ABC’s hit TV phenomena The Bachelor premiered on Monday to great fanfare from its passionate audience, Bachelor Nation. Getting your passport stamped into Bachelor Nation is hard, because it’s tough getting into something so ancillary and creepy. The Convicts’ solution for the uninitiated is simple: just watch it, and let the quiet, interpersonal horror speak for itself.
The Bachelor is a reality show about one guy’s quest for True Love as he simultaneously dates thirty women, making weekly eliminations in a game show format. Because that makes sense. All of the women live together in a California mansion, bonding (or brawling) through weeks of eliminations with surprise visits from their collective boyfriend. Halfway through the season, the group travels to different cities around the world, going on increasingly more intimate dates with Kabuki-grade performance and staging. With just a handful of contestants remaining, he meets the contestants’ families in their hometowns, which leads them to the final test: The Fantasy Suite. The final three contestants have the opportunity to spend an intimate, camera-free night in a resort with their (shared) boyfriend, which for two of the three, is their final consolation prize. The next step is The Final Rose Ceremony and, inevitably, a marriage proposal.
Let’s pause here. A globe-trotting, dating elimination challenge is indeed the craziest thing in the romantic world. It’s like The Bachelor wants to speed-date our values on love. A mere 10 minutes into the premiere and we were bobbing for the answers to questions like: Am I really a feminist? Do I secretly love sequins? Am I just as drunk as the crying lady on tv?
The answer to all of these questions is: hell-to-the-yeah! However, this bizarre show seeks to challenge us on all fronts, mainly because of the creepy uncanny feeling that it’s all a test. All these apparently “feminine” passions: beauty, travel, roses, etc. are warped against the contestants, becoming the forbidden fruit to every Eve. Every step out of the limo is a test, every word is met with implicit judgment, and despite the disarmingly slow music and glittering candelabras, it’s apparent that week by week, these women are losing their shit.
This year’s premiere episode was delightfully standard for The Bachelor, which reminded us of how strange this show actually is. All Bachelor fables begin when the proverbial dating river is most stocked with fish. Thirty conventionally attractive young women with barely describable careers pull on their sequined ball gowns, hold down gallons of chardonnay, and bravely suffer through the first of many all-night date-a-thons.
The premiere episode beats are simple: A host that does not age introduces the show. Then, this year’s bachelor, Colton, is introduced and is shown doing athletic things and bathing. From there, there are a handful of local-news style promos parsing minor differences between similar women. This bleeds into the introductions, where Colton stands outside the mansion and welcomes his women in, one by one, from individual limousines.
Vomiting yet? Hold in the chunks, because it gets better! From there, the women enjoy an open bar and watch in horror as more and more women populate the mansion. Anxiety seeps in, and as the elimination “Rose Ceremony” (cult vibes) steadily approaches, these increasingly tired, toasted women must elbow each other for more time with their shared man, who (surprise!) has all the power.
Thirty fearful and tearful conversations sounds boring, so the producers spice things up by focusing on the weird periphery gimmicks and gaggles that form throughout the night. This year’s silliness included salmon fishing in the pool (yes, a dead fish was dropped in chlorine water), a contestant and apparent method actor in a sloth costume clinging to a tree, and finally, a wannabe Cinderella huffing past a conspicuously placed pumpkin.
When the sun rose at the end of this year’s kickoff, the twenty-six-year-old-Bachelor-and-former football-player had managed to part with seven women. Bachelorettes cried for the Bachelor they had only just met a couple of hours ago as they were spirited away in black Chevy Suburbans to their more rational lives.
This is the basic structure of…Every. Episode. Of. This. Show. If you are tuning in with us this year, you can follow along week-by-week. Our mouths will hang agape as each emotional war crime unfurls. Drop down onto the Convicts couch and have a glass of freshly uncorked bonkers with us.
If true love blooms, we’ll be here to squash it.
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