Friends, I want to tell you a little story about how I found myself a member of Bachelor Nation. Yes, y’all, I spend my Monday nights watching men and women vie for the heart of the chosen bachelor(ette) in a series of increasingly contrived situations — me, who in high school definitely felt superior to people who watched any form of reality television, who looked down my nose on “unscripted programming.” I always thought that reality television was trash — and it is. But it is trash which I, like some sort of pop culture raccoon, just must have.
For the past few years, I’ve spent my Mondays at Hinterlands with a small group of friends drinking and “watching” the Bachelor Family of Products. It started when a podcast brought us (and sometimes 30+ others) together to bask in the ridiculousness of the show. The podcast has since moved on, as they became uncomfortable discussing the problematic situations that form the foundation of such a show (and rightly so — I don’t particularly want to endorse it either). And when Rose Buddies ceased to exist, most of our watching companions moved on as well. But nine of us stayed.
Over those many Monday nights spent together, we became friends, or deepened our existing friendships. We forged a bond through the collective watching of people making poor decisions. Mondays became less about this season’s heartbroken star and more about all of us having a set time and place to hang out. We developed food sharing rituals and a friendship with our regular Monday night bartender. We had a place to just carry on and discuss everything from the song “Sicko Mode” to the situation in Israel — and of course to make jokes about the goings on of “The Bachelor.” I think we probably miss a good quarter of what’s happened because we’re all just trying to make each other laugh.
It’s a strange thing, because I’m not sure any of us would really be watching “The Bachelor” anymore if it didn’t mean going to this place and seeing each other and having an automatic outlet to talk about it. I really appreciate the thing we’ve crafted. I look forward to it most weeks, and I miss it when it’s gone. But I don’t miss “The Bachelor” necessarily. I miss the people I watch “The Bachelor” with — the long-running jokes and reality TV trope-spotting. I miss when something truly amazing happens (and by that I mean when the producers of said reality show have managed to make an already crazy situation somehow even crazier) and the feeling when we all get to experience that together. I miss the collective shock, collective joy, and collective pain at time. And ok fine maybe I miss Chris Harrison a little.
While I love the binge-watching culture that we are currently in, I could never and would never binge-watch “The Bachelor.” That requires quality. But I’ll always want to go watch it with those eight other people for two hours a week. In the city it’s sometimes hard to hang out with your friends during the week; the long commuting time between boroughs and the general relief of being home after a long day at work make it hard to summon the will to go out, even for grocery shopping or the gym much less something social. But having a set plan makes it easier. Maybe for you it’s not “The Bachelor,” maybe it’s a bowling league or a karaoke night or some other reality show. But as for me, I am thankful for “The Bachelor” — for a regular bar, for many cocktails, and most of all for time with my friends.