'Bachelor' bargain: Reality TV fans choose to suspend disbelief

Stories about "Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure" have described revelations in...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 12:59 AM

Stories about "Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure" have described revelations in reporter Amy Kaufman's unauthorized, behind-the-scenes book about the popular show as "shocking" and "surprising."

Yet the truth is that those professing surprise about manipulation and staging in reality TV either haven't been looking very hard or don't want to know, and would be equally shocked to discover that gambling was going on in Casablanca.

Indeed, stories unmasking the tricks of the trade have emerged since the infancy of unscripted television in its present form. And while some early scandals appeared to threaten the genre's future, by now it's pretty well understood -- if seldom stated -- that regular viewers of such programs have made a pact, conscious or otherwise, to suspend disbelief.

In addition, TV itself is often pretty brutal in its appraisal of reality shows, especially in the scripted realm. This weekend's episode of "The Good Fight," for example, the CBS All-Access drama, features a lawsuit involving a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted while shooting a dating show clearly modeled after last summer's "Bachelor in Paradise" controversy.

Lifetime drama "UnREAL," similarly, regularly features producers engaging in unethical practices in the pursuit, as the lead producer on the show within the show puts it, of "good TV."

"UnREAL's" creator, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, is a former "The Bachelor" producer. In promoting the program, she has discussed an interlude in which she badgered a contestant until she could wring tears out of her for the camera, and characterized her relationship with those featured as "complicated manipulation," including sleep deprivation and misleading them to elicit the required response.

Related: 'Unreal's' Constance Zimmer is great at being badass

One needn't look very far to find examples of the curtain being pulled back, revealing the men (usually) and women pulling levers behind it. That includes practices like "frankenbiting" -- using snippets of quotes out of context to shape and tell a certain story.

In a first-person account, Anna Klassen wrote about her experience shooting an unscripted pilot: "We improvised every scene, and if a producer didn't like what we did, he'd ask us to do it over, and over, and over. There was no script, but I knew the emotions I was supposed to evoke with each take."

Klassen concluded, "There is nothing real about reality TV."

In 2011, the Daily Beast interviewed a woman featured on the Showtime series "Gigolos," which focused on paid male escorts, who said the producers "created a scenario where I would need an escort, and they hired me."

Such accusations go back to the earliest days of the genre, including twin lawsuits in 2001. "Survivor" competitor Stacey Stillman sued the show, maintaining the producers consulted with others to vote her off. Fox faced its own legal skirmish over "Temptation Island," a dating show, when a pair of contestants claimed the producers knew that they had a child together before expelling them for violating those rules.

The bottom line is that "reality TV" has a long, spotty history, which hasn't prevented it from becoming a staple of the modern TV landscape. To the extent viewers buy into it, they are complicit in perpetuating those practices, as are media outlets that breathlessly cover every beat of these shows because it's good for traffic and, well, fun.

Reviewing "Bachelor Nation" for the Hollywood Reporter, former basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar suggested that the book contained "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."

Still, one aspect of the review was contradictory, with Abdul-Jabbar noting, "I can't imagine any fan of the franchise not joyously devouring this book."

To the extent those statements conflict, the first part is more accurate. Because when it comes to reality TV, there's only so much actual reality that most of its consumers can -- or choose to -- stomach.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36096

Reported Deaths: 2231
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10095598
Lake3833203
Allen175371
Cass15927
Elkhart149528
St. Joseph133736
Hendricks119276
Hamilton118394
Johnson1121112
Madison59961
Porter55830
Clark53041
Bartholomew52739
LaPorte44624
Howard44036
Tippecanoe4294
Jackson3992
Shelby39722
Delaware38940
Hancock35127
Boone32435
Floyd32340
Vanderburgh2892
Morgan28426
Noble26821
Montgomery24818
Clinton2461
White2389
Decatur23131
Grant22523
Dubois2093
Harrison19522
Henry18412
Kosciusko1792
Vigo1788
Marshall1782
Greene17225
Dearborn17022
Monroe17012
Lawrence16724
Warrick16729
Miami1441
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
Scott1263
Franklin1168
LaGrange1162
Ripley1086
Daviess9916
Carroll943
Steuben882
Wayne866
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper731
Jay540
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Washington501
Fulton501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb441
Starke393
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Owen341
Wells340
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams211
Gibson192
Parke180
Posey160
Martin130
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0179

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37282

Reported Deaths: 2340
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6216293
Cuyahoga4732259
Hamilton2767167
Marion268631
Lucas2313263
Pickaway209638
Summit1505181
Mahoning1466191
Butler94832
Columbiana89152
Stark782101
Lorain72260
Montgomery72016
Trumbull59451
Belmont44715
Warren39821
Medina37625
Tuscarawas3674
Miami36630
Delaware35514
Ashtabula34738
Portage33357
Lake32012
Fairfield3148
Clark3137
Wood30449
Geauga30034
Wayne29351
Licking26710
Mercer2238
Allen21933
Clermont2185
Richland2164
Darke18923
Erie18516
Madison1637
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Greene1055
Ottawa10417
Putnam9514
Sandusky8512
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Ross732
Hardin710
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams561
Union551
Muskingum541
Holmes543
Hancock531
Wyandot482
Shelby463
Fulton450
Coshocton450
Clinton451
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Defiance342
Carroll343
Lawrence311
Brown301
Champaign281
Seneca262
Highland261
Knox251
Vinton212
Ashland210
Perry191
Athens181
Henry170
Scioto170
Jackson140
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 85°
Angola
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 83°
Huntington
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 81°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Few Storms Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events