The experience of devoting nearly two hours of one’s life to watching an episode of “The Bachelor” is not only transformatory, it is blissfully sinful. On both sides of the screen, people are being as unabashedly awful as they please. Some background of the show for those who aren’t familiar: “The Bachelor” is a reality TV show where a cohort of 20+ women is winnowed down to “the one” by the bachelor himself, a single man “dating” all of these women at once. He chooses who continues on the show by giving the contestants a rose — if you don’t receive a rose, you go home. It’s a patently ridiculous concept that gamifies love and dating in a way that would be awful if we, as a collective fanbase, didn’t all agree that it was a complete charade. Almost none of the couples from “The Bachelor” or its spinoffs, “The Bachelorette” or “Bachelor in Paradise,” end up still together a few months after the show has ended. And yet every single contestant walks into the competition the first night claiming earnestly that this man, who is dating 20 other women, is truly the love of their life and their future husband. I don’t mean to belittle these women — among them this season are an attorney, a marketing executive, a foster parent recruiter and a nursing student — but the entire premise of the show essentially destines any relationship for failure.
Let me start by saying that I love “The Bachelor” in a way that should probably be a little bit more ironic than it actually is. As a snobby middle schooler, I believed myself above the other girls in my grade who gushed about the bachelor and regaled the drama from last Monday night’s episode. This was my first excursion into this sinful experience, because while I thought I was better than the people who were amused by such petty drama, I was actually exhibiting the first deadly sin: pride. The truth is, no one is above watching “The Bachelor.” You may think you’re better than the men and women who go on the show, but the truth is, you’re letting your pride hold you back from an experience that will liberate you from the stressful drama of actual daily life and release you into a world where the only thing you have to worry about is whether Hannah Ann intentionally stole Kelsey’s champagne. We all deserve a break from the real world sometimes, and “The Bachelor” is the perfect way to indulge in our sins. First of all, watching someone else act in a blatantly awful way when it has no actual consequences is genuinely incredible. I relish the moment that one of the women gets up from the couch and walks over to Peter to say “Can I borrow you for a minute?” because I know for a fact that it will cause drama that will have absolutely no effect on me or the world whatsoever.
The women on this show consistently commit sins that are nearly textbook in their definitions. Greed: wanting Peter all to themselves. Envy: watching other girls date the same man they are dating. Wrath: (allegedly) stealing another girl’s champagne to drink with Peter. Pride: to quote one contestant, Kelley, “The other girls are children… Just look at me. I’m an attorney.” Lust: this one goes without saying. The key to “The Bachelor’s” success, however, is not just the sins on the screen. It is the fact that the show implicates its viewers in those sins. Watching an episode from a place of complete moral high ground would be not only boring, it would be painful. Luckily for us, it is impossible to watch it from a moral high ground. By watching the show, the viewer is absolutely implicated in the sin that they are watching. This is the beauty of reality television: we must accept, or at least play along with, the insane rules that govern the show. That acceptance instantly enmeshes us in the same moral fabric of the bachelor and the women on the show. Not only are we committing gluttony, by eating potato chips and Twizzlers, and sloth, by sitting in one spot and doing nothing productive for two hours, but we are susceptible to every sin committed on screen. But ultimately, there are worse ways to sin. Why should we feel bad for completely indulging in our baser natures for two hours a week on Mondays? Let yourself get completely enveloped in the unreal reality of “The Bachelor.” Care deeply, for two hours, about things that do not matter. Come out on the other side, laughing at yourself for getting so invested, knowing you’ll do it again next week.