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Wednesday December 8th

Reality TV promotes toxic dating culture

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By Victoria Giardina
Signal Contributor

The pressing ABC television promotions for the hit shows “The Bachelor” and “The Proposal” are ingrained in the minds of viewers. Chris Harrison, the host of “The Bachelor,” repeatedly proclaims that this year will bring “the most dramatic season yet,” and it is unsurprising that people across the nation are glued to their television sets every Monday night at 8 p.m.

“The Proposal” is a newer show that launched on June 18, 2018, yet it still keeps audience members on their toes. A male or female ready to find a match is presented with a group of eligible bachelors in hopes of receiving a proposal by the end of the night.

Both shows receive a high level of audience engagement, but is it for the right reasons? When considering the backgrounds of these shows, it is undeniable that “The Bachelor” promotes polygamy and “The Proposal” is a competition to find “real love” in an extremely fast-paced fashion. These shows raise an important question –– are these processes representative of the true meaning of love?

According to Merriam-Webster, love is defined as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” This entails a romantic relationship with one other person, which is an institution that is not promulgated on “The Bachelor.”

On this season of the riveting, romance-infused reality show, Colton Underwood, a 27-year-old former football linebacker, is an adored bachelor who is praised for his virginity. The show emphasizes his desire to wait for the right person, and audience members have been responding positively to his choice.

However, while this facet of Underwood’s life has generated some vibrant applause, the show still presents dating in a derogatory fashion.

On Underwood’s group dates, he’s seen kissing multiple women and a shocking yet insightful moment in the show’s history occurred in the fifth episode of the current season, when the polygamy was too much for one contestant to handle. Elyse, a 31-year-old makeup artist from Alaska, made the challenging decision to quit the show because she could not stand Underwood dating other women.

Even Underwood admitted that he does not fully support the structure of the show and the confusing messages it promotes.

While it doesn’t promote polygamy, “The Proposal” offers a different approach to love-at-first-sight by encouraging contestants to get engaged within hours of knowing each other.

The man eager to find his “true love” is behind the hidden vault as he is presented with a series of women who enter the stage in a beauty pageant-style way complete with swimsuit portions and onstage Q&As. Slowly, the mystery man narrows down his choices.

What is most untraditional about this show is that when there are three individuals remaining, they each solicit public approval from their hopeful lover’s parents. The classic and conservative method of a male privately requesting the blessing of marriage from parents is completely disregarded and challenges tradition with competition.

Moreover, “The Proposal” also creates a rushed atmosphere for love. Going from just meeting someone to proposing within a single episode diminishes the purpose of “going steady” and learning more about the person. The show’s platform completely neglects such a sacred pillar in one’s personal life. There is even a jeweler backstage to assist the star of the show in picking out a diamond engagement ring during the quick commercial break.

Love is such a special element in one’s life –– as Dr. Seuss once said, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” Instead of through TV, authentic love is found in the reality of the present moment, which is something that takes time and should be cherished between two committed partners.


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