Wednesday, May 14, 2003

'Bachelor' offers true escapism

Singles panelists say series is like viewing soap opera

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Andrew Firestone, the leading man of The Bachelor gets a reprieve tonight as beauties already cast off the show talk about their experiences. Four days later, he'll have to choose between Jennifer or Kirsten to share his wealth that was built on the family's tire empire.

A number of Web sites are keeping up with The Bachelor and his bevy of beauties:
The Bachelor TV Web Site
Reality News Online
Reality TV Links
Members of the Enquirer's Singles panel, along with thousands of Tristaters, will be glued to the TV both nights (9 p.m. today, 9 p.m. Sunday, Channels 9, 2).

"People mainly watch these shows for two reasons," says Marta Trujillo, 25, of Reading. "One, to be entertained and the other because it does involve real-life individuals, not fictional characters in a half-hour sitcom. People find these shows appealing because of this."

"I think that some people watch it because they want to live vicariously through either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette," agrees Grace Hou, 26, of Symmes Township.

Jonathan Michael Cobb, 36, of Kennedy Heights, thinks it's more of a lemmings effect. He calls dating reality shows "senseless."

"People watch these shows due to the fact that for whatever reason, Americans seem to think that whatever the media says is hip, cool, in, out or happening, they just haaaaaave to be a part of what is popular," says Cobb.

Amy Coppel, 24, of Hyde Park, is an avid Bachelor watcher and likens the show's popularity to watching a soap opera. "These TV shows are addicting," she says. "Each week you turn in to see what silly or ridiculous thing goes on."

If that's why people watch, what is it that makes people stand in lines around the block to be a part of these shows?

"I think that people participate because they like being able to be on TV," says Coppel. "Reality TV shows let people become famous ... even if it is only for 30 seconds."

The show presents a bachelor with 30 potential dates, and lets him whittle down the list each week during the run of the show.

When the numbers get down to a manageable handful, is it any closer to resembling a real-life dating cycle?

. Not really, says Cobb, who says the show's too scripted and polished to be compared to real.

"I believe it is absolutely impossible to meet a lifelong mate on a show like this," says Cobb. "Love is not something for which you can advertise, campaign or compete. Love is something that is sacred, pure and occurs when your destiny meets his or her fate, not when your friends get you all hyped to audition for some TV show and compete for the love of some wannabe gigolo type."

But Trujillo believes the possibility of the impossible happening is why the show's a hit.

"It's another reason why people watch, to see if it can happen and have a happy ending."


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