Shameless confession: I am obsessed with The Bachelor. In the past seven years since the good ole’ days of Jillian Harris and Jake Pavelka, I’ve watched countless relationships form in the admittedly absurd conditions of the show, and then 90% of them breakup within a year of their season ending. I will admit it is an absurd premise that can hardly be considered reality television: a single man or woman dating 25 people in hopes of finding a spouse. There is a lot of alcohol, a lot of helicopters, and a lot of making out. I won’t try to defend the show on moral grounds (although I do believe there are always a few truly good people in the contestant pool) but the reason I keep coming back to watch is the same I think as most fans: The Bachelor does have a strange way of bringing people together. In fact our collective fandom is so strong that we even have a hashtag: the beloved #BachelorNation.
We, Bachelor Nation, are the groups of people who host over-the-top watch parties, form elaborate betting pools on who will win, and spend hours every week speculating who is going home next. Bachelor Nation includes grandmas, book club moms, youth pastors, sorority girls, guys who watch with their girlfriends, guys who watch without their girlfriends, Walsh 8 mans, and even my dad who I know still watches the show even though I’m in college. Nearly everyone who has seen a few episodes gets hooked. It’s addicting.
As weird as it sounds, I really fell in love with The Bachelor at church. In high school, nearly everyone in my youth group watched, including our youth pastors. And, though it may seem a stretch of a comparison, I think that’s because #BachelorNation bears some resemblance to the church. Though it may be a less worthy cause than Jesus, there is something attractive about a regular group of people coming together at a regular weekly time to bond over a shared activity.
In high school, my best friends and I would pile into one person’s living room to laugh, shout at the TV together, and bake cookies. Our leaders did the same, and after our respective gatherings we would report back to one another to discuss our favorite contestants. We were not alone: people across America gather every Monday night to enjoy one another’s company, crack jokes, and share food and wine (although that part is a little different than church). We may not always use the kindest words when talking about that-one-crazy-girl-everyone-hates (*cough* Olivia), and we may be a bit too excited when our favorite gets the group date rose, but that’s what makes it fun.
This season, Bachelor Nation has had a stronger presence than ever at BC, because one of the contestants--Caila Quinn--hails from our very own university. Quinn, a 2014 CSOM graduate has made a few surprise visits to various fans on campus, and though she is a little confusing on the show, BC is aflame with love for our fellow Eagle, who gave Boston a shoutout in the premiere episode.
As I have heard people around campus chatting every week about the episode and how Caila is doing, I have noticed that there is beauty that can come from even the oddest forms of community. In my seven years of watching The Bachelor I have realized that its fan base is much more diverse than one would anticipate. This show, in which 25 people compete for love, somehow brings people together. It gives us something to talk about and a reason to spend two hours of uninterrupted time together, and that is special.
I can’t help but think if The Bachelor can accomplish that unity on such an absurd premise, how much more could the body of Christ accomplish that, using the story of Jesus and the love of God as the catalyst? I dream of more communities would look like #BachelorNation: bringing people together in unexpected ways, and giving us excuses to spend quality time with our friends.