ABC, you're better than 'The Bachelor'
FARGO — How can ABC do this to us?
The holidays are over. We're back to work and probably 10 pounds heavier from snarfing down dozens of Christmas cookies, liters of gravy and — in my case — sticky toffee pudding that is now stuck to my thighs.
The days are short, the nights are long. All in all, not my favorite time of year.
Then ABC starts piling it on: "The Bachelor" is back, debuting on Jan. 2.
Don't get me wrong ABC, I love you. I really do. I loved you back in the 1970s when you gave me "The Partridge Family" (I think I love them) and "The Brady Bunch" (I can't eat pork chops and applesauce without thinking of them). I wanted to be a Charlie's angel and had a crush on Starsky (or was it Hutch?).
I loved you in the '80s when I sailed with you on "The Love Boat" and escaped to "Fantasy Island". The '90s were wonder years with you. And into the 2000s, I danced with the stars and loved your modern family.
Even today, I'm loving the new ABC shows "American Housewife," "Speechless" and "Designated Survivor."
But for the love of Aaron Spelling (he was kind of a god to you, right?), can you please dump "The Bachelor"?
I'm well aware that much of reality television is fake, but that's not what bothers me so much about "The Bachelor". It's that it portrays a messed-up view of love and marriage that is both ridiculous and demeaning.
A couple dozen seemingly desperate women throwing themselves at one man while he makes the sole decision on whether they make the cut or not. He has all of the power while the women are cast into the tired narrative that their desire to snag a man automatically pits her against every other woman on the planet. Haven't we come farther than that?
For a show that holds up monogamy as the final coveted prize, it's just a little bit trashy. The idea that the bachelor (or the bachelorette) could "date" (and by date, I mean make out) with three or four contestants at a time and claim to love all of them is just kind of gross.
And let's talk about expectations.
The concept that one guy or girl can find the love of his or her life among 25 contestants over the course of a couple of months — while the cameras roll — is pretty absurd. Yet, it's the expectation every season. The overwhelming majority of "Bachelor" couples who gush over finding the love of their life on Jimmy Kimmel after the finale usually break up a few months later.
I don't find fault with the people who go on this show. Heck, why not take on an adventure that could bring fame, world travel and money?
But it gets a little nauseating when they act shocked that they don't get to ride off into the sunset with their bachelor or — if they do get the final rose — the engagement ends a few months later accompanied by magazine headlines that read, "Why did so-and-so girl and 'Bachelor' guy break up? Their shocking story." Not so shocking really.
Truth be told: the cameras left and reality set in that they didn't know who the other person really was.
Certainly love can happen in an instant, but in front of a nationally televised audience? I'm skeptical.
Love more often happens when you find someone with common interests and values. It's someone who might drive you crazy for not changing the toilet paper roll or leaving a knife full of peanut butter in the sink, but whom you still choose to spend your days with — through the good times and the bad.
Occasionally, you might even get to jet off to tropical locations like "The Bachelor" cast does, but more often your lives are lead in carpools and quick trips to your in-laws' house for the Fourth of July.
That's love to me. And it's not demeaning or ridiculous. I understand it also may not be entertaining.
So ABC, I realize that doesn't help you. I want you to dump "The Bachelor," but I offer you no alternative programming.
Then again, maybe the world needs to see a real love story — one where a husband and wife of 20 years sits on the couch in sweatpants, eating brownie sundaes and watching Thursday Night Football.
Okay, maybe that's not exactly riveting. Perhaps Starsky and Hutch would be up for a reunion.