Burning Love: a must-watch parody of The Bachelor

Like so many other shows, The Bachelor seems beyond the ability to be parodied because it is so ridiculous itself. And parody itself is tough to pull off; witness The Onion’s parody series Sex House. But Yahoo’s web series Burning Love does such an exceptional job of imitating and mocking the ABC series that it sometimes feels like the real thing and not fiction.

The 14 episodes, most of which are under 10 minutes, manage to touch on every major theme, plot point, and twist that The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have hit during the past few seasons. As a result, its deconstruction of the ABC show has pretty brutal moments, though those are softened by the humor. (For example, see the events of episode 8, or choices as subtle as the on-the-fly interview in episode 12–though I’d strongly recommend watching the other episodes in order first.) There’s even a reunion.

The surprising part is how much it manages to combine big, broad comedy (a contestant who never wears anything below her waist, hoses instead of roses) and subtle, biting satire of the genre (the bachelor’s baffling decisions, the way the women are constantly sent in to interrupt each other’s time with the bachelor). This is a series that knows exactly what it is parodying.

That’s because the show’s star, Ken Marino, and his wife, Erica Oyama, are fans of the show: “She started watching a marathon of it when she was pregnant with our first son, and then really got into it — so I started watching with her. I like to think that we watched ironically, but it’s become something other than that now,” Marino said. The series was born from a sketch Erica wrote–and from a subsequent viewing party of a season finale the couple had with Adam Scott and his wife, who are also fans.

It’s really well-produced and high-quality, though Yahoo blocks an eighth of the screen with ads to make it as annoying to watch as possible. Seriously, monetization of online content like this may still be a challenge, but covering up the content is not the way to make money off of it.

A significant part of the fun is the casting, which includes awesome improvisational actors such as Kerri Kenney (Reno 911), Ken Marino and Kristin Bell (from Party Down), and Malin Akerman (who you may remember from the fantastic parody The Comeback). There are also surprising guest stars, who I won’t mention so as to not ruin the surprise. However, there’s some particularly inspired casting/writing in the family visits episode. Ben Stiller produces and cameos, and Michael Ian Black is the Chris Harrison-esque host.

Best of all, it’s awesome to get through an entire season of The Bachelor in under two hours, and actually be entertained the whole time.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.