By Darrisha Daniels
Dating shows like The Bachelor that apply a formula to love ingrains in us the idea that there is one person out there that perfectly matches our idea of a spouse and that they’re attainable.
Sparks fly, there’s a kiss or other, and from then on, it’s marital bliss.
Relationships should build on more than a short romance and often takes years to see if a marriage is the next step.
On the hit show, The Bachelor, 30 contestants compete for a chance at love with one eligible bachelor over the course of about a month. The man takes each woman, sometimes in groups, on various extravagant dates and trips to entice them with a world of romance.
Considering the number of women, drama, and the amount of time spent, by the end of the experience, the final contestants have hardly gotten to know the man they’re set to now wed.
The show capitalize s on intense emotions and the exceptional locations of the competition. It’s easy to find romance outside of daily life on fun dates and luxurious getaways but only real-life experiences solidify bonds strong enough to last a marriage.
The show gains its popularity by using manipulative techniques to prey on our biological need for reproduction and the way society expects us to interact with each other.
“It appears from our study that dopamine acts as an interface between stress, pain and emotions, or between physical and emotional events, and that it’s activated with both positive and negative stimuli,” senior author Jon-Kar Zubieta, M.D., Ph.D. and professor of psychiatry said. Subconsciously, we enjoy living vicariously through the men and women on these shows rather it’s exciting in a good or bad way.
Along with pulling at our chemical hear t strings, the producers have unnecessary handling in the direction of the show. Reporter Amy Kauffman wrote a tell all novel, “Bachelor Nation”, to expose some hidden tricks to keep people hooked on the show. She explains how the producers kept track of the women’s menstrual cycles to make sure they triggered the most emotional responses.
Ex producers mention how the show is all about intense emotions and they do everything they can to evoke that, including bribery. Kauffman mentions in her book how producer Scott Jeffress “kept a wad of crisp $100 bills in his pocket” to give to crew members who evoked the best on-screen drama. This is hardly the extent of measures to ensure the narrative the show’s creators intend to portray.
Another frightening tactic to persuade the viewers is what they call Franken-biting, editing sound bites to change context and alter scenarios. This makes viewers believe certain events are leading to a climax when in fact it’s all part of a rouse to keep people watching the show.
Clearly dating should not be a competition for one person’s affection. Of the 23 seasons of the show only 14 proposals were had and of those, only 4 couples remain together today.
Only about 15 % of Americans 18-29 are actively looking for love although the appeal to watch for us may be low, the age range of the contestants is close about 20-30.
“It makes me think about the kind of guys that could be out there and the kind of partner I want to have one day” Kauffman said. Adding to the phenomenon that although we are sound to the falsehood of the scenarios on screen, we still fantasize the possibilities of our own romantic lives.
Shows like The Bachelor only help to solidify the wrong ideals of romance and finding love for our generation. It’s best to look at the relationships close to us for inspiration considering they are more accurate with how real relationships develop in real time with real people.