Home > #3, Media grammar > Blog #3–Marisa Pooley

Blog #3–Marisa Pooley

The reality show, The Bachelor, airs on Monday nights on ABC channel. The Bachelor aims to find one man his soul mate, by beginning the season with twenty-five beautiful women. Each week, the man has extravagant dates with the women to help make his choice as he narrows it down to one. The popular premiered in 2002, and has recently begun its fifteenth season. This season’s inevitable twist, however, was that season eleven’s bachelor, Brad Womack, returned for a second shot at love. This show is very entertaining, however it becomes laughable when viewed through the lens of media grammar. It is obvious that there are a few subtexts in the “reality” show, making it not so realistic.

One subtext is that The Bachelor reinforces the idea of “love at first site.” The bachelor has only six weeks to select his potential wife from a wide-range of women. Six weeks to choose the person he will, ideally, spend the rest of his time with? It seems like more of a science experiment than a realistic expectation from a show.. If that does not complicate things enough, each date is so extravagant, making viewers question, “How would you not fall in love?” Sky-diving in Aruba, shopping at Tiffany’s, and private concerts by Natasha Bettingfield are just a few of the incredible dates the show provides. It’s no wonder then, that only two of the fifteen bachelors have actually married their final choice. The dates are so far from real life, that they give the couple false expectations.

The love at first sight theme is not meant for only the contestants, it is also meant for the whimpering audience. The not-so-subtle subtext is that the target audience of The Bachelor is women. The fantasy dates implant unrealistic prototypes into women’s minds. It is not realistic to expect that your boyfriend will take you to a spa in Santa Fe or will propose amidst rose pedals and palm trees. Yet, just like little girls fantasize about their wedding day, The Bachelor provides new fantasies for women as they get older. Cheesy music performs the job of a sitcom’s laugh track. It signifies to the audience that it is a tender, poignant moment. There are usually articles about The Bachelor featured in magazines. This reinforces the fact that the target audience is women.

A third, more controversial, subtext of The Bachelor, is that it discourages interracial relationships. In fifteen seasons, there has never been a black or Hispanic bachelor, and only a handful of black contestants. One reason for this is that the audience of The Bachelor is predominantly white. In order to satisfy the vast majority of viewers, executives cannot have a black bachelor. Many of the viewers would not be happy with an interracial Bachelor couple. It seems then, that producers of the show select mostly white “Cast members” and discourage the bachelor from selecting a woman who belongs to a different race.

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  1. tessdoez
    January 15, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Good analysis of subtext! The cultural taboo of interracial dating and the unrealistic expectations for love and marriage that the show reinforces and promotes are spot on. Im a little confused as to why the audience is whimpering, but you clearly understand the concepts.

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