5 Nov 2007

The Bachelor - Part II

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...


thirtysomething said...

Hmmm. You raise a very good point or two.
I agree with you at the hilarious flimsyness/shallowness of the Bachelor show. I watched it's first season, and it has gotten worse since then, but it is all about looks, money, sex, all parts of our society that judge other people, exacerbated by the media. I think you are right in that these women are NOT searching for the love of their life, but a small break to launch their acting career.
The Norwegian version, now that might be halfway entertaining to watch, at least the women would be more down to earth, well, in appearances anyway!
Great post!

Kellan said...

I think you are right about those last several lines - the American version is so unreal - that it just entertaining. It is fun to watch and see all the beautiful people. America is conditioned to want to see that! I'm not so sure I'd watch it otherwise, myself - when I do ever watch it. Good post - hey, see you later.

Mrs. G. said...

I haven't watched this show for many reasons, including some of the ones you mentioned. I need a little reality in a reality show. And you know something, I think if you got a group of regular looking middle aged women together for this type of show they would sit around shaking their heads going:

"You want him?"

"Nope, I'm good. You want him?"

"That depends. Does he clean house? Is he good with children? You know, I'll pass. I really just want to focus on myself right now."

You know what I'm saying? It just wouldn't play.

Kathryn said...

Well, again, I must admit that the Bachelor is a guilty pleasure for the simple fact that it is CRAZY! That is why these young attractive girls can not find a decent guy. Because they are CA-RAZY! It is like watching a car crash, ya just can't look away. It is insane that these women think they are in love with this guy after seeing him twice. ??? It is completely nuts.
I would REALLY be interested in watching the Norwegian version. Just to see the differences.

Misty said...

That is fascinating. I am not much of a TV watcher and have never seen the American version. Is that the way the world views us? Stupid and plastic?

Makes you wonder.

Aliki2006 said...

I generally prefer the much more realistic European versions of many shows over the tacky artificiality of many of our American shows...

Your raise some interesting points!

MadMad said...

I watch it - indeed, am often obsessed by it - because of the train wreck factor (it's so awful, it's like watching a train wreck). I keep thinking about how stupid these women act, and about their poor mothers! But you're right - the Norwegian version just makes it all that much sadder...

hellomelissa said...

great food for thought... over something as inane as "the bachelor"!

i think the numbers speak for themselves here in the US... not one couple has ever stayed together from that insipid show.

Karen MEG said...

A very thought provoking post Heidi.
The whole premise is so sad, but I hate to admit, I've been sucked into a couple of them. But usually only at the very end, always swearing that I'm only watching for amusement(bet ya didn't know I was so mean, did you?), but then getting pulled into actually rooting for one girl or the other! Crazy, I know.

It's a very guilty pleasure, and then I feel so badly for watching these girls seemingly pouring out their broken hearts in the contrived "goodbye" limo ride. I hope they're for the most part really good actresses. Because if they're not, then it's truly, truly pathetic.

hokgardner said...

I've never watched any of the bachelor shows, mostly because I can't take the train wreck of fake people fighting over fake people. And this season's bachelor is even from Austin.

However, I am just dying for the new season of The Real Housewives of the OC to start tomorrow. It's my one truly guilty tv pleasure.

Victoria said...

If I had to choose a "female group" to hang with, I'd run away from that American group. Eeek.

I don't like most so-called reality shows...especially the Bachelor. Seriously - those hot, rich guys can't find a girl? Whatever.

You raise great questions, Heidi.

Gina said...

I have never watched The Bachelor, the way the girls catfight makes me a bit ill.

But some people will do anything to find love, including going on a tv show!

Just Seeking said...

I think both versions are sad. The American one because it's so fake and so obvious that the participants are faking love in order to further their careers---neither of which are likely to last very long.
The Norwegian one is at least somewhat realistic. Sad, yes, because 40 something women are so desparate, but still realistic.
Provacative post!

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

I love the concept of the "regular" guy bachelor and find it 1000 times more interesting. We see handsome and perfect on TV all the time - how boring. I think regular, real folk are much more watchable and no less beautiful.

I've never watched The Bachelor either, but I was addicted to a show last year called Beauty and the Geek (a guilty pleasure) - because it was made with real people who seemed sincere.

Julie Pippert said...

BRAVO! Really well said.

I think, if I must, I prefer the Norwegian. But in truth, I don't prefer it at all.

Using My Words

carrie said...

I know I'm wrong, watching this show and using valuable brain cells . . . but, I just don't want to be right!

Interesting post, thanks for making me *think*! :)

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am all for the escapism aspect of reality TV...I am a huge fan! But..I find the premise of the bachelor unsettling.....I've just never been much on sharing my man...call me CRAZY!

PLUS..this highly neurotic chic would NEVER want to open herself up to that much criticism....my hyper-sensitive self could NEVER take it!

another good thing said...

I would love if the Norwegian version were to air here-- maybe even people nominate their siblings/parents... that would be cool, as long as the bachelor had a say in the final ones being selected to appear and that they were not chosen for their potential theatrics... I do love my reality shows, but only when I can see the parts they can't edit.. like the hair in the sink and the messy rooms and the eye rolling when they think no one is watching... you have to remember these shows are edited fiercely and all of them hire "script writers"... personally I have never watched Bachelor or Bachelorette all the way through-- I have been peeking in on TILA_ the bisexual one...yikes.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

WHAT? You dont watch The Bachelor?? :)

ALM said...

I kind of think of the Norwegian version as why I read blogs - for a slice of somebody's life & how other people live/think.

The US one is just all about what the US is largely about: gloss, packaging and escapism.

Jen said...

The Bachelor is one of those shows that as I'm watching it, I am thinking "this is so ridiculous! These girls are so pathetic! Why do I watch this?" Problem is, then I think "Wonder who he will pick? Can't wait until next week!" Groan.

gmcountrymama said...

I don't watch the Bachelor or any other reality TV, not because I am better than all that, but because the shows are on at a time my hus is still awake! I think the Norwegian women are perfectly lovely and much more realistic. The skinny bitches make me nervous.

WorksForMom said...

You totally nailed it with this thought "I think not".

Does the world view the US as dumb and plastic surgery friendly? Makes me wonder!

Candy said...

I have to admit, I don't follow these shows, and I usually enjoy all things reality-TV. It makes me feel like these women on these shows are nothing but whores and I'm their pimp for watching. I don't usually indulge in such insight, so take it for what it's worth.

Sue said...

The Bachelor is practically art, compared to "A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila." I caught that the other night at 2AM. Wow.

My eyeballs are still bleeding.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Your small print was right on, too. How pathetic that these women are willing to pander to and play around for this one guy who isn't worth their time. I think the answer is in your first several points. This isn't about finding love, or even a date, but all about showing off their expensive teeth and plastic body parts. I can't watch the show because I feel so much pitty for the silly girls.