Love's Labours Lost
Believe it or not, there was a theme going on in the
reality shows on Monday. We had the couple of Ryan
Sutter and Trista Rehn on Fear Factor, who hung out with
the couple of Jenna and Ethan. A few weeks ago, we had
the renewal of vows between Dean and Ashley as they won
a million dollars - and last season, Fear Factor was at
the wedding of the other million dollar couples -
Jackson and Monica. After Fear Factor was the end of the
Bachelorette 3, as Jen Schefft wound up saying "I don't"
to everyone. While I was watching this, I came to a
There have been more marriages and romance on Fear
Factor than on any of the Bachelor series combined.
Think about this for a second. There have been 9
Bachelor series. Only two (Trista & Ryan and Byron
Velvick & Mary Delgado) couples are still together.
That's a terrible record to be hanging your hat on. In
addition, the ratings have been sinking faster than
Martha Stewart's prison soufflé.
There's a reason for this, of course. To say that the
Bachelor series is a shell of it's former self is being
incredibly kind. The Bachelor series evolved
from people actually looking for love to people
desperate to be seen on television. The show has been
focusing more on trying to get the viewer to watch
because of the crazy people more than what the original
intent of the show is - to watch someone try to select
the person of their dreams. This past season, which
should not be described as anything less than a farce,
you had a woman who clearly was not over her breakup
wade through 25 people that she had no chemistry with -
including one person that the show spent a lot of time
on, yet had no shot at the girl because he was gay.
Have the producers learned their lessons from this past
season? Apparently not, because the next bachelor is
Charlie O'Connell, who is related to actor Jerry
O'Connell. This has to be their way to get the ratings
(instead of actually getting someone who wants to find
love) as Jerry is ALREADY SEEING SOMEONE. But then
again, when you look at some of the people who have been
the Bachelor (the tycoon-related Andrew Firestone, the
limelight starved Bob Guiney, and the ex-giant and not
close to being a starting quarterback Jesse Palmer), you
have to realize that this selection is pretty much down
the line with the other selections that they have made.
Is it time to kiss the Bachelor series good-bye?
No, but the show has to change with the times. For
starters, the format has to change. You get more time on
Survivor (39 days) together than the Bachelor (21 days).
Big Brother keeps you together for over 3 months - there
are the shows that get the relationships, and when you
look at it, it makes sense. There's no reason why you
couldn't keep the people longer, extend the episodes of
the series (as you only have anywhere from 7 to 10
episodes - 13 episodes would not be a stretch) and tape
the show closer to the airing time and not 6 months in
advance - If you have a relationship show and then keep
the people apart for 6 months afterwards, how in the
world are you going to foster a relationship?
To get the audience, we need to care about the people.
It worked with Trista, as we saw her backstory. One of
my biggest complaints about the series is that the only
time we get to know the suitors is when they are about
to get their walking papers. The focus HAS to be on the
relationship of the final 4 who will be around - not on
the 21 looneys who won't. Don't make them all cookie
cutter - show us why each person is special or unique
and give us a reason to care about them. You used to be
able to do that - you need to get back to it.
Finally, the show takes itself too seriously. Don't get
me wrong, I'm not saying to turn the show into another
Big Man on Campus, but I've seen on those shows that you
don't learn as much as you think when you are guarded on
a one on one date or at a party - and many of the
Bachelors have accused their potential spouses of being
too guarded. The best way to deal with this? Give them
activities to get them off their guard. Who Wants To
Marry My Dad may be silly summer fare, but by putting
the women through the activities that they do, both you
and the dad learn much more about the people than what
you would ever learn in the Bachelor. Even Love Cruise
(shudder) had the right idea with the wacky ice breakers
- not only do the people learn more about each other,
but you do too, which makes the show far more
entertaining to watch.
The Bachelor, like it's rose, is starting to wilt a
little, but if it gets some changes, then it can rebloom
to how the petals used to be. The show will have at
least one more chance in the spring, but if we keep
getting the same old bouquet and if the audience rejects
its advances, then ABC may not be offering the show it's
own version of a rose - another primetime slot. That
would be the biggest rejection of all.
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