Wednesday, March 04, 2009
And maybe they lived happily ever after
Shortly after the first of the year I tuned in to the season debut of “The Bachelor,” not because I’m a huge fan (I’ve never watched before), but because one of the contestants was a woman from my hometown. Many years ago I was in a Sunday School class with her parents. The hometown connection drew me in.
While I questioned a houseful of estrogen and national television exposure as a way to find true love, I watched out of curiosity. Some nights it was the train wreck you couldn’t turn away from. Other nights I thanked God I’d given birth to boys and didn’t have to deal with this sort of drama as a parent. When Jason, the first single-dad bachelor in the series' history, didn’t give Hometown Girl a rose a few weeks ago, I was somewhat disappointed but impressed with her grace and dignity, unlike some of the other contestants who cussed a blue streak in the limo ride home. And even with her gone, I’d invested a month or so in this series and wanted to see who he proposed to and if the spoiler sites were correct.
The finale aired Monday night and yep, the spoiler sites were right. But in the “After the Final Rose” show that aired after the finale, viewers got a shocking twist of events they didn't expect (unless you follow the spoiler sites). In the course of one hour – less than that if you subtract the time for commercial breaks – Jason broke up with the woman he’d proposed to six weeks earlier and announced to the world that he was in love with the woman whose heart he’d broken and finished as first runner up. And when heartbroken woman was brought out and he told her he was still in love with him, they proceeded to swap spit on national television and start working things out.
Oh. My. Gosh. This sucks, but what makes it suckier is he was jilted in the finale of last season’s “The Bachelorette” and women everywhere petitioned the network to bring him back as this season's bachelor. He’d had his heart broken and then did the same thing to someone else. The man went from adored to hated in a split second. And I’m not so sure viewers are all that sympathetic toward the-one-he-didn’t-choose-first-but-still-loved either. Conspiracy theories abound as they always will, and unless notorized documents outlining the whole series of unfortunate events show up, I doubt we'll ever know for sure.
This might be the stuff of reality TV, but ladies and gentlemen, it’s not the stuff of romance novels. I’m not sure an author could ever motivate a hero enough to let him get away with behavior like that. The Bachelor took six weeks to fall in love and six more weeks to fall out of love. Most romance novels take place over a short time and go from “Hi, I’m Joe Hero” to “You’re the love of my life and I can’t live without you” in sixty thousand words. But a romance novel is fantasy and I read one with that in mind. I want entertainment and a happy ending. They don’t necessarily have to walk down the aisle in the last chapter, but I darn sure want some assurance they’re headed in that direction. I don't want no maybe they lived happily ever after. I want it for sure.
Unlike a paper and ink novel, that TV show had real people with real feelings, real emotions and real tears. While part of me thought the dumped fiancée shouldn’t have pinned all her hopes and dreams on a man she’d only known for six weeks, another part wanted to cry along with her and inwardly shouted “Right on, sister!” when she publicly called him a bastard and handed back the ring. Personally, I'd have kept the ring and sold it on eBay. I can see the listing now: Dumped Bachelor Fiancee's Ring - New without Tags or Box. Platinum setting encrusted with 170 small diamonds and a center 1.9 carat marquise cut stone. Total carat weight: 3.18. Designed by Neil Lane. D color (low end of colorless rating), VS1 (contains a slight inclusion not visible with the naked eye). Includes GIA certificate. Starting bid $15,000. Shipped by Priority Mail Flat Rate. Insurance recommended.
Did you watch this season of "The Bachelor?" If so, what are your feelings about the outcome? Feel free to disagree with me. And how about your romance novels? Do you want assurances there will be a HEA?