“The Bachelor” yet again turns love into drama

Joey Graziadei (left) shakes hands with host Jesse Palmer (right). Graziadei is this season’s bachelor after leaving “The Bachelorette” heartbroken, when Charity Lawson, the former bachelorette, shockingly said she was in love with someone else. // Photo courtesy of Disney

Searching for a show centered around romance, competition and filled with the most awe-inspiring dates ever? Look no further than “The Bachelor.”

While there are plenty of romantic television shows focused on looks and recoupling to stir up the drama, “The Bachelor” paints a different picture of love. One man is chosen as “the bachelor,” and women from all over the country are invited to a mansion with one goal: marry him. Although they have never met before, every woman knows who he is — they have watched him on past seasons of “The Bachelorette.” The special connection between these two shows creates a cycle of hope for true romance, since a contestant in a previous year gets a second chance at love each season.  

This year marks the 28th season of “The Bachelor” with bachelor Joey Graziadei, a professional tennis player. He previously appeared on Charity Lawson’s season of “The Bachelorette,” where he was left heartbroken, as Lawson told him she fell in love with someone else just before his proposal. Despite this heartbreak, Graziadei is back for another chance at love, and — just his luck — the chances are good. As host Jesse Palmer said, “You’re making history tonight… There are more women showing up tonight than we have ever had on this show before.” Although 32 is not significantly more than the usual 28 or 30, the extra two women mean more potential connections, and for the viewers, more drama!

The series premiere began in a confusing fashion. The first scene showed Graziadei in the finale with his final rose. However, rather than a happy celebration, he stood alone, crying, foreshadowing an unpredictable season to come. If you did not already expect, although much of the show is about romance, it also thrives through drama and emotional roller coasters that rarely exist in the real world.

As always, introductions followed. Each woman has a solo meeting with Graziadei outside the mansion. Some simply step out of a limousine and greet him, while others take a chance on making a lasting impression. One of this season’s standouts was Jenn Tran, who pulled up to the mansion in a racing cart. While leaving the cart, she said, “I’m Jenn, and when I found out you were the bachelor, I had to race over here so quick from Miami.” Jessica Edwards, an Executive Assistant from San Diego, California, drove in on a boat announcing, “Hey Captain. I heard you were looking for a new relation-ship.’”

A few of the contestants set out to assert themselves early. Sisters Allison and Lauren Hollinger joined the show together. The concept of sisters vying for the same man is peculiar, but the drama it brews is just what the show was made for. When they first arrived, they decided not to tell Joey or the other contestants that they were related, so when Lauren followed Allison in, they shook hands and introduced themselves before saying they could tell they
would be best friends. 

Later into the night, they announced to everyone that they were sisters, which was met with confused stares. Not long after, both sisters took turns talking to Graziadei, during which he realized their stories were too similar to be a coincidence. 

Already, there are lovers and haters in the mansion. The show, and Graziadei, seemed to love Autumn Waggoner, an account executive from St. Louis, Missouri, Daisy Kent, an account executive from Becker, Minnesota and Lexi Young, an Atlanta native working in digital strategy. All three women touched Joey’s heart through their ingenuity, charisma and soft personalities. While Edwards had already caught Graziadei’s attention with her punny boat, he received her far more positively than the rest of the contestants. She returned from talking with him to tell the entire room, including plenty of women who had not met with him yet, that he kissed her, painting a large target on her back. Her continued disrespect towards other women talking with Graziadei furthered the animosity towards her across the mansion. 

One big question that arises from these types of shows is the effects it has on contestants. The nation watched Graziadei fall in love just to be tossed aside, which is an extremely personal and emotional ordeal to go through alone, much less when it is replayed and commented on by the whole country. Now, 32 women are all “in love” with someone they had never met before this week and are competing to marry him. 

Just in the first episode, Graziadei kissed over six girls, all of whom he spoke to for maybe ten minutes, max. At the end of the night, Graziadei admitted, “I feel so strongly about so many women.” 

Of course, Graziadei would feel special, and it clearly feeds his ego to have 32 different women head-over-heels in love with him. What feels wrong, though, is that 31 — if not all 32 — will leave crying or attract hatred from millions of viewers.

The concept of a romantic contest is not inherently ill-fated, and for 22 years, “The Bachelor” has been successful with the same routine each season.

 However, the wallowing in drama, the lack of concern for emotionally mistreated contestants and the regular post-finale broken engagements raise the question, why has a show about people’s heartbreak turned into a national obsession?