New Entertainment Lows and the Dangers of Gambling
Like most people, there is a soft absolutishness in my entertainment. I watch at least three professional football games a week during the season, no exceptions. Ninety percent of the music I listen to was recorded in a small window between 1994 and 2002. I don’t listen to country music. I don’t watch romantic comedies. I would rather take a bath with my television than watch “reality” tv on it.
At least until now.
I used to think reality TV was all fake; that some unseen producers were pulling all the invisible strings Truman-Show style, except the victim wasn’t the puppet at the other end, it was the slack-jawed sucker who watched it and naively believed. I used to think that reality TV was full of failed actors and actresses who needed a less-demanding stage where they could halfway be themselves and produce such a high volume of footage that the post-production team could edit it together to manufacture some needle-moving marketable emotions.
For the most part, I still think all of that, but there’s a new twist in this story: I started gambling on The Bachelor.
For those of you that aren’t watching this season of The Bachelor, here’s a quick rundown: there are two important parties: the bachelor (Sean) and the women who compete for his affection.
Sean is an outrageously attractive guy who had his heart broken when he was eliminated from the last season of The Bachelorette. He seems very sincere, genuinely believing in the possibility that several scheduled over-the-top televised dates with 20+ women will generate actual, meaningful feelings for a person. He also loves lifting weights on the beach in front of cameras.
The female contestants on this show are 20+ (down to 16 or 17 now) single women, for the most part very attractive and motivated entirely by a unique blend of selfishness and jealousy trumped only by their desire to be on TV. They don’t pretend to get along with each other and spend most of each episode trying to get Sean’s attention so they can trick him into having feelings for them because the longer he likes them, the longer they stay televised.
This isn’t a show in which I am even moderately interested. It’s everything I hate about TV: intentionally-engineered drama, actors pretending to be real people in some kind of romantic hunger games, gratuitous hot tubbing, unrealistically good-looking people and a the promise of television magic manufacturing “love.” Entirely unappealing to me.
But here’s where it gets interesting. As much as I hate this show and frown upon the 10% or so of television viewers who perpetuate this thing season after season, I love gambling just as strongly and it just happens that some of my more creative co-workers created a way to gamble on “The Bachelor.” I was invited to join and, in a scenario similar to that of a mafia boss of the day of his daughter’s wedding, I was powerless to refuse.
It works kind of like an NCAA tournament pool in that we choose the women we think will make it through each round of eliminations and progressively earn more points for correctly selecting those contenders who make it deeper into the competition. The difference is that in the NCAA tournament, the picks are submitted before the action happens and any course of action could take place. In The Bachelor pool, the action has already happened and can only unfold in one way.
Nonetheless, I am into it. I watched the first episode to introduce myself to the cast of contestants, taking egregious notes and determining each girl’s staying power. The result is a bracket of which that I am genuinely proud and in which I am intensely invested.
Tonight’s episode begins in about five hours and it’s all I can think about. Gambling has turned this entertainment lump into a shiny and attractive diamond. The lesson to learn is that inviting me to bet on something is the easiest way to get me interested in it. Thankfully, there’s no way to gamble on Justin Bieber music, Fifty Shades of Grey or the WNBA yet.