by: Mar Curran
Dear readers, I am old enough to remember watching the original two seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette with my family–although we preferred The Apprentice as we are a Republican household. My brother and I even watched one episode of a more recent season as they had an episode in Turkey and he had just returned from a trip there; this meant he could point out historic landmarks/places he’d eaten to my mom as some strangers had romantic dates there.
From then on, I have secretly watched episodes of it. I even watched The Bachelor Pad, the lowest form of human entertainment other than dog fighting available in video format. I don’t think the people on the show realize they’re basically being emotionally tortured; they are forced to compete for the love and affection of one guy–who never seems that great to me –while in seclusion from their normal lives and peers. If you need to know about how cults operate, maybe watch this show.
This season features Ben, who was dumped on national television when Bachelorette Ashley rejected his proposal and whose only redeeming quality seems to be that he has a dog named Scotch. He has the personality of that one dude you once had a class with who never caught your attention because he was as boring as your civics professor. He keeps saying he can see himself spending his life with a number of these women and yet seems to have never heard of polyamory. This makes my queerness sad. He takes them out on romantic location-themed dates paid for by ABC, and so I can’t fault him for thinking this would be the perfect way to find his “one and only.”
Oh, wait, I actually can–because it’s a stupid idea. This show almost never works out for the couple. The women, who as of episode 4–which I listen to as I write this to keep it fresh in my mind–seem to cry at least 2 times per episode, mostly claim to be in deep love with him. This is despite having spent probably a cumulative 4 hours each with him, roaring with jealous rage when he goes on private dates (“one on ones”) with the other girls (sometimes even kissing them!) and knowing next to nothing about Ben. America, can you see why I hate to love this show?
The Bachelor, by all accounts, is a load of crap. But I am an optimist, internet. I find the good in the bad. Here is what I am learning from The Bachelor.
From Lyndsie J: Tone down the crazy.
I actually grimaced watching Lyndsie interact with the camera and Ben. Listen. I am as quirky as the next dude who named his first cat Sausage at the ripe age of 20. I feel for her. I, however, try not to bust out all my antics on first impressions. This woman’s audition tape featured her displaying her worldliness by wearing cultural costumes, and she wrote a poem featuring a line about her butt-chin when she first met Ben. Save that stuff for the third date.
From Courtney: Don’t be an asshole, or at least be one all the time.
Model Courtney doesn’t even try to get the girls to like her. She insults them to her face, has threatened them physically, and walks around saying, “Winning!” You read that right. She’s trying to be the Charlie Sheen of this show. Around Ben, though, she is as sweet as Snow White. At least be consistent! It’s not like he’ll never see this behavior until it’s too late and you’re married; he’s going to watch this show, Courtney! He’ll know you treat people like shit, and maybe he won’t be attracted to that. Or maybe that’s what he gets off on, who knows. Guess you will soon enough! Do I know girls like this? Yes. And if you think that no one knows your game and you’re not burning bridges because of this, well, you’re more immature than you seem. I trust people who are openly assholes more that I do devious people. At least they’re honest.
From Emily: It never pays to be a tattle-tale.
Emily told Ben about Courtney’s little attitude problem. It did not go well, let’s just say. Sometimes you just have to let people experience others for who they are. Have I been warned about people who used to be in my life? Big time. Did I listen? Fuck no. I saw the “real them” and “could make them better.” Sometimes you just have to work your own way out of the fog of wanting someone to be what they are not. Your friends have to do that, too. As one friend of mine told me, let them grow for themselves and don’t inspire resentments in them. Only tell them as much as they are willing to hear sometimes. Also, don’t tell the girl’s best friend that you told the guy she’s dating she’s a b-word. Stupid ass.
(Edited to add: In episode 5, she once again confronts Ben about Courtney. Sweet Zeus, Emily. You are beyond my help.)
From Monica: If you’re not into a dude, don’t waste your time.
So week 1, you decide you’re not attracted to some dude, and you arguably hit on another female contestant. You should just leave the house, right? Monica thought it’d be better to just pretend to like him to stay on the show. Then she got dumped. Now she’s that lady who was dumped by the dude she didn’t like to all of America. What kind of life is that?! Don’t waste your own time or anyone else’s when it comes to dating. If it’s not there, move on.
From Jenna: Good GOD, calm down.
The overanalyst that I am, I worry sometimes about dating situations to a stupid level. But sweet baby Moses! This girl makes me look like the Buddha! She was freaking out over everything. If you know you act like this why would you go onto such a stressful show? Go onto a show like The Kitten Cuddle Hour or something. From Jenna, I have learned to relax my brain a little when dating.
From Jaclyn: Nothing.
This girl used transphobic language on the show, and so I just wanted to comment on how I dislike her. Don’t insult someone by saying they were born a man, Jaclyn, because that’s not an insult. You know what is an insult? You. You are an insult to humanity.
From Shawntel: Play it cool, cowgirl.
Shawntel was a previous season’s contestant who saw Ben on TV, thought he was cute, and started phone chatting him. Okay, a bit forward as I am a scaredy cat, but good for her! But then, she showed up to surprise Ben on an episode and insert herself into the group of lady contestants. Which I’m partially glad about, because I got to taste the sweet irony of a few of the girls saying she was a loser for trying to use the show to find love again, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT BEN IS DOING. Did you taste that, reader? It tastes like blueberries and pomegranate. Delicious. But she probably should’ve waited until his relationship with whomever wins the show fails (because the odds heavily skew this way) and then called him again. Sometimes the game is all about timing, Shawntel.
From Samantha: Love is srs bizniz.
Samantha tried the whole playing it cool thing with Ben, which in normal dating circumstances would be good! However, on The Bachelor, you are expected to threaten to claw people’s eyes out with the fury of passion over a tycoon of the wine/tire/tree monkey industry. So when Samantha tried to seem like the laid back girl, she came off like the girl that doesn’t care (instead of Monica, who actually didn’t care). Sometimes I have trouble expressing when I like someone but I don’t want to get sent home alone, reader! Samantha, I will avenge you by expressing when I’m interested more clearly.
From Ben: Ladies love the sob stories.
A number of these girls said they fell for Ben when they saw him get dumped on national television. Internet, is this all it takes?! Because I have some tales of woe for you if that’s true. These range from “hangnail” to “Stella needed to get her groove back.” I expect to have a few proposals in the comments section, please.
Ben (again): You get what you pay for.
Ben seems genuinely surprised each time the ladies tell him they are hurt he’s not only dating them, they fight, and/or they are hurt by any random thing he says or does. Really, Ben? You’re surprised that when you put a dozen ladies who all want to date you monogamously into a house together and make them compete with one another for your attention? Dude, have you never seen any of the previous seasons? When I have my show, possibly named “The Lezachelor” as when I was female-identified my brother said that’d be the perfect name for my future dating show (thanks again, bro), I will not be surprised when girls start crying and calling one another names. I may actually be secretly betting on it with said brother behind the scenes. You’ll have to buy the DVD and listen to the commentary to find out!
Mar Curran is a trans/queer rights activist and community organizer; he is on the boards of Video Action league, Advocate Loyola, the Queer intercollegiate Alliance, and works with GetEQUAL. As spoken word artist, he has read at each All The Writers I Know event. He studies Communications and Women’s Studies at Loyola University Chicago. Curran likes beer and cats.
 Hint to ABC: I’d be a better Bachelor.