Will You Accept This No: The Decline of The Bachelor
By Laura Mooney, Arts Editor
Once the most popular television show in the ABC network’s history, the well-known dating show The Bachelor and its companion show The Bachelorette may have finally hit their popularity peak, and are falling into a rapid tailspin. However it is not only the ratings that are falling, but also the willingness of the contestants appearing on the show. The show features a single man, dubbed the bachelor, who is presented with 25 single women in hopes of finding a wife. Week by week a certain number of “contestants” are given roses and those who are not are eliminated. In the end the Bachelor will propose to the person they chose. The entire process takes place over a two-month period, which anyone can admit is an extremely short amount of time to choose the person to spend the rest of your life with. When the show first began in 2002, the 25 selected women all treated the show as though it was their last shot at love, despite some of the women being barely into their twenties. Never did it occur to the women that the man they were all competing for may not have been the best match for them. Instead it was as though they all saw the prize at the end of the tunnel and would do anything to get there. However, twelve years have passed and the women selected to be on the show are of a new breed; independent, self-made women who are searching for their soul mate, but are not willing to settle. This new woman essentially means death for dating shows like The Bachelor.
As of only a handful of seasons ago, there has been a significant rise in the “lucky” women questioning the entire process, and this unsure attitude is resulting in the women leaving the show of their own accord, much to the bachelor’s and the producer’s surprise. The women leaving state bluntly that either they did not feel any connection to the chosen man, or they felt they needed to be at home for work or family instead of taking part in the “game”. Their abrupt departure usually leaves the bachelor confused and dejected, as if he could not fathom the fact that a woman could turn him down. What is interesting however is not this sudden burst of intelligence that seems to be coming from the women, it is instead the treatment they receive during and after their departure from the show. Whether it is the doings of the editors of The Bachelor, or the reactions of the bachelor himself, the women are always portrayed as being crazy for leaving this supposedly perfect man. The bachelor’s shocked face along with the remaining women on the show’s reaction to the woman choosing to leave gives the audience the idea that the woman leaving is abandoning her last shot at love. It is as though once she leaves the show she will be forever branded as an old maid. One example is on the most recent season of The Bachelor, in which Andi Dorfman, a federal prosecutor, leaves the show claiming that the bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, never took their relationship seriously. What followed was a heated discussion in which Dorfman voiced her opinion only to have Galavis further show his non-committal approach to the process, by acting nonchalant in regards to her departure and at times even laughing at her frustration. To the audience it comes off as though Andi is the one who is making the mistake, and Juan Pablo is in fact just happy to be rid of her. She was in fact the second woman to leave the season at her own choosing, an event that had never happened before in the history of the show.
It seems as if by portraying the women who leave the show as being “crazy,” the producers are ensuring the viewing audience that the process of The Bachelor does in fact still work, it is just the unfortunate luck that certain seasons have more “crazy” women than others. However, in reality it seems as though the women who choose to apply for the show go into it with hopes that the process will work for them, but are not afraid to leave when it turns out they are not compatible with the chosen man, or they feel as though the process is not for them. This realization, in the upcoming years, will affect how The Bachelor operates, and the show’s producers will have to get creative to ensure that they still have women applying for the show. Or else they may have trouble handing out roses to willing women, and they’ll be left holding the bouquet.