In case you aren’t the TV-watching type, “The Bachelorette” is a “reality” show in which a young beautiful woman, through a series of activities, group and individual dates (many very expensive and/or exotic), and eliminations (called rose ceremonies), narrows down a field of attractive men to just one.

I’ve caught an episode here and there. It’s like watching the Titanic slide into an iceberg. The cast members truly believe they can find a good partner for life through this [utterly unrealistic] process. They resort to all sorts of awkward posturing, deception, and manipulation to try to win.

I mean, seriously. Anyone can be pleasant when someone else is cooking and cleaning, you’re wearing your best, you’re wandering around a tropical postcard, and the string quartet is playing in the corner.

If this were my show, I’d turn it upside down and shake it. Hard.

Life can get really crappy. (Understatement of the decade.) And that’s where relationships either buck up or crumble. The best way I can think of to learn how potential couples will fare in the hard times is to send them through the wringer a few times. How do they play off each other when it all falls apart? Do things get more and more explosive or do they work together and help each other stay calm and level-headed?

Without further ado, here is Joy’s “Life is Crappy” Bachelorette Show.

The Goal: Get the couples tired, dirty, and frustrated. See what happens and who works best together when the fit hits the shan.

The Cast: The usual beautiful and desperate people, who think this is just another series of luxury dates with other beautiful desperate people.

'KP3_8841.JPG' photo (c) 2010, Kanu Hawaii - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Activities:

  • Pick up trash along a highway. In the rain.
  • Spend a week at summer camp, leading teams of junior-high kids through muddy messy games, dodging insects, sleeping with them in their cabins, and eating camp food.
  • Wait tables. In an assisted living home.
  • Weed, edge, and spread mulch in large flower beds around a gigantic house
  • Assemble some furniture. With instructions in a foreign language. One will be missing instructions.
  • Strip wallpaper, fix drywall, and then paint a room
  • Get lost, get a flat tire, and arrive late to an event to which you have tickets and a start time.
  • Rush to the hospital for a friend’s medical emergency and then sit and wait for hours for test results.
  • Babysit for several young children, at least one of whom is in diapers.
  • Nurse each other through food poisoning.
  • Attend a family gathering in which some of the family members fight about something.

The Host:
Both in one-on-one interviews and in group discussions, the show’s host will expose who each person thinking about, what they did right and wrong, and what was most important to them in each activity. The host will help the bachelorette identify how they handle stress, disappointment, fatigue, sweat, frustration, and the other person’s stress/disappointment/fatigue/sweat. Did their chemistry override their arrogance and self-obsession? What happened when things didn’t go their way? How hard will each person work at something when they don’t succeed at first?

The Elimination:
The relative combustibility of each couple will be put onto a rating scale. A jury consisting of relationship experts will render a decision each week until the field is reduced to the final four. The bachelorette will make the final decision.

What do you think makes a long-lasting and healthy relationship? What kinds of things should people look for as they consider potential mates? What has stressed your relationships and exposed how strong they truly were?

Updated from the archives so I can soak up a few more moments with my bickering children before spending 9 days in South America with World Vision.

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