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Obsessions: Why I watch 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette'

By James Dinan, CNN
On this season of "The Bachelorette" Ashley Hebert has 25 men to choose from.
On this season of "The Bachelorette" Ashley Hebert has 25 men to choose from.
  • The writer recaps "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette" every week for
  • He was hooked on the show during the fourth season
  • The next season of the "Bachelor Pad" returns to TV in August

Atlanta -- My name is James, and I have a confession to make.

I'm a regular viewer of both "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" for the last three years. I even write a weekly column for's Marquee Blog detailing what happened from a man's point of view.

So how did a 30-something husband and soon-to-be first-time dad become a critic and avid watcher of these reality shows?

When "The Bachelor" premiered in 2002, I couldn't care less. I preferred game shows -- frankly, I still do -- and thought this show would go the way of Betamax. Imagine my surprise when the show not only survived, but thrived.

Fast forward to 2004 and the announcement that then-New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer would appear as "The Bachelor." As a Giants fan, this saddened me to no end. Palmer was hanging on a thread, football-wise, and he chose to focus during the off-season on his dating skills rather than this passing ability?

Friends and co-workers who were "Bachelor" fans started coming to me to answer all their Palmer questions, knowing I was a Giants fan. I remember one colleague asking me if he was as "dreamy on the field" as he was on the show.

I replied that if that means failing to complete half your passes and getting sacked five times a game, then he's incredibly dreamy. After asking whether Palmer crumpled like a piece of paper when he received a hug, they stopped asking questions.

Flash forward to 2008. I'm now happily married to a woman who's a "Bachelor" fan. She asks me to give the show another try. It was the fourth season of "The Bachelorette," and DeAnna Pappas was choosing between single dad Jason Mesnick and snowboarder Jesse Csincsak. Pappas chose Csincsak, and I became somewhat hooked.

Why would Pappas choose the extreme athlete over someone with a more stable lifestyle? When Mesnick was announced as the next "Bachelor," I pledged to watch the season from start to finish. I haven't missed a single episode since.

Of course, this show borders on the ridiculous more times than none. The dates and courtships on both "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" remind me of the rules of shampoo -- lather, rinse, repeat. Every season, you're guaranteed the appearance of a helicopter trip, someone strumming a guitar and multiple pool parties. The contestants go to Las Vegas pretty much every year, but they never go to the casino.

Suitors talk about how the process is getting "intense" or "serious" every five minutes or so. And host Chris Harrison pledges that something will be the most exciting/shocking/stunning/revolting moment in show history every third episode.

Even the contestants are recycled. The show now selects the next "Bachelor" or "Bachelorette" from suitors who failed to win in previous seasons. Later this summer, ABC will launch the second season of "Bachelor Pad," where former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" contestants compete to win money by essentially living and playing by the rules of CBS' "Big Brother."

If the first season was an example, "Bachelor Pad" will bring back those who made complete fools of themselves in previous shows to make fools of themselves again.

Part of me feels sorry for these guys. Andy Warhol once said that, in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. For some of these men, they seem to follow Warhol's credo to the last word.

Rozlyn Papa was humiliated when she was ejected from the Jake Pavelka season of "The Bachelor" after being accused of having an affair with a show staffer. Now it's rumored she may appear on "Bachelor Pad." Same with Pavelka and Vienna Girardi, whose made-for-TV romance ended in a nationally televised verbal dustup. Both are also rumored to be moving to "Bachelor Pad" this summer.

Despite all the negatives, there's something about "Bachelor" and its spinoffs that make me and millions of others watch week after week. It's a simple premise -- man or woman looks to find love, and potential matches from across country have gathered in one place to make that a reality.

Who doesn't enjoy watching true love happen before their eyes? Who doesn't dream of having a fairy-tale proposal that occurs at the end of each season happen to them?

The shows may be to women what pro wrestling is to men. Of course there's little "reality" to any of it, but it's theater of the absurd. You know a train wreck will occur, but you can't turn your eyes away of it. And, in the end, the good guys (or girls) will come out on top.

And I know that, in the end, it's just television. It's two hours a week where I can turn my brain off and laugh at the silliness. When it's over, I can write my article and move on with what's most important -- my soon-to-be-expanding family.

My first child is arriving around the time of the "Bachelor Pad" premiere in August. Sorry, Chris Harrison and the gang, but I'll have to take a rain check until next year. Keep a spot in the manor open for me.