Broke, Broke

Broken. The Bachelor franchise is broken. It’s always been stupid and once upon a time, we were fine with that. But now it’s moved beyond stupid to a place where we feel stupid for devoting our lives to something so stupid.

The conceit of the show has been that their “process” can lead two people who spend an hour and a half getting to know each other will become engaged and get married. A stupid premise to be sure, and one that history quickly showed rarely worked out. But rare isn’t the same as never and those few times it worked out kept us believing in the plausibility of this silly, conceited premise.

The problem is that in recent seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, plausible has become laughable as within weeks after we saw the televised engagement – the “getting down on one knee” in franchise parlance – the interwebs were telling us how the newly betrothed couple had become uncoupled.

The cracks in the conceit began to show when a contestant who was rising in the standings began wondering if things were happening too fast, if they were ready for an engagement, and if they could trust their feelings for another person in unrealistically romantic environments constructed to make them believe they had feelings for said other person.

And when said rising contestants quite logically wondered that, they were met with derision from all corners of the social media sphere – “Don’t they know the point of the show is to get engaged?” In other words, how dare they not play this stupid, conceited game the right way? How dare they think rationally?

But those cracks have become a fissure. This season we have multiple men who quite reasonably want to do what reasonable people interested in each other do, which is spend more time together than an hour and a half to determine if this thing is really a thing. Horror of horrors – the men this season have concluded that after their hour and a half, they are interested in . . . dating!

Poor Gabby. She is devastated that the three guys she was most interested in are “only” very interested in dating her. Johnny took himself out of contention first and is now going to Paradise where he can select and be selected to explore a plethora[1] of relationships. Then she broke up with Jason after he came out of his Fantasy Suite more certain than ever that he wanted to date to see how they clicked outside the unrealism of the show’s bubble. And this week ended with her last man standing Erich declaring his wholehearted desire to . . . I think you get the picture.

Over on Rachel’s side, she and Aven melted down over their disparate definitions of “ready to be engaged.” For Rachel, “ready” meant Aven down on that knee according to the show’s timeline, as in a couple of days after meeting the fam. For Aven, “ready” meant, “I’m so definitely cross my heart, hope to die, Scout’s honor, swear on a stack of Bibles that belonged to My Mama ready to declare that you’re the one I want to get down on one knee for but I think it’s better for us to take some more time to make sure the timing is right.”

That said, after Bachelor Nation had chosen sides of their argument, Aven did admit that he’d told Rachel during their Fantasy Suite that he was “ready” per her definition of ready. So while he did give her reason to feel misled/betrayed/confused/pick your feeling, his concerns were, once again, quite reasonable given that they’d only known each other an hour and a half, and he wanted to make sure that he hadn’t been “caught up” [cue Usher Caught Up] – an expression that invalidated the sincerity of what Rachel believed they were mutually feeling.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s four out of the final six men who were either “falling” or “in” the L-word, that got engagement jitters nearing the end of a show they volunteered to be cast in whose premise is if they are one of the last two left, they will do the one knee thing. And of course, they have jitters: “Am I ready to propose to someone I barely know (you know how long LOL), that is seriously considering accepting a proposal from as many as two other guys, with who she may have spent the night with around the same time that I spent the night with her, while we were all at the same freaking hotel!!!????”

Gee, Ray, when you say it like that, the whole thing feels pretty stupid.

And the tide is turning. At one point, seemingly eras ago, the conceit of the show felt tolerable. But today, think pieces[2] from fans of the show abound with legitimate questions about the show’s premise, especially in the face of the continued abject failure of the engagements to result in marriage. These are challenging questions for the suits at ABC when so many viewers are starting to feel guilty about their once-upon-a-time guilty pleasure. Maybe not guilty as much as becoming less willing to tolerate the show’s stupid premise.

Thankfully, this dreary season will come to its end next week as we await THE MOST DRAMATIC FINALE OF THE BACHELORETTE EVER. Hopefully, we just get SOME drama – I don’t need “the most.” In fact, I’m considering suing for reparations for the loss of two hours of my life Tuesday night. If next week doesn’t deliver, it may turn into a class action suit LOL.

Enough editorializing. See you next week.

P.S. What happened to Rachel’s dad, Big Tony? Did he work with an image consultant once Rachel was declared a Bachelorette? He went from grizzly bear to Teddy bear!

P.P.S. This week’s viewing wine: Terre di Talomo Morellino di Scansano Riserva – a Sangiovese with a lot of names.

[1] One of My Daughter Cassandra’s (MDC) favorite words. Schadenfreude is another. She may feel hurt that I told you that. And I’ll enjoy that. (wink-wink)

[2] Including a brilliantly insightful text from sociology major My Daughter Diandra (MDD) from a changing generational perspective.

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