This is one of my favorite posts that I did a long time ago on a blog far, far away. It has nothing to do with economics. It is just social commentary. I hope all 3 of you reading enjoy it.
I will admit it, I am a “reality TV” junkie. It is just so fascinating for me to watch people make fools of themselves in front of the whole world.
Actually, The Amazing Race is pretty good. I was a big fan, until they included Rob and Amber from Survivor in the last installment. As if those two publicity hounds didn’t have enough money and fame already. Hey, network TV execs, their 15 minutes of fame was over 5 minutes ago. But the sub-genre that I enjoy the most are the ‘dating and mating’ shows. You know, like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, and the latest to waste my time, Average Joes.
The premise of most of these shows is pretty simple: take 15-20 above-average looking men or women and pit them against one another for the affections of some ‘desirable’ member of the opposite sex. In the end, the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Joe/Joette chooses the one they ‘like the best’, and the two of them are ostensibly supposed to get married.
Except that it doesn’t work that way. Only one of the Bachelors and Bachelorettes have actually married their choice (Trista married Ryan). And I expect that marriage to be over any day now*.
Why such a high rate of failure? Perhaps it is the fact that the shows are an artificial environment where the goal is to ‘win’ the final rose, and not necessarily to choose someone you can have a functioning marriage with.
Rather than being critical of these failures, I think that such shows do a great service to anyone who wants to get married and stay married. The shows illustrate how NOT to choose a mate. On these shows, the ‘contestants’ go on dates to exotic locales like Tahiti, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Fargo. Come on, I don’t care if the Bachelorette is paired up with Quasimodo, just being in a tropical locale will stir some emotions that may be confused for ‘love’. The whole dating setup is artificial, and the contestants act accordingly. Once again, the objective is not to find a suitable mate, but to have fun and choose someone who is ‘fun to be with’.
The problem with this premise, and with dating in general, is that the people who are often the most ‘fun’ are also the most fake and insincere. Add in the fact that a camera is present, and viola! people act differently than they usually do. After the shows are over, the people really get to know one another and find out that they are a poor match. At least the people in these shows find out and break up fairly quickly, unlike most daters in the U.S. who need to get married to figure that out.
The worst part of these shows is the final episode, where one person gets their heart shredded on national TV. I stopped watching ‘The Bachelor’ after:
- The jackass picked a woman who had no wifely abilities or qualities over a young woman who had them in abundance.
- They showed the rejected woman, who was devastated to such an extent that I am sure she entered a convent not long after.
The difference with Average Joes is that the men vying for the hearts of the supermodel are average in looks (actually, from what I have seen most are BELOW average). And just to make it fun, they throw in some ‘geeks’. You know, PhD students in computer science, used car salesmen, World of Warcraft players, and economists (whoops, they haven’t gotten THAT desperate yet!). You get the general idea.
These guys go on group ‘dates’ and some even get to go on solo dates with the woman. Once the model eliminates a certain number of Joes, the twist is revealed: the Joes will have to compete with some ‘Above Average Joes’ (waaaayyy above average, in looks at least). Yes, the producers roll in some models, “hunks” if you will. These are the kind of guys who can’t even spell fat or ugly, never mind average.
After watching this show a few times, I can tell you that the result is always the same: in the end, the model picks one of the “hunks”, and devastates the ‘Joe’ who has actually come to believe that she would pick him. And the Joe usually gives her a big hug and says something like “Well, you broke my heart and I will hate women for the rest of my life, but I’m glad I got to be seen in public with an attractive woman.” Meanwhile, she rides off into the sunset with the “hunk”, usually to be rejected herself a short time later (after coitus, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper would say).
The basic message underlying of all of these dating shows is that unless you are ‘hot’, you will never find a mate. Reaffirming this message is the fact that most young American men and women are quite promiscuous and form short-term sexual relationships just for fun. After all, “in the long run, we are all dead.”
Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad about being ‘Average’.
* Once Trista narrowed her choices down to 3 men, she SLEPT WITH ALL 3 to make sure that she would be ‘compatible’ with them. Apparently, Ryan didn’t care because he married the slut anyway.