The husband and I were watching a baseball game recently, flipping channels at commercials, and found ourselves pulled into the "first ever sit-down interview" since last season's "Bachelor" and his fiancee broke up in the tabloids.
Watching Jake and Vienna, the bachelor and his intended, was like watching a melee break out on the ball field. And in this case, the verbal sparring may have been among the most instructional half hour on television.
As the two whined and complained, it was clear that the true reality of the reality shows isn't as dreamy as the scripted side that comes with stage directions, wardrobe and hair gel. The segment also showed that two selfish people who want what they want do not make good partners, and that narcissists who love a camera as much as they love themselves are never as attractive as they think.
She complained that all he did was pucker up when he kissed her. (Listen honey, when you've been married 30 years, you'll take it.)
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He griped that she wasn't the person she seemed to be when they were dating. (Give me a break, Bubba. Every romance contains false advertising.)
Yet, at the same time, they inadvertently illustrated two critical truths: Men despise being belittled, interrupted and micromanaged. Women loathe trying to communicate with clams, being yelled at and ignored.
Fantasy relationships are bound to end badly because they start badly. Nobody gets an accurate picture of a potential partner by luxury dates on tropical islands, wandering through castles where wine and cheese magically appear and a hair and makeup crew darts out of the bushes every five minutes to do a touch-up.
If producers of dating shows want to perform a public service (and they don't) they could inject a true dose of reality. For starters, they could hide all the women's makeup. Maybe even cut the power to the resort where the women are staying and turn off water, too. See if the bachelor is smitten now when the ladies waltz down a long staircase.
Send couples on budget dates restricted to fast-food restaurants. "Hey baby, want a bite of this full-pounder bacon cheeseburger dripping down my arm?"
"Oh here, let me feed you this alluring taco chip smothered in plastic cheese."
Forget the limos and horse-drawn carriages, have couples take the bus. See if they still have that soft-focus dewy glow under the ugly glare of green fluorescents.
Scrap sailing, try bowling.
Anyone can fall in love in a castle with candlelight, an ocean view and wine stewards. The real test is if you can fall in love in the cheap lawn seating at a minor league ballgame, dripping perspiration, hair frizzing from the humidity and eating ham sandwiches out of a plastic cooler.
If you can handle that without whining, maybe you're ready for reality.