The talking heads stare back, beleaguered, telling us of the ugliness, how unpresidential it has become. They count down the days in feigned exhaustion. Only 29 days until another president will be elected, and more importantly, when the spin cycle can begin anew and the next batch of ne’er-do-wells can be stoned.The talking heads say everything they can think of and they say it again and again – emails, rapists, locker room talk – except about how their ratings are only as good as the race is bad, that the crummier they make it, the more Viagra they sell. And so that’s what we do. We consume this reality TV, hoping that next season, in just four short years, the chosen one might appear and take care of us forever.
I watch The Bachelor for all of the right reasons. I am painfully amused by people making fools of themselves, confessing to devastating breakups, the loss of an alcoholic parent, awkwardly displaying their sensitivity just to make it as a low-level celebrity. And yet as pathetic as the participants may appear, one can’t help but feel sorry for them, their lack of understanding for the contracts they’ve signed, the blood in their deal with the devil. The Bachelor brand preaches a skewed morality – a GQ/ADHD cocktail of defending superficiality- to which all participants adhere, while they are coaxed to reveal their personal wreckage, be it a former love’s betrayal, a famous brother or deep, bitter anger. Host Chris Harrison has been employed to feign concern – “I know it isn’t easy for you to be out here with your heart on the line…but how did you survive that crushing day?” – to create the victims and monsters.And propagate the reality of this reality that love is sex, empathy is dishonesty and dreams only last until the next commercial.