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Monday, April 22

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Airbags

I've returned from my imaginary honeymoon to talk about the favorite topic of newlyweds everywhere. No, not that. I'm talking about love, of course. I'm hardly the only woman who found her soulmates via a television show; however, I may be one of the few who knows it isn't likely to last. (Mostly because — in my case — Tom and Jensen are men whom I will never meet, let alone marry. That and sooper triple marriages aren't legal in the United States. Yet.)

Tomorrow night, ABC airs the first episode of its tenth installment of The Bachelor, a dating show in which 25 single women vie for the attention of a supposedly attractive and intelligent male. This year's stud is a Navy lieutenant and doctor, which the network trumpets in the subtitle "An Officer and a Gentleman." The Bachelor is one of the few remaining holdouts from the reality matrimonial craze of the early '00s. Other offerings included:

Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?: Ah, Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger. He exaggerated his occupation and net worth; she sought an immediate annulment and posed for Playboy within six months. I really thought those kids would make it!

Married by America: The American Idol of the "so long as you both shall live" genre. Viewers called in and voted on for their favorites, who could then get hitched on live television. The twist: The contestants were strangers and agreed to get married "sight unseen." No one tied the knot.

The Littlest Groom: This two-episode "reality miniseries" (I don't know) featured a 4'5" man searching for love with both little and average-sized women.

My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé: Randi McCoy agreed to a fake engagement in order to win $500,000 for herself and her family. Her betrothed lived up to his name — and then some. What she didn't know was that the titular character and his entire obnoxious "family" were actors. She got the money as well as an added bonus.

Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska: I admit that I watched every scary moment of this jaw-droppingly heinous show. A twist on the numerous women/one man scenarios, five city girls fly north to choose from 20 or so Alaskan hunks (I can't remember the exact number, which is a good thing, trust me). What does remain etched in my memory is the women dressed in wedding gowns on remote glaciers, hoping against hope one of the fellows would make her his wife. It didn't happen.

Joe Millionaire: Evan Somethingorother (okay, Handler — heh heh) pretended to be rich and to be able to complete nonscripted sentences for a bevy of "beauties" who wanted his goodies as well as the cash. In the end, his duped choice claimed that his lies didn't change her feelings for him. Uh huh. They didn't marry.

Not-so-oddly, the above all aired on Fox. Also not unusual: Out of 12 seasons of the series (9 Bachelors, 3 of the spin-off The Bachlorettes) only one pair — Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter — survived the experience to actually wed. Each other, even. In a three-part extravaganza on ABC in fall 2003, Rehn and Sutter made it legal in Trista & Ryan's Wedding. It pulled in 26 million viewers, as well as a $1 million payday for the newlyweds.

Couples who seemed to be happily engaged or even in a solid relationship at the end of their season usually announced their breakup within a year (and sometimes within a week). Several participants mentioned strict post-show requirements that forbid in-person contact between the bachelor/bachelorette and his/her sweetie until after the show aired in its entirety, which was several months after the final choice was made. I doubt watching your future husband/wife kissing other people and expressing doubt as to which person is the best choice (on national television, no less) helps the situation. Or perhaps actual "reality" — you know, life without cameras and mansions and hosted rose ceremonies — changed the relationships a little.

But don't be too upset. Reality show love, not love of reality shows, flourishes in series not specifically dedicated to romance. The Surreal Life documents "stars" living together in a house for a week. Even though they are no longer together, Brigitte Nielsen and Flavor Flav shared the odd affections that kindled between them in the third season in the series Strange Love, which begat Flav's dating show Flavor of Love, which begat I Love New York. That's a lot of love. In Season 4, America's Next Top Model Cycle 1 winner and Joliet-native Adrienne Curry met and fell for Christopher Knight, best known for playing Peter Brady. They also had a spin-off, My Fair Brady, which ended its first season with a marriage proposal. They married last year, and cameras captured it all! Well, some of it, at least.

The biggest beneficiaries of falling in love on television are Rob and Amber, no last names necessary. They first met on Survivor: All Stars, and ended up as the final two. Mostly because the other contestants were big babies, the jury awarded Amber the million-dollar payout. "Romber" was then stunt cast on The Amazing Race 7, much to the annoyance of certain teams. They placed second. Their next television appearance was two weeks later in Rob and Amber Get Married. They continued their life on film with the series Rob and Amber: Against the Odds, which chronicled Rob's attempt to become a professional poker player. Most recently, Romber were eliminated from The Amazing Race All-Stars in the fourth episode after finishing first in the season's initial three legs. No doubt we'll be treated to Rob and Amber Get it On: Conception! or How We Continue to Make Loads of Money in Improbable Scenarios: Lessons from Romber in the future.

Currently, on The Apprentice: LA, much ballyhoo surrounds the relationship of Tim and Nicole. Teammates and complete yahoos, they were separated by a plot contrivance last week (she was sent to the other team), and Nicole was quite upset that Tim didn't immediately leap to challenge this scenario. He should have spoken up for her! Oh, the drama! After Nicole's team lost, Donald Trump asked her in the boardroom, "Is Tim in love with you? Are you in love with him? Tell me. I'm curious." How professional! Nicole first tried to deflect the question, even as her teammates (all women) and Trump's daughter Ivanka laughed. Then she gave into The Donald's demands and spilled a few details, although to her credit Nicole did look extremely uncomfortable. I was especially disheartened to hear Ivanka joke, "Think how I must feel, right?" Ugh. Worst. Job interview. Ever. Trump advises Nicole to dump Tim because even though Tim is "smitten" with Nicole, "he allowed [her] to be thrown off the team." Trump doesn't like "somebody that [sic] is with somebody but won't defend that person." Donald Trump: Chivalry Personified.

Is this the end of Tim and Nicole? Does anyone really care? Shouldn't we be more creeped out by Trump's pervasive perviness or how in any other workplace situation this would be qualified as blatant sexual harassment? Ugh. There's a reason I find my love on The CW — it's ridiculously uncomplicated. And also fictitious. But simple! Now if you'll excuse me, my husbands are waiting.

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About the Author(s)

As a child, Dee Stiffler was only allowed to watch one hour of television a day. She usually chose Sesame Street. Today, she overcompensates by knowing far too much about the CW's lineup as well as pop culture in general. Email her at pop@gapersblock.com.

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