Like many hard-working Americans, I spend an inordinate amount of free time watching horrible reality TV shows. Rock of Love, Married at First Sight, The Bachelor and all its spin-offs … you name it, and I’ve surely seen it. Recently, I’ve discovered The Proposal, an hour-long program that always ends in a proposal.
Before seeing it, I already knew the show had a lot going for it. It’s created by the producers of The Bachelor, which means it features the most desperate 20-somethings in America (and sometimes Canada!). The folks who go on this show are somehow even more desperate than contestants on The Bachelor. I didn’t think that was possible, but nothing surprises me after Trump became president and scrunchies regained popularity.
The word on the street (well, the internet) is the contestants on The Proposal applied for The Bachelor but were rejected. Their information was presumably tossed in a file called “These People Will Do Anything to be on TV” in case a less classy version of The Bachelor were created sometime in the future. Well, the future is now, and I am highly entertained.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Proposal, the premise is sort of like a beauty pageant for love. A mystery man or woman watches all the contestants strut across the stage and immediately eliminates half of them based on how they look and the fun facts announced during their entrance. If we’re being honest, it’s mostly about how they look. Isn’t it always?
Then comes the swimsuit competition, where the remaining contestants don their best swimwear. This is when they get to address their mystery suitor, usually with a cringe-worthy song or some unexpected slam poetry. More are eliminated. The unlucky contestants who are left answer probing questions about their family, faith or sexuality (sometimes all at once!) and hope they aren’t one of the two left standing at the end.
You can see it on their faces. They do not want to get engaged. They just want to be on TV, and they’re hoping to be memorable but not too lovable. After all, as the host says, each “soulmate pageant” ends with a proposal. It would be weird to go on a show called The Proposal and turn down a marriage proposal, so the contestants say it’s love at first sight and hop into an engagement that will inevitably end a few months later.
Undoubtedly, the best part of the show is the proposal. The remaining two contestants stand side-by-side, asking their mystery suitor to choose them. Then the suitor appears on the stage and the contestants gasp, as if they weren’t competing to marry an extraordinarily beautiful person. Heads up: Every contestant on a dating show is going to be beautiful. The producers don’t cast average people like me who try to wear pants with an elastic waistband as much as possible. They seek beautiful people, and they certainly find them.
The suitor chooses their partner, and the proposal is underway. That’s where the tension comes in. Will they agree to marry someone they’ve only known for an hour? Of course they will. Will they stay engaged long enough to drum up Instagram sponsorships? Of course they will.
Will I continue watching until the day I die on the couch with an uncomfortably satisfied grin on my face? Of course I will.
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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.