footage of the date, which takes place at Sea World, or a Vineyard, or other such bland, vanilla date locations meant to titillate slightly, without offending the Heartland.
b. Footage concentrating on Slut A spending time with Shitstain.
i. Shitstain: “Slut A is a really special woman. We have a real connection, and I really enjoyed that time we had.
ii. Slut A: “Shitstain is such a wonderful guy, and there was DEFINITELY a connection. I can totally see spending the rest of my life with him. I totally want a rose.
iii. Slut B: “I thought Slut A was really out of line, hogging Shitstain’s time like that. I am starting to see that this is serious, and I have to start playing to win or I’m going to be sent home.”
c. Slut A and Shitstain make out.
IV. Segment Three — Group Date 2
a. Exactly the same as above.
V. Individual Date
a. Shitstain describes what will occur on one-on-one date with Slut C, who he has chosen.
i. Shitstain: “Slut C really captivates me. She’s such a deep person. I can’t wait to spend some alone time with her and get to know her better.
ii. Slut C: “I am really excited about having this alone time with Shitstain. He is such a wonderful guy, and I am really starting to fall for him. I can totally see myself spending the rest of my life with him.”
iii. Slut D: “I was really upset when Shitstain chose Slut C for the alone date. I think she’s just playing the game. I hope I got enough alone time with Shitstain.”
b. Slut C and Shitstain go on date.
i. They visit/attend something romantic in the same bland, vanilla oeuvre.
ii. There is a fancy meal.
1. Shitstain: “Slut C is great. We had a great time, and the conversation never lagged. I really think I’m beginning to fall for her.
2. Slut C: “Shitstain and I connect on so many different levels. Our date was SO romantic, and the sparks were flying! I want him to just stop the contest, and be with me.”
iii. They go into a pool and/or a hot tub.
c. Slut C and Shitstain make out.
i. Long, extended camera shots
ii. Sweetened audio to hear each and every smack and slurp.
VI. Pre-Rose Ceremony
a. Shitstain and smug, boring host go off to secret room.
i. Shitstain: “I had a great time on my dates. I can absolutely see myself marrying several of these women.”
ii. Host: “Any idea what you’re going to do at tonight’s rose ceremony?”
iii. Shitstain: “To be honest, I have no idea. This is really hard.”
b. Shitstain watches video messages from all the sluts.
i. Slut A: “Hi, Shitstain. I just wanted to tell you that I had a wonderful time on our group date to the bland, vanilla location. I really hope I get a rose, so we can have more good times.”
ii. Above repeated for each and every woman.
VII. Rose Ceremony
a. Women stand on bleachers. Shitstain stands in front of them.
i. “This was very very hard. You are all wonderful women, and any guy would be lucky to have any of you. But I had to follow my heart.”
b. Shitstain begins handing out roses.
i. Heavy-handed, overwrought music throughout
ii. Long, overblown pauses between each rose.
iii. Flash shots of the women yet to receive rose.
iv. Shitstain: “Slut ___”
v. Slut ___ exhales and approaches Shitstain
vi. Shitstain “Slut ___, will you accept this rose?”
vii. Slut ___: “Of course. Thank you.”
viii. They kiss.
x. (Before last rose), Host: “Shitstain Sluts this is the final rose.”
VIII. Post-Rose Ceremony
a. Shitstain’s rejects (any remaining ugly, or black, women are certainly in this group) hug the winners.
b. Reject A: “I tried to tell Shitstain how I felt. I really thought we had a connection. I guess I didn’t get through.”
c. Reject B: “I just wasn’t aggressive enough. He didn’t see a connection, I guess.”
d. Reject C: “(Crying:) My heart is broken. How could he not see our connection?”
e. Shitstain and winners drink champagne.
IX. Next Episode Teaser
a. “The competition heats up as Shitstain and the women ___”
b. A quote of one of the Sluts overreacting to something.
c. “And then, (X) women, (X-2) roses. Who will Shitstain choose? Who will go home broken-hearted? It’s the most intense rose ceremony EVER! Next week on The Bachelor.”
And so on. For those readers who might think I am exaggerating, or over-generalizing with this outline, then they have clearly never seen an episode of this piece of shit show. Any variations on this outline are extremely minor. Case in point: at the most recent season finale, where the two remaining women have always gone to meet the Bachelor’s family, they announced a huge change of pace. THIS time, HER parents come along! This shocking twist was underwhelming to the point of stultifying boredom.
Here are some other elements that are regularly included:
• False Cliffhangers: In order to “spice things up,” the little teasers that close each segment of the show let the viewer know all the drama that is to come. The only problem with this is that there never is any drama. So they force the issue. Here’s a real example. After promising that the sparks will fly when the Bachelor’s parents meet one of the final two women, we see a clip of his dad saying, “We got a problem. We got a real problem here.” After commercials, we get to what he really said: “Man. I tell ya; if the other woman is as great as this last one, then we got a problem. We got a real problem here.” DRAMA!!
• False importance given to minutiae: Everyone knows, or is, at least one person who believes that every detail of their lives is worthy of an unedited story. Now imagine a group of them going on dates. The result you’d get is one long narrative, from several different perspectives, that is never interesting yet goes on forever. If you were to film this, you would have The Bachelor. Any typical episode is crammed full of opinions and sound bites from the bachelor, the sluts, and any number of family and friends that they coerce on the show to participate in their acquaintance’s self-whoring. And you get to see them all talk about the same things. Bachelor is on screen, opening the door to meet a slut and her mom. We hear from the Bachelor as he tells us how great this is. We hear from the slut as she tells us how wonderful it is to have her mom meet the Bachelor. We hear from the mom as she tells us how great it is to see her daughter so happy. Three sound bites, and video footage, all to show us a moment that is completely worthless. Much like the show that contains it.
• False dialogue: This comes in two forms. First, the show sets up fake extemporaneous conversations between people that they then pass off as genuine to keep the show moving along. Thus, you get the Bachelor sitting with his parents, saying things like “So how has this experience been for you, mom and dad?” The bachelor with a slut saying, “So did you like our date today?” and the Bachelor with his friends saying, “So tonight you’re going to meet Slut A.” It’s dialogue that, if written into a script, would be immediately excised as hackneyed, yet is found in abundance in every episode. The second form of false dialogue comes in the many ways that the Bachelor always finds to say that he wants to fuck the women he dates, without ever using that word. At any given time, he might say that he has a “great connection” with a woman, that they have “so much in common,” or that she has a great “intellect,” “background,” “smile,” etc. If he would ever say, just once, that “we don’t have very much in common, and she’s kind of boring, but she has amazing tits, so I want to keep her here as long as it takes to see her naked.” I would reverse all my positions on this show. But it will never happen, and so it will never happen.
I could go on and on, but it would only make this essay as repetitive as its subject matter.
I am a realist, and as such, I know that this diatribe will almost certainly not affect network lineups. However, if we work together, and demand more from the companies that serve up the primetime programming (and the advertisements that go with it), then we just might force them to put more thought and effort into the reality shows that they broadcast. At least until this bullshit craze ends.