Friday, March 30, 2012

Put the Real Back in My Reality TV!

Or, How Courtney Caused the Bachelor to Jump the Shark...

Here's the simple truth of it. If I want fiction, I'll watch a fictional scripted TV show. If I want truth, I'll watch a reality show. You want DANCING? Watch Dancing With the Stars. You want to see how a bunch of different people cope when they are put together on an island to fend for themselves? Watch Survivor. That's the purity of reality TV.

Cause sometimes real people are way more interesting than scripted stuff. Truth, reality, the way people interact with each other in real ways is quite fascinating stuff. And the good reality shows play off this.

Somewhere along the way, as the moment lulled, and reality TV became huge, those writers whose jobs had been displaced (now that reality TV was so cheap to make) wanted their jobs back. They wanted part of this new phenomenon.

So we have this mixture that we have now (with some shows). Survivor will not admit to being scripted. (I actually believe them.) The most a reality show writer/producer should do is create the arcs of a show (where in the world The Amazing Race travels to, for example; and what they encounter when they are there). But the way the people themselves react to it, is the fun of watching it.

But the real rub is that you have to get 30, 15, 20 whatever schlubs every season who are willing to put up with whatever you put them through. Why would they do this? Simple. It's not just the cash prize they could win at the end. It has become, more and more, that they just want to be on TV.

Let us examine, for a moment, the two WORST examples of that, the two who have burned out my eyes from ever watching The Bachelor again: Ben F. and Courtney.

I think one can generalize at this point (and so I shall): Ben never wanted to get married, find true love, all that wooha he signed up for. He just wanted to have a TV show about himself. Every girl along the way who was going along with what the show was about ("sure, I could see myself with you," "sure, I could marry you," "Sure, I'm falling in love with you..."), once they went down that path, he kissed them goodbye.

But every girl, and I do mean every girl, starting at the very beginning of the season, who was willing to kiss, to cuddle, to snuggle, to put her sex on the line, he was down with it.

Courtney, on the other hand, who was completely open about the fact that she wanted to "WIN" this Bachelor thing, and screw everyone else who was in her way, spent the first half of the season showing her true colors. She was mean, she was condescending, she was judgmental, she was downright cruel. She was the most horrible person that the show has ever had on. Which, of course, in the cold cruel world of television, makes for great TV.

Vicious Courtney. What is Courtney gonna say next? Everyone talked about her at the water coolers. Bachelor producers must've been rubbing their hands in glee.

Except for one little thing. Ben dug her. Or, perhaps, he just saw a similar snake in front of him.

In any case, when little Miss Break the Rules showed up at his suite in Puerto Rico, and they ended up frolicking (insert the other F word here) in the ocean, it was really game over.

What I wish they HAD done, if this had really been REAL reality TV, and they were honest, was to put it back on the table. "Yeah, Courtney and I had sex. What are you girls gonna do about it?"

Although they probably would've all walked out (or most of them), it sure would've made for more interesting TV than what they tried to shovel at us next.

Because once Miss Courtney started becoming Ben's favorite, the producers had to back pedal. Furiously. They had to put words in her mouth that made me choke to listen to them.

How even though she'd been trashing everyone left, right and sideways all season, suddenly now she was "interested in falling in love." Whereas before she "had a hard time trusting people," now she was "ready for love."

It was a joke, and she was/is a bad actress. That whole nonsense of a fake wedding that they did on the hometown dates was laughable.

I won't bore you with too many details, it was painful enough to sit through as is.

My point, though, is that I was one of those who at least tried to invest in The Bachelor and Bachelorette for the romance of it.

And sure, I knew when City Hall is all cleared out and there's a band in there, for them to dance by themselves, that it wasn't Ben F. who did all that "for Lindsi." It was a team of people at ABC who pulled that and everything together. Sure, I knew there were lies (in that regard).

(And then they had Lindsi's parents say, "Oh we got married there!" (As if their 27-year-old daughter didn't know where her parents got married... I could puke...)


Starting from the fake ski slopes in San Francisco on, everything about this season just got worse and worse and worse.

It was almost like the rest of the country was watching the real show, with our sweetheart, Kacie B., and Ben and wench-o-matic Courtney were off doing their own "Screw everyone" show on the side.

At the end of it all, I feel manipulated. By Courtney, yes, but more by the producers and "writers" who created this fiasco. If I see one more helicopter ride, I swear I'll throw up. If I have to watch one more couple climb atop something high (bridges, Aztec ruins, gorges) and then make some LAME metaphor about how going through this together (even if you're terrified of heights) makes your relationship that much stronger, I swear I will heave.

It really was a morass of bad writing thrown at you all this season: Leap lists, and fakeness and unreality. At every rose ceremony (and I DO mean every rose ceremony), the entire country, in unison (or anyone who still cared enough to watch this madness) screaming at their TVs: GET RID OF COURTNEY!

To have to march through, like some twisted romance from hell, as one by one of the most amazing women are dumped, and the black widow spider is still standing at the end, is really beyond the pale.

And I really feel it's cured me of my desire to ever watch this show again. There's too much reality to live. I don't want fake scripted "reality."

I feel used, abused and stepped on, by suffering through as much of this season as I did. EVERY SINGLE PERSON AT ABC who was associated with this show this season SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES. Ashamed.

You will never live down the Ben-Courtney fiasco. You have jumped the Swiss shark.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Bachelor of Shame

I don't watch many reality shows. The ones I watch, I tend to think of as the "gold standard" of these kinds of shows: Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, Bachelorette. An occasional Amazing Race. That's pretty much it.

In all my watching of all of these shows (most of them from the very beginning), I can't recall seeing such a season of shame as what's going on right now on The Bachelor. Thankfully for America and for Ben F (our illustrious Bachelor), after next week, it'll all be over.

I wanna dissect what's happened so far from two perspectives:

1. He was a user/manipulator and so was she.

2. He had no idea, and is now in hell.

Let's try the first one on for size. If you listen to some of the tabloids, Ben was only in it for sex. He never wanted a wife. And if you looked at his choices, there were many (and I do mean many) great women this season. Ones with open hearts, great looks, genuinely into him, reacting genuinely, even telling him they were "falling in love" with him. At every turn, when this stuff happened, that particular woman was the next one to get bounced.

And on every episode, he was kissing and hugging and getting physically intimate with women (to varying degrees). Every episode. Starting with the FIRST one.

So, yeah, a cynic would say that he was just in it for the sex, and his fav among them all was the beautiful model. You know, the one who stalked him and seduced him in the ocean. While they were both naked. And if you tell me sex didn't happen that night, I have some swamp land to sell you.

That would be the cynical view. These two people who SPOILER end up together next week, deserve each other. They are both manipulators, just on this show to get famous or in Ben's case "to talk about his winery," according to one tabloid.

Although, truth be told, he did mention it was either in Sonoma or San Francisco, but they never showed it, and he never named it, so if he was "self-promoting" as they claim, he did a pretty piss poor job of it.


The thing is, I'm a romantic. I don't wanna believe that all the reality shows are actually "written." I don't wanna believe that anyone goes on The Bachelor without actually seriously trying to find love. Well, sure, there's the odd duck here or there trying to promote themselves, but that usually backfires. Right, Wesley?

But let's just play out this narrative.

Let's say that Ben F. appeared on the first show, genuinely wanting to find a wife. Or at least someone he could have a relationship with. Long-term.

Let's ignore that he really turned down every woman he could conceivably do that with.

And he's walking, stumbling, tripping through this season, doing the best he can. And suddenly a woman who has a good head on her shoulders is telling him to watch out for another woman. He ignores it, and actually thinks worse of said woman (who, btw, I would marry in a heartbeat. She's awesome. Very straightforward.).

Note to all future Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants:
If someone in a season comes to you to complain about someone else, at least listen. Don't dismiss them.

So, the season goes on. He continues to make bad choices, but for the most part, the best women stay till the end.

And again, three women whom he likes tell him AGAIN about this particular woman, who, for whatever reason COUGHsexCOUGH he keeps picking.

OK, one woman, could be a fluke, could be just two people who don't get along. Now it's FOUR different women? And you don't pay attention? :-/

But OK, he still thinks he's in love with this model. She keeps stringing him along.

Until the point he dumps the woman who really has become America's sweetheart. She is quite possibly one of the best Bachelor contestants ever (except for her parents, she'd be perfect).

But she is beautiful and wonderful and she's genuinely in love with you. She is DUMPED (you stupid fool) and still she RETURNS to talk to you. To get some closure, since she was so blindsided. And as she's leaving, she says Oh BTW, I still care about you and this woman, the one I've been telling you about all along, is going to break your heart.

She's got no more skin in this game, she's already been dumped. And STILL you don't listen?

This is the point where I blame the producers, actually. Though they very likely have a bunch of heartless bastards running The Bachelor, and saw this whole Courtney debacle as a great way to get ratings, since everyone hated her so much.

But what happened throughout the season was that they just kept running interviews with Courtney shooting off her mouth, being an ass, dissing the other girls (of course, we are going to hate her). And now, maybe four shows from the end, they start having her say stuff (this is the scripted part) that she's all in love with Ben and blah blah. Like we believe her now?

Cause, you know, the "goal" of a Bachelor season is to have a man propose at the end AND to have America collectively swoon, as he gets down on one knee. Here's what's going to happen instead. As Lindsey is the first one getting out of the limo (aka the dumped one), you will hear TVs all across America clicking to another channel.

I know mine will.

In fact, if it were me, I'd fire whoever produced this Bachelor season.

Because it's been really painful to watch. You see all throughout, this loser/bitch saying crappy things about the other girls on the show. She was ugly and hateful and spiteful and mean, and didn't play by the rules. I don't care what anyone says, the little jaunt in the ocean was where the season effectively ended. Game over.

And they had cameras there, filming it. It's not like they weren't participants in this train wreck.

I mean, hey, if you want to make it all about Who Can Get the Bachelor in the Sack first? that's a whole different show. I think Snooki's on it. On THIS show, girls like to watch it because they wanna believe in romance. That courtship could be possible. And ever since Puerto Rico, which was like four shows in, I've just felt this stench of shame, watching it. Every episode.

Courtney's smug smile, knowing she wasn't going anywhere, cause she'd already banged Ben. Ben, believing so gullibly that this hot model really wanted HIM and not stardom.

Again, I say, where were the producers? Really? Next week, he's going to propose to Courtney and you think there is going to be anything but collective puking all across America? Chris Harrison rightfully in this last episode, "Women Tell All," called Courtney, the woman all of America hates.

The Bachelor should take a page from Survivor. Last season, they had all these spiritual people on (on what I think was the best Survivor season ever). It was a joy to tune in each week. I rushed to the TV. I live blogged it. I participated in the "virtual living room." I wanted to see more of it, cause what was happening was so stunning and amazing. And, conversely, this season, everyone is like The Bachelor was this season: mean, manipulative, spiteful. I've turned it off. Why bother?

But back to poor soddy Ben.

Let's assume that what the tabloids say is true: He proposes to the wench Courtney next week. So blinded by the way she stroked him in the ocean, he can't see what women all season long have been telling him. He proposes to her.

Then, he goes home, and actually watches the season unfold. He sees all the interviews with Courtney, where she is mean, spiteful, wenchlike, bitchy, cruel. Hears how much America hates her. Sees all the dirt the tabloids dig up on her, how she isn't even attracted to him, and is just doing this for fame.

Sits through last week's "Women Tell All," where 90% of the show is the women bitching about Courtney or bitching AT Courtney. The last 15 minutes are Ben (in a show that's normally mostly devoted to the Bachelor). He enters with the very telling phrase, "Welcome to My Nightmare."

When he said that, I have to say, I felt immensely sorry for him. To be dragged through this muck because some producer went with the Let's Hate on Courtney ratings bonanza, instead of letting a man just maybe find a soul mate.

Why is it, Bachelor producers, that Survivor has had BY FAR more couples hooking up that stay together than The Bachelor can manage in all its seasons? Why is that?

I would suggest that just like some smart producer managed to nip that Wesley baloney in the bud quickly, they should've done so, too, with this Courtney craziness. Let the poor man see some dailies or something. How horrible this is now, for him to watch this, as America, or at least the part of America that's still watching this train wreck, is sitting there thinking what a colossal ass he is. He sits there in his shame.

Has proposed to someone who totally played him, and all of America knows it. It's ugly.

The Bachelor used to be something you could believe in, and dream on. Now it's just some tramp having sex in the ocean, and I can't wash off the stench.