During the opening episode of The Bachelor, thirty beautiful (and pitiful) women (most in their twenties) arrived in limos to be greeted by this season’s hunk of a bachelor, Brad Womack (age 38), a man who went through this same process three years ago and, at the last moment, refused to commit to either of the two finalists, Jenni Croft or DeAnna Pappas. After that 2007 episode, Brad went home to Austin, Texas, and moped in his apartment for “months,” suffering panic attacks that finally drove him to seek a therapist. Monday night’s episode played up the perfidy of Brad’s behavior and the subsequent therapy that helped him understand his “inability to commit” and his “trust issues,” which stemmed from being raised by a single mother and with an absent, coldly self-centered father.
Most of the “girls” spent their introductory time with the second-time bachelor confronting him. The first girl out of the limo, Chantal, tells him, “I have something for you,” and slaps him in the face. She explains, “It’s not from me; it’s from every woman in America.” Brad insists that he is a changed man – that he is ready to find love, and his wife is sitting inside the mansion among the 30 “ladies” participating in the ABC reality competition. He considers himself “the luckiest man alive” to have a second chance. He said, “I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and I know in my heart I’m very ready to fall in love. To have this opportunity, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. … I’m ready to fall in love, no doubt about it.”
As the girls begin to arrive in their limos, the show’s host gives Brad one final bit of advice: “Don’t screw this up!” Brad clearly begins to feel “beat up.” But for all their provocative attire and carefully applied makeup, many of the women are ill-at-ease and uncertain. Several appear desperate. Madison wears fangs and taunts that he’ll “taste good.” Ashley H. is a dentist who prefers to be called (suggestively) a “mouth artist.” Meghan, who works in fashion, wears klutzy pink platform shoes and argues that finding a guy is like shopping for shoes – you go through “lots of ugly, cheap, cheesy ones” before finding a “great one.” Raichel (no, I didn’t misspell her name) is a “manscaper” – she waxes men’s bodies. Whatever. Keltie steps out of the limo and does a high kick in her fancy gown; which lets everyone know from the outset that she is a Radio City Rockette. Shawntel, a mortician, is “around a lot of men – dead ones” (yes, this passes for humor). Ashley S. grins impishly at the camera as she squeezes Brad’s bottom – which I’m sure had nothing to do with her getting the “first impression” rose that is greatly coveted by the girls as the first rose given by the bachelor. Marissa threatens to leave if he doesn’t understand that her life revolves around sports. Melissa runs from the limo, yelling for him to “catch” her. She jumps in his arms and coyly asks, “Am I too heavy?” Jackie goes through a contrived “pinky” routine to guarantee he won’t break her heart. Britnee opens the limo window and waves Brad over, telling him to open the door and escort her inside. (Apparently, he didn’t like being bossed around; she was eliminated at the end of the episode.) Lisa M., from Kansas, wears bright red sequined “Dorothy” slippers.
Once inside the mansion, Alli, who is falling out of the front of her bright green dress, wants to know if Brad thinks her backside is too big (a previous boyfriend dumped her for that reason); she turns around, inviting his scrutiny. Of course, Brad thinks her booty is fine, just fine. Renee gets frustrated because every time she gets to be alone with Brad, another girl comes to claim it’s her turn with the bachelor. So the inanity and immaturity goes for two hours!
Out of 30 girls who are offering themselves as potential mates for a 38-year-old bachelor, only five are in their 30s (four are 30 years old and one is 32) and two of the 30-year-olds were eliminated in the first round of cuts. Many of the girls have a past: Two of the women are mothers – Emily was engaged to Ricky Hendrik, a NASCAR racer who was killed in a plane crash just before she discovered she was pregnant; her daughter is five years old. Michelle also has a five-year-old daughter and has had “tough times” in her past. Chantal, the daughter of a Seattle Seahawks star and an executive assistant from Seattle, is divorced. Ashley H.’s “long-time boyfriend” just “recently” died.
My overwhelming impression from this opening session is that The Bachelor is a cautionary tale for today’s young adults. Thirty physically-attractive women display in prime-time television the result of lifestyles that, in an earlier era, would have been characterized as “loose” or worse. With few exceptions, these are not happy women. These girls have a large void in their lives which they are hoping to fill with glitz, romance, love, and life-time marriage. But, they have taken a path that has left them emotionally wounded, lacking in social grace, and desperate to find a “Prince Charming” who will be all that they dreamed of as young girls. Sadly, the bachelor is typical of today’s young men, as well. As he approaches his fourth decade, he finally wants a wife and children. But, even with his bulked up, six-pack physique, he comes with a lot of psychological “baggage” and, with each new revelation, seems less and less of a “Prince Charming.”
Janice Shaw Crouse, author of Children at Risk, is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.