Last Thursday, The Bachelor was called “idiotic” by The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre in the vanity card he includes at the end of each episode, though it wasn’t actually broadcast: he self-censored and published it online instead. He wrote, in part, “What does it say about us when we think the institution of marriage is threatened by gay people who love each other, but not by idiotic game shows like The Bachelor?”
That prompted reaction from a Bachelor producer, host Chris Harrison, and an ABC executive–reactions that seemed very thin-skinned for a show that you’d think could handle being called “idiotic,” especially since that’s a pretty accurate description of a show that gave us this person. Anyway, here’s what appeared on Twitter, and my observations about those comments:
Bachelor Nation Overreacts to Chuck Lorre
Andy Dehnart’s analysis of Twitter responses from Bachelor producers and an ABC executive to Chuck Lorre’s Two and a Half Men vanity card that called The Bachelor “idiotic.”
Storified by Andy Dehnart · Mon, Nov 05 2012 16:29:24
At first, the response to news reports about Lorre’s vanity card dismissal of The Bachelor were either amusing and/or not noteworthy (ahem, Chris Harrison):
Chuck love it when people expose their own ignorance! RT @NikkiFinke: Chuck Lorre Slams Mitt Romney & The Bachelor http://dlvr.it/2QVvGB viaChris Harrison
Someone has been freebasing crushed up copies of Dharma & Greg DVDs RT @NikkiFinke: Chuck Lorre slams ‘Bachelorâ€™ http://dlvr.it/2QVvGBelan gale
Chuck Lorre’s getting #TwoAndAHalfMenNation to retaliate against #BachelorNation Step 1:teach their geriatric audience to turn on a computerRobert Mills
Two and a Half Men. Zero salient pointselan gale
Regarding Bachelor producer Elan Gale’s tweet, was Lorre’s point really not salient? Again, the vanity card said, in part, “What does it say about us when we think the institution of marriage is threatened by gay people who love each other, but not by idiotic game shows like The Bachelor?”
Yes, Lorre calls the show “idiotic,” but far worse things have been said about The Bachelor (see: accusations of racism for the show’s pathetically white casting). Note also that Lorre wrote “like,” referring to more than one TV show and suggesting that our views about marriage are collectively out of whack. You can agree or disagree with that point, but what’s clear is he was attempting to make a point about what we value as a nation, not make a point about The Bachelor.
Next, my friend and TV Guide senior writer Damian Holbrook weighed in with one of his characteristically sarcastic tweets, and I replied:
If you’re gonna bash #TheBachelor for being “idiotic,” make sure Dharma & Greg isn’t on your IMDb page.damianholbrook
@TVGMDamian I’m not the biggest fan of his shows or him, but do you really think the point he was making was that egregious?Andy Dehnart
@realityblurred No I get his point. But it’s shitty that he used his timeslot competitor and not a more salacious target. Rock of Love?damianholbrook
Damian made a good point that I didn’t consider: The Bachelor competes against Lorre’s Mike & Molly, which is on CBS Monday nights.
@TVGMDamian Good point that it’s a direct competitor. And yes, it is far from the worst offender!Andy Dehnart
But then it became clear that this is not entirely a rational argument being made against Lorre’s comment. ABC’s vice president for alternative series and specials (i.e. reality TV), Robert Mills, jumped in:
@realityblurred @tvgmdamian you’re also not a fan of #Bachelor, Andy so of course you didn’t think he was egregiousRobert Mills
@Millsy11374 @realityblurred In his defense, Andy he hates everything.damianholbrook
Damian’s response made me laugh: it often seems that way! And for sure, I would not rank The Bachelor among the best reality series. But really, calling the show “idiotic” as part of a larger point is “egregious”?
More disturbing to me was Mills’ suggestion that I am incapable of evaluating criticism because I am not a “fan”–a word derived from “fanatic” because it means someone who is blindly devoted. I’m not even blindly devoted to the shows I love: that’s why I’m a critic. Anyway, I tried to make that point, and because I’m insecure, also provide some evidence that I’m not the opposite of a fan, e.g. an unbending hater:
@Millsy11374 I don’t drool all over the show like some (ahem, @TVGMDamian), but don’t mistake criticism for hate. Also: http://bit.ly/xHdayaAndy Dehnart
@realityblurred @tvgmdamian yes that was very nice. I still love Damian’s drool!Robert Mills
Meanwhile, however, things got really weird, when Mills wrote this and Chris Harrison re-tweeted it:
Ironic that Chuck Lorre decides to bash #Bachelor and one of his stars @KaleyCuoco is a card carrying member of #BachelornationRobert Mills
Ah, yes: Bachelor Nation, a cult where no one can interact with people who disagree with them.
Are you kidding me? That is so disturbing I can only hope that it was a joke.
But no. You know the train has completely derailed when an ABC executive says this, responding to a tweet from a viewer who pointed out that some of Lorre’s shows and The Bachelor are produced by Warner Brothers:
@StephTweets yes. Warner Bros should force him to apologizeRobert Mills
Force Lorre to apologize! For the weakest criticism possible of a reality show? Bachelor Nation’s overlords have lost their minds.
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Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.
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