Mike DeBoer - Headshot

There are some things that change in a man's life when he meets a girl.

General hygiene improves. His diet moves away from depressing amounts of macaroni and cheese and undercooked chicken fingers to sustenance of a greener and more nutritious variety.

And, for some men, The Bachelor becomes a thing that we watch. 

Now for the first 20 and a half years of my life, my knowledge of The Bachelor essentially began and ended with Jordan Rodgers, former Vanderbilt University quarterback and brother of the much more successful Aaron Rodgers who was a contestant on Season 12 of The Bachelorette.

So how did I arrive here, you ask?

How did I end up in a place where I legitimately had strong opinions on the Taylor vs. Corinne debate? How did I end up in a place where I felt unbelievably awkward when Nick clapped (and grinned like a kid does when they meet someone named "Dick") when Raven's dad announced he was cancer free?

How did I end up in a place where, one night a week, I turn off the NBA game of the night and turn on a show about 20-odd 20-somethings desperately fighting for the attention of a guy who can barely carry a dinnertime conversation?

In the words of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company's Andy Bernard, "I guess this is my life now."

My initial impression of the show was that it was some sort of Hobbesian hellhole, full of emotional breakdowns, crying fits and psychotic breakdowns.

But as a sports fan and writer, I began looking at the show as something of a March Madness-esque event, featuring a handful of frontrunners and with an underdog Cinderella story sprinkled in.

If Raven or Vanessa are your classic, blueblood college basketball programs (think Duke and Kansas), then Corinne is your 2006 George Mason Patriots squad.

Both George Mason and Corinne reached the Final Fours of their respective sports/ridiculous television events, and both shocked the world in the process.

Corinne, a blonde egomaniacally-inclined human being with a penchant for items coated in precious metals and gloating about her inherited wealth, defied the odds by reaching the summit. In spite of her immense unpopularity, she just kept on winning.

"I enjoy it in the way it's like all this crazy stuff is happening," says Olamide Olaniyan, a sports editor at the University of British Columbia's Ubyssey, on why so many seemingly normal people watch the show. "It's almost like sports where anything can happen and last minute comebacks are possible."

The Bachelor has entered a sphere of existence that arguably nobody would have expected when the show began in 2002. ESPN has a Bachelor Fantasy League, where fans draft contestants and receive points for said contestants' performances and the show has become a talking point on a number of sports podcasts.

Rachel Woodward, an entertainment editor at The Gauntlet, the University of Calgary's student newspaper, agrees that the show's larger-than-life premise offers us a glimpse into a world largely dissimilar to reality.

"I think people like to watch people who are a little bit crazy," says Woodward. "There's always the token contestant who is kind of a wildcard who sticks around for far too long. And I think people like watching train wrecks sometimes to make them feel better about themselves. But I think there's something interesting in watching relationships develop, especially relationships that are so far from the norm."

"Your date probably isn't going to pick you up in a helicopter and you won't have a moonlit dinner that nobody eats," she adds. "It's an escape reality where you can pry into these peoples lives and story lines and then pick who is gonna win."

Maybe the show's old school approach to romance offers us a glimpse into the past in an age when finding a date is as simple as swiping right on your iPhone.

The wooing of women with roses, fancy limo rides and thoughtful, pre-planned dates is retro by today's standards. But the show certainly offers itself up to scrutiny.

"There are definitely things that are problematic," says Woodward. "I think the sanctity of marriage is kind of questioned because you know this person for six weeks and you end up marrying them. So I think there's an issue with how relationships and marriage are presented. And they never deal with any real issues and real problems."

To be honest, I never thought I would be writing an article on The Bachelor. And I bet 15-year-old me, full of machismo and obsessed primarily with Will Ferrell movies and sports, would not be impressed.

But who cares if The Bachelor is some deranged combination of HoosiersKiller Klowns from Outer Space and Jersey Shore morphed into one spectacular television masterpiece? People love The Bachelor. Or maybe they just love to hate it. Either way, the show continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.

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Mike is a sports editor for Volume 111 of the Gazette. He is currently a fourth year history major. Contact Mike at mike@westerngazette.ca.

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