After endless unsuccessful iterations of The Bachelor/Bachelorette, does any television viewer expect reality romances to last anymore? Apparently, yes. In a recent blog post on Hello Giggles, reality TV Casting Director Sarah Monson made an unexpected argument. Drawing from her experience casting shows like The Bachelor, she posited that reality TV dating is better than online dating. What has she been smoking?
That’s not quite fair — Monson’s post does bring up some valid points about the rigorous pre-screenings reality show candidates must pass to be deemed acceptable to compete. Hopefuls must undergo STI testing and background checks, among others. Plus, the average reality show contestant is probably more attractive than the average person in general, so if you’re looking to date only exceptionally well-groomed hotties, maybe reality TV is right for you. But her talking about how contestants can be “whisked away in a helicopter” only hammers home the main flaw in her argument: There’s nothing real about reality dating.
Yes, none of the contestants have horrible STIs, so they can hook up with near-strangers as much as they want without fear of sores or warts. But I hear there’s a crippling psychological illness going around called “Realitytelevisionitis,” and many contestants suffer from it. The first sign of this scary, scary disease comes in the form of disingenuousness. Sufferers begin to act differently than they normally would because of the giant cameras following them around all the time. They start to say and do things they don’t really mean in order to maximize their time on television. You might notice them exaggerating their feelings for whomever they’re supposed to fall for. As the disease progresses, many victims convince themselves that they have indeed fallen in love with someone after about 20 hours in their presence.
Realitytelevisionitis sufferers have a difficult time getting the treatment they need. Instead, they find themselves surrounded by enablers. Producers ply them with wine and delicious dinners. They’re thrust into the most romantic settings possible. Contestants seem to attend firework shows every couple of episodes. Nobody watches fireworks that much in real life! They don’t have to worry about any practicalities like paying for dates, and they never need to clean up after themselves. On a recent episode of The Bachelorette, for example, Emily Maynard and perfect-seeming Sean Lowe just walked off at the end of a picnic date, presumably leaving some production assistant to pick up the blanket upon which they’d just been cuddling. Before that, Emily and the potentially-Mormon Jef (nope, not a misspelling) lay together on the floor of a gorgeous library in Prague, discussing how lovely it would be if they got married and had lots of babies.
Emily will soon pick her final suitor and, if everything goes the way it’s supposed to, he’ll get down on one knee and pop the question. The moment will probably be perfectly choreographed. But once she and the lucky guy have to start figuring things out for themselves, in a world where they don’t get to jet off to tropical islands every week and where being a father to Emily’s six-year-old is more than a hypothetical, will they break up? Signs point to yes. Then maybe they can join OkCupid.