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The worst shows on TV?

May 28, 2018

Last November I started a series on women in church leadership which was necessarily postponed due to life circumstances. The next post in that series should appear soon, however.

This is just a brief comment, without in-depth analysis, on what I think are the worst, or among the worst, TV shows being aired: The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (I thought I had posted a comment on this before, but a search doesn’t bring one up; sorry if I’m repeating myself).

There’s a report on Good Morning America this morning about some woman named Becca who was dumped by a man at the last minute on The Bachelor in favor of some other woman. Isn’t that a clue about how (morally) awful a show that is? Eeny, meeny, mine, mo. I’ll take her. No, I’ll take her. Hurt and embarrass someone, and on national TV? Who cares?

What I’d like to know is why Becca was on the show in the first place. Why does anyone appear on the show? Are they emotional masochists? The artificiality of the program is astonishing. A very important relationship is trivialized and turned into entertainment fit for prime time. Divide one’s time between several people within certain time constraints and pick one’s forever partner, with a huge audience watching and expecting something really juicy to be happy about or be enraged over? It’s all about the emotional experience, isn’t it? And on both sides. On the candidates’ side there’s the experience of the glamour of being on national TV, the anticipation of possibly being chosen over others (like being picked by the coolest guy to be on his sandlot baseball team), and then the experience of being accepted or rejected with the tears whichever way it goes followed by all the hugs and condolences. Don’t the candidates know that the odds are stacked against them, being just one out of how many, twelve or so? And on the viewers’ side, there’s vicariously enjoying the glamour and then the anticipation of watching one’s favorite be accepted or rejected. And then these people who “everyone’s talking about” are forgotten, unless they re-appear on the sibling show (like Becca) or are covered in a tabloid magazine.

Frankly, despite all the swooning on GMA, I think viewers don’t give a damn about the people on the show, even though they pretend to. It’s like the final scene in The Truman Show: Yay, he’s free! What else is on? (The Truman Show is still one of the best films on the [postmodern] state of American society.) What viewers care about is their own entertainment and emotional experience.

Simply because of how people are treated, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, in my opinion, are right at or near the top of the most wretched shows on TV (not far behind them is that show What Would You Do?). I don’t know that it’s deliberate. I doubt producers decided they really needed to create shows where they could treat people like commodities and dehumanize them before a big viewing audience. Maybe it’s all just a reflection of the way people already view all such intimate relationships. It’s almost entirely emotions and a sense of one’s own self-fulfillment. I thought you could fulfill my needs, but you can’t. So, bye. Tough luck, Becca. But you have the opportunity to do the same thing to someone else on The Bachelorette, right?

Recognizing this emaciated understanding of a loving relationship should be a good reminder to Christians of what the love of God is really like (and it’s a very attractive thing) and of what romantic and marital love between two people can and should be; namely, primarily a commitment to the well-being of the other person. And it’s a reminder that we have something that people really do want that we can model. This isn’t a point of pride on our part. We love because He first loved us. Just imagine the difference. On the one hand, two people looking first of all after their own needs with some benefit accruing to the other. On the other, two people looking first of all after the other person’s needs, with some benefit accruing to themselves. A covenant of commitment. Christians need to model this, not only for their own good but for the benefit of a society with such a shrunken view.

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