I have a beef with reality TV.
What’s the point? More importantly, what’s the message?
How a culture communicates says as much about that culture as what they’re communicating. If an alien anthropologist from outer space travelled to earth to study human beings, what would the discourse of our TV shows say about women?
Women have earned the vote; we’ve breached into territories and industries never before dreamed of by our foremothers. We’ve occupied political positions of power, we’ve pursued our artistic desires, and we’ve followed our hearts into unmapped territories. Yet, when I look at the women on reality TV, the story is told very differently. The story of reality TV shows like The Bachelor communicate that years after woman have achieved so much, we’re still competing for Prince Charming.
The Bachelor is a show where beautiful, articulate, and sensitive girls (and I mean girls) jockey against one another in hopes of receiving a rose—a symbol of the handsome Bachelor’s continual love, which diminishes weekly as the number of roses becomes fewer.
I emphasize that these characters are girls because I reserve the word woman for the evolved model of femininity that a woman earns after years of growing up. Sadly, growth doesn’t necessarily come with age; I’ve met some forty-year-old girls who have yet to become woman, and when I observe The Bachelor, I’m lucky enough to study a dozen of them in the same room at once.
The Bachelor is a sick science experiment gone wrong: who participates in this show, and more importantly, why do you watch it? If you truly paused to ponder the concept of a show centered around “finding love” amongst a handful of strangers on an exotic island in the middle of nowhere, you should understand the absurdity.
What makes it even more absurd is that it’s not simply TV—it’s reality TV. These shows are what we put forth as a culture as accurate representations of our experience, yet these stories are so dramatically removed from our experience that we come to find reality itself an inaccurate representation. We become frustrated, continually searching for Prince Charming, all the while forgetting that he never existed—that he was a product of the media crafted specifically to make you feel like shit.
And why would the media want you to feel like shit? I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with the commercial break conveniently wedged between the acts. Women are the largest consumers in North America, supporters of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry—an industry that banks on female insecurity. You don’t have a man? Still looking for Prince Charming? Try Pantene Pro-V Shampoo, or Maybelline mascara.
Now, I know we all have our unhealthy indulgences, and I understand that some reality TV is okay, but shows like The Bachelor should be treated with the same hesitance and ethic of indulgence as when you eat McDonald’s.
Everyone knows that McDonald’s isn’t good for you. It’s a once-in-a-while food, something enjoyed at four a.m. after drinking away a Friday night, or a monthly treat enjoyed after a fourteen-hour work day. But everyone knows you’re not supposed to eat McDonalds everyday—that sounds like the start of a terrifying documentary.
McDonalds—like trash media—needs to be consumed in moderation. A healthy mental diet includes real brainfood, like films, cultural magazines or webspaces, or those long-lost artifacts we once called books.
To the writers of The Bachelor: Smarten up. You perpetuate the myth.
To the female characters on the show: what are you thinking?
But most importantly, to the women watching The Bachelor: change the f**king channel and stop eating shit; you provide audience to the myth.