Why do people like to watch The Bachelor?
I’m sure I’ve seen this question somewhere else already, but I’m on my phone, so I won’t go hunting to merge.
The Bachelor draws on a potent combination of factors, although the proportion of factors seems to differ by country. The Australian Bachelor and Bachelorette are very different from the US versions.
- People love to watch a competition. Especially when they can empathize with a competitor. And the editing of reality TV encourages you to empathize with one party and vilify the other. The latest Australian Bachelor was won by if not a villain, certainly not the person edited to look best. I’m still not sure whether that was an act of genius or stupidity.
- People like to watch romance. The audience is very well aware how artificial the romance is, and how it has been gamified. But again, the editing is usually skillful enough to commit some suspension of disbelief. At least, until you get to the group dates. But the group dates are about gladiatorial competition, not romance.
- People like to watch a bunch of attractive people on TV making out. This seems to have been a change of emphasis even between seasons of the American Bachelor, with the latest season doing more sex. Perhaps surprisingly, no sex is allowed on the Australian Bachelor.
- People like to watch car crash TV. That forms a package with the gladiatorial combat aspect of the bachelor. And the producers certainly stoke the mix of paranoia, delusion, competitiveness, and inebriation that leads to car crash TV. Of course many of the competitors are complicit in that, and they know it will get them their own notoriety.