Monday night's "Bachelor" finale was, in a word, awkward (spoiler alert).
As a disclaimer, I'd only seen the first episode before watching the finale, and to be honest, the show's premise disgusts me a bit. Nevertheless, I gathered with some female friends to watch the Venezuelan bachelor Juan Pablo make his choice between two blondes: Clare and Nikki.
While watching, I kept an eye on my Twitter feed, frequently checking hashtag JuanPablo. This yielded amusing results, with users mostly calling Juan Pablo out on his apparent douchiness and insensitivity, or, instead, lamenting his unwillingness to tell Nikki, his chosen woman, that he loved her.
Juan Pablo's public image has already been mired in controversy with his comments on the possibility of a future gay bachelor. He reportedly told TV Page's Sean Daly that he doesn't think having a gay bachelor "would be a good example for the kids."
As if "The Bachelor" is presently a good example for kids.
"The Bachelor" invites women to compete for a man's affection and ultimately, a diamond. Its counterpart, "The Bachelorette," features men competing for a woman. Both shows are equally poor representations of love, preying on our desire for happy endings.
But the show isn't a romantic comedy or fictionalized fairy tale. This is, arguably, real people looking for actual relationships in the most demeaning and destructive way possible. The show not only reflects badly on its creators and participants, but also the millions of people that tune in.
Juan Pablo came off like a jerk during the finale, not just because he wouldn't tell Nikki he loved her, but because he didn't follow the show's protocol: he did not propose at the end of the finale. Allegedly, he said hurtful words to Clare off-camera and demonstrated a reluctance to commit.
To be fair, angry Internet responders seem correct in their assessment of Juan Pablo, or at least in his ignorance of reality. While being interviewed (read: accosted) by host Chris Harrison during the post finale interview, Juan Pablo stressed his desire to remain private. After the show was over, the couple could begin a relationship out of the public eye. But last season's Bachelor Sean Lowe gave him an on-air reality check: that will never happen.
That's the price you pay when you whore yourself out to reality television.
Honestly, I don't know who I'm more annoyed with: Nikki, for loving a man who obviously does not return her affection; Juan Pablo, for his delusion; or Chris Harrison, for attempting to counsel a television couple.
Maybe I'm most annoyed with myself, though, and the millions of Americans who watch shows like this for entertainment, thinking we know these people well enough to judge them. Thinking this show will in any way aid our society's perception of love and romance. For thinking that our obsession with a potentially fake TV romance will fill our own loneliness and broken places, the places where we have been hurt or abandoned by the people we loved and trusted.
For thinking any of this matters at all.
Claire Dodson is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.