I found myself hooked into watching the finale of one of those bachelor programs that has apparently been going on for weeks–the ones that start with one guy having to choose one out of 25 women over the course of 8 or so weeks. This one was “The Bachelor in Paris”–an American guy posing temporarily in Paris.

Why Paris? From what I can tell, they moved this whole program–for however many weeks it took to film it–to Paris, specifically for the imagined romantic backdrop it represents to most Americans. I wonder how many Americans have actually lived there to test out the romantic side of it for themselves. Had they done that, they might now have a differnt impression. I digress.

So, here was this guy, at whom 25 women were willing to throw themselves by going through a weeks-long elimination process, until one woman is chosen for the role of Chief Romantic Partner. How could 25 women agree on the same non-celebrity guy? It interested me to see which of the two finalists this guy would choose and how he would come to his decision. And then there was the absurdity factor–how could any of this have anything to do with the real world? (Maybe it wasnt supposed to, although everyone on the show was acting as if it did.)

Last night, being the last program of the series, but the first I’d seen, I was initially led to believe that the guy was choosing the girl–woman–he was then supposed to marry. The voice-overs alluded to it in the narratives accompanying the spliced-together filmed segments. And there were all the trappings, including grueling interviews of each of the two finalist women by the guy’s parents and family–including two underage nieces–all of whom had all been airlifted to Paris just to interrogate the two finalists. No intention of just “dating” was implied–they were serious and going for the big time.

Each girl professed, in tears, to the camera–and to the guy–that she was madly in love with him, that he was perfect for her, that she would die without him, and on and on. He was not allowed to voice any of his feelings in terms of his preference for one girl over the other, but he did tell each of them how much he enjoyed being with her and generally made each of them feel appreciated–which was nice, I guess.

The deal was though, that in the end, he could only choose one, so one of them was being set up for a trip to a mental hospital. What woman with a brain would put herself in such a position, giving the man all of the power while she sat passively and patiently waiting for him to give her–as each one of them hoped–the nod, or in this case, the ring? (The show’s producers had already sent each girl ring shopping with her respective mother, as prelude to the big night.) Further evidence that marriage was to be the end result of the final choice. That alone was pretty weird. Marriage after a few weeks filming an artificial situation in an artificial setting? Were they insane?

Adding to the contrived nature of it all, the three stars of this fantasy were each tooling around Paris in separate white stretch limos–how ostentatiously American is that? And, how impractical. Have you seen the width of the streets in Paris? Those limos wouldn’t get anyone too far down many of them.

So the final moment finally arrived where Prince Charming was to choose his Cinderella by giving her a diamond ring–an engagement ring? Well, no, as it turned out. The guy, at least, did have some brains as well as some sense, and declared it a “friendship ring,” to be worn around the chosen girl’s neck. A diamond ring on a chain around a girl’s neck? I guess that was his only way out under the circumstances. A ring–although not of the diamond solitaire sort–on a chain worn around a girl’s neck meant “going steady” back when I was in high school 100 years or so ago. Do people ‘go steady’ anymore?

Interestingly, both the prince and his chosen were from Nashville and would presumably return there to begin the “happily every after.” I wonder if there will be a follow-up show to see how that’s going.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this program is that I actually got interested enough to watch it. My best guess on why is that it was the nearest escape from the latest horror show out of Washington, and the current resident of the White House plotting to sell control of our country’s ports to the people closest to those he sent us to war to eradicate. And here I was thinking the bachelor show was insane.

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