As part of the scientific community’s ongoing search for something to blame, a new study says romantic comedies and sitcoms have influence on (or, at least, show a measurable correlation to) our outlooks on love and relationships. In the study to be published in the Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, presumably under the title, “Why Dave Is Still Single,” University of Michigan researchers found that participants who claimed to be big fans of rom-coms and marriage-based reality shows also agree with sentiments about love at first sight and finding “The One.” In particular, those who watch series like The Bachelor tended to have the strongest beliefs in “romantic idealism,” which they have forged out of the show’s idealized vision of romance as a series of staged contests, snap judgments, and hollow, self-centered soliloquies delivered by people who are just desperate for attention, rather than the real-life version where you also have to go to work.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, those who regularly watch sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory shared those shows’ slightly more cynical view of love as a troublesome subplot, to be greeted by the canned, mocking laughter of God’s studio audience. While watching characters go through multiple failed, fun casual relationships—or spend nine years searching for “The One,” only to realize that sometimes “The One” dies and you’d rather have sex with your ex-girlfriend—viewers are believed to internalize the message that women selfishly die all the time, therefore “true love” is a lie. Those unrealistic expectations created by that lie is clearly why Big Bang Theory fans don’t have a girlfriend, respondents enthusiastically agreed.
According to the New Yorker, the study also concluded that those who watch a lot of The Bachelor and romantic comedies report “happier, more committed relationships” than their more cynical, sitcom-watching counterparts, because that is how delusion works.