TV Review: ABC Brings Back More Dating Drama with ‘The Bachelor’

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CHICAGOABC’s “The Bachelor” is a fascinating reality show in the way that the producers barely change up the formula from year to year and yet audiences continue to tune in with shocking regularity. Some call it a guilty pleasure. Some call it escapism. So reviewing it is tough. What is there to say about this year’s “Bachelor” that couldn’t be said about last year’s or the year before the year before that? It comes down to casting and writing/editing. The actual bachelor this year, Sean Lowe, seems like a nice enough guy that he’ll probably draw fans and the producers have a nice variety of bachelorettes trying to win his heart but the formula is starting to get a little tired, especially in some of the show’s more “wacky” personalities. Television Rating: 2.5/5.0
Television Rating: 2.5/5.0

On the last “Bachelorette,” Emily Maynard proclaimed that Sean Lowe was the “perfect man” and then sent him home in third place. At least according to ABC, American women every shared in Sean’s heartbreak and demanded that he be made “The Bachelor.” Sean seems like an old-fashioned Texas boy, the kind of guy who wants a big house, big family, and big love. He’s easy to root for. He was a smart choice for this year’s bachelor.

But Sean is only half the show (and maybe not even that much). A “good” season of “The Bachelor” is heavily dependent on the women that the producers push in front of our dear love-lorn hero. And this year’s crew is all over the map. There seem to be a few genuine personalities (there are always a couple) but, even more than most years, there are also a few people who feel about as real as the cast of “The Hills.” Who is there for love? Who is there for fame? Who is just there because it’s a good acting gig?

The Bachelor
The Bachelor
Photo credit: ABC

Some of you may be saying, “Acting?!?! Writing?!?!?! It’s a reality show!” My dear naive TV viewer, I do believe that shows like “The Bachelor” occasionally find a bit of true romance but, especially in the season premiere, there’s a clear sense that a few women have been given personalities to play up for the cameras and possibly even scripts to read during their interviews. What would happen if the 26 women set up with Sean were dull? They need to give them story arcs.

And so there’s the girl who is WAY into “50 Shades of Grey,” to the point that she brings a tie to do something kinky with Sean and shows it to him in her introduction. There’s the girl who claims to be so in love with Sean that she breaks into a giggle fit when she finds out he’s the bachelor. There’s the one who sings to him. The one who kisses him. The one who sings. There’s the girl who has been on the show before and returns for a second shot at love. There’s the girl who gets a rose before she even gets in the house. And there’s even a girl, who seems very sweet by the way, who was born with only one full arm. These are not the average women that you would find on a Friday night speed-dating session at Goose Island. They are “made for TV.” And some of them feel a bit too “made” this year. I wish the show would focus more on the genuine, realistic contestants and less on the girls who are so clearly trying to get drunk, get silly, and get on “The Soup.”

Maybe they will. ABC is a bit stingy with “The Bachelor,” not even allowing critics to see the final rose ceremony for fear of spoilers, and so I can’t say for sure where the show will go this season. Although if you’ve seen it before, you probably have a good idea.

“The Bachelor” returns to ABC on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 7pm CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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