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"Bachelor Pad" Notes

By admin Published: August 10, 2010

A few words about the weird, leering, more than a little creepy series after the jump. With spoilers.

I have been thinking more than a little this week about TV taking attitudes from its past. I am not talking just about being set in the past, but the vibe that comes off a show. "Mad Men" may be in 1965 right now, but it feels more and more like a 1970s movie; I mentioned the "Carnal Knowledge" connection a week ago, and the most recent telecast had me thinking of
"Carnal Knowledge" again, and of "The Godfather Part II." I will try to elaborate in a separate post.

All this becomes an issue with "Bachelor Pad,' the ABC spin-off of "The Bachelor/ette" shows because "Bachelor Pad" looked like something Hugh Hefner would have imagined 40 years ago. The bosomy women in bikinis. The leering while playing Twister. The simple fact of playing Twister in swimsuits. Somewhere, off camera, Hef had to be in his bathrobe, watching.

To be sure, some of this is a function of TV remaining a few steps behind movies and cable in terms of content. (Otherwise, they would have been playing Twister in the nude, at The Mansion.) But it is also part of the adolescent attitude that the show brings to relationships between men and women.

I'm not just talking about the way Michelle confronting Tenley in the bathroom was like something from fourth grade. All right, fourth grade with bleeps. But the whole boys-vs.-girls structure of the show, and the running back and forth with gossip between the two groups -- it's puerile. And, as I said, kind of creepy, particularly when Elizabeth basically blackmailed Jesse K. into pretending he liked her way, way more than he really did.

Of course, the show is a mess, combining a cash prize with the search for love. There is no way anyone in this show can say, with any sincerity, that he or she is there for the right reasons. There are no right reasons.

I have to say that the women were wise to see immediately that Big-Haired Craig is a loser. And of course am suspicious that he then managed to win the first challenge. But there is a lot in this show that should make people uncomfortable. Weatherman, for one thing. And Gwen -- coy about her age (which appears to be 39), and made up in a way that gives her a plastic-skin look that suggests she is even older. And crazy Michelle, bid farewell but still lacking in self-awareness. And Juan gone because things went bad with one of the women, outside of the show? From what's implied here, and elsewhere, these Bachelor/Bachelorette reunions are, uh, lively. I think if we learned anything from the first episode, it's that the women are far more ready to be vindictive than the men; not only did they take out Juan (and let Jesse K be at risk), they helped engineer the end of Michelle.

But isn't that, too, something from a stereotypical past: equating strong, assertive women with harpies?

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