Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reviews New Book ‘Bachelor Nation’ (and “Emotional Harassment” on a Hit Show)

The Bachelor shows are basically a sugary-sweet confection of romance porn. They are to real romance what WWE wrestling is to the Olympics: an artificial world in which melodramatic theatrics bodyslams intellectual substance, and emotional manipulation eye-gouges sincerity. Sometimes, the producers’ cynicism and contempt seeps through the contrived scenes and the show veers into parody, unintentionally mocking the participants. Sometimes, as with the finale of this last season, it’s just deliberately cruel. And sometimes, despite the cheesy lines, the alcohol-fueled desperation, and some disingenuous people on both sides of the camera, we get a glimpse of real people shivering in the vulnerability of their need to love and be loved, and the show resonates to our greatest ache. And that is enough for fans, like myself, to turn down our world-weary scoffing and tune in again.

Now there’s a book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman, that tells fans all the dirty secrets about how the sausage is made. It doesn’t make the sausage any less delicious or addicting, but it does, if you think about it too much, roil the stomach. Fortunately for the show, most fans choose, like sausage lovers, not to think about it too much. The triumph of yummy over yucky. And there’s a lot of yucky in this book.

First, a disclaimer: I appeared in an episode of Rachel Lindsay’s 2017 season of The Bachelorette. During the previous season of The Bachelor, I’d written an article for The Hollywood Reporter, “The Bachelor Is Killing Romance in America,” in which I acknowledged that the show was great fun to watch, but also criticized it for, among other things, promoting an unrealistic vision of romantic love that creates false and destructive expectations among people watching the show. I also complained about its faux diversity of including people of color as politically correct props rather than as believable rivals for the Bachelor or Bachelorette’s affections. Generally, they were kept long enough to certify the Bachelor or Bachelorette were “open-minded,” then flushed from the show like a dead goldfish. After the article came out, I was contacted by two producers who shared with me that they’d taken my criticism to heart and would be changing things for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette. True to their word, the highly intelligent, insightful and funny Rachel was chosen as the first person of color Bachelorette. I appeared on her season in a basketball segment to celebrate that milestone and to encourage the show to continue innovating.

Complete Article at HollywoodReporter.com

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