If there's one thing I appreciate about Bachelor/Bachelorette producer Mike Fleiss, a professional bait-and-switcher if there ever was one, it's that the man knows when to cut to the chase.
"When the new season of The Bachelor premieres, look for Reid Rosenthal, Kiptyn Locke or Jake Pavelka to be handing out the red roses," Fleiss told Entertainment Tonight. Okay, so he didn't tell us which of the three Bachelorette castaways will be wooing the woeful women on ABC this season, but at least he narrowed it down to the three guys we all assumed were the only worthy candidates anyway.
Fleiss also commented on how this post-Bachelorette fiasco with Ed Swiderski's ex-girlfriends (and Bachelor scandals in general) affect the series: "What do you think? Booyah!" (Seriously. That's what he said.) At least there's one true love affair on this show: the executive producer and his ratings.
All celebration aside, Fleiss spoke up to defend the realism of the "reality" TV couple he helped bring together:
"They are a real couple. They are engaged. I am always optimistic about these things. I think they look like a real couple. I can see them staying together. She is such a level-headed person. And he seems like a level-headed person -- maybe they will be able to survive this media blitz."
It's like Zeus applauding the townspeople for weathering the storm that he created. If it weren't for Fleiss, there would be no "media blitz." Jillian even said it herself: the thing that seems to be most threatening to her level-head (and her love life) is the publicity that comes along with The Bachelorette title.
"I really want out of the spotlight so bad. I hate it so much," she told OK Magazine this week, after defending fiance Ed against accusations of infidelity.
With the world seeing text messages that reveal her husband-to-be wanted to "grab [another woman's] ass" while he was trying to win her love, can you really blame Jill for wanting the man but not the fame? (I guess you could say she might want to reconsider both the man and the fame.) Unfortunately for Jillian, and our future Bachelor, it's a two-part package deal. And more likely than not, the important part of that package--the love part--will be DOA.
Despite constant attacks from critics and viewers that The Bachelor/Bachelorette series is about anything but love, Fleiss defended the abysmal results of his series (coming up on their 19th cycle, the Bachelor is 1 for 18 when it comes to weddings):
"Our batting average is about 250 [...] I think that is pretty good. This show offers no guarantees, but it has worked. Ed, on GMA, said, you can find love."
Yes, technically (especially if you ask Trista Sutter) you can find love on The Bachelor. But love isn't baseball. And even if it was, the last time I checked, your coach is supposed to help you win, not help himself by making your road to victory--or more often than not, defeat--as humiliating and rocky as possible. To illustrate his point, Fleiss's using Ed--who's actively taking over for Jason Mesnick as the Bachelor poster-boy for indecision and indiscretion--is downright laughable.
With an escalating precedent of staged drama, a seemingly ever-lowering standards bar in the casting department, and a producer who exclaims "Booyah!" when you get your heart trampled in the national press, the question isn't "Can you find love on The Bachelor?" It's "Who in their right mind would try?"
We'll soon find out which man--Kiptyn, Reid, or Jake--didn't learn his lesson the first time. But that doesn't mean we won't watch. There's one aspect of Fleiss's baseball-Bachelor metaphor that holds up: for some of us, watching these dramas unfold really is becoming an indispensable national pastime. And hey, if one of these handsome men wants to sign up again to have his heart beat up and bruised for my amusement, who am I to stop him? Play ball! (Be warned, next Bachelor: in this game, the ball is your heart.)