That’s still a better record than “The Bachelor” has.
Yet the romance of the Rose Ceremony has wilted rather quickly. Of the 19 couples the show has produced, 12 got engaged, and just one — one! — has married a contestant. (OK, technically, two: Jason Mesnick married his season’s runner-up, Molly Malaney, after breaking an engagement with winner Melissa Rycroft.)
Most of the other couples barely managed to sustain their relationships, engaged or not. Some weren’t even together when their seasons finally aired.
Monday night’s finale pulled in 9.5 million viewers, exactly the same as last year’s “Bachelor” finale.
‘Fantasyland’ vs. reality
The formula is well established by now. It’s “fantasyland,” Carbone says: travel to exotic locations, over-the-top expressions of love and the idea that you too can be fought over by two dozen beautiful people of the opposite sex with the possibility of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right.
“Essentially, we look at people with this on-demand, consumeristic mindset of, ‘What am I in the mood for? Who can make me happy? Who pleases me?’ and as soon as they don’t make me feel a certain way, they’re expendable,” he said. “When we approach our relationships this way, it’s no longer based on commitment; it’s based on feelings and compatibility.”
Feelings are fickle, he adds, and relationships based on them are likely short-lived. (Ironically, one of Willis’ fans is Sean Lowe, the only Bachelor who married his intended.)
But if the show’s on-screen relationships have been (mostly) doomed, it’s actually done well in developing another kind of relationship: that of its fans.
‘They know what the show brings’
Elgin, who’s 24, has been blogging about the show since she was 19 and has watched it since “Jason Mesnick’s season” (that would be 2009, when she was 17), says she isn’t bothered.
“At the end of the day, it’s a TV show,” she said.
And, as with many reality shows, there’s now the possibility of becoming a professional reality celebrity. “The Bachelor” spawned “The Bachelorette,” which features an also-ran from “The Bachelor,” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” which puts rejected contestants on a beach to have their ways with one another.
That’s not to mention the other offshoots of the reality-industrial complex: tabloids, business openings, Internet traffic, access to other celebrities.
Though some contestants may still seek true love, Carbone believes that, after 15 years, everybody knows what they’re getting into.
“I think everybody who goes on the show is absolutely 100% going on to increase their brand, increase their Twitter followers, increase their Instagram followers — and probably 17th on the list is finding a spouse,” he said. “They know what the show brings.”
Nevertheless, the swirl of romance still matters to some contestants — and viewers.
“I definitely wasn’t skeptical; you had to go in very open-minded,” she said.
And Elgin? She hasn’t given up on true love, either.
“I am still looking, but I believe it could happen,” she said. “But I have not found it yet.”