Most weeks, “The Bachelor” is good for one or two great reality TV moments. At least, that is what ABC’s producers hope to generate when they shoehorn multiple dates into some portrait of a romantic situation rife with irony, skimpy outfits, and double entendre.
I’m not sure if it’s totally intentional, but I find a ton of comedy in the show, although after watching this many episodes I’m left wondering if the joke is on me.
I have not always been a “Bachelor” fan. Viewing started as a very begrudging act of husbandry only to balance out the hours of Colts football and action thrillers my wife has put up with for me. After we put the kids to bed, we like to spend some marital bonding time looking, in sync, ahead at our TV, then down at our phones during commercials, while occasionally commenting on the content du jour.
“The Bachelor” is one show, from the start, I could comment on all the way through, much to my wife’s chagrin. The more we watched, the more commentary she shushed. These characters! Every week, contestants break down in a pool of tears at the thought of having to share their new love with other people, as if they thought this season would be different, and the Bachelor would cancel the rest of the show after meeting her.
At this point, 20 seasons in, they must know that they are on a twirling, speed-dating, drinking, and make-out carousel. While they will all get their turn to spend time with the bachelor, they will have to wait until the final two to truly get his heart—oh, and whatever else they uncover in that overnight suite.
Last Episode’s Eyeroll Moment
The most recent episode did not disappoint anyone watching with eyes ready to roll, but it wasn’t for the reasons you might think. It wasn’t the double hometown date with blonde twins Emily and Haley. This involved bachelor Ben, straight-faced, telling their mother how serious his intentions were for her daughter—or daughters, depending on how the date went.
It wasn’t the girl, Olivia, who was embarrassed to the point of a repeatedly self-diagnosed panic attack after a failed pop out of a cake dance routine. This embarrassment came after she chose to wear a thong and bra as a talent, as opposed to virtually limitless other options.
The eyeroll moment this week came when, upon being chosen for a one-on-one date, Becca is delivered a wedding dress. Did anyone else start to smirk or actually feel sad? Ben chose the one contestant who has made a point of professing her faith in the sanctity of marriage as his partner to perform quicky Vegas weddings. That’s right, the producers’ latest idea for a “romantic” date was to have Ben, complete with online ordination and good book in hand, act as a marriage officiant, with Becca at his side.
Worse yet, she was forced (although she seemed more than willing) to wear a wedding dress. Imagine Becca growing up as a young, conservative girl, dreaming of the first time she put on that white dress to walk down the stained-glass-lit chapel aisle to a holy union with her…TV show prize, er, husband; her parents looking on proudly (or maybe they’re watching “Survivor”).
Becca, Wake Up: Ben’s a Con Man
At this point, I found myself asking my wife if Becca’s match is out there. She seems to want someone who appreciates the sanctity of marriage as it relates to sex, but is willing to look the other way during two seasons of a TV show search for true love. If her dream guy is out there, he can’t be a fan of the show.
Or is he at home saying, “Becca, I know you already pledged your love to one man, and stood in a chapel in a wedding dress next to another, but it’s really the penetrative sex where I draw the line, so bring me your untainted heart to cherish.”
After Ben and Becca officiated weddings for a half dozen or more couples, they found themselves on the inevitable romantic bench. Becca gushed when Ben somehow ninja’d around the claim that he shares her faith, but not in the way he would do virginity thing himself. He went as far as to say her remaining a virgin is proof that she has unique qualities for serious commitments—like marriage. That’s one way to put it.
If Ben has anything going for him, it is his real talent for slotting non-specific praise and generic “deep connection” messages according to the proper character on each aforementioned bench. I suppose he should, between helicopter tours and private concerts, have loads of time to come up with the lines.
He needs a ton of them. Even on weeks with only eight or ten girls, he will have that very special moment in time when he needs to look deep in each one’s eyes and say the one thing she is dying to hear before they kiss and then get interrupted by another girl waiting to hear her one thing, and kiss and so on. As a man, I can’t blame Ben.
Does Becca Sense How Fake This All Is?
On the other hand, this is Becca’s second go-round at finding love on TV. The first time, she made it further than all but one girl, only to bow out, voluntarily, just before her first actual chance at a monogamous relationship with the pronounced love she was chasing. She went home by her own choice rather than trying to date the guy outside of the show.
Maybe she wasn’t ready to wear the real dress then, and maybe she isn’t now. I will leave the deflowering/final rose jokes to Twitter, but for some reason she was apprehensive.
Part of me hopes her apprehension comes from the little voice in her head telling her this TV show is not the place to find her match. I’ll have to suffer through at least a few more episodes or possibly a whole season to find out if Becca’s character finds love or redemption on the show, but I don’t think she can find both.
In my dream version, Becca would get up off that bench, shake Ben’s hand, shake her head, thank him without a tearful speech, and take the limo ride off toward the sunset, never to date on TV again. I would salute my TV.
Maybe we should salute Becca now. Maybe she is already a hero for some viewers. If you’re looking for a moral compass on this show, well, probably just change the channel. In a culture where dating a couple dozen women at the same time on national television, or setting up dates at the swipe of a finger, has become accepted courtship, who am I to say anything about love?
Copyright © 2016 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.