I love The Bachelor. I watch it as if I'm earning my master's degree on the subject. I am a proud member of a Bachelor fantasy league. My team name is, "Love is Blonde." This season I finished in 11th place. Apart from my children and husband and stuff, The Bachelor brings me the most happiness in my life. As a faithful follower of this franchise, I take a lot of heat from Bachelor haters. These Cynical Cynthias wonder how I can be so invested in a show that allows one man to search for his soul mate by dating many women simultaneously. They hurl such disgusting accusations as: "It's all fake!" or "You can't find love in six weeks!" or "They're all actors!" or most painfully, "Chris Harrison does not want to be friends with you!" To that I say, "I get it." I started out watching this show ironically. Every year I would catch the season finale just to laugh at the spectacle. But in a typical romantic fashion, we (The Bachelor and I) connected on a deeper level. I let down my walls and have found something really special. I will defend my favorite show until the end of time. Or until it is cancelled, which I'm hoping doesn't happen in this century.
If the show is "fake," I'm completely okay with it. The catfights, the broken hearts, the backstabbing, the busthrowingundering; all possibly staged elements that build to a perfect Bachelor season, are no faker than ideas presented on critically acclaimed scripted television like The Walking Dead or Sex and the City. Could zombies really threaten the human population? Could a sex columnist really afford a truckload of designer shoes? Who cares if the editors have fun with stretching out a tense moment or decide to only show the terrible moments of a certain character? We need the drama. We need the villains. The idea that this show is 100 percent real is not what makes it so entertaining.
For those who doubt the possibility of finding love in such a short span of time, I understand where you're coming from. In most cases, it takes longer than six weeks to find everlasting love. But try telling that to married Bachelor franchise couples: Ashley and JP, Trista and Ryan or even the controversial pairing of Jason and Molly. The Bachelor is in its 17th season (not to mention countless seasons of sister series, The Bachelorette, and slutty cousin series, Bachelor Pad.) We have watched the show long enough to know that most relationships formed on the show fail. The 20-odd on camera proposals have resulted in three marriages (the ones listed above). There is less than a 15 percent chance that you will marry the person you pick at the end of the show! And yet, we fans are still invested. I believe it's because this show, like life, is about the journey not the destination. We, audience members, care more about the chase. We want to see multiple relationships bloom at the same time. We have adult onset ADD. We can't be following up with these couples for the rest of our lives! We just want to live in the now!
The characters on The Bachelor are so wonderful. If they are actors, I salute them. They are very good actors and I would like to nominate them all for an Emmy. (I'm looking at you, Tierra). Call me naive, but I enjoy believing that these are real people. Real people who have left their lives behind to search for true love. On television. They've packed their best outfits, jewelry and unnecessary scarves, in the hopes of attracting the love of their life. When it doesn't work out, they are truly heartbroken. It's that real life drama that keeps me coming back for more. When the rejected return to the recap special with a fresh spray-tan and a slightly different hair color. I applaud them. I've been lucky enough to meet a few of these cast members in real life, and I can't say that I was able to keep my composure.
Speaking of cast run-ins, I honestly believe that if "host with the most" Chris Harrison and I met, he would be down for friendship with me. We obviously wouldn't be hardcore bros, but we'd probably exchange emails and send "Look at this funny thing I saw online" type messages. Maybe we'd invite each other to a Christmas party. Maybe we'd work our way up to him allowing me to set him up on dates. These are all possibilities, but I'm definitely not gonna force anything!
On this week's stunning season finale of The Bachelor, "beefy" Sean Lowe got down on one knee and proposed to the woman of his dreams, Seattle based vegan, Catherine. In a poetic final image, the newly engaged couple mounted an elephant and rode off into a perfect Thailand sunset, ready to live the perfect life that will surely be theirs. Upon seeing this magic moment, I found myself softly weeping and breaking out into an emotional sweat. Because, even though I know that Sean and Catherine's relationship is most likely doomed, this has been an incredible journey and I feel so very much a part of it. So next season, I invite you to let down your walls and join me as a devoted fan. The journey of a thousand Bachelor episodes begins with a single viewing.
If you are still hesitant, I invite you to check out Burning Love on E!, a loving parody of The Bachelor. Apparently Jennifer Aniston makes a cameo, and it's produced by Ben Stiller so it's probably worth checking out! Also I wrote it. Good luck with whatever romantic journeys await you on television!
Follow Erica Oyama on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ericaoyama