Bidding adieu: ‘Bachelor’ has worn out its welcome

The end came for my fascination with what in this space I have often called “my guilty pleasure” – “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise.

What turned me off was the way the producers of the show dealt with the death of a former contestant.

Actually, turned off is not strong enough: Sickened and horrified would be better words for how I felt.

As presented to viewers Monday last, the show exploited the feelings not only of its contestants, but of those who like me have followed Andi Dorfman’s season of the franchise.

For those of you who don’t watch this “reality” show, it takes a person on a “journey” to find “true love.” This is accomplished by setting that person up to meet (and be wooed by) a couple of dozen members of the opposite sex.

Week by week, in a ritual in which those who advance receive roses and failed wooers are sent home, the “journey” continues until the bachelor/bachelorette find the person he/she may want to wed.

Watching the show has never been a matter of pride for me. I know it’s drivel and a time suck. But there was always something funny or sweet that kept me watching.

No more.

The young man who died was named Eric Hill. He was injured in a paragliding accident and did not survive. From this season’s show debut, viewers were made aware that Hill had died while the show was still filming but after he had been “sent home” by the bachelorette.

Viewers weeks ago saw him walk away from the show by mutual agreement with Dorfman after a somewhat brutal conversation between the pair.

Dorfman was irate at Hill as he had told her he felt she wasn’t always being genuine in her dealings with the men.

And just like that, he was off the show.

Hill’s final episode did not include the usual rose ceremony but instead had Dorfman conversing with “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison about Hill and his passing. That part of the show was uncomfortable and awkwardly done, but it wasn’t so bad as to get me to stop watching.

July 7, that changed for me. The episode involved the last four contestants receiving hometown visits in which they introduced Dorfman to their families. That’s a franchise tradition.

But after those introductions – a mixed bag of goofy humor and weeping seriousness – the show brought the four men and Dorfman to Harrison’s home at which time the news of Hill’s passing was delivered. This portion of the broadcast was filmed right after Hill died.

What disturbed me was the cameras being set up to capture every nuance of these five young people reacting to such stunning news. Super close-ups of each were shown.

Then the cameras were put down so crew members – people who had filmed Hill and the others through the many weeks of taping – could join in the hugging and weeping.

But the cameras weren’t turned off: They continued to roll and the microphones were left on as Dorfman wept and said of Hill, “I can’t believe that was my last conversation with him…”

Now some might say producers had no choice, but I believe they did. They could have chosen to tell these young men and woman this tragic news off camera.

“Reality” television is often not real. Situations are manufactured. Tapes are edited. Contestants play to the cameras. We’re becoming a people who are too busy taking photos and video to actually pay complete attention to what we’re experiencing.

However, what “The Bachelor” producers did was beyond anything I ever expected, to see five people put under a microscope while being informed of a friend’s unexpected death.

There is no pleasure in watching “The Bachelor” franchise for me any more. Guilty, however, will stay with me for even being a part of viewing what was offered up that night.

I’m done.

Editor’s note: Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.