You're Missing the Best Thing to Happen to Television - OZY | A Modern Media Company


Because your Monday nights just got a lot dumber — and a lot more fun.

By Sanjena Sathian

It’s happened. Reality television has, at last, reached the peak of disgusting deliciousness. And new God of All Entertainment, thy name is Bachelor in Paradise.

Look, few people will admit that they love consuming the brain candy that is reality television. But I’m personally convinced there’s someone very smart behind Paradise. Stunt-dating alone does not fantastic reality make — contrast Paradise with brethren shows like Dating Naked and Married at First Sight, both unwatchable failures. A blend of over-the-top, knowing humor with believable and yet entertaining participants makes Paradise unique. Believe me: I am a discerning consumer of crap, and I’m telling you, this is damn well-crafted crap.

I am a discerning consumer of crap, and I’m telling you, this is damn well-crafted crap.

ABC’s Bachelor and Bachelorette dating competition shows tend to grab between 8 million and 10 million viewers for each absurdly long 90-minute to two-hour episodes, so the producers took a gamble on their indulgent audience. They expanded “Bachelor Nation” to include this perfect specimen of reality excrement. And now, the dates are game-ified. As all good things should be.

The premise is that rejected suitors from various seasons of the Bachelor or Bachelorette all head to “Paradise” (aka Mexico), where they live in a house together and drink a lot. The spiritual ancestor of Paradise is the root of all reality television, The Real World — the MTV show that, producers trusted, meant a free house + alcohol + people willing to live their lives on camera would naturally = fantastic chaos. But ABC has taken it even further: In order to stay on this all-expense-paid vacation each week, the housemates have to couple up.

On the original Bachelor shows, the single star bachelor(ette) of the season keeps a bevy of potential lovahs on hand by handing each one a single fluffy red rose, allowing them to stay another week. But in Paradise, no one plays dictator. Instead, each week, the “power” changes hands, with all the men in the house handing out roses to their woman of choice one week and women dispensing the flowers the next. No rose, no more free vacation. New people are always arriving, so there are odd numbers, making it a delightful game of dating musical chairs. 

Love and sex are a competition. All over a sweet, free beach house, some alcohol and fame.

Which means love and sex are a competition. All over a sweet, free beach house, some alcohol and fame.

After all, Bachelor Nation has proven time and time again that coupling up is winning; the few couples who’ve actually stayed together from the show get to subsist on a lifelong diet of fame. A few have had their weddings televised (and subsidized by ABC). 

And there’s even celebrité for those who get together from the incestuous pile of Bach discards. Take Holly Durst and Blake Julian, who got married after meeting on the even sillier (now defunct) spin-off Bachelor Pad. Their prize? A free Neil Lane engagement ring and endless tabloid attention. My diagnosis? For these sufferers of acute athazagoraphobia (the fear of being forgotten), continually publicizing relationship tribulations on ABC is a kind of irresistable balm.

Let’s leave the philosophical armchairing for a moment, though, and sink into the delicious warm bath that is Bachelor idiocy. Take a look at a clip from the first episode of Bachelor in Paradise this season, as the producers perform some camera trickery on Clare Crawley.

Of course Clare isn’t talking to a raccoon. But there’s the genius: Bach producers know that all we want is to be entertained. And a giant, life-lampooning, satirical social experiment will do the trick.

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