Tonight is my very first Bachelorette finale, and I’m really looking forward to it. For the record, that’s not something I’d always feel comfortable saying. I had been avoiding The Bachelor and The Bachelorette pretty much since the shows started. I’d heard from friends how it was a brilliant anthropological study and the television equivalent of hardcore drugs, but I could never bring myself to make the reality TV leap.
Over the years, I’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole of reality television, but I’ve always managed to make excuses for myself (“Project Runway allows me to understand how much effort it takes to design the clothes I love,” “Master Chef is teaching me about things like palate and plating,” the list goes on). But I could never really justify the time it would take every week to watch Bachelor/Bachelorette just like I can never really justify impulse-buying US Weekly while in the grocery store checkout line. “But I just REALLY wanted to know how stars were just like us!” is an excuse that worked with nobody in no situation ever.
So why did I start watching The Bachelorette this season? The same reason I’ve embarked on viewings of so many reality TV shows I otherwise would not touch with a ten foot pole— my siblings were fans and I didn’t want to be left out. My friends have given me grief about not watching Bachelor/Bachelorette before and I’ve been like, “Whatever, you guys watch your trash, I’m going to go to an evening of theater or read a Russian novel, or something of similar cultural value, so long, farewell!” But the idea of my family watching this show and debriefing after every episode and having inside jokes and having access to a world which I was denied—this drove me bonkers. So I watched.
And it turned out, everyone was right. The show IS a fascinating anthropological study. First impressions, group vs. individual dates, how male contestants compete with each other on The Bachelorette vs. how female contestants compete with each other on The Bachelor, there are SO many academic papers you could write about this show. And everyone was right, this show is like the reality equivalent of hardcore drugs—once you get invested in the story of the Bachelorette’s (or Bachelor)’s quest for true love, you have to endure those bloated hour-and-a-half episodes and teeth-gnashingly stupid group dates just so you can see how the whole shebang turns out and if true love (or whatever the reality television equivalent is of true love) really is found in the end.
But one of the biggest reasons to watch the show, for me, is the fact that so many people I know watch it. By watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette, I have a point of connection with so many people I wouldn’t otherwise have. If I didn’t watch The Bachelorette small talk would mean discussing how nice the weather has been lately or what a parking lot the freeway was that morning, but when I find a fellow Bach-bach fan we can instead talk about how INSANE the Fantasy Suites episode was and have a hilarious and passionate conversation and connect in a way we never could over weather and traffic. So basically, all of this is a long way of saying that there are smart reasons for watching what I once (perhaps wrongly) considered “stupid” reality television. Now, enough about that. Let’s talk: who do you think Andi is going to pick?