Given that I write about divorce for a living, I shouldn't be surprised when yet another celebrity couple calls it quits.
And I'm not usually. Before Thursday, only two couples' splits have fazed me -- Tipper and Al, and Heidi and Seal. But after hearing that "Bachelor" host Chris Harrison is splitting from his wife of 18 years, my duo of disappointing divorces has become a trio.
Let me start by saying that, against all reason, I love watching "The Bachelor" and its counterpart, "The Bachelorette." Not only do the shows give me great exotic vacation ideas (my boyfriend and I plan to travel to Belize in November after watching Ben's season), they also make me feel better about myself.
Most of the ladies of "The Bachelor" seem perfectly nice -- in fact, one recent "winner" used to frequent my gym -- but I would never want to be one of them.
First, there's the statistical improbably of "winning" the bachelor over 24 other women. "The Bachelor" formula has worked just once: Trista and Ryan are the only couple to get engaged on the show's finale and make it to the altar. The other successful match, Jason and Molly, doesn't technically count because he proposed to another woman on the last episode. (Luckily, the many contestants who leave the show ring-less -- and "brokenhearted," as the show's voiceover reminds us -- can extend their 15 minutes of fame by humiliating themselves on "Bachelor Pad.")
By now, most women know that, should you attempt to win the Bachelor's heart, you will likely find yourself in the back of a town car, rivers of mascara careening down your cheeks as you sob over how much you loved some guy you just met. Another deterrent, of course, is having to live with 24 other girls who secretly hate you because you'd all like to avoid said town car scene. And don't forget that, no matter how "normal" you are in real life, the steady stream of champagne you'll be imbibing during your tenure on the show will ensure that you make bad decisions for bloggers to mock the next day.
There is no sane reason to go on the show. As blogger Zack Jerome puts it, "The Bachelor" is a lot like "The Hunger Games:" only one woman makes it out alive. And, typically, she doesn't even end up holding onto her "prize" for long.
Amid the crazy, however, there is Chris Harrison.
He's the show's host, yes, but he's also the contestants' counselor, sounding board and guide throughout the process. Sure, mostly he just hangs around and states the obvious -- when the cocktail hour is over, when there is only one final rose left. But he is the show's designated driver -- the one who steers the contestants through their string of elaborate dates, rose ceremonies, and "situations" constructed by the show's producers.
Most importantly, he's calm and collected while everyone else's hearts get broken (and their bellies fill with booze). He's the guy we can trust to make sure everything will all be okay -- even when a booted contestant returns, when a woman wants to leave the show, or when "Bachelorette" Ashley still wouldn't shut up about how much she missed Bentley.
Harrison served as the resident the voice of reason because -- even if the contestants on a particular season never made it down the aisle -- at least he had. He gave the show credibility because he knew what it took to get married and stay that way. Can I ever trust him the way I used to?
I always imagined that, as he watched the various scenes unfold during filming, he'd be laughing to himself, feeling lucky that he can go home to his wife at the end of the night.
Maybe this is because, when I watch the show, I'm reminded how grateful I am to not have to be "out there" anymore. And I make sure to tell my live-in boyfriend this many times during each episode, since he has bravely chosen to watch the show with me, rather than banish himself to the office.
Likewise, I imagine Chris Harrison curling up with his wife, watching the shenanigans unfold week after week and sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the season's filming: what so-and-so said right before the edit, who puked in the boxwood planter right after the rose ceremony.
I liked to think that show brought them together, reminded them why they were married. Because, after being surrounded with catty, desperate women for three months, what guy wouldn't appreciate his wife more?
On the other hand, maybe Harrison's divorce makes him better equipped to counsel "Bachelor" contestants. After all, the couples that the show produces typically end up needing a post-split shoulder to cry on -- not marriage advice.
See Harrison's most dashing moments, below:
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