Some people have meth.

I have reality television.

It started for me way back when the first season of MTV’s The Real World New York aired in 1992. I was eleven years old. It was the most fascinating form of home entertainment I had ever experienced. From that point on, I was hooked.

I loved watching a storyline unfold between regular (often unstable) people who were artificially thrust into a living situation where anything could happen. No laugh tracks. No script. Just a bunch of weirdos with nothing to lose. I loved every second of it. And I loved the next season, Los Angeles, and the season after that – my favorite season of all time, San Francisco.

After a few years of this, the “realness” of the show seemed to fade and so many other reality shows popped up that the Real World lost it’s hold on the genre. I think I stopped watching somewhere around season 16 (there are 32 seasons). But I fell in love with so many others – specifically, and most currently, ABC’s The Bachelor.

When I say The Bachelor, I’m talking about The Bachelor, The Bachelorette AND Bachelor in Paradise. You see, this show is so good that it spawned subsequent series, some of which air more than one time per week! And before you go, “How could you watch that garbage!?” Hear me out. I also happen to love quality scripted shows like Game of Thrones,  Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, Downton Abbey, Homeland, It’s Always Sunny, Rick and Morty – you name it. It’s not that I have horrible taste in television.  It’s that most people write The Bachelor off before actually watching it. But I’m telling you right now – IT. IS. RIVETING.

First of all, the producers of the show know how fucking stupid it is, and play that up. They are fully aware of the absurdity of thirty insecure adult women competing for the affection (or just any attention at all) of one lame guy. One guy who is certainly NOT deserving of any of them. At all. He’s a tool. They always are. I can say that with complete certainty. The guy is a chode. No quality man would ever do The Bachelor. There are plenty of quality women who do it, however. Women who don’t know their own worth and feel like they have to prove something. We as the viewer, go in understanding that from the get-go. So watching the trainwreck of all these girls trying to destroy their own lives on national television is really something. It’s almost too painful to watch. But ABC knows this. ABC is aware of the darkness lurking behind what is actually happening. So – to prevent us from saying, “hey wait a minute, this is horrifying!” they fill the show with lighthearted music, lots of flowers, beautiful, lavish scenery and the false promise of true love brewing. They keep it light and airy. They give us bloopers! And it’s effective. You forget what you’re looking at. For a little while, anyway. The fact that in every single episode there is always one or multiple people crying real, actual tears is expected. We want them to cry. Because we are active participants in this cruel, sadistic ritual.

And this is exactly what brings me here today. If I’m signing up to bear witness to the destruction of all these women’s lives, how can I benefit even more?

BACHELOR FANTASY LEAGUES!!!!

Maybe a few years ago, women like me, who felt bad about loving what I consider a skidmark on the fabric of American pop-culture, realized there was money to be made, which somehow justifies the obsession. Fantasy football and hockey leagues are rampant. So why not apply similar tactics to The Bachelor? Not only can we watch the unhinging of a perfectly good woman on national television – but we can make some money off her too!

Because gambling is, I guess, illegal (?) ABC has come out this year with it’s own “Fantasy Bachelor League” which you can join to possibly win prizes or some lame bullshit – you have a better chance of being struck by lightning. I dont stand behind that statistic, but you know I’m right. If you play by the rules and do ABC’s version, you’re going to win nothing.

By the Books – Lame

 

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

There are user-run leagues that anyone can join. And since gambling is illegal, I’m sure none of the people in these leagues are using their actual money say through Paypal accounts, or oh I don’t know, Venmo, to pay to play with an actual pot. And if you join a league or start one of your own with your own real-life friends, the pot the “point system” becomes a possible victory for you because the numbers are much lower than entering a contest through ABC.

The Bachelor Bracket is an excellent place to start if you’re interested in joining a league or starting your own.

The Real Deal

 

Featured on NPR and the Daily Beast, the Bachelor Bracket is a place to go to get the most out of your Bachelor watching experience. I happily joined this year and it really has enhanced my viewer experience.

Another way to get more out of watching shows like The Bachelor, is to follow blogs that tell you where to get everything you see in the episode that you like. Since most of the women on The Bachelor don’t wear orthopedic shoes and pull-on jeans, I don’t utilize this idea as much as someone younger and more attractive than me could. I’m talking about sites like Possessionista.

Dana Weiss, the force behind Possessionista, is hilariously funny, smart and entertaining. But she also provides a service for those of us who are obsessed with reality television – she shows us where to get the clothes, the jewelry, and anything we’re wondering about featured on the show.

Credit Possessionista

She also does scripted shows if you’re interested. Here’s a recent post she did about Gilmore Girls!

Speaking of services she provides for us television junkies, I highly, highly recommend you follow her on Periscope because she does awesome interactive Bachelor viewings that are as insightful as they are hilarious. One of my many guilty pleasures.

Possessionista also covers my other current favorite reality series, The Real Housewives franchise, though not as thoroughly as The Bachelor.

Bravo TV is like my therapy. After I put the kids to bed, I fire up Ladies of London and instantly feel much, much better about everything. I could be forced into running Mapperton for the Earl of Sandwich! I appreciate my husband and children and friends so much more after watching just half of an episode.

Shark Tank has inspired me to brush up on my math skills when it comes to percentages. The Voice has made me appreciate adult contemporary country music (not really).

 

So before you feel guilty about watching another episode of Shark Tank, The Bachelor or Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, know that it’s not all for naught. Reality TV can inspire you, teach you something, or make you a little extra cash along the way. Happy planning! xo