So maybe I knew that posting those pictures wasn't the nice thing to do. That they would be a little, teeny, tiny bit humiliating for the Norwegian Bachelor. I couldn't resist - I couldn't get over how different the two guys were.
It was meant as a simple spoof - but your comments made me think. And so, having started down this road, I might as well go all the way, even though I'm not sure where I'm going. Especially since I don't even watch Bachelor, and only stumbled across the Norwegian version on Saturday evening, bored and waiting for the boys to return home from a soccer match.
Many of us agree that while Mr. Norway is far from the ultimate in male hotness, he seems less plastic than Mr. USA, who also does not seem to have much of a following in the blogosphere.
But shall we take a look at the ladies?
Isn't it amazing how these two shows, based on the exact same premise, are worlds apart in their final presentation? The oh-so-smooth American package vs. the stark realism of the Norwegian show.
The Norwegian production may look less polished and more rough around the edges partly as a matter of cost. Little Norway, with its 4 million people, can not justify a lavish budget for a show that maybe pulls in a couple of hundred thousand people an episode. Meanwhile, according to my best friend Google, more than 10 million people watched the last episode of the Bachelor in North America. That kind of ad revenue can pay for a rose or two.
Accepting that there's money to spend, I still wonder why the American show has such a sky high polish factor and is filled with perfect human specimens, beautifully airbrushed with blindingly white teeth, who so do not resemble any of the people in my neighbourhood?
The 25 Bachelor girls look like they just stepped off the runway. They are all gorgeous. Are we really supposed to be believe that they are unable to find a date on their own, and that they're so desperate they're willing to slug it out over a single guy they don't even know? On national TV?
I think not.
I can only see one reason for these girls to be doing this in the first place -because it is filmed for everyone to see. This is a stepping stone, a way to gain exposure, perhaps to promote a modelling or fledgling...ehem...acting career. Finding love is the farthest thing from their minds. Which is why the name reality show is so hilarious. Can we get any less real here, people?
This is escapism in its purest form. A prime time soap opera with all fluff and chocolate, no substance. A beautifully designed world, full of beautiful people doing beautiful things, in the hopes of winning a beautiful price. Enjoy it, if you like, for what it is. Don't try to look for anything real, beyond the name of the designer dresses.
Which makes me wonder what exactly it is that Norwegian viewers are escaping to? A world of average-looking, middle-aged, slightly overweight women - who have all been around the block - competing for the affections of a middle-aged, chubby, dishevelled man with a fairly grumpy demeanour.
There is an element of grittiness here that gives the illusion that the programme is showing it like it really is. Except we are still watching a group of women being scrutinized, evaluated and picked off one by one by a single man. Ouch!
I also question what's in it for the Norwegian women participating on the show? They are in a different age bracket than the American Bachelor girls. These women are mature - in their 40s. Surely, this can't be much of a stepping stone for them. Could it be that they are really looking for love? Wouldn't that be awful? I honestly can't imagine anything sadder.
So, although I initially thought the other way around, I'm now thinking that the Norwegian version might be worse, precisely because it looks more real. At least the American show is so over the top, you can almost feel the participants laughing with you at themselves.
From a feminist point of view, I do worry about the subliminal messages (actually, subliminal is the wrong word - I mean blatantly obvious messages) in shows such as the Bachelor. But the truth is, I can choose not to watch, and as long as there is a market for this type of thing, I suppose I'm fine with it. There are worse things to watch on TV. Except maybe for pubescent girls...