It's been a while!
Now, in order to write what I want to write, I'm going to have to admit something I don't want to admit. Namely, that Maddie and I watch "The Bachelorette"—go ahead and judge.
Furthermore, we have watched numerous (maybe all) seasons of said show. Why would we waste our time with what can be considered trash TV? I've asked myself that question a lot—because I don't like trash. I had a teacher tell me (regarding the dismal effort I'd put into a science project): garbage in—garbage out, and that has stuck with me for thirty-plus years.
But here Maddie and I sit watching people go through the machinations of "falling in love." Ha—that's a joke! Contestants may fall into passion or into bed or into a Jacuzzi or into infatuation, but love? I think not—given how quickly almost all of the relationships disintegrate after the cameras stop rolling. I read a while back that The Bachelor franchise has had fewer successful love matches than "The Biggest Loser"—um, so who's the biggest loser now?
But back to why we watch. I was having trouble articulating what lay in the recesses of my heart, so I did the prudent thing—I asked my writer friend, Jan, why she watches it. Here are her eloquently stated reasons:
Crazily enough, because I always hope there will be a happily ever after, a true love story that I got to watch unfold.
But there's always a train wreck, and that's kind of fun to watch, too.
That opportunity to yell at the television, because we (the viewers) are privy to interactions that the bachelorette and/or the bachelors haven't seen. So we shout "No! Not him! He's a liar!" and smack our foreheads in dismay. Or glee.
It's cool to watch the pretty people in pretty clothes, going on fantasy dates in pretty places.
Since it's a competition, it's fun to pick a favorite suitor and root for him. The farther he goes, the more invested we get in him winning.
Pure voyeurism. And (mostly) guilt-free judging of other people.
We're pretty much right there with Jan—but I'll add one more:
Reason #7 that Maddie and I have been watching season after season is because we've been in search of an answer to one question that plagues us—is there one, just one person out there who would say no to the Fantasy Suite?
For those of you uninitiated in the ways of the Fantasy Suite, it goes something like this: when the bachelorette (or bachelor) is down to three suitors, they are all whisked away to someplace tropical and sweaty. At the end of each individual date (over three nights), each suitor is given the opportunity to forego his/her individual room, and instead stay with the Bachelor/Bachelorette in the most romantic rooms ever conceived by television producers. . . where rose petals and champagne abound. . . and where the cameras don't go. . . and where a lot of dot, dot, dot happens.
And season after season Maddie and I have been grossed out by the fact that every contestant (that we've seen) has accepted the Fantasy Suite. Now, neither Maddie nor I are brilliant mathematicians, and this has nothing to do with our faith, either—but when we see three guys over three nights with one girl, or three girls over three nights with one guy, for us it equals EWWWWWWWW!
Season after season, we've waited for someone to say no.
And last night it finally happened.
Bachelorette Emily (who is a mother to a six-year-old little girl) gave the invitation to Suitor #1-Sean. He accepted—but he and Emily used language to suggest that intimacy wasn't necessarily part of the plan. And then sometime around midnight she asked to leave—she wanted to set a good example for her daughter. He was a gracious gentleman and left her with a kiss.
But, oh, it gets even better!
The following evening, Emily gives the invitation to Suitor #2-Jef (who sadly lacks a second "f"). And miracle of miracles, the moment Maddie and I have waited for arrives! No, he says, and then words to this effect—I know you want to set a good example for your daughter, and I know my family will be watching this, and your family will be, too. Not that I don't want to spend the night with you—I want to spend every night with you—but when it's right. Sometimes it's best to bridle your passions.
I burst into tears right there for the beauty of what I just heard. What we'd been waiting for year after year. For someone to say no—it's not right.
And as far as we're concerned, this world could do with more bridling of passions.
But the beauty of the Fantasy Suite Episode was not over! On the third night, Emily had a fantastic date with Suitor #3—Arie—who she is very physically attracted to. They have chemistry oozing from every perfect pore. So what does Emily do at the end of the evening? Hold on to your swimsuits—she doesn't offer him the card at all! We've never seen that before! She said she didn't trust herself to keep things where they should be.
Who knew such restraint was even possible under such pulsating desires? Who knew someone could be self-aware and then have the presence of mind to steer clear of shameful behavior? And it would have been shameful, make no mistake. The self-serving world may say ten-thousand times that it's fine; it's great—sleep with as many people as you want—it's all good. But all it takes is for one small voice on a moonlit tropical island to stand up for what is right, and it resonates within our souls.
Well, it resonated in mine and Maddie's (and Jan's, and another friend—Jenny's).
And we're praying it resonates in yours.
I'm glad we didn't give up, but I wonder if any future season will hold a romantic candle to this one—it may be time to quit watching.
We wish nothing but the best for Emily, who last night only gave out roses, nothing more. One to Arie and one to Jef (our favorite). Sean unfortunately came out of it bloom-less.
Well, I guess that's it.
All in Goodwill,