No Other News The Same: What Obligations does The Bachelor Have?

A tiny disclaimer before I start my blog tonight: yes, I watch The Bachelor. And yes, I totally understand if you are judging right now. It's not the most cerebral show. Yet it's kind of like a train wreck - impossible to take your eyes away from. And since it was reported by NPR, the LA Times and the Washington Post this week, I'm deciding to classify it as news. So there :).

You see, this season The Bachelor thought they had it made. They cast Juan Pablo Galvais, a Latino bachelor, guaranteed to raise their ratings. The problem? Juan Pablo doesn't really have a filter. In fact, LA Weekly called Juan Pablo the "Sarah Palin of the bachelor", stating that the producers had no idea he was going to "go rogue". He made some homophobic comments, was rude and arrogant, and in general didn't "play nice" for his interviews. Two women willingly left the show early because they weren't feeling it. That's saying a lot for a show where the contestants are typically throwing themselves at the bachelor or bachelorette, declaring they are in love the first week, and saying or doing anything to convince the bachelor/ette that it's a perfect match.

Yet his decision in the end was the most shocking (to the viewers). Let's back up for a minute for those of you that don't watch the show (or pretend to not know anything about it). Twenty-five men or women compete for one man or woman's heart. Along the way, they get roses to signify the lead's interest. The "journey" takes them on crazy, extravagant dates that never happen in real life and ends in about six weeks. The point of the show is to end in a proposal with declarations of undying love. (Hmm...the more I write about this, the less clearly I see my reasoning for watching this show).

Juan Pablo chose one girl at the end, but didn't propose and didn't say I love you. At the "After the Final Rose" show, he wouldn't really give the public what they wanted - a proposal and at the least, an admission of his love for his final choice, Nikki Ferrell. The only thing the public was left with was the knowledge that the couple would continue dating. Now he's being called the "worst bachelor ever". The producers have cancelled all of his interviews, and he's basically being blacklisted.

Hmm - let's take a minute and think about that. He didn't fall in love and want to marry someone after six weeks. Shame on him! So how far does a reality TV star's obligations go? Do they need to produce the type of emotion they are getting paid for? They aren't being paid to act....but are they? This season of The Bachelor really brought some key issues to light around this fantasy of a show. It's important to note that even though nearly every season has ended with a proposal, the 10 plus year show has resulted in only four marriages. So what does the viewing public really want? Me personally? It's pretty fascinating to watch. The majority of the women who watch? Probably the hope that the "fairy tale" of an ending will happen for them too. Yet if we're all really honest with ourselves, we'll never really know if the lead "character" is really feeling these emotions - or is contractually obligated to feel them. Is it better to be honest? Or to give the people what they paid for?