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How I Was Seduced by the Bachelor

About a year ago, my daughter Oona transferred to New York from Cincinnati for work and she moved in with me in my Manhattan apartment. One night Oona threw on a jacket and told me she was going to her brother Jake’s place in Brooklyn for a bachelor party. “Oh no,” I thought. “My daughter’s a stripper! Where have I gone wrong?” Turned out she was heading there for a Bachelor party, as in the long-running ABC-TV reality show. “Jake’s a huge Bachelor fan,” she informed me. “Oh no,” I thought, “My son’s a huge Bachelor fan. Where have I gone wrong?”

Fast-forward to the current season of the show, which will culminate on Monday when farmer-boy Chris Soules hands the final rose to the Bachelorette who will, ostensibly, spend the rest of her born days as Chris’s wife in Arlington, Iowa—which is about the same fate that awaits some of those 100 misguided souls who were named finalists in the Trip to Mars contest. But back to the Monday of the opening episode: Oona warned me not to plan on moving her 40-inch HDTV off of channel 7 that night. “No problem,” I said, “I’ve got headphones for my piano and lots of practicing to do.”

Then the show began and lovely young ladies by the limo-load pulled up to the Bachelor mansion and made their cringingly pathetic first passes at Chris, the lone entrée at a state dinner for 25 hormonally charged women. I found myself glancing over at the scene from the keyboard, until the headphones came off and I plopped on the sofa to take in the whole spectacle. I had perceived The Bachelor as fare exclusively designed for millennial women. Suddenly I saw the male appeal to the show. One guy, two dozen ridiculously gorgeous women—an unrealistic fantasy made into reality TV. Bach could wait, The Bachelor couldn’t.

Within a couple of weeks, it pains me to admit, I could have fit in with the iPhone crowd in a nail salon. I was handicapping potential brides with the best of the Pinterest set. Kaitlyn, the dance instructor was clearly the choice, I thought. Cute, and with a good sense of humor. I bemoaned the threat to the petroleum reserves posed by the makeup consumption of Ashley I., the virgin Jersey Girl (that’s not truly possible, right?). I cherished the singular wackiness of Ashley S., and despised conniving Hollywoodite Britt along with, apparently, 99.9% of the female Bachelor viewing public. But it was when I made a comment one week about Texas widow Kelsey that I realized I had attained true Bachelorhood.


“I think she killed her husband,” I told my daughter, after this potentially deranged farmer-suitor gleefully bleated what an “amazing story” she had, a story that had climaxed when her husband Sanderson suddenly dropped dead, for reasons apparently unknown to her. Less than a minute later Oona let out a laugh from her side of the couch. “I just texted my friend Lauren what you said about Kelsey, and she thinks she killed him, too!”

Here’s where I finally get to the point of why I’m writing about The Bachelor in a marketing publication. I’m an old geezer. When you say the word “bachelorette,” I see the aviator-spectacle-wearing Jim Lange on the set of The Dating Game, circa 1968. When I watch TV, I watch TV. My cell phone is in another room, and I rarely go to it even if it rings. But my daughter and her friends, and by extension, I surmise, millions of others like them stay engaged on their devices throughout the marathon two-hour length of these reality shows. If I make a remark to Oona while we’re watching Bachelor, I have become accustomed to allowing for a 20-second delay in response while she finishes texting or reading a text. In my job, I had written several times about the power of second-screens teaming up with televisions to turn the home viewing experience into a powerful targeted marketing occasion. I didn’t really believe it until Farmer Chris let me watch him make out with more twentysomething girls than the entire female population within a 100-mile radius of his tractor shed.

My daughter’s re-appearance on the home front gave me greater insight into the sheer power of social media, too. My first week on this job about three years ago was nearly my last. I was in the office late writing a story, and my boss had asked me to edit a piece by my young colleague, Elyse. The story was about a Volvo campaign, and she had written that the company’s major thrust was to be on Pinterest. I told her that was preposterous (in my indelicate old crusty newspaper hack way), and that Pinterest was but window dressing to a TV campaign. Harsh words were exchanged, some tears shed, and the next day the editor pulled me into an office where I expected to meet a premature demise. Instead, she wisely forbid me from editing anybody’s copy anymore. Yes!

Today I have a deepened appreciation for the value of social media as a marketing tool and the only disagreements Elyse and I have are over whether or not eliminated contestant Jillian is on steroids.

So back to the serious stuff. There are only two girls left—Whitney the fertility nurse from Chicago and Virgin No. 2, Becca (above), who’s not from Jersey and so actually may be telling the truth. My daughter is positive that Whitney will be Chris’s choice. I say Becca. Anyone who’s gone 25 years without a steady boyfriend or without having had sex can do 10 years in Arlington standing on her head. I think Chris realizes this, too.

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