Am I going to weigh in on The Bachelor NZ? That would be admitting that I actually watch it, right? Shows like this and my all time favourite, ‘Married at First Sight’ are my one guilty and now not-so-secret pleasure.
It’s embarrassing but I promise you that I have a brain. I’m capable of having conversations with neuroscientists and producing stories about social issues, but when I switch my brain off I want an escape. One that’s sure to be truly entertaining where I can sit back and laugh my freaking arse off.
I like the notion that it’s totally set up. There’s always a bitchy girl and the ones you actually wouldn’t mind having as your BFF. Surely that’s the criteria that has to be filled when the casting call rolls out. I mean, what would the show be without the girls who like to create a bit of drama? Absolutely boring!
And there’s nothing like the hideous rose ceremony with the girls lined up pulling sour faces, or looking so smug you’d think that they were at their first high school ball and have just been asked to dance by the head of the rugby team. This scenario isn’t so far flung from the truth.
I used to watch the American version and every time the season was coming to an end I’d find myself in tears. Simply because I’m big old sucker for romance — even if it’s staged to the hilt. I know the whole thing is a farce and that the couples are on a completely unrealistic journey filled with the kinds of lavish dates that they’d never have in real life. From the helicopter rides flying over exotic island terrain to picnics on desert locations…
Even when looking at last week’s NZ episode where Viarni — who is potentially going to be the star of the current series — gets to go on a shopping trip with Zac, who reminds me of an overgrown elf (have you seen his ears?). I mean, never in my five years of marriage has my husband EVER let me loose in a store and said, “Hey! I’m going to buy you a whole bunch of clothes and later you’ll also be treated to jewellery.” That scenario would also never happen on a first or second date, unless the guy was:
a). A sugar daddy
b). Totally psychotic
c). Secretly filming and using the opportunity for product placement.
The latter is absolutely what’s happening on this show, by the way.
Yes, watching Kiwis take themselves seriously on reality shows like this is cringe-worthy, but it’s absolutely why we watch it in the first place. I get giddy with excitement when I see there’s a new series about to start. (Shhh, don’t hate me!). Because there’s nothing like Kiwis on a ridiculous American franchise humiliating themselves on our screens three nights a week. Oh, so good!
But personally, I think this show sits much more easily within the domain of American culture. It’s part and parcel of their national persona. Theirs is a world steeped in superficiality and the great ‘American Dream’ that plays out before our eyes. Give them a film crew or camera and it’s a chance for people to fulfill an aspect of that dream for however long their 30-seconds of fame lasts, until the season ends and soap and handbag brands cash in on their girl or boy next door personas that shot them to reality TV fame in the first place.
The biggest change to this Kiwi season of The Bachelor is a decent host. Dominic Bowden is a pro and far less stilted and wooden than his former counterpart, Mike Puru, whose performances were so scripted that I wanted to stab myself in the eyeballs with a fork — maybe two (and I’d even give you a third to take me out of my misery) — every time he appeared.
But what this generation of twenty-something Kiwi girls have also discovered about the pull of being on The Bachelor, is that it can send their instagram numbers soaring. They have the potential to become digital influencers and work with local brands, and dare I say it, even sit front row at the occasional NZ Fashion Week show. It’s true!
I spotted one of last seasons contestants on instagram the other day with staged pictures of her personal style where she’s working with…The Warehouse. Good for her. I guess everyone has #goals and I’m not judging her. But her hoard of twelve-year-old fans will want to be her one day, which is a little bit sad.
But while this season’s Bachelor looks to be a genuinely nice guy, he lacks charisma. Big time. Could he be the most boring Bachelor we’ll ever see on our screens? Possibly.
Sure, a bunch of girls all vying for the same guy is still going to ramp up the tension whether they’re attracted to him, or not. It’s the situation that creates the drama. If they put Kermit the Frog or the Elephant Man in his place it might be the same deal. Girls are competitive and this brings out their ‘need-to-get-what-they-want’ attitude. It’s the equivalent of survivor but in the dating world. Zac Franich is essentially the one man left on earth and he has to procreate with someone. Who is going to be the lucky or unlucky girl? You can imagine big-wig American producers pitching the brief just like this!
Back to Zac. Someone should have advised him to wax his chest before asking him to emerge topless from the ocean in the first episode. I might have even vomited in my mouth a little. It was awkward and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I may have done both! If you saw it, you’ll know what I mean. Come on guys, this isn’t Ex On The Beach! I think I’d die and go to reality TV heaven (just quietly) if that show ever came to NZ. It’s so bad that it’s…okay, no it’s bad. But don’t judge me for it. It appeals to my terrible sense of humour…
On a side note, I happened to be seated next to Stephanie (above) at NZFW a couple of years ago. When I met her she had just come off another reality TV show that took Kiwis to places like India to ‘trade places’ with people living and working in the garment industry and other harsh environments. On the show she had been tainted as the bitchy rich girl, but she told me she knew full-well that she was essentially playing a ‘role’. What’s even more interesting is that it didn’t even bother her.
It makes you think about what’s really happening behind the scenes of a show like The Bachelor, doesn’t it?