On March 18, 25 women began vying for the attention of one man on prime-time television. For the next few weeks they will be eliminated, until only one remains to be fitted for a wedding ring.
We know “The Bachelor” is degrading.
We know “The Bachelor” is every man’s fantasy.
We know the reactions usually fall along gender lines.
We know what the other person will say — or do we?
In the interests of promoting peace and understanding between the genders, we’ve decided to see things from the other’s viewpoint. We know; it seems as likely as Barry “Down goes Brady” Williams standing in with Mike Tyson for three rounds. Nevertheless, somebody has to get paid to rationalize the doings of ABC TV.
Vera: Hey, man, this is a no-brainer. It’s like being hooked up to a beer IV and you get to grapple with the winning team of a women’s pudding-wrestling match.
Tony: Mmmmm — beer — pudding wrestling — Where am I? Right — “The Bachelor.” Degrading — insulting — women aren’t wrapped-up pieces of meat at the butcher’s counter just waiting to be thrown in some chauvinistic shopping cart of lust — (You’d definitely need something bigger — like a wheelbarrow. Maybe you could line the inside with zebra fur.)
Vera: Zip it, I’m tryin’ here. Anyhow, these fine women are lawyers, doctors, Hooters waitresses — intelligent, hard-working women, some of whom have to wax their cleavage on a regular basis. Think of the indignities they have to go through trying to find a decent man who isn’t a serial killer. Who has the time to do background checks? ABC, that’s who — the network found 31-year-old management consultant Alex Michel, checked him for lice and set up the dates.
Tony: So that’s what women are supposed to settle for in the 21st century — men lacking insect infestations? Anyone can see this is degrading. This show will set the women’s movement back to pre-suffrage days. One Darva Conger was enough; the world doesn’t need 25. (That reminds me, did I ever get that issue of Playboy back from my cousin?)
Vera: We’ve sufficiently established that guys are jerks. They drag it out, equivocate and avoid confrontation. Here, Michel’s gotta make a choice, and in six episodes.
Tony: But men don’t have to be jerks. Male-dominated television networks are doing it for them. Wait ’til this guy really gets married — he’d better relish the next few episodes.
Vera: The one who wins will never have to wonder “Were you sure?” Because you beat out 24 other women. There’s no question, you were the best.
Tony: Best at what — getting breast enhancements? Serving some pig’s every whim? Serving him and his friends sandwiches in a French maid outfit while they play poker?
Vera: Don’t cross your legs, you might cut off the oxygen supply to your brain. Think about this: Poor ol’ Michel is under a lot of pressure. Those women have to measure up only to his standard, and given the prime examples here, that doesn’t take more than lacy aprons. He, on the other hand, has to hold up under the scrutiny of 25 women. At first I thought this was a candy-store scenario, but really, I don’t envy him. And if he doesn’t find The One out of this 25, the cream of the American crop, then he’s never going to find The One.
Tony: Yes, I’m sure he’s a lonely soul who’s spent his whole life looking for The One. That’s what it’s about. This has nothing to do with re-creating some drunken frat-boy weekend at the Mustang Ranch with an uncapped credit card. (Note to self — research latest annual percentage rates on Mustang Ranch credit cards.)
Vera: What kind of defense of women is this?!
Tony: Hey, you can’t hear the stuff in parentheses.
Vera: I’m trying to milk any soul from the XY chromosomes here, and you can’t even channel one Andrea Dworkin moment on how “The Bachelor” is squelching the dignity of women everywhere by parading a bunch of bikinied halfwits drooling over a loser exhibitionist. We’re weaning a generation of kids that thinks marriage is a syndicate with commercial breaks. What’s next, a dowry of goats? Forget it — I don’t even want to hear what you’re going to say about goats.
Tony: They taste like chicken.
Times staff writers Tony Hicks and Vera H-C Chan have promised to play nicer together. This is Vera’s final week with the Times, but you can e-mail Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org.