It’s Not You, It’s Me: Why I Love to Hate The Bachelor

Posted by Jamie on March 3rd, 2012

ABC – The Bachelor

I hope you weren’t playing a drinking game that involved taking a shot every time the word “vulnerable” was said by Lindzi, or every time Courtney nervously touched her hair on this past Monday night’s episode of ABC’s The Bachelor. Because you probably would have passed out after the first hour. Which means you would have missed the mayhem and the single worst thing that Ben Flajnik (or anyone, really) could ever say after a break-up.

Sometimes I do things that I know aren’t good for me. We all do. Things that don’t make us any better of a human – the stuff we know is bad but do anyway. It could be eating fourteen Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies in one sitting; waiting twelve months to get an oil change; or facebook stalking an ex to make sure they’re not dating someone more attractive than you. There’s nothing immoral or life-threatening about these things but they don’t advance us as people. Yet, we always find a way to rationalize them. For example, ask any girl sitting home on a Tuesday night on her second sleeve of Thin Mints why she is eating all those cookies and there’s an 80% chance the answer will have something to do with a boy, a break-up, a bad day, a bad haircut, or the time of the month. I’m telling you from experience.

There’s something that I have done every Monday night for the past two months that I know is bad for me but choose to indulge in anyway. That is, ABC’s The Bachelor.

I watch it. I’m obsessed. And I’m not proud.

Yet, like many of the bad habits I’m cursed with, and every not-good thing I do, I can rationalize why I tune in to watch this whiny, woe-is-me, booze fueled rat-race for romance every week. If you’ve ever watched Keeping up with the Kardashians or Toddlers and Tiaras, than you understand, these shows aren’t intended to enrich or educate. They are intended to expose and offer it’s fans the shock value of oh my gosh did that really just happen?! entertainment. And that’s what The Bachelor does for me. It entertains. Because this show is just so bad that it’s good.

On Monday’s episode, this season’s Bachelor Ben Flajnik, a wine-maker who looks like Josh Groban’s little brother with a bad hair-cut, sent home the high-pitched, spray-tanned Texan brunette, Nicki. She was one of the final three, and one of the three we know for sure he slept with in their “fantasy suite” which makes the agony worse but keeps the producers who orchestrated it, happy. As he walked her out in her toga dress and prepared to bid adieu to the sweet Southern damsel he got to try on for size in a hot tub just days prior, he said this: I promise, it’s not you, it’s me.

Really, Ben? We all know you’re a neutral guy who likes depressing David Gray ballads and at this point, we don’t expect much from you, but to reduce yourself to this, the one thing a guy should never say to a girl during a break-up?

Ben should have just been honest and told Nicki the truth: it was her question about how many kids he wanted and her not being a hot model like Courtney that made him say goodbye. But he went with the old “it’s not you, it’s me” bit anyway. Shame.

Now, let’s deconstruct this a little bit. I want to make sure I clarify why this is the biggest lie, not only on The Bachelor, but in the history of break-up one-liners, ever.

First off, for someone to claim “it’s not you” just doesn’t work because it absolutely was about the other person. It’s a cowardice guise that’s easy to hide behind because it sounds nice. But the truth is, it’s selfish. It’s selfish because the person who says this knows full and well that it will sound good and maybe not make them look like the total jerk that they are. It’s manipulation – the one thing (besides booze) that The Bachelor relies on for ratings. It’s also selfish but it announces itself as such. “It’s not you, it’s me,” in other words: life and love are all about me and nothing else matters. Secondly, if the split had nothing to do with anything the other person did or said or looked like in a bathing suit, than that means they did nothing wrong and are being hurt for no reason. Obviously, this is not really the case with Ben the bachelor. It was about Nicki. He just needed one more glass of wine in his system to say it.

Am I saying Ben is mean for sending Nicki home? No. I just wish he wouldn’t say stupid, sloppy things that support relational irresponsibility and selfish cop-outs.

But that’s what The Bachelor does: it supports and exaggerates everything that is wrong with love and dating relationships because it tries to facilitate these things under totally unrealistic circumstances. This makes the show impossible to take seriously. And that’s key.

Here are a few examples:

Religion and Politics. Two things never discussed on the show that should be discussed between any two potential spouses.

The fantasy suite. The Bachelor moral code states that it’s okay to have sex with a guy who you know will be having sex with two other women in the past or next two days because it’s part of the process of falling in love.

The booze. The women who sign up for the show know that there are cameras everywhere. They also know there is alcohol. And lots and lots of it. They know they will be consuming it all day long, with other women who are also consuming it all day long and yet, they don’t seem to get it. The producers of the show want these women to be saucy all day. There’s more fights, nervous breakdowns, stupidity, and sex. Oh, and most importantly, more likelihood that the bachelor and his bride will be broken up in three months once they realize they weren’t sober for the first few months they knew each other.

The exotic dates. In Bachelor world, in order for the girls decode the mysteries of Ben’s soul and figure out if they are meant to be together forever, all they need are a few exotic dates to places like Fiji and Spain, that they don’t have to pay for, at least two bottles of wine for said dates, and most importantly, the ability to see past the fact that Ben has five other girlfriends that he’s telling the same things to.

The limo ride. Whoever the Bachelor is, the women on the show are there because they think he’s perfect. They view him as their prince. And then when they are rejected, they are obligated to get into a limousine with a camera rolling to capture their psychotic breaks as they depart from their soul mate and question what they did wrong and confess how much they really, really just wanted to find love – as if that’s something unique and sad and notable. Every one wants love. It’s not something that makes these women more special or worth pitying, even as they scream and sob and bleed mascara from their eyes and contemplate self-harm while peering out the window of the limo after not getting a rose. The producers love this stuff, which makes me convinced that no one behind the production of the show is a feminist.

Here’s the sad truth, though. If none of the above elements did not exist, I’d probably stop watching. That’s the nature of the reality show beast, isn’t it?

It’s sad but true, The Bachelor succeeds at getting the one thing they want and try to get right, wrong. And that’s love. What the show really succeeds at is best illustrated by this exchange had between Ben and Courtney on Monday night’s show as they walked into the fantasy suite:

Courtney: It’s just us tonight.

Ben: And a bunch of bottles of wine.

Sorry Mr. Wine-Maker, but you’re lame. And rest assured, it’s not me, it’s you.

Category: Television