The Bachelorette has an undeniable allure for a female audience when one woman has 25 eligible handsome bachelors vying for her affection, and ideally want to marry her. For drama enthusiasts, the system is set up so that multiple relationships can be formed but only one is allowed to last. It promotes monogamy but it is contrived through infidelity.
It is very much a visual manifestation of an online dating service, designed like a buffet line where the bachelorette is free to sample whatever she wants and as much as she wants. All of the men are expected to be vulnerable in order to improve their chances at continuing the game while the bachelorette is free to commit to a degree she is comfortable. Some may want to stay in the game for genuine reasons while others are seeking to self promote. Regardless of the reason for professing, their so-called love is based on a “flimsy foundation of illusion” made up of a “string of manufactured moments. The real test of fidelity happens after the show ends.
With helicopters and exotic locations, the bachelorette will spend a romantic date with one candidate one day and a different one the next, crossing all kinds of emotional or physical boundaries. Each contestant (that is looking for love) is working to build up that intimacy with the one girl, all the while having to guess what she would be experiencing the very next day. If the contestants knew how each date went with other men, they would certainly behave very differently than they do on the show.
Words of love being tossed around suddenly feel like a cheap tactic to get screen time or create drama. The romantic idealist would meet with the harsh reality that the bachelorette’s love did not go as deep as his own when he is “dismissed off the island.” He is left feeling stupid for believing their connection was real, much like a jilted lover who discovered infidelity in his relationship. Because the candidates know they are just contestants given an opportunity to become a husband, they have no choice but to graciously move on with the notion that he was just not the one for her, regardless of how he actually felt about her.
The danger of believing in “the one” concept reveal itself in Season 13 of The Bachelor when there is a “two.” Jason Mesnick declared he loved both bachelorettes but chose one girl to marry by the end of the show. He went on to publicly break off the engagement at a later time and went with his second choice, Molly Malaney, who is his current wife. While this could have been an act to promote the show, he did love Molly and actually married her. Mesnick debunked the myth about “the one,” proving that love is a choice, a decision, to remain faithful.
The tragic flaw of the show is that it idealizes the perfect man. The buffet-line mentality convinces the bachelorette she can pick and choose qualities she likes from one human being and move on to another which “looks better.” The system overlooks the innate flaws of a human being, promoting infidelity if not just short of endorsement.
Opinion by Sophia Bien