Bachelor Pad

Bachelor Pad is getting the gentleman's F because jumping in and trying to understand it without ever having seen an episode of either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette - and, indeed, having only really seen footage of either show on The Soup - is like someone deciding they were going to start watching Lost halfway through its final season. I spent most of the episode wondering what the hell was going on, as though everyone involved in the production were catering specifically to the Bachelor audience and didn't want to use the fact that a number of people from that show were appearing on this show as a sort of hook to get us to watch. I was left with so many questions. What "strategy" could this game possibly involve? Why do all of these people have such strange, strange names? Why is there a guy who just calls himself Weatherman?

Actually, this show would make a lot more sense if it were some sort of Lost ripoff combined with a reality show version of Persons Unknown. With the way that all of the contestants speak in vague terms about their "strategy" for "winning" the "game," they often seem to be obscuring some sort of actual truth we'd like to know, like members of the DHARMA Initiative. And for all I know, the guy calls himself Weatherman because he can literally control the weather or something. Make no mistake: This is a pretty awful show, a clear attempt for ABC to figure out a way to fill some of the few weeks of the year where it isn't airing a Bachelor-related product. But I suspect I'd only be mildly displeased with it if I actually watched The Bachelor. Then again, I'd have to be someone who watched The Bachelor, which would be problem enough.

It's so easy to hate reality dating shows on the grounds that they're abhorrent and complete wastes of space in the TV cosmos. At the same time, I have to think there's some sort of perfect example of what a dating show could be, that there should be a show to point to so that it doesn't seem like we're writing off the entire genre when we dismiss it. But, the thing is, that pretty much has to be The Bachelor (which, again, I've never seen), because it's the only one with a great deal of longevity, and the only one that seems to have a good sense of just how delusional most of its contestants are, at least based on the limited scenes I've seen and the evidence of this full episode of Bachelor Pad. The show has a bit of self-awareness to it that's more appealing than, say, Plain Jane, which had no idea of how stupid it was.

But that's not enough to save the fact that Bachelor Pad is completely and utterly devoted to the idea that the only people who would watch it would be people who were already watching The Bachelor and forgot it wasn't on this week. I have a strong suspicion that this is true, that I was the only person in America who was watching this show for reasons other than the fact that I like the Bachelor franchise. So maybe under those terms it's a success? But I have trouble imagining that everyone watching had such an encyclopedic knowledge of the show's contestants and history that they could recall with photographic memory-level detail each and every person that wandered through and gave a brief - sometimes one or two word - summary of who they had been in the individual seasons of the show (dubbed by the names of the bachelor or bachelorette that was the center of the show that season, so you get "Jake" season or "Ali" season, rather than "season two" or "season eight").

Perhaps these people do exist. I am not sure that I want to meet them, though. At the same time, I had an almost encyclopedic recall of Lost or The Wire. Why is that necessarily better than someone who can remember The Bachelorette chapter and verse? Because they're better shows? I suppose that's the case, but it still is sort of a colossal waste of time, if you think about it. My mania is just - marginally - more socially acceptable, even though their mania comes with a much, much higher rated show. Oh, and, of course, the whole Bachelor series is deeply regressive and filled with complete idiots who are unlikely to find true love by searching for it on television. But that's no reason to judge, is it?

I have to do all of this dithering because I'm literally not sure why Bachelor Pad exists. I get that it exists for monetary reasons, in that ABC can probably turn a handsome profit if even half of the Bachelorette audience watches the show. But I don't get why the show itself has to be so lazy. The actual nugget that became The Bachelor - a lonely man finds love in a gorgeous mansion with a bunch of single ladies - is rather compelling as the nut of a television show. This, I don't know WHAT this is about. It's about a bunch of single men and women - well, some of them are in committed relationships! - who move into a mansion together and then compete in a series of vaguely sexual Family Double Dare obstacle courses (the first involves Twister) and then go on dates together and then some of them are eliminated for whatever reason. It's a hilariously convoluted attempt to meld the potential sex of The Bachelor with the competition aspect of Survivor, and it robs itself of just about everything both shows have going for them.

The best (read: most successful) reality shows can be explained in a single sentence. Teams of two compete in a race around the world. A group of people are stranded on a desert island and compete to be the last survivor. A bunch of kids try to out-sing each other. A lonely man finds love in a gorgeous mansion with a bunch of single ladies. The central problem with Bachelor Pad is that you can't explain it to someone, even if you try, since every little bit of it relies on the person wanting to see it because of the fact that it stars former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants. All of my hang-ups about the genre aside, all of my hang-ups about having no idea who any of these people are aside, the show is just too damned cluttered to make any sense. There are a bunch of people who live in a house, see, and they're in a game that's kind of like Survivor, but kind of not, and they're encouraged to hook up, except when they aren't, and every week, two of them are eliminated. Did I mention they're all from The Bachelor and Bachelorette?

Yeah, even if you pick up every other issue of In Touch Weekly featuring one of this franchise's contestants on its cover when you're at the supermarket, I can see your eyes glazing over already.

Stray observations:

  • Actual names from this program: Kiptyn, Krisily, Tenley, The Weatherman. And there are, like, 50 people named Craig.
  • I hope that the Weatherman reveals his secret powers sooner, rather than later.
  • I toyed with the idea of reviewing this show like it was a bit of extratextual fan service for people who were really wrapped up in the Bachelor's mysteries, like one of those Lost ARGs or something, but I could never figure out a way to do it and not make it annoying. So ... be grateful for that, I guess?
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