Should NDtv have an ‘Irish Bachelor?’
Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 8, 2014
Last Nov. 4, more than 2800 people tuned in to the series premiere of “Irish Bachelorette.” Groups of students huddled around common room television sets to watch 10 of their male peers vie for the affection of one Notre Dame woman. Twitter exploded. Students talked. And for the first time in years, Notre Dame Television made a big name for itself on campus.
This semester, the NDtv staff returns to campus to ask the long-anticipated question: Should we have an “Irish Bachelor”?
We want your feedback.
Throughout our six-episode season, the buzz around campus grew into articulate criticisms and praise of the reality television inspired saga. Students complained the show trivialized relationships, turning them into heteronormative contests. As one senior put it, the show equated the start of a relationship to “choosing meat at a butcher shop.” He later admitted this would not prevent him from watching the remainder of the series.
In reality, given last year’s cast of easygoing contestants, very little damage was done in the way of lost love and heartbreak. When asked if he was personally affected by getting “kicked off the show” one contestant shot back, “Is that even a question?” He added, “It’s ‘Irish Bachelorette.’ I’m not sure you can fall in love on such a show.” He did however, attest to later meeting many a stranger who approached him at parties with positive comments about his television appearance.
NDtv consulted the Gender Relations Center (GRC) on campus for its input on the idea of a repeat of the show, this time as an “Irish Bachelor”. Dr. Christine Gebhardt, director of the GRC, replied with the response: “If the goal is to show how the dating process is about learning about yourself and others in ways that can be fun and healthy, then it reflects who we want to be as a community. This would mean that the message is about finding people who bring the best out in each other and not about a ‘win’”.
If the NDtv staff decides to go forward with a second season, we would make an effort to highlight some of the opportunities for dates within South Bend and the surrounding community. Amidst what many might consider to be a university hook-up culture, “Irish Bachelorette” proved refreshing, to at least some degree, in its revival of the exciting yet awkward first date. Did the show reveal something greater about already uncomfortable gender relations on campus, or did the presence of a camera lens amplify relationship jitters?
The honest answer is probably a little bit of both.
What we at NDtv can agree on is that the social experiment offered high entertainment value to friends and family who headed online to download their familiars’ 15 minutes of NDtv fame. The show created a lively debate about the state of romance on campus and the culturally-instituted social norms that affect the college experience.
Before we solicit your feedback, we would like to clarify our decision to have “Irish Bachelor.” A few viewers and former contestants have informed us that such a flip-flop in male-female roles could present a “difficult gender dynamic” and that what was a fun-to-watch, light-hearted television program could turn into a “cat-fight” quickly, presenting no real substance. However, we had so many incredibly intelligent, confident women audition for our program last year that we would welcome the prospect of casting more females.
At NDtv, we are excited about the opportunity to further our mission of serving the campus community by providing relevant programming to those who want to watch. That is precisely why we want your feedback. After all, the purpose of television is to provide audiences with the kind of entertainment that evokes discussion, laughter and joy.
Email us or give us your opinion on Facebook or Twitter:
Also, be on the lookout for our cameras around campus, asking for your opinions in the coming days!
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.