"Are you a bachelor or bachelorette looking for love?" You'll find this question on ABC's Web site, accompanying information about its new prime time television show, The Bachelor. The network is currently accepting applications for Bachelor II. This man will step in and star in the second "choose you mate" contest show after the first round is complete and current bachelor, Alex (a 31-year-old, Harvard and Stanford graduated who was born in Virginia and enjoys Balance Bars, swimming, skiing and The Simpsons) is married off.
The show premise, though controversial, is fairly simple. It starts out with 25 woman participants, vying for Alex's love and steadily the pool of marriage candidates is reduced to a single bride. There are group dates (to places like the Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa in Palm Springs for luxurious mud baths and Las Vegas) which require the women involved to be in direct competition with one another.
Each must have a "strategy" including aggressive requests and advances. In post-mud bath showers, a contestant, Amanda, offered to let Alex wash her off while she washed him. Another bachelorette, Melissa, found a way onto the bachelor's lap during a bus ride. The show may then be seen as survival of the fittest using sex appeal. One wonders what these girls' parents think of the show.
In addition to issues of objectification of woman, The Bachelor raises several issues about a new trend in entertainment (remember Who wants to Marry a Millionaire?)
The shallowness and complete objectification of marriage in the new ABC show was obvious even to people who didn't watch the show. While reality T.V. has become the new office/school/dinner table topic for millions of Americans, many find the obsession with nationally broadcasting people's private lives disgusting.
Yet, despite its blatant commercialization of human emotions, reality T.V. remains without fail, globally popular. And as many know from personal experience, even those who are the most outspoken critics tune-in to see what all the hype is about.
For example, even though I continually ragged on my friends for their religious viewing habits of Temptation Island, I have to admit that after watching a single episode, I became hooked. Oh, I made sure to say every five minutes how trashy and staged it was, but wasn't it Oscar Wilde who said "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give in to it?"
As far as some students are concerned, freshman Cait Murphey said the show's casual handling of the institution of marriage was disturbing.
"If it were just a dating show, I would be okay with it, but it's the idea that they end up getting married that makes it [the show] weird and cheap."
She added, "And he's [Alex] not even rich."
Other students commented on the idea of doing anything to get on television.
Junior Crystal White said of the female participants, "They just want to be on T.V. and that's awful. They have to be incredibly shallow. They are selling themselves."
Similarly freshman Usha Saldanha said that while the woman should not be considered completely desperate, "They do just want attention. Maybe to launch some kind of acting career."
That said, few students felt the show was something that they'd actually watch for legitimate entertainment. Freshman Aaron Cunningham said such shows make him "want to watch T.V. less" and junior Amy Tai would tune into The Bachelor "just to laugh at it."
Still, if you find yourself intrigued, the show airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. There are summaries of previous episodes listed at http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/specials/bachelor/ so that you can get yourself up-to-date and more familiar with its questionable premise.