TV ROMANCE….So we were watching the finale of The Bachelorette last night ? I’m using “we” in a pretty loose sense here ? and once again I found myself wondering about the attraction of these shows. I’m not thinking of how they’re arguably sexist, classist, racist, just plain offensive, or any of that. I’m just wondering how they succeed even on their own terms.

The draw of these shows is obviously their romantic lure: we get to watch in astonishing detail while a couple falls in love. But doesn’t the format of the show make it a little too obvious just how mechanical the whole affair is? After all, on every single one of these shows all you have to do is give the guy/gal 25 members of the opposite sex for a few weeks and bingo! With almost computerlike precision they fall deeply in love with at least one of the contestants ? and usually with two or three of them.

How is it possible to retain our fantasies about the ineffable and mysterious qualities of love under these circumstances? Or our common notion that the people we choose as our mates are one in a million? Why does this all-too-obvious refutation of romance nonetheless seem romantic?

I know, I know, I’m overanalyzing. But I still wonder about this.