When The Bachelor debuted on ABC, Kathryn Lopez on National Review wrote about the new show:
Overall, the show was silly. And we’d be no less if it had never aired . . . If the girls were a little less gorgeous and the setting and set-up a little less ridiculous, it might pass a little more for reality. But for what it was, it wasn’t too bad. Marriage doesn’t often get an endorsement like it on primetime television, with young people who claim to want “true love” and marriage. And they’re doing more handholding and talking, too, than jumping in and out of bed to find it. . . .
If you were among the 18.2 million Bachelor viewers and then turned on ER or Greta or went to sleep, or otherwise got on with your life, I’m not sure you didn’t walk away with a decent feeling about marriage. “The Bachelor” has a point when he defends the whole concept: “People have met in stranger ways. If the right person for you is in a certain place, even on an incredibly crazy show like this, you’ve got to take the chance.”
Since then, The Bachelor has produced zero successful marriages, depending on whether you count Bachelor Jason Mesnick. That notorious bachelor did propose to Melissa Rycroft, but unceremoniously dumped her by the “After the Rose” ceremony. (Jason ended up marrying another contestant, Molly Malaney.) In fact, only three other couples have stayed together from the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise: Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum, and Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertso.
Sadly, even host Chris Harrison is divorcing.
But is this the season that will turn it around? Emily Maynard is an unconventional Bachelorette. Yes, she’s gorgeous and charming. However, as a southern Christian, she’s already said that she won’t be filmed making out in hot tubs or having overnight dates. So far, so good. With the finale coming up, Emily’s managed to live up to her moral standards. But now that she’s narrowed down her options to three, next week is the infamous “overnight dates.” This is when producers offer a romantic suite to Emily and (each!) of the remaining contestants on subsequent evenings. Will she be able to withstand the pressure?
Her track record so far suggests she might be able to return the always ridiculously old-fashioned key to the producers. (Perhaps a magnetic key card just doesn’t conjure romance?) As a previous Bachelor contestant, she turned down an offer for an overnight date from Brad Womack, citing that she didn’t want to set a bad example for her daughter. (Her daughter’s father was killed in a tragic airplane crash, so much of this season has been filmed in her home state of North Carolina.)
Yes, Kathryn, it’s still a silly show. The locales, the perpetually fresh roses, the spray tans, and the ubiquitous hot tubs don’t seem much like real life. But what does seem real is the heartbreak following the most recent seasons’ proposals and break-ups.
When discussing the show’s premise with my thirteen-year-old tonight, she said, “The Bachelorette is like socialism. If people weren’t flawed, it just might work.”
Still. I find myself hoping Emily will somehow defy the odds and find true love.
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This article first appeared here.