Can love be real on reality TV?
By Taylor Patton
There are reality TV shows on almost every channel. We have climbed mountains with Survivor and partied with the cast of Jersey Shore. Now, lucky for us, we can be active participants in the quest for love through reality TV shows. But how real is the reality of these shows? If this is the reality of love, then my dating strategy has apparently been all wrong.
For starters, I had always assumed the best way to becoming stronger and more intimate in one’s relationship was being exclusive. This is simply inconceivable on a reality TV show. Take ABC’s The Bachelor for instance. One lucky man gets to “date” 25 women over the course of the show and in the end, the object is to end up with one woman who will inevitably become his wife.
One of the reasons we as an audience are so attracted to these types of shows is because of all the drama wrapped up in it. Dating more than one woman obviously goes hand in hand with jealousy, anger, cat fights, betrayal, deceit, and ultimately playing a love game.
The other attraction is the sheer glamor of dating the bachelor. Even though celebrity style dates, serene locations and hot men may be all its cracked up to be, it isn’t the best place to embark on the quest to find your mate.
Dating more than one woman makes the key element in a relationship extremely difficult to establish:Trust. The women are encouraged to share intimate, personal details of their past relationships along with their hopes and fears simultaneously with more than a dozen other women. For most of the men I know, the emotional baggage of one woman is more than enough. I can’t even imagine what it would be like having dozens of women’s hearts in one man’s hands.
There is a time limit on how much time the female contestants get to divulge their personal lives to the object of their affection. Often times, you see a woman getting sent home because she wasn’t “open enough” or “kept to herself”. I empathize with these women because I can see where they are coming from. Getting to know someone takes more than 20 minutes to an hour each day, it takes a lifetime. Why else do you think a popular wedding vows is “ I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life getting to know you”.
Not only that, but as you are telling the potential love of your life that five years ago your fiance died in a plane crash a week before you found out you were pregnant with yours and his first daughter( The Bachelor- Season 15 contestant Emily Maynard’s story) , there is an entire film crew in front of you listening as well, not to mention all of America.
The road to love is paved with romantic dates, inside jokes and grand gestures but there are also disagreements and hardships. Truly getting to know someone involves accepting their faults and having the reassurance that its okay to speak your mind and maybe even fight if necessary. Often times, you see contestants sent home because they strongly disagreed with the bachelor or bachelorette or a fight broke out. After that, a red flag against her automatically flew up and she was packing her bags faster then you can wave goodbye.
Chantal O’Brien, a contestant on this season of The Bachelor, actually slapped bachelor Brad Womack upon seeing he was who she would be dating for the next couple months. After the ABC premier, Womack told TMZ, "I think Chantal was just trying to make a statement about my past behavior and make a strong first impression, which she did." As for now, Chantal is still in the race for love, even though she was the last one to receive a rose on the first elimination round. All of America could see the apprehension and regret on her face: “should I have slapped him or not?”
The most intriguing aspect to falling in love on a reality TV show is the absence of “the chase”. You know, the guy trying to win the unattainable heart of the girl of his dreams.
The only thing that might be better then entangling yourself in a love game for one women’s heart is having 25 women already convinced you are the man of her dreams and if given the chance, she could be your future wife. It’s hard to argue that for some, this is the idyllic situation. The cold hard reality of that notion is determining which girls are on the show to find a mate, or just their 15 minutes of fame. This can open an entirely new set of problems.
The scenarios that take place on these types of reality TV shows are enthralling, but they don’t happen to everyone. If they did, there wouldn’t be a reason to watch them in the first place. The reality is, upon first glance, 25 women won’t automatically start picturing a wedding with a man they just met, unless the man was Brad Pitt of course. The reality is, disagreements and fights will break out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its time to call it quits. The reality is, there is a lot more to a person then what they are forced to open up about because a camera crew is filming them.
Although her sense of style is less then tasteful and her videos can be unrefined, maybe Lady Gaga finally got one thing right: “The story of us, it always starts the same, with a boy and a girl and a huh and a game...a love game.”