I’ve never been a fan of "reality" television and routinely pass on watching it. This is partially a result of available time, but also a belief that the presence of a camera kills real spontaneity and personality. It breeds artificiality. That said, I find the presence of a three year old child as part of a package deal to be both fascinating and extremely disturbing. The fact that four of the 25 available bachelorettes are also single mothers only raises both the fascination and disturbance.
From the clips viewed on both the internet and regular commercials, the child is apparently chipper, cute and sweet and the scenes with Dad are heartwarming. There are hugs, shoulder rides and curling up for naps and a lot of talk about finding a stepmother for the boy. Unfortunately, they don’t reveal that Dad Jason is actually divorced and the tike already has a mother, living and breathing and agreeing to this for reasons that only God seems to understand.
On the positive side of the ledger, it does serve to showcase affectionate and positive paternal behavior and could serve as a decent model of how a guy can interact with his son (or daughter). This is a welcome change from the frequent depictions of television fathers as boorish, rude and out-of-touch; Stephen Collins’ portrayal of Reverend Camden on Seventh Heaven stands out as an exception to this trend.
On the negative side of the ledger, it could represent an unrealistic portrayal of fatherhood. A three year-old child is at a great age and they can be a much more wonderful experience than a two year-old or fourteen year-old; they are eager and innocent and haven’t yet learned to think of their parent as an idiot-savant. But the simple reality is that a child also requires a great deal of patience, energy and discipline. Will they show the Bachelor having to contend with the whinies because the socks don’t feel right or he’s cranky from too much activity and lack of sleep? Will they show the Bachelor having to oversee a time-out or carry the recalcitrant kid out of the grocery store like a sack of BOGO potatoes? Real fathers, like real mothers, can and do get testy and exasperated and there’s nothing abnormal about that.
Likewise, I do question whether having a three year-old shown in such a situation is healthy for the kid. What’s he learning about real courtship and building a real relationship with a woman. Women being courted do take special care in how they present themselves and want to look their best, but seeing Dad with 25 women who look like beauty queens isn’t a good basis for reality. Especially when the physically hot-and-heavy moments hit the airwaves. And how is this being explained to the boy? That 25 women are competing to be Dad’s new wife – and your stepmother? Daddy, if you became a polygamist and moved to Utah, you could have ’em all! This sets the future stage for a budding-narcissistic personality who expects people to fall all over themselves to be with him.
Honestly, if any woman that I ever dated saw me in that kind of romantic situation with another woman, I’d have been shot.
So when it comes on, I’ll check it out with a great deal of curiosity but not much hope.
Call me CynicalDad.