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COUNTERPUNCH

A Few Real-Life Shows to Rival 'Bachelor'

April 29, 2002|STEVE YOUNG

It's over. Thank, God! He's made his selection, and we men no longer have to sit in front of the TV, alternating between salivating over this bachelor's unbelievable luck and wanting to slap him across the face for how lousy our own miserable dating lives now seem in comparison (except when I met my lovely wife, right dear?).

If you are one of the handful who are somehow unaware of ABC's unscripted series "The Bachelor" (which aired its final episode last Thursday), let me explain what you missed--and, speaking for the guys, will never, ever be privy to.

For one hour each week, a large part of America watched this guy, 31-year-old Alex, be courted by 25 women, each attempting to induce him to banish the other 24, leaving just her to marry. Did I say court? Throwing themselves at him was more like it. It just doesn't seem fair. This guy lived the dream of every male east of West Hollywood, while the winsome females would find a week in the West Bank less volatile than the competition they had to deal with.

The first week found Alex, a Stanford MBA, the only man at a cocktail party with 25 women, where he had the daunting task of selecting 15 who would move on to the next week while living in a sprawling Pacific Coast mansion. The 10 losers each received a consolation bachelor, 12 credits short of a Pierce College associates degree.

Each succeeding week found Alex and his new friends yachting, horseback riding, Las Vegasing, New Yorking, Hawaiiing, visiting the women's parents (I guess they stuck that one in to qualify as a real reality series). Weekly he whittled the female contestants down to eight, four, three, two, until a single lady remained--Amanda, 23, an event planner from Kansas. And he's not even marrying her. It ended up being an entire series to find out who he would date!

But whom he picked is of much less consequence than the damage done to some young guy who is thinking, "This is how it's gonna be, dude." I don't know about you, but "The Bachelor" is so reminiscent of my bachelor days ... right after I had my eighth 100-proof Southern Comfort Manhattan.

Yes, any hour of "The Bachelor" reminded me of that one special night when 25 women vied for my affection. And I didn't have to be handsome or a millionaire to get that attention for an hour. All I needed was $2,500. A hundred each may not sound like a lot, but remember, we're talking the '90s, when things were crazy. Marie Osmond had an ABC sitcom, and $100 could get you a woman with a driver.

As a television writer, what really drives me nuts today is that I didn't think to pitch my "$2,500 Night With Steve" to ABC back then. Or at least Fox. Another $50 to each girl and I know I could have gotten them to sign a release.

Just like all my good ideas, I thought it too obvious. At best, I thought I had an amateur video I could sell to my friends. Who knew that I could have been attracting upward of 10 million viewers a week--and nearly double that for the final half an hour?

We'll probably never be able to live out Alex's reality, but with ABC ready to order a second edition of "The Bachelor," it's the perfect time for us guys to take advantage of the dreams Alex awakened. Even if you're not in the business, it's time to pull out some of those great past, almost forgotten, events in your life (or were they just fantasies?), put together a show of your own and set up a meeting at every cable network you can think of. Here are some to get you started:

"You Can Have Anyone You Want" (Comedy Central): Each week Halle Berry, Pamela Anderson and Katie Couric fight over you.

"The Night I'm Pretty Sure She Returned My Glance at Church" (PAX): Each week we select a woman from a completely different pew who may (or may not) be looking at you.

"Friends' Mothers" (Lifetime): Anne Bancroft, Kathleen Turner and Florence Henderson ask if you're trying to seduce them

"I Don't' Think So"(Oxygen): Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell and the Indigo Girls almost show interest in you.

"Hard News" (CNN): Ashley Banfield, Paula Zahn and Christiane Amanpour go to any war-torn location you want.

"Right Night" (Fox News Channel): Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and Bill O'Reilly vie for your affections and your soul.

"Fright Night" (SciFi): Tammy Faye Baker, Martha Stewart and Joan Rivers keep jumping out from behind your bed.

"He ... Could ... Go ... All ... the ... Way" (ESPN): Nude volleyball, nude basketball, nude NASCAR....

"SpongeBob No Pants" (Nickelodeon): Jessica Rabbit, Betty Rubble and Olive Oyl vie for your toon. Sure, it's weird, but then again, who ever thought "The Bachelor" would do these numbers?

*

Steve Young, contributing editor at the WGA's Written By magazine, is a Prism Award winner and a Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, has a regular column at newsandopinion.com and is author of the forthcoming book, "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (Tallfellow Press). He can be reached at theeothersteveyoung@juno.com.

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