Reality TV Exploits Real-Life Drama — and Viewers Are to Blame

Everyone who’s ever watched multiple seasons of any given reality show knows that the producers are following some semblance of a script. Take the “Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise, for instance. Each season features one set of archenemies that must ultimately endure a ‘dramatic’ two-on-one date. Sure, personalities are likely to clash when living in close quarters with strangers, but this level of conflict always comes around like clockwork. Throw in some whacky professions—such as Free Spirit, Chicken Enthusiast, and Tickle Monster, for example—and you’ve got yourself some entertainment value.

But, as viewers begin to grow weary of the tiresome cycle, producers have become desperate to spice things up now and then. When Kayleigh Morris of “Big Brother” was forcibly evicted recently, the star brought attention to how eager producers are to manufacture drama, even if it’s at the expense of the cast’s reputation.

Morris told Aisleyne Horgan-Wallace of The Sun that it’s “really frustrating, as I had so many happy times in the house, but only the bad parts were aired, which I guess is the nature of the beast, but still…” Reality TV surely offers an opportunity to achieve fame and fortune for those who maintain their dignity, but those who’re targeted as villains live on in infamy, nothing more.

Nothing, however, compares to the fiasco on the set of “Bachelor In Paradise.” While the summertime offshoot never garnered quite the audience of its parent series, producers have tried to up the ante each season by cultivating the most controversial cast members of seasons past. For the upcoming incarnation, Corinne Olympios (Nick Viall’s season) and DeMario Jackson (Rachel Lindsay’s season) were set to reprise their ‘roles’ for some fun in the sun. But, just days into filming, everyone was sent home so investigators could look into claims of sexual assault involving the two stars.

Prior reports claimed that both Olympios and Jackson had been drinking excessively throughout the day, and that an encounter may have taken place while Olympios was too intoxicated to consent. Since then, officials have concluded that no such assault happened, allowing the show to resume filming ahead of its August premiere date. Olympios retained representation in order to get to the bottom of this matter, while Jackson has been dealing with the ramifications of being portrayed as a rapist, guilty before proven innocent.

While I’m not one to disregard assault allegations, for I don’t doubt that there could’ve been foul play, I can’t help but wonder if ABC will use this incident to boost its audience—and viewers are to blame.

Essentially, viewers are the addicts and producers are our enablers. When excitement from the typical drama fails to satisfy our cravings, showrunners must find new ways to draw the audience back into the fray. Each hit must be more extreme than the one prior to ensure our satisfaction. We sit on the sidelines, complaining about how reality TV has gotten out of hand, yet we still tune in to gawk as the drama unfolds.

Of course, while I’d hope that this particular case wasn’t manufactured—for the sake of assault victims everywhere—I’m positive that ABC will use this story to lure viewers, old and new, as the premiere date draws near.

However, we have the power to condemn such exploitation, and doing so takes little effort. Next time you see a Kayleigh Morris-like outburst, just change the channel.


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)



We All Know Why They Announced the New “Bachelorette” Early

Fans of ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are accustomed to the formula by now. Producers allow the current season to play out. Then, shortly after the finale—sometimes during the ‘After the Final Rose’ broadcast itself—they announce that one of the show’s most recent rejects will headline the next season.

Of course, while current “Bachelor” Nick Viall wasn’t rejected by “Bachelorette” Jojo Fletcher, his two prior appearances on the show, plus his “Bachelor in Paradise” stint, made him the prime candidate. (Or ABC knew he’d never leave them alone unless they financed his own “journey” to find love—one or the other.)

Yet, despite causing much drama during both Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s seasons, Viall’s own adventures have been rather bland by comparison. ABC was probably banking on ratings gold, but even Chris Harrison can’t claim it’s the “most dramatic season ever” at this point.

That’s probably why ABC announced Rachel Lindsay will be the next “Bachelorette” an entire month before the finale—and long before her own “Bachelor” elimination, oddly enough.

When ABC revealed its choice, critics were thrilled that producers made this diverse casting decision. (She’s the first black lead in the show’s 20+ season history.) Bachelor Nation sighed one collective “FINALLY!” into the void, and that was that. But deep down, it’s not hard to see why ABC bucked tradition and made this announcement before Viall and Lindsay’s inevitable break-up: They wanted to boost Viall’s ratings!

By announcing Lindsay’s upcoming role before her exit this season, producers were able to redirect viewers’ waning interest from this season’s lackluster lead to next season’s groundbreaking star. Even those who’d become bored with Viall’s relatively by-the-book season gained renewed interest because they wanted to learn more about Lindsay.

Producers claim this announcement came earlier than usual in an effort to cast an exceptional array of men, but it’s obvious that they wanted people to invest in Lindsay’s “journey” long before those limos pull up in front of the “Bachelor” mansion next season. Viewers witnessed her heartbreak after the overnight dates and now viewers cannot wait to see Lindsay pursue love on her own terms.

ABC will do whatever it must to keep this stale series fresh. In this case, their strategy just might work.


(This post originally appeared on Storia.)

Pop Culture References for Those Who Cannot Comprehend Trump’s Presidency

During the days immediately following the election, I couldn’t bring myself to watch the nightly news. If boredom struck, I’d cautiously scan Twitter, squinting as I scrolled, but nothing more. Yet, once Donald Trump began announcing his Cabinet picks, I ultimately realized that most major news outlets were also in some sort of daze. Most anchors made only brief references to each appointee’s disturbing history, completely disregarding their racist, sexist, and xenophobic views in the process.

Now, however, as Trump continues to treat this transition of power as nothing more than some makeshift white, male Miss Universe pageant, it’s clear that these media outlets are eager to normalize this parade of so-called “competitors” and gloss over the potential danger each candidate could pose to our civil liberties. Somehow, they’ve already come to accept that our new “reality” means treating the United States government like some second-rate reality program. Of course, while I’m sure Trump wishes he’d been elected to serve as the new host of America’s Next Top Model instead—more women for his tiny hands to grope!—that’s simply not the case.

But what will it take to get someone (ahem, everyone) to recognize the indisputable threat Trump poses to our country?

Last week President Obama claimed the U.S. government most closely resembles an ocean liner, not the speedboat many Republican lawmakers wish it to be. Unsurprisingly, that metaphor evolved into Titanic comparisons, which are never promising. But that’s when I discovered what might work—pop culture! If people are too dense to recognize the blatant parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, maybe they’ll understand things better if I throw television and movie references into the mix.6d289e61_ar-302029982

For instance, there’s always that one villain on every single season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. You know, that one person who’s not there for the right reasons? That’s Donald Trump! While the man or woman of the hour carries on blindly (a.k.a. Trump supporters and, apparently, the media, too), falling for said villain based on little more than chemistry, the other contestants in the house (a.k.a. people who have learned from the past and don’t wish to repeat it) cannot help but warn the season’s star about the villain’s hidden agenda. Each concerned contestant then proceeds to use his or her alone time with the star to express their worries, risking their own chance for happiness just so they may protect this person from potential heartbreak. (Protesters may be on to something, huh?)

However, no matter how many kindhearted contestants come forward, the star of the show always gives the villain the benefit of the doubt (just as Trump supporters keep telling critics to “give him a chance”). But, like clockwork—almost as if the show were scripted!—the villain ultimately reveals that everyone’s suspicions were valid and that they were fooling the star the entire time. They’re usually two-faced liars who say one thing, but mean another, all in the pursuit of fame. (Hmm, sounds familiar…)

e6ae3c95f0af33832c3c54d9adb8c0Movie buffs may also note that Trump has this whole Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath vibe happening, too. [SPOILERS AHEAD!] He tries to uphold the ‘respectable man of high society’ façade in the company of his friends and colleagues, but deep down, he longs to silence those who may expose his misdeeds to the public. He’ll stop at nothing to make sure his shady dealings remain private.

But we, the people? Collectively, we’re Michelle Pfeiffer during the bathtub scene. Trump’s unexpected victory left us all immobile, much like the chemical that Ford used to temporarily paralyze Pfeiffer. None of us could speak, stunned silence spreading across the country. We were in shock, motionless, but we could still feel the terror bubbling inside. Like Pfeiffer’s character, however, we have emerged from our paralytic state and are ready to fight. We may stumble as we try to regain our footing, but we will stand together and persevere in an effort to protect the innocent and defend our rights.

Good always triumphs over evil in the end. Each bachelor or bachelorette finds love, even if only until the attention dies down, and Michelle Pfeiffer never fails to solve the mystery of her husband’s missing mistress. But we cannot expect the same fate if we neglect to acknowledge and oppose the elephant in the room. The media must take Trump to task with regard to his policies and his appointees. If he won’t condemn the racism and hatred that continues to spread in his name—and no, an arbitrary “stop it” will not suffice—then we, the people and the media, must do everything in our power to hold these groups accountable. Dozens of red flags signal an impending presidency marred by corruption and disarray.

If only more people would open their eyes to the truth… Maybe then they would’ve recognized the evil on their doorstep before inviting it inside.


(Images courtesy of PopSugar and Cinematic Corner)

The Bachelor: Just Because You Don’t ‘Win’ Doesn’t Mean You Lose

800x533Much like the average Oscars telecast, ‘losers’ will always outnumber the ‘winners’ throughout Bachelor Nation. (Heck, even the ‘winners’ don’t always win, if you know what I mean…) Yet, as we’ve seen in just the last two seasons alone, those ladies who fail to find love at the end of the road often discover it along the way instead.

Most women apply for The Bachelor with the hope of finding love in an unconventional situation. What they don’t tell you, however, is that the love of your life might not be the man with the final rose after all. One need only peruse Instagram or Twitter to recognize that many of these so-called “contestants” have found stronger bonds in the form of friendship. Everyone assumes there will be catfights, but the women have been defying the stereotype, instead demonstrating the power of solid female relationships that outweigh the allure of some man.

Side note: Don’t get me wrong! I have the utmost respect for Chris Soules, a.k.a. Prince Farming—who’s the polar opposite of last year’s mistake, Juan Pablo Galavis—as he’s proven himself to be nothing but sweet and sincere throughout this amazing (cha-ching!)** journey.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.42.31 PMMore than anything, you can see this love in the way they say goodbye. Despite the fact that they’re all vying for the affection of the same man, these ladies cannot bear to let go of those they’ve come to know better than Chris himself. Jade Roper went to tears when Carly Waddell was sent home, and Becca Tilley was clearly not content to merely grasp hands with Kaitlyn Bristowe as she exited the temple in Bali. Though each woman clearly wants her chance for romance, none can handle seeing their friends in pain—an obvious sign that these girls are far more special than critics might have us think.

We must value these women and look up to them for who they are, not who the promos portray them to be. We must not look to Becca’s virginity as some “deal-breaker” or character flaw. Instead, we must look upon her as a woman who’s managed to stand by her convictions and virtues in an atmosphere that leaves one open to harsh criticism and hate. We should admire her stance and respect her decision, as she should feel proud for remaining true to her roots. We must appreciate Kaitlyn’s refreshing mix of class, candid humor, and vulnerability, for I cannot think of one person who didn’t fall in love with her right alongside Chris. (PS—#kaitlynforbachelorette all the way!) We must chuckle at Carly’s witty personality and marvel at her willingness to address the elephant in the room, because women shouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is. We must support Jade’s honesty, for she should not be ashamed of her past, but rather confident in who she was and who she’s become.Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.43.24 PM

Without doubt, there will always be the requisite outliers—Kelsey and Ashley S. brought an extreme level of ‘cray cray’ drama and tension to an otherwise serious search for love. (Did you see how giddy the remaining girls were when the crew carted Kelsey’s suitcase away, though? I wanted to celebrate right along with them!) And, of course, there are those amazing (cha-ching!)** women whom we never truly got to know. But ultimately, the show’s renewed success comes down to how real these reality stars just happen to be. Believe it or not, I’m actually rather jealous of the friendships formed and the tenacity displayed. No one can deny that each woman was wholly and unabashedly herself, for better or worse.

Roses smell lovely, after all, but when the colors fade and the petals fall, what’s left? In this scenario, relationships that will last long after the cameras stop rolling, I’m sure.

**If I ever meet Jimmy Kimmel, remind me that I owe him $2.00.

(Images via ABC, Becca Tilley, and Carly Waddell.)

The Juan That Got Away

How the women of The Bachelor won both our hearts and minds


Let’s get something straight right away—The Bachelor’s premise, though entertaining, will remain ridiculous until the end of time. Perhaps it’s just me, but I find the concept rather archaic and animalistic. That being said, I’m addicted and it’s all Juan Pablo’s fault. No, it’s not because he’s handsome. (Though we must all admit that’s what attracted us to season 18 in the first place.) Oddly enough, the appeal has shifted from the once dreamy leading man to the strong and sassy women whom he’s “loved” and lost.

No matter which season draws you in—this was the first full season I’ve ever watched, for instance—ABC publicizes every iteration of the series by overemphasizing the catfights and bickering between the ladies of the house. (Oh, and the tears! How could I forget the tears?) We’ve come to expect nothing but weekly displays of the female gender at its worst. But, what ABC probably didn’t expect was that Desiree Hartstock may have let this Latin lover slip through her fingers for a reason.

Juan Pablo, though seemingly sensitive and sincere, has spent the entire season digging himself one hole after another. From potentially homophobic remarks to slut-shaming, he’s reached the point where even his looks can’t save him now. (He can parade around shirtless throughout the entire finale, and that STILL won’t get anyone to gush at this stage of the game.) Instead, diehard fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping their favorite doesn’t have to endure an incomprehensible proposal and inevitable heartbreak, for this season, it’s those who walk away without an engagement ring that are the true winners.


Though the show, in general, revolves around the (eventual) love between one man and one woman, we’ve seen much more powerful bonds form among the women who came and went from our TV screens far too soon. Instead of dwelling on dissention within the house, these ladies have developed strong friendships that extend well past the confines of the camera. ABC keeps touting this season as one unlike any other and, quite frankly, they’re right. We’ve seen an array of smart women who know what they want and aren’t willing to dumb themselves down just to win the love of some man they hardly know. We’ve seen multiple “hopefuls” speak their mind because—wait for it—women have minds!

Plus, we’ve even seen what healthy female relationships look like despite the dramatic garbage ABC constantly feeds the media in their attempt to continuously plague people’s perception of female friendships. (You mean we’re not always at each other’s throats, battling to the death in a mud pit? PUH-LEASE!) With that in mind, here are the real “winners” of season 18, for these ladies left with their dignity intact and friendships that may very well last a lifetime.

BhXy38qIMAAHfIZFIRST PLACE: Sharleen Joynt and Andi Dorfman (TIE)—Oh, how refreshing to hear women speak their minds and voice their opinions! While both were admittedly attracted to the man of the hour, Sharleen and Andi willingly left the show because they knew their respective relationships with Juan Pablo were simply not what they needed or wanted from their significant other. Though difficult, these ladies surely got many viewers thinking about their own relationships and goals in life. (Yes, an otherwise mind-numbing show made people think! Sound the alarms…) Both are great role models and deserve nothing but respect and praise.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.34.40 PM

SECOND PLACE: Renée Oteri—Just two weeks ago, I spent the entire episode wishing Juan Pablo would send Renée home because, from the beginning, I knew she deserved only the best. She spent most of the show acting as psychiatrist and confidant to every other woman in the house, and the fact that she’s a mother only made her more endearing because you need only hear her talk about her son, Ben, once to know she loves with all her heart. Thankfully, since the show wrapped, she’s found the love she’s been looking for (and he’s quite the looker, too). I couldn’t be happier for her as she begins this next phase with her new love and new life.

THIRD PLACE: Kelly Travis—The dog lover! Honestly, if she could just dub over every episode a la RiffTrax, I’d watch the entire season again in a heartbeat. Though Kelly did not get nearly enough screen time, her personality was infectious. Her “tell it like it is” attitude makes me wish we could be best friends in real life. To any and all television executives out there, we really need more Kelly (and Molly!) gracing our airwaves, so make it happen. It’s refreshing to find someone with an actual sense of humor who doesn’t just vapidly giggle at every dumb thing some man says. She’s totally #kellingit, obviously.

But, now that all the good ones are gone, who will Juan Pablo pick?

Who Juan Pablo will choose: Clare (without an ‘I’)—These two have had chemistry ever since she stepped out of the limo with that whacky baby bump stuffed up her dress. She’s a bit odd, and potentially unstable, but they get along quite “swimmingly” if you ask me. While I’d be wary of a future with the man who slut-shamed me on national television, Clare has visibly fallen head over heels in love with Juan Pablo and, for her sake, I can only hope he doesn’t hurt her again.

Who Juan Pablo should choose: No one—Juan Pablo seems self-centered and two-dimensional, or at least that’s what the cutting room would have us believe. He uses his daughter as an excuse every time he doesn’t want to take the blame or make a move, and one has to wonder if Camila will be a constant source of strain on his relationships. Perhaps we should get his baby mama’s take on all this? Regardless, I think all these women are much too good for him—even crazy Clare.

Images courtesy of Us Weekly, To Shell With ItAndi Dorfman and Renée Oteri

The Good Ones Are Always Taken

They say you can’t hurry love.  (No, you just have to wait.)  Diana Ross, The Dixie Chicks, even Phil Collins – they’ve all sung the same story.  You simply cannot rush what is meant to be.  No matter what decisions you make to expedite the process, fate will ultimately make the final call and love (if that’s what it is) will find a way.

But on Monday night, the world witnessed the kind of fate that can only be orchestrated by a TV production crew, a swanky setting and a ridiculous concept. On ABC’s The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka (32) proposed to finalist Vienna Girardi (23), leaving Tenley Molzahn (25) a heartbroken runner-up. In a matter of weeks, Jake, a commercial pilot and former Bachelorette reject, weeded through the 25 women vying for his affection, narrowing his choice down to the two women that seemed to capture his eye the most. Despite his “emotional connection” with Tenley, Jake “shockingly” opted for the comfortable “physical chemistry” he felt between him and his new fiancé.

Having only confessed to Tenley the day before about his past tendencies to avoid the emotional and mainly seek the physical, Jake proved he truly does always head down the same relationship path every time by picking the woman least likely to remain committed. (Vienna was previously married for a total of three weeks.) The Bachelor does not have a great track record for successful relationships, in fact. Of the 13 seasons prior, none of the bachelors have married the woman they proposed to during the final rose ceremony. And though Jake seems convinced that his feelings for Vienna qualify as love, we have yet to see if their physical attraction will endure and lead to a happy ending, or if their time together will amount to nothing more than a fling fallen by the wayside like every bachelor since the show’s premiere in 2002. (Note: If all these men are such “amazing” guys, and considered to be “great catches”, why must they broadcast their last-stitch effort of finding a significant other on national television?)

Such a show brings into question exactly how one can find true love when their every move is being watched by the resident camera crew. With 25 women chasing after one man, one has to wonder if this is actually a single guy’s honest attempt to find the wife and soul mate he’s been searching for all his life, or simply one man living out his dream of having a harem. By the time the show reaches its final episodes, some scenes border on the pornographic; the ladies of the house need not worry about the resident bachelor ever kissing and telling, for we have already seen it all. But while he is testing the physical waters with everyone in the house, those women not solely in it for fame and fortune begin to actually fall for the man up for grabs, putting the saying “leading them on” in a whole new league of its own.

How, after watching the man you are falling for kiss and become intimate with a flock of other women, can you really feel special if you are the one he chooses? In the case of Tenley and Vienna, Jake was immensely conflicted up until hours before his proposal. True love is something you know and feel deep within, not a decision you make to appease a network’s allotted season. One may be able to find a potential life partner during these short weeks, but to end the season with a proposal is pushing the envelope. Love at first sight may be the culprit and exception to the rule, but with Jake’s tear-filled goodbye to Tenley, we know that is certainly not the case here.

Love is supposed to be a strong bond between two people, something not clouded by desire for another. If love is true, every member of the opposite gender will cease to exist in your eyes, leaving you to see only each other. Perhaps such love no longer exists in a world obsessed with speed dating and matchmaking sites; perhaps this assumption is simply a fairytale that now only exists in the movies. But such ‘happily ever after’ fantasies will never be found through a fast-paced, money-hungry reality television series, whether one relationship succeeds or not. But maybe – just maybe – if we slow down to peruse our bookshelves and take a few cues from our childhood storybooks, we will find the key to putting a little magic back into that little thing called love.