Back to Basics: A Treatise on "The Bachelor"

17 Apr

When I started this blog last summer, I used it as a place to write down my impressions about what was going on around me on a regular basis, whether it be spotting an abandoned Sweet Valley High book on someone’s stoop and being transported back to my adolescence, or my take on Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack, which also somewhat transported me back to my adolescence, in terms of well, being fanatic about a cute, scruffy-faced, hip-thrusting, VMA-Award-strutting pop star.

Since then, however, my blog has evolved, and it has become a place where I post my Writeous Chicks newsletters on personal development, growth, and self-betterment themes. Which is all well and good. But sometimes. It can be fun to revert back to the basics. Which is why, while watching The Bachelor: Officer & a Gentleman last night, I knew there was someplace all my thoughts that were cropping up just had to go, and I knew that that place, was here.

Ok. I am pretty obsessed with relationships. Analyzing them. Figuring them out. How to create one. And then how to make it work, and continue to cultivate, nurture, and sustain a healthy, mutually-supportive, equally-beneficial partnership. And I have openly admitted in the past that the how-to’s of this process have traditionally been unclear to me – I missed the day in class when the teacher explained Relationships, no one ever gave me the notes, and I have been doing my best, my darnedest in fact, since then, to catch up.

So is it just me or does The Bachelor and shows like it reinforce every negative thing we, as a society, have learned about relationships? Every thing that we then subsequently have to unlearn in order to be a healthy, well-balanced individual with a complete and fully developed and individuated and non-codependent sense of self that is necessary to be in a partnership?

I mean, The Officer and a Gentleman dude is gorgeous, in that physically perfect kind of way, if you are into that sort of thing. And he even seems to have some sort of depth, and while he can seem scripted and awkward at times, he does have moments of sincerity, sensitivity, and ok, I even believe that he is there for the right reasons that he keeps mentioning, i.e., to find true and lasting love.

But there are a few things that I find highly disturbing. Like all these women vying for Andy-The-Bachelor’s attention, being interviewed and offering really personal information about themselves – their passions, dreams, and deepest desires, and even traumatic events and challenges that they have been though. And they all exude that “Pick me, pick me, please pick me!” vibe that my dorm-mates and I coined in college during Sorority Rush when we were on our best behavior, ready to put forth only our most stellar and exceptional qualities and really sell ourselves, desperate to be selected by the older sorority girls, deemed worthy, and validated. And all the women on the show are so ready to reveal themselves to Andy, but really, what do we know about this guy? Really? It seems to me that they have exposed themselves much more than he has. When presented with a great-looking, accomplished, intelligent guy that yes, does appear to be a “good catch,” why are women so willing to decide within minutes that this is the guy for them and that they need to win his approval, and validation? This seems extreme because it is on a TV show, and all the outifts are swanky, the dates are creative and elaborate, and the lighting is flattering, but this exact thing happens in real life all the time! Five minutes into a great date, so many women (myself included), can be ready to make a decision that because of chemistry and an instant connection, this is the man for them! This is the man they are (I am) going to marry!

A wonderful coach I work with teaches about relationships and has posed the question, when you spend your entire life getting to know yourself, why are you then ready to jump into a committed relationship with someone you’ve known for 5 minutes? Or 5 days? Or even 5 weeks, or 5 months? It takes time and it is a process of truly revealing yourself and also gaining information about this other person to know what they are all “about,” to quote The Bachelor himself, and if who they are and what they are about is right for you, and a good, healthy, beneficial match with what you are all about.

So why aren’t any of these women interviewing The Bachelor? I was so excited when Tina asked him what his flaws were last night! (I do get really into it!) And it gave him the opportunity to reveal something about himself, and to be vulnerable, which are the moments that forge true connection. But I would love to see a woman feel really good about and complete in herself and not express that she needs some sort of completion in him, or has already fallen instantly in love, and instead, that she wants to know about him, and then choose if he is a good match for her. I know that wouldn’t make for as good TV, and that this is a show based on the Prince-like man choosing his Princess, and having them all try the shoe on (“the shoe” being the group dates, one-on-one dates, two-on-one dates (?!), “quality alone time” etc.) to see who fits into the mold but…it’s totally weird! Marriage is big deal, y’all! This is WEIRD!

And, while I do see Andy-The-Bachelor’s appeal and find him somewhat charming and endearing, I have some serious issues with things that I would now like to highlight. When Bevin hurt her ankle, he left his group date to ride in the ambulance with her and spent time with her in the hospital, which impressed me and I have to say, won me over. But then, cut to: him frolicking with several bikini-clad hopefuls in a giant mud bath while Bevin remained at the hospital alone. Plus, she won the rose! Because she hurt her ankle for him! It was an expression of just how dedicated she was to him, and this process! It really pains me to even start to think about the implications of this sentiment. And then, I found it problematic that the other girls in the house were jealously gossiping about Bevin and the “alone time” and attention she got from Andy. Hello, she was in a HOSPITAL!!! Because she was INJURED!!!

Or, I will believe that he feels he has forged a sincere connection with one of the women, and shares a sweet kiss with her. But then. Moments later, it appears that he has a sincere connection/sweet kiss moment with another woman. This. Would bother me. If I were one of the women being connected to.

And lastly – and this may just be me because I am English major and picky about weird grammatical quirks but I think I can speak for most people when I say that this is irritating – he refers to people in the third person when they are right in front of him. As in, “I’m just getting to know Bevin” (said to Bevin), or “I’m here trying to talk to Amanda” (spoken to, you guessed it, Amanda).

But most importantly, while I pretty much despise everything The Bachelor stands for, and abhor the way it teaches women to undervalue themselves and act as if they are less than until validated by a man, until they “win the game” and snag a husband, while I feel that the template it establishes and reinforces about how relationships are to be created and maintained based on unrealistic fantasy from group mud baths to romantic yachting adventures for two to the Rose Ceremony is so very damaging to our society, relationships, and the institution of marriage itself, I CAN’T STOP WATCHING IT!!!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions on this season of The Bachelor, relationships, fairy tale fantasy vs. reality, ALL OF IT!!!

Thanks for reading and taking this journey back to the basics with me!

Lots of love!

Jen

Copyright © 2007 by Jennifer Garam.  All rights reserved.

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