Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Conundrum of Wes, Or When Did The Bachelor Become Fake?

I admit it. I'm a girl, and I'm addicted to The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

It was one of the reality shows that hooked me from the very beginning, with its attempts at classy romance. Lush locales, pretty clothes, elegant people. I loved it.

I've watched nearly all the seasons of both shows (all episodes). Didn't care for the Navy guy (who chose no one in the end) or the blond guy (I think second season.) Other than that, I was pretty much there. I've seen their twists and turns, but by and large, it was predictable. And we LIKED THAT.

It's fairly simple, really. Classy women wanna see a classy woman (or man) choose another classy man (or woman), and take them on elegant dates. Simple formula. It works. Don't mess with it.

That is one thing that reality shows should have learned from the first season of Survivor, and we know from Twitter. Leave people to themselves, and they'll surprise the heck out of you. Just thinking of that speech of Sue's from the final Tribal Council gives me chills now.

The Bachelor series has been fairly free from controversy. Other than the guy picking the girl, then dumping her last season, and re-picking the previous girl, in front of a national audience, there wasn't a whole lotta drama. (Don't worry about the dumped Melissa. She went from tears on The Bachelor, to finalist in Dancing with the Stars, to a cushy gig with ABC News.)

People thought that whole thing was fake. To me, it seemed very very real.

This season, though... We have a wonderful new Bachelorette, another dumpee from last season's Bachelor. By and large, she seems pretty straightforward and smart. Except for this whole nonsense with Wes. The Twitterverse is also starting to talk about how this was a producer manipulation, and not real. "Cause how could she be that stupid?"

For those of you not hanging by your TV every week, here is the basic gist. Wes is a musician. With a band. His deal for going on the show is to promote his music. He doesn't give a crap about the girl. In fact, he has a girlfriend back at home in Austin, TX.

Now, what's really fishy about this right from the start is that you know the producers vette the crap out of every contestant. Checking and rechecking and rechecking again so that no craziness shows up when they least expect it.

Either the producers are really losing their touch this season, or they planned all this. My roommate even thinks that Wes isn't a "guy," that he's actually an actor. Because what we we're seeing is Wes, trash talking the girl (Jillian) to his buddies in the guys' house, then being all nice to her and telling her there was no problem. It's brought up MORE THAN ONCE, the reveal actually spans three episodes.

And, bizarrely, she KEEPS him for two of those three episodes, finally getting rid of him this week.

When he's trash talking her, he says stuff like he's only there for his music, he doesn't care about the girl. He just wants publicity for his band. When he takes Jillian on a hometown date, there's Wes' band. SURPRISE!

Now, I will say this: to the producers' credit, they showed as little of his music as possible. Didn't even really show his band (thankfully). They made the camera shots ALL about Jillian. Still. Wes was there.

It felt very much like Wes was manipulating Jillian, but it felt just as much that the producers were manipulating us. And it's really never felt that way before. Not since "Johnny Fairplay" lied about his grandmother on Survivor has an audience (and show) been so manipulated and used.

Wes is in the limo, boasting about how he got to fourth place, while having a girlfriend. That's something to boast about? That you AND YOUR FAMILY lied on national TV? That's gonna sell records for you? And sell out your upcoming tour? Really? You think so?

I dunno. Maybe I live a sheltered life, but the people I see and interact with in social media are all about transparency and truth-telling. That's the currency we trade on these days. So while everyone is steaming about what a colossal jerk Wes is, I think I'm a bit more mad about this season's producers, who added all kinds of hokeyness this season: from the Amazing Race-style treasure hunt to the weird foot fetish guy to this guitar-playing Wes.

Just give us our Bachelor, straight up. No muss, no fuss, and especially no Wes. Thanks.

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