The good news about ABC’s “The Bachelor” is that it’s not “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.” The bad news is that the differences between the shows are so subtle; it’s hard to tell them apart.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of ABC
Which one of these lovely prostitutes will be the winner of her own tool?

In FOX’s now infamous “Multi-Millionaire,” one “lucky” woman got to marry the titular man after a series of questions and contests that alternated between humiliating and dull. “The Bachelor” follows a similar pattern, but it does allow the women to reject the bachelor if they don’t hit it off. This is, unfortunately, the only bone the producers throw to the women, who are otherwise left to be narrowed down seemingly by chance.

The randomly choosen women from across the country gathered to meet the bachelor. His name is Alex. He’s a 31-year-old management consultant. He was student body president, homecoming king and valedictorian in high school. He graduated from Harvard, got his MBA from Stanford. He’s six feet tall and handsome. He likes the outdoors, and, most importantly, cites “The Simpsons” as his favorite TV show. He seems like a nice guy, and occasionally reveals a soft side on the show. He worries that he might make the wrong choice and eliminate a girl before he’s gotten a chance to really know her. Yet Alex sounds creepy when it comes time to choose. He describes his search for “the perfect package” of beauty, brains, and wit. It’s hard to fault him (or his successful parents) for wanting a nice girl, but the business lingo he uses when describing his hunt and the countless previews of him making out with just about every girl he dates really makes one wonder how noble this guy really is. Granted, he may not have the violent streak or criminal record of Rick Rockwell, but is he really that much better a person? What makes him think he won’t end up with another Darva Conger?

In last week’s premiere episode, we had the unfortunate job of meeting awful host Chris Harrison (“Bounce,” “Showtime”); a man who makes the viewers long for Jeff Probst or even Paul Reubens. A former sportscaster and newscaster, Harrison tries to position himself as a confidante to Alex. Except that most of Alex’s exploits will be shown on TV, so there’s not much to keep secret.

The 25 women were whittled down to 15 by means of the all important first impressions. The 15 received a rose in one of the typical lame ideas the show has (“Girl X, will you accept my rose?”). The 10 rejected girls looked pissed, which was the only entertaining part of the episode, unless you include the girls explaining why they are the perfect gal and every other lady is a man-eating hooch. None of the girls seemed to stand out physically or personality-wise. They ranged from about 20-30 years of age, and careers included teacher, graduate student, lawyer, and power tool distributor (going for diversity, evidently).

By tonight, the 15 girls will be eight. In the sixth and final episode, Alex will make his choice, and the girl will have the choice of humiliating him in front of a national TV audience (oh please God, let this happen) or accepting his proposal.

If there’s a reason to keep watching, it’s unclear. It may be less revolting and offensive than “Temptation Island” or “Multi-Millionaire,” but this hardly makes it watchable. The bland women you can only feel sorry for, as they obviously have very little self-esteem. Even in their cattier moments, they fail to register any excitement. As the girls move into a little “bachelorette pad,” they are sure to realize just what kind of lousy deal they’ve entered into. Hopefully, ABC will too.

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