We love The Bachelorette, but no matter how awesome Ashley Hebert’s finale turns out to be, this has still been a deeply troubled season. The ratings may be high, but cynicism is high, too. There's too much mean-spirited drama and too little love in the Bachelorette world. It's time for an intervention. So we're sharing a list of 10 ways we think the show could rekindle that spark that made us fall in love with it back when Trista said yes to Ryan in 2003.
1. Pick better people
Here’s a common question on Wetpaint’s Bachelorette Fansite: Where do they find these guys? For every JP, Ames, and Ben F. there’s a Bentley, Masked Jeff, and Drunk Tim. It's frustrating to have to watch drama after drama. It turns fans off to see these fools who are there just to promote their careers, get a taste of fame, and travel the world for free for a couple of months. It seems like a lot of the people are always cast because they are crazy fame whores and the producers figured they'd make for "good TV." Well, this is our show too, you know, and you should stop wasting our time with losers. The solution: Let us vote for the final 25 guys. But first, find them a decent girl! Do not run head first for the most insecure person from the previous season. Please find someone emotionally mature enough to handle major decisions, then tell that person if something major comes up along the way such as, dunno, a frontrunner bashing them to the cameras behind their back. Before filming of the actual season even starts, hold a pre-season audition process. Let fans know who the Bachelorette will be — and, more important, tell the guys! — and then give fans, say, 50 guys to choose from. Whether online or in a couple of TV specials, let us vote for the 20 to 25 best guys for this particular Bachelorette. That way if we have a problem with the guys we only have ourselves to blame. But it's more likely we'd all pick JP types for her to fall in love with.
2. Live finales
Spoilers aren't going away. Some fans love them, some hate them. The divide is now here. But the producers can get ahead of the spoilers by holding live finales, like Dancing with the Stars (but without having the audience pick the winner) or Survivor (but with the finale choice made live, not just aired live). They are already doing something like this with Bachelor Pad, which has plenty of major spoilers out there, but nothing about who wins because they won't film that until September. A live ending would save spoiler-philes the trouble of getting worked up about the outcome in advance, rushing around to find counter-spoilers because they don't like what they read, and spilling everything to non-spoiler fans. We can all be on the same blank page again!
3. Scale back the booze
We're not teetotalers or anything, but the constant free-flowing booze is good for drama, not good for smart choices. Sure it's fun to watch Drunk Tim and sloshy outtakes, but if you spend two months drinking heavily and traveling the world going on exotic dates, you're going to have a rude awakening when you actually end the show and look at the person next to you. How can you feel like you've made a serious decision at the end when you've treated the whole thing like a party cruise?
4. More realistic dates
We love going around the world with Ali, Brad, and Ashley — it's like The Bachelor/ette meets the Travel Channel! — but we're really ready to settle down and have this show be about love again. And that means only taking a couple of fun trips, not every single week. The time that it takes to fly from country to country every week wastes hours that the guys need in order to get to know the Bachelorette. The exotic dates are unrealistic and force a false bond based on shared adrenaline, not a real, long-lasting connection. And the gimmick dates like a comedy roast or dragon boat racing have absolutely nothing to do with romance. It may sound boring at first, but why not just have close-to-home dates like dinner and a movie, cooking together, or going to a concert? Those are the kinds of things real couples do and the goal is for the couple to eventually leave the cameras behind and be a real couple. Bachelor Pad spends most of its time hanging around the house and no one could call that show boring. Besides, one of the cutest dates of Ashley’s season was sitting in her PJs by the fire with JP.
5. Give the guys more time with the girl
In every conference call with the departed bachelors the number one regret they've had is that they didn't get to spend more time with the girl. It’s no wonder contestants like Ashley S. on The Bachelor and Constantine on The Bachelorette say they have a better connections with their fellow housemates than the person they’re supposed to fall in love with. Remember when “The Phantom” Chris N. made it all the way to Iceland on Season 6 without saying two words? Part of that is due to the bustle of moving so fast and having exotic one-on-one dates with the two or three lucky guys chosen (by producers) to go on those dates. There should be more one-on-one dates and fewer group dates. And why not have the Bachelorette stay in a room in the bachelor mansion? It’s not like she’d be shacking up with the guys Bachelor Pad-style, but at least she could hang out with them for breakfast and dinner and stuff.
6. Change the conversation
If we hear one more person talk about the "right" or "wrong" reasons to be on the show, we're going to start watching Love In The Wild. We don't want to hear how you're falling in love with the person on the first night. (That's either the booze or your own desperation talking.) We want to hear what you might have in common. Your likes, your dislikes. Favorite movies, music, books. What would you be doing (besides working) if you weren't on the show? We want to see the Bachelorette actually talking to her guys like real people do, not jumping to the family-and-kids discussion on night one or speaking only in love cliches as if they live on a cloud instead of the same world as the rest of us. (Sorry, Mr. Sunshine!)
7. Include extended dating time off-camera
The hardest part of the whole "journey" seems to be in the in-between time from the filming of the show until the finale airs. The Bachelorette and her chosen one can meet secretly in "safe houses" but it's weird and not at all realistic. What if the show extended the dating time for the Bachelorette and her final, say, four guys to include four weeks off camera? Not secretly, but openly. If fans come up to them, okay, well that's part of the life on the show. If paparazzi follow them, that's something they'd have to deal with after the show anyway. Dealing with the media spotlight is something that tends to break couples apart nowadays, so this would give them a taste of it in advance. This extended time would help the Bachelorette gauge if there was something serious with a person, away from "the process" with the cameras and the controlled dates.
8. Scale back the dramatic edits
There seems to be more deception nowadays — on the editing front. The previews have been deliberately misleading (like how they made us believe Bentley was returning on Week 5 instead of Week 6) and everything is drowning in "Frankenbites," where quotes are chopped up and moved around so they no longer bear resemblance to what the person actually meant. We're being manipulated in 100 different directions, and it gives credence to complaints from the likes of Wes Hayden, Rozlyn Papa, Justin Rego, and, yes, even Bentley that they were given hack job edits to make them look like "villains." Mike Fleiss openly admits in The Stories Behind the Rose that they cast for "characters" and "types," so it goes with the territory that they would edit for those types as well. It was fun for a while, but now it's time to scale back a bit and stop trying to force every episode into the most dramatic rose ceremony ever. We'll still watch if someone doesn't burst into tears or cheat on someone every week. We asked viewers to sound off on why they watch The Bachelor and Bachelorette — for the crazy drama, the exotic locations, the hot guys/gals, or what? The number once choice was “the romance.”
9. Diversify, diversify, diversify
The same crop of 20-something sorority and frat types just isn't cutting it. We need a mix of ages, races, backgrounds, and body types. If 40 is the new 20 then there should be more people in their late 30s and 40s on this show — women and men. That's a more realistic age group to find lasting love than a bunch of hot, drunk kids in their early 20s. Especially when you have a 38-year-old guy like Brad Womack dating 24-year-old girls. And we're tired of just having one token non-white person on each season (and Ashley didn’t even get one). This is 2011 — if you're going to travel the world, try to open your show to the reality that the world is filled with more than one color. They should also be more realistic about body types. The world is filled with people of all sizes, and why shouldn’t The Bachelor and Bachelorette reflect that? It's time for The Bachelorette to enter the real world. It may not be six-packs and sexcapades every day, but that’s okay by us. (Besides, there’s plenty of space for six-packs and sexcapades on Bachelor Pad. That show is doing just fine, we’re not touching it.)
10. Calm down
This goes for all of us. It’s easy to forget sometimes that The Bachelorette isn’t a (completely) scripted show like True Blood or Glee — there are real people out there playing themselves. We all get wrapped up in the storylines and drama, but we should try to hold ourselves back from being cruel and turning into an angry mob. That kind of thing often escalates until fans are bashing each other and the entire message board has gone off on a tangent of pure haterade. This is an entertainment show. It should be light and fun and nothing more serious than that. Smile!
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