This show is the longest running reality show in television history and it begs the question: why do people continue to watch after all these years? An even better question would actually be, why do people continue to go on this show to ‘compete’ for love after all these years? Only six couples are still together after eleven season of The Bachelorette and twenty seasons of The Bachelor, so what keeps people coming back?
The show pits twenty-four females against one another to vie for the heart of one man. All of this, in hopes of becoming the one woman he chooses, on bended-knee and ring in hand, at the end of the season.
It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with someone when you’re traveling to Jamaica, taking helicopter rides across the coast, cliff jumping into the beautiful blue ocean, and saving baby turtles as a regular date. The Bachelor takes dating and makes it one of the most romantic and exotic experiences these people have ever had. Of course it’s easy to fall head over heels for someone when you’re watching the sunset atop a mountain in the alps, especially when, if you don’t, there’s at least twenty-three other women willing to take your place.
Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, and long-time fan of series says, “What The Bachelor does, in thirteen weeks, is essentially a ritualized replaying of the American courtship-to-marriage ritual circa the 1950s. For every other aspect of life, we are glad not to be in the 1950s. [But] the fact that no really effective courtship-to-marriage model has emerged after the breakdown of the old one, we’re kind of nostalgic for that, even though we know it’s incredibly old-fashioned and oppressive and stacked in all kinds of ugly ways with regards to gender.”
What this show does is adhere the contestants to a ritual. Psychologically, humans crave rituals, because it creates stability, in this case both for the viewer and for the contestants. The routine of the dates, the rose ceremonies, and, ultimately, a proposal creates order in the process of finding love, when in real life, it’s really an unpredictable and uncertain venture. Pair the rituals in the season, the lavish dates, and idea that in the end you could leave with the promise of a spouse, it makes sense that the contestants can fall in love in only thirteen weeks. Despite the fact that, the show delivers poor results, by way of the majority of couples breaking up after the show, it still delivers results.
By the end of the show, two people end up together. Even if most of them don’t stay together, the fact that even just six couples are still together is enough to give the contestants, and America, hope that twenty seasons later, these people can also find love. That’s what keeps people watching and that’s what keeps people competing for love for the entire world to see. “The genius of The Bachelor is, it’s an outrageous, crazy, often degrading, ridiculous process,” said Thompson. “With the end being the actual, real possibility that, on a few occasions, all of that ridiculousness could lead to something very old-fashioned: the notion of romantic love and lifelong commitment.”
People will continue to indulge in this “guilty pleasure.” Beautiful, established women will continue to sign up for this show and ignore the fact that their “boyfriend” is dating some of their closest friends. They’ll ignore the fact that they’re on a date with six other females and one man. They’ll ignore the fact that he’s telling two women he loves them, because at the end, there’s still that glimmer of hope that love can exist. Psychologically, love can be one of the greatest and healthiest rewards we value in our society, and for these women, it’s apparently, worth the risk.
Lauren accepts Ben’s final rose while we try not to cry. Posted by The Bachelor on Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Lorna Gabrielle Balfour is a senior at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, UT. Lorna graduates this May in a degree that she created herself, as well as a minor in Psychology. She named her major Broadcasting and Production and it focuses on a blend of Film Production, Journalism, and Marketing. Her major has allowed her the opportunity to gain experience from the entire realm of media where she dabbles in social media marketing, producing films, and writing as a journalist and reporter. As an Emma Bowen Scholar, she has had the opportunity to work and engage with many media executives from the likes of ABC, HBO, Comcast|NBCUniversal, as well as many others. Lorna has also been a model and actress for the last fifteen years and recently signed with a talent agency to continue working professionally. She is the creator of Sickle Cellebrity, a blog that focuses on bringing to light the rare disease of Sickle Cell Anemia. Lorna is also the blogger of SincerelyLorna.com and is in the process of an exciting new media venture. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.