I love television, which is why I rarely watch it. At its best, it’s engaging and thoughtful. At its worst, it’s a train wreck. Such was the case when I opted not to read The Road on the plane ride home from New York this week, and opted instead for the Jersey Shore marathon on Virgin Air. I almost felt my brains melting as I watched the spray-tanned, muscle-bound, self-proclaimed Guidos alternately preening at, fighting, and hooking up with everyone in sight.
Collectively, we watch these shows not simply to be entertained, but to feel superior. It’s with this preamble that I share with you that I was glued to the TV last night when watching the new season of The Bachelor, followed by a new show, entitled – seriously – Conveyor Belt of Love.
Since I’m a dating coach, I’m always trying to find the “lesson” in reality TV. There’s nothing to learn in merely laughing at the people on these shows. The true value is to find a takeaway, because, make no mistake about it… the people on these shows are not all that different than you or me.
Let’s start with The Bachelor, where the nicest, cutest, squarest pilot found himself surrounded by 25 beautiful women who have pretty much agreed to marry him before meeting him. This makes for excellent television because it functions more as a competition than a real-life organic courtship. And because of the competitive nature of the show, women feel they have to make a strong first impression.
…every woman who tried too hard to make a strong first impression came off somewhere between “mildly kooky” and “batshit insane.”
What’s clear, from my perspective, anyway, is that every woman who tried too hard to make a strong first impression came off somewhere between “mildly kooky” and “batshit insane.” Giving him wood carvings of airplanes, handing him poems, talking about a future together during their first conversation…all made me more uncomfortable than your average Office episode. These women were THROWING themselves at The Bachelor, and it was not a pretty sight at all. Objectively, the women who resorted to various “gimmicks” to get The Bachelor’s attention lacked dignity, which is something I’m sure they figured out when watching themselves on TV. The fact that a few of these gimmicks actually WORKED does not excuse them. Chasing a man, openly pushing for marriage and commitment, making him know that he’s already won without earning it – all are terrible dating practices that should be left on reality TV only. There were three women who offered something positive.
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