Please, someone hide my remote before the fall premieres come to television. I must not succumb to another season of The Bachelor.
I criticized the ABC Network’s Bachelor franchise back in February, as well as myself — for being sucked back into the completely unrealistic reality series. It’s a competition among 25 women wearing amazing clothes and living in a luxury oceanside mansion, all in pursuit of a man allegedly ready for something as serious as matrimony.
It makes for great television, I argued, because the completely artificial, overly produced environment is an easy space in which to fall in love. But it’s a terrible example for young women looking forward to genuine romantic relationships. None of the candidates on The Bachelor has career obligations or family responsibilities while appearing on the show. They have unlimited budgets and nothing but time to spend wooing their target. There is nothing to indicate how these couples might field the curveballs that a real marriage will send their way.
But to be fair (I convinced myself), I programmed my DVR to record the current season of The Bachelorette and poured a glass of red wine before I watched 31 men make their first impression on the supposed woman of their dreams. She’s a well-educated professional and carried herself with a lot of class on the last season of The Bachelor, so my hopes were high.
In their favor, most of the gentlemen stepped out of their cars wearing wide smiles, ties and coats, which they promptly buttoned to greet the bachelorette. Many held her hands and hugged her.
And then they let their freak flags fly.
A few danced with her. One arrived in a penguin costume. Another wielded a pickax in one hand and — while showing off his massive biceps — used the tool to break the ice block he held in the other hand. One carried plane tickets to Las Vegas in his breast pocket so they could elope. An aspiring drummer arrived with a marching band and regaled the bachelorette with small talk via drumming puns. It was painful to watch — and hear.
And yet it might be the most realistic encounter of the season. It’s not that different from attending a friend’s birthday party or summer barbeque, where you might have watched someone enter a room and then orchestrated a casual conversation at the bar. These parties just aren’t as well lit as the setting of an oceanside mansion is on TV.
In all of these scenarios, science tells us that first impressions are as important as your mother always said they were. BusinessInsider.com compiled a list of nine things people decide within seconds of meeting you, according to studies from reputable sources.
Among them, Princeton University researchers found that trustworthiness is determined in that first meeting. And Loyola Marymount University researchers found that perceived intellect is established by whether or not you look someone in the eye when you meet them. Bald men are perceived as more dominant, and women with tattoos are perceived as less attractive and more promiscuous.
And a British study out of Durham University found that a person’s gait — the stride, for example, a bachelor on the show uses to walk from the limo to the spot where the bachelorette and camera crew are waiting for them — is similarly revealing. People with looser gaits were considered extroverts and adventurous, while those with shortened, clipped paces were seen as neurotic.
The beauty of the DVR is that you can go back mid-season to see if your favorite suitor had a gait in the season premiere that matched the personality he’s showing on camera. And if your spouse catches you doing that, tell him you’re doing it for science.
I’ll back you up.
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