Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Episode 102

“Next time on…”: those three words are often the only thing that prevents us from hurling something at the television after a will-they-won’t-they cliffhanger. There are many ways of presenting upcoming episodes (Arrested Development actually had fake “next time on” scenes that were really part of the current episode ["It's not my trick...it's my illusion!"]), some more ridiculous than others, but reality television is the worst culprit -- here, we see more previews and postviews than actual footage.

Last night on The Bachelor, Jason went to each of the remaining girls’ hometowns. One scene, in which one of the girls’ moms makes Jason hold and bury a dead dove (not even close to as awkward as when the same girl's dad told Jason that he should look to Jesus for how to choose his wife) was shown FIVE TIMES (I'll spare you the list), only one of which was not in a "next time on..." or other such preview.

Just a little back story before moving on, just in case not everyone follows The Bachelor. Last season on The Bachelorette, near-perfect Deanna chose snowboarding Jesse over Mr. Right Jason (NB: Deanna has since broken up with Jesse…shocking). Jason’s heart was broken, but voila, he is now “the” Bachelor this season. Since the beginning of this new season, ABC has been showing previews in which Deanna comes back and tells Jason: “I made a mistake”. Last night, we got an even more extensive preview of this juicy twist: “Later this season…” Deanna magically arrives in New Zealand and says three things: 1) “I made a mistake” 2) “You haven’t proposed yet”, and 3) “This is your chance”.

What he have here is a classic case of closure, that is, the act of filling in the empty spaces with presumed action (way for me to remember something from a class I took in college...well done, liberal arts education). Of course, we are led to fill in the blanks as follows: “Jason, I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have chosen Jesse. I love you, not him. You haven’t proposed yet to that other slutty ho bag, so please choose me. This is your chance, this is your chance to be happy.”

But what if we filled in the blanks another way?: “Jason, I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have gotten engaged to a man I had only known for 6 weeks and met on a television show in a completely artificial setting. You haven’t proposed yet, have you? Please tell me you haven’t, you idiot. Ok, here’s what we’ll do, I’ll say something cute for the camera and you run and get the hell out of here ASAP. Ok, ready? This is your chance."

Compared to fake real life, real real life seems pretty simple. Just one of the many advantages to watching Reality TV.

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