Is ’The Bachelorette’ undermining healthy relationships?

This week was the special “Men Tell All” talk-show edition of “The Bachelorette“. Next week, Jillian Harris will make her final choice and, presumably, get married and live happily ever after.

Here’s my confession: I haven’t consistently watched “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” since my freshman year of college . . . until this year. I usually hate reality TV, and only started watching Jillian and her roller coaster love life when some of my girlfriends were talking about it . . . so I recorded the show and got sucked in. After watching most of this season, I can see how millions of women (and a few men, I know you’re out there) watch every season and love it.

However, I can also see how this show–and with it, our skewed, modern views of love–is harmful to lasting relationships. I wonder how many women, after watching two hours of “The Bachelorette” every Monday, either wish that they had had 30 handsome bachelors to choose from when they got married, or wonder when their chance to play the field will come.

A few generations ago, lasting marriages were the norm. Men were providers and protectors, steadfastly loving their wives and families. Women were mostly homemakers, respecting their husbands and investing in their communities and children. It doesn’t take a very astute person to notice that our views of love and marriage have changed drastically in the last few decades. Nowadays, marriage is an easily broken institution for private pleasure rather than public structure, and no one seems to mind as it becomes more rare and easily breaks down.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to most viewers that this season’s bachelorette, Jillian, insists on a proposal at the end of the show, or that she is wringing uncharacteristic confessions of love out of men who know they’re competing for her heart on national TV. While we watch the show and hope that she finds love, deep down, few of us expect a “Bachelorette” marriage to last, despite her best intentions.

No one woman has 30 men vying for her hand in real life, nor multiple extravagant dates with multiple handsome guys. The premise of the show is false, not to mention the ways in which Jillian forces the guys into non-male-style talks about emotions and love. Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think that every guy is a caveman, incapable of love or intelligent conversation, but I also know that most men are cautious, and would need more than one date and a few hangouts to know if love is real. It seems to me that modern women want a man to lead and protect, yet are so afraid of losing their rights and individuality that they take back control as soon as he does so, and want him to have heart-to-hearts as readily as another girl would. Men and women both have lost respect for each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and reality shows like “The Bachelorette” are simply a large screen for society’s foibles to shine upon.

We may pay the price for enjoying shows like this. We may look at our husbands and wish that they were more polished or better-spoken, instead of appreciating them for the love and devotion that they give to us. If single, we may see the decided lack of 30 available men around us, and wonder why we don’t have such a plethora of options. What’s wrong with our lives, careers and looks? Why are we still alone?

It seems ridiculous to let an obviously fabricated reality TV show influence our lives. But it does. Slowly it chips away at our psyche until we are unsure of anything but our discontent; and our parents and grandparents way of approaching love–in so many ways it was God’s way–feels distant and even more unrealistic than the network TV version.

I admit that I’ve enjoyed “The Bachelorette” this season, perhaps against my better judgment. But I am disturbed by the trend of dramatizing every aspect of life. More and more we seem to not appreciate relationships because of fidelity, respect, love, faith and family, but instead focus on outward appearance and a falsely created closeness that will disintegrate over time.

We, as Christians, are responsible for monitoring what we watch on TV and how it affects us. We are responsible for showing the world the kinds of marriages that ABC will never understand. While Jillian and all 30 of her guys may want true love, the only satisfying way to find it is grounded in faith.

 

Be First to Comment

  1. altfreq11 said:

    Dani said: “Nowadays, marriage is an easily broken institution for private pleasure rather than public structure, and no one seems to mind as it becomes more rare and easily breaks down.” Actually: “The divorce rate in 2005 (per 1,000 people) was 3.6 — the lowest rate since 1970, and down from 4.2 in 2000 and from 4.7 in 1990. (The peak was at 5.3 in 1981, according to the Associated Press.)” http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsUS.shtml

    July 23, 2009
    Reply
  2. altfreq11 said:

    Dani said:”We, as Christians, are responsible for monitoring what we watch on TV and how it affects us. We are responsible for showing the world the kinds of marriages that ABC will never understand.” Like this? ———- “Marshall Clement Sanford Jr., known as Mark Sanford (born May 28, 1960) is a United States politician from South Carolina, currently serving as the Governor of South Carolina. From 1995 to 2001, he served as the Republican representative in the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, and was a staunch conservative with an independent streak.” “On June 24, 2009, Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, after he publicly revealed that he had had an extramarital affair with an Argentinian, María Belén Chapur.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Sanford ———- “John Eric Ensign (born March 25, 1958) is the junior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since January 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party and the former chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.” “In a statement on June 16, 2009, Ensign admitted he had an extramarital affair between December 2007 and August 2008 with a female member of his campaign staff.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ensign#Extramarital_affair ———- “Larry Edwin Craig (born July 20, 1945) is a former Republican politician from the U.S. state of Idaho. He served 18 years in the U.S. Senate (1991-2009), preceded by ten years in the U.S. House, representing Idaho’s first district (1981-91).” “On August 27, 2007, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call revealed that Craig had been arrested for homosexual lewd conduct in the men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on June 11, 2007, and entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct on August 8, 2007.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_craig#2007_arrest_and_consequences ———- “Gingrich has been married three times. He married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old. She was seven years his senior at 26 years old. They had two daughters and divorced in 1981. Jackie Battley Gingrich supported him through graduate school and two unsuccessful congressional campaigns. She had undergone uterine cancer surgery during the successful 1978 campaign, which Gingrich referenced in speeches. Eighteen months later, they separated. While in the hospital recovering from another uterine operation, according to his friend Lee Howell, “Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of ‘out of it,’ and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it.” According to Howell, friends in her church had to raise money for her and her daughters. Later, Jackie went to court for adequate support, before they divorced. In his financial statement, Gingrich reported providing $400 per month, plus $40 in allowances for his daughters. Gingrich said he was unable to afford more. The same financial statement listed his expenditures for “food/dry cleaning etc. (one person)” as $400. In 1981, six months after his divorce was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther.[33] He remained married to Ginther until 2000, when they divorced. Shortly thereafter, Gingrich then married Callista Bisek, with whom he was conducting an extra-marital affair at approximately the same time he was leading the Congressional investigation into allegations that Bill Clinton lied under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Newt and Callista Gingrich currently live in McLean, Virginia. A Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, his wife’s faith, on March 29, 2009″ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newt_Ginrich#Personal_life ———- In other words: << Matthew 7 >> New American Standard Bible © Judging Others 1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” http://nasb.scripturetext.com/matthew/7.htm

    July 23, 2009
    Reply
  3. Halbey512 said:

    altfreq11 – Totally understand where you are coming from when you highlight conservative politicians and Repubs don’t match their actions with what they say. Neither do people of faith. I don’t think Dani’s point was that Christians or those who favor conservative have marriage right all the time, but that we as a culture should consider whether or not our current views of marriage contribute to healthy relationships. Your marriage stats are encouraging, certainly, but it doesn’t necessarily negate what Dani said. Something like 40-50% of marriage end in divorce, and more than that are unhappy marriages. The decline in divorces doesn’t necessarily have to be because people are staying married. It can also be because people are cohabiting and not getting married, or because people are less interested in the institution in general. From an anecdotal standpoint, I know lots of young women started comparing their significant others to the guy from Twilight and got annoyed when he didn’t match up. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the media we ingest affects us. Appreciate your passion on the subject, but think it might have been a little misappropriated. Best, Joey

    July 23, 2009
    Reply
  4. Halbey512 said:

    altfreq11 – Totally understand where you are coming from when you highlight conservative politicians and Repubs don’t match their actions with what they say. Neither do people of faith. I don’t think Dani’s point was that Christians or those who favor conservative have marriage right all the time, but that we as a culture should consider whether or not our current views of marriage contribute to healthy relationships. Your marriage stats are encouraging, certainly, but it doesn’t necessarily negate what Dani said. Something like 40-50% of marriage end in divorce, and more than that are unhappy marriages. The decline in divorces doesn’t necessarily have to be because people are staying married. It can also be because people are cohabiting and not getting married, or because people are less interested in the institution in general. From an anecdotal standpoint, I know lots of young women started comparing their significant others to the guy from Twilight and got annoyed when he didn’t match up. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the media we ingest affects us. Best, Joey

    July 23, 2009
    Reply
  5. altfreq11 said:

    Halbey512: Good post. However, your allegations are baseless, as are Dani’s. Dani is viewing life through her tv set. She needs to get out more.

    July 24, 2009
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.