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Let’s Talk About Love

March 4, 2010

The thing is, everybody wants to fall in love. As we’re told often enough, people like the idea of love. This is why people buy movie tickets, read novels, listen to music, and thousands of teens are obsessed with a hundred year old vampire. People want to be in love like that. Enter the reality dating show, a way of seemingly providing us with this elusive form of love, to provide the Edward to our Bella (or for the more discerning of us the Darcy to our Jane, Bogey to our Bacall, Mars to our Venus etc). 

I’ve never watched the Bachelor, or its sister the Bachelorette. I can’t take too much pride in this, because I like my love shows to be a little kookier. Joe Millionaire, watched it. Average Joe, done. The Age of Love, fantastic. More to Love, a masterpiece. But these all revolve around the fantasy of providing us with true love. Considering the uproar over the latest Bachelor Jake’s decision to pick Vienna, the sell is still working. This is even in the face of the previous Bachelor Jason, and his infamous flip flop.

Of course these shows at face value aren’t real. An eligible bachelor won’t have a bevy of beautiful women who let him date them all at the same time, and then after 2 months proposes to one. Not all of the series ended in a proposal, and none of the couples from the end of the series are still together, save Charlie O’Connell and Sarah Brice, who broke up then reunited. Love also brought Jason and Molly together last season, but not before he proposed to somebody else in the final show, then changing his mind and proposing to Molly once the show wrapped. The Bachelorette has a slightly higher success rate, going strong with one happy marriage in Trista and Ryan, and the latest Bachelorette, Jillian, and her pick yet to break up. None of the other love shows have fared much better, all breaking up several months after the show ended. Because maybe this kind of love isn’t real, so once the station funded horse back rides, picnics and scripted sweet nothings under soft studio lighting end, there isn’t really anything to fall back on. This is reality tv, but in the sense that it’s the reality we want, not the reality that exists.

Ironically, the best place for people to make a lasting match? Survivor has produced strong couples, the Biggest Loser is a guaranteed lovefest, with two couples (and a proposal) from the last season alone. So this is the reality. Love isn’t constructed, but sneaks up on you, whether stranded on a deserted island, or stuck in fat camp.

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