Disclaimer: I’m not particularly good at deconstructing something and analyzing exactly why I enjoy it. Whether that “thing” happens to be wine, a book, a TV show or a movie, it’s more a gut feeling with me. I just know I enjoyed the hell out of it, and it’s difficult for me to convey to someone exactly why. (Which is why I don’t properly review books on this blog, and I’m all “Squeeeeeee! I loved this book soooo much!” and sharing an excerpt, rather than a thought-provoking breakdown about what worked and what didn’t.) But because I’m a sucker for punishment, I’m going to attempt to explain why I love the Australian production of Beauty and the Geek to bits, and feel extremely discomfited watching the Australian production of The Bachelor. (WARNING: if you haven’t seen the latest episodes yet, don’t click on the hyperlinks as there are likely to be spoilers.)
Please remember I’m talking about the Australian productions of these programs, not the US productions. Haven’t seen the US ones. Can’t comment on them. Sorry.
First up, Beauty and The Geek Aussie style. I’m well aware the camera plays up the whole attractive woman who has gotten by on her looks and isn’t the brightest star in the sky stereotype. But regardless of whether that stereotype has the potential to make me a bit ragey at times, in this case I can’t help laughing when a beauty comments, for example, on an octopuses “testicles” stroking her leg. Aw, bless her! And every week there’s guaranteed to be another beauty’s jaw-dropping clanger to chuckle about. (I only wish I’d written some of them down because they were hilarious.)
And the geeks…. Oh my God. What’s with all the facial hair and the cliched fashion disasters? Surely these guys can’t be that un-groomed and socially awkward and unaware? Apparently they can and they are, and again, this makes for entertaining viewing. Plus, these guys are asked to do stuff that’s waaaaay out of their comfort zones and despite feeling sick to the stomach, boy do they commit.
But for me, what totally saves this program is that both sides always come away with a new appreciation for each other. Beauty isn’t just skin deep and being super-smart doesn’t mean you’re superior on Beauty and the Geek. I applaud not only the supportive and caring dynamic between each beauty and her geek, but I wholeheartedly believe the friendships the viewer watches being formed on screen are genuine — as is the concern each couple displays for the other couples in the competition. And elimination nomination day is more often than not a case of not nominating a couple that still needs help and support, rather than strategically voting for the couple most likely to be a threat. And it’s really something watching how much everyone encourages their fellow contestants, and how kind they are to one another.
Oh, and I LOVE the makeover episode when the bushy beards and long hair those geeks have been hiding behind comes off, the terrible clothing choices are banished for something modern and flattering, and the men beneath the geek are revealed. Some emerge a little less geeky but all the more endearing. Others are, frankly, hot. But the expressions on the faces of all the geeks when they see themselves for the first time after their makeover, and the reactions of the beauties, is tear-inducing. I have no doubt that moment is often life-changing for both parties.
So for me, Beauty and The Geek is all about supporting your partner, learning from your partner, growing as a person. For me, it makes good viewing because there’s no expectation that any of these couples will end up anything more than friends (although it’s always uber-sweet if it does happen), but those friendships will be lasting. And it’s truly a privilege watching all the contestants grow and change.
Now to The Bachelor Aussie style. This is the first time I’ve bothered to watch a “Bachelor” series and this particular series features a bachelor who seems a nice enough guy. Put it this way: I’ve watched two episodes and he doesn’t come across as an arrogant, entitled, douche-canoe. But my God, it’s hard to recall he’s a nice guy when the format of the show has him calling all the shots, which effectively provokes a bunch of women to vie for his attention and act contrary to their true selves. Shy women soon learn they need to open up to the bachelor (AKA air all your vulnerabilities on international TV and make it painfully clear you’re interested in a guy you’ve just met). It’s either that or risk being left out in the cold when participants for the “group date” are announced each week. And for heaven’s sake don’t be too pushy, and too determined to get some one-on-one time, or you might end up getting sent home by the same alpha male who’s making you jump through hoops so you stand out from the crowd and attract his attention.
Case-in-point: this week’s rose ceremony (cue me rolling my eyes about the whole rose ceremony thing) had two women at opposite ends of the personality spectrum in the bottom two. One was very shy and reserved — almost guarded, and the other was very outspoken about what she wanted, and not at all shy about climbing all over our bachelor in the pool and copping a feel of his washboard abs… and then discussing it afterward with the other contestants. And who went home? The outspoken grabby girl.
Who should have gone home in my opinion?
Neither. Because, frankly, I’m beyond caring what the bachelor thinks. I’m appalled that I got sucked into judging these women and buying into who deserved to stay. Both of these women are just fine just the way they are, and I don’t believe they should change just to conform to some guy’s preference… especially when the whole situation is all so… so… fake. You can’t tell me any of these contestants are being true to themselves when the guy holds all the power in a very public arena, forces them to compete with a bunch of perceived rivals for his affection and attention, and they’re coping with cameras being shoved in their faces and mics dangling overhead if they’re privileged enough to be singled out for a quiet, intimate, get-to-know-each-other moment.
Do I believe that the last woman standing (whoever she proves to be) and the bachelor will live happily ever after?
Nope. Because I can’t believe anything or anyone on that show is truly real. And you know me: I love a happy ending. Heck, I expect a happy ending. But so far as The Bachelor is concerned, I would have to suspend too much disbelief to buy into a HEA. And after what those women have put themselves through, the final woman left standing deserves a whole lot more than a happy-for-now.
I don’t think I’ll be tuning in to The Bachelor again because I don’t care enough about the “hero” to find out who he finally chooses. Beauty and the Geek on the other hand…. Is that the time? Gotta go: it’s makeover time for the geeks and I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions!