While the rest of the world was watching — and love/hating — the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore,” I have been struck dumb by my first encounter with ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
Although it is on one of the four major broadcast networks — and has been a hit for a decade — “The Bachelor” seems much cheesier and much sleazier than the antics of Snooki (below left) and “The Situation” in Seaside Heights, N.J.
The reality shows on the former music networks — MTV and sister channel VH1 — are upfront about peddling young flesh and the antics of twentysomethings after they’ve had a few too many drinks.
“Jersey Shore” is just a wilder version of “The Real World” combined with a tamer version of “Girls Gone Wild” — spring break shenanigans stretched out to fill a summer at the beach.
The “concerned” adults and the chambers of commerce that have been attacking the MTV hit must not have ever spent a summer living in group housing at the Shore (You should have seen what went on in the hotel attic I shared with a bunch of waiters and waitresses in Ocean City, N.J., for three summers in the early 1970s. And, O.C. is known as the squarest beach town in New Jersey!)
What bothers me about “The Bachelor” is the way the show wraps sexual titillation in “romance,” with the title character toting roses around with the claim he is searching for a wife during the weeks he spends in a house that looks like the Playboy Mansion (with hot and cold running Bunnys).
In the first episode, bachelor Jake met the two-dozen or so women contestants after we met them separately. The disconnect was unintentionally hilarious. Jake kept telling us he was looking for love and commitment - and a great marriage like the one his parents have back home in Texas – but the women kept talking about Jake’s body.
In subsequent episodes, Jake interviews his possible brides-to-be wearing as little clothing as possible (below) and it is heavily implied that he is taking the contestants for marital test drives.
The sleaze factor is much stronger in “The Bachelor” than in “Jersey Shore” because of Jake’s sanctimonious talk about love and marriage in what looks like the longest porn movie in history.
At least with Snooki, what you see is what you get.