The Bachelor: ABCs of Love

In 1965, ABC debuted “The Dating Game,” a show featuring strangers looking for love on national television. This was a pretty risqué concept back in the day. I mean, this was a far cry from the blind dates that your mom set up with Jimmy’s mom down the street.

However, the show was wildly popular and ran for a decade before landing in the purgatory of syndication and eventual cancellation.

Buoyed by the ratings boon, ABC held firm to their belief that Americans wanted more televised, semi-authentic love. On came “The Love Boat” in the ‘80s and then the Holy Grail of real-fake TV love “The Bachelor” in 2003.

Almost immediately, “The Bachelor” became a cultural phenomenon. I admit I’ve been to a watch party or two and yelled “No!” at the screen during a rose ceremony like warning a victim in a Jason movie, but I’ve also learned a thing or two in over a decade of watching.

Crazy Is in the Eye of the Bachelor: I’m sure there is some sort of sanity clause at the bottom of the contract, yet 25 women show up every season. And each season, the lunacy ratchets up significantly. Some of the outrageous highlights from this season thus far are a women in a sloth costume, a beauty queen confessing that a beast lives inside her and a fake Australian accent. And two of those women are still in the running …

Connectathon: If we devised a drinking game around the mention of the word “Connection” during a typical two-hour show, I would be drunkety-drunk. I think these girls are feeling a connection to the champagne, hot tub and exotic locales. Seriously, what’s not to love?

Always a Villain: I guess technically it would be a villainess, but this is usually the woman who declares early on that she is not there to make friends. She is a wolf in cleavage-enhancing clothing who will huff and puff until she blows her chances away. In other words, until the producers decide her abrasiveness is not worth the ratings anymore.

What’s in a Name?: If your name is Alex or Heather, you should know that on “The Bachelor,” no one will be able to distinguish you from all the other women named Alex and Heather for the first few episodes. The initial after your name won’t help at all. This is why the bachelor board has photos; all the girls have the same names although some have random vowels where they don’t belong. Like Kaleighe instead of Kaley.

Haven’t I Seen You Before?: The thing about reality television is that people get hooked—not the viewers but the contestants. It is no secret that the bachelor is often picked from the pool of rejects from the previous season of “The Bachelorette.” But often these folks have been on other reality shows as well. The current bachelor was on “The Bachelorette” then “Bachelor in Paradise” and left loveless after both. At some point, you have to call it day and take some girl from to the Olive Garden and hope love blooms over bottomless breadsticks.

Failure Factor: I’m not very good at math, but I do know that there is a threshold at which repeated instances over time become a pattern. Although I am fuzzy on the details, I am 99 percent sure that the relationship failure rate on “The Bachelor” has reached pattern status. Though many of the 23 seasons have ended in an engagement, only a handful of those led to “I do.” There are mitigating factors that may affect my calculations (contestants on differing seasons having sparks fly at ABC events, finding love with the runner-up and the like), but the result is still the same: Your chances of lasting love on “The Bachelor” basically suck from a statistical standpoint.

Chris Harris Should Write a Book: Well, actually he already wrote some Harlequin Romance-type thing about sacrificing everything for love in the big city, but a tell-all about the series would be a slam dunk. That thing would just write itself. He is forever promising us, “the most dramatic season ever,” so get it down in print and entertain us already. As a side note, while Harrison was supervising rose ceremonies, his own marriage dissolved in 2012. Logic would say there is some parallel there, but I am about as good at psychology as I am at math so I can’t say what that all means.

And the number one thing I’ve learned? I’ve learned that ABC was onto something way back when. We love love. We may tune in for the drama. We may suspect that it is edited and not real. But deep down we are rooting for the fairytale ending after the final rose.