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Davis, California

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bachelor vs. Love Island

Students explore which guilty pleasure dating show they gravitate to more

The dating and relationship reality television series “The Bachelor” first aired in 2002 on ABC. The show’s premise is centered around one bachelor who dates a pool of women contestants, eliminating women as the weeks go on and ultimately proposes to the winner with a Neil Lane engagement ring.

 Since its premiere 17 years ago, “The Bachelor” has risen to national acclaim, spawning the three spin-off series “The Bachelorette,” where one woman dates multiple men in search of a husband, and “Bachelor in Paradise,” where previous contestants of either show are sent to Mexico and try to find compatibility with other contestants and “The Bachelor Winter Games.” These series are viewed by millions of people, and the entire franchise remains as successful and relevant as ever. 

However, just because the show is successful does not mean that it goes without criticism. The premise of one person dating multiple people until finding “the one” can be seen as disingenuous and tacky. The ridiculous fights and dramatic moments on the show feel forced and storylines are often an obvious result of clever editing. 

The franchise has also been criticized for its lack of diversity and conservative values that force women into traditional roles. On both “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” it is presumed that the woman will follow the man in life. Women are shamed for kissing numerous men and taking advantage of the Fantasy Suites, which men are not.  

“Even on ‘The Bachelorette,’ where the women presumably have all the power to decide, she is as inactive as possible in her own decision,” writes Kelsey McKinney for Vox

Carla Correa, a writer for The New York Times, explains how most people tolerate the absurdity of it all due to the escapist pleasure it provides for its viewers. 

“The only way to sit through a two-hour episode is to accept the polyamorous spectacle as one big social experiment,” Correa writes. 

Meanwhile, the 2015 British reality series “Love Island” has been rising in popularity in America, competing with “The Bachelor” franchise for the top reality dating series.

“Love Island” centers around a group of young singles sent to live in isolation in a villa in Mallorca, Spain. In order to remain on the show, contestants must be coupled up with each other by the end of the round. However, unlike “The Bachelor,” couples rarely have their eyes set on marriage. Often, contestants couple up with their friends just to remain on the show.  

While “Love Island” is equally as melodramatic and vapid as “The Bachelor” franchise, it maintains a British sense of irony and humor. Narrator Iain Stirling constantly makes fun of the contestants and mocks the reality television format in general. 

“There’s nothing fake about this show, nothing,” Sterling quips in a voice-over during one episode. “Now would someone move that plastic fern next to the AstroTurf, it’s blocking the shot.” 

While similar in premise and content, this aspect gives “Love Island” a starkly different tone than “The Bachelor.” It’s raunchier and more self-aware — it does not try to force elements of classiness that “The Bachelor” so often attempts but fails to do.  

Second-year philosophy major Susmita Bagchi prefers the relatable nature of “Love Island” in comparison to the often larger-than-life romances of “The Bachelor.” 

“I love all the sayings and their accents,” Bagchi said. “I like how messy it is and how the producers just add people in to stir up drama.”

Meanwhile, third-year psychology major Amanda Druyan said “The Bachelor” franchise, especially “Bachelor in Paradise,” is a better version of what “Love Island” tries to accomplish. 

“‘Love Island’ is weird to me,” Druyan said. “They all sleep in one room together. The ‘Red Room’ reminds me of something from ‘50 Shades of Gray.’” 

She also mentioned that the contestants being confined in one villa feels claustrophobic and that the series gets boring and repetitive, especially with 50 episodes per season. 

Some students prefer neither. Third-year cognitive science major Hayley Raizes dislikes both series due to her belief that they are trivial and self-indulgent.

“I don’t really enjoy watching the shows that dramatize things because, even though it can be funny, I don’t really agree with the way it tends to amplify first-world problems,” Raizes said. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to preference. While neither show is revolutionary, they provide some sort of romantic escapism that is sometimes helpful when life becomes too real. 

“I think people just gravitate towards the idea of watching the journey of people falling in love and seeing it all unfold,” said fourth-year managerial economics major Samar Feghhi. “It’s just a mixture of drama but also rooting for a happy ending and a happy couple.”

Written by: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org

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