Has 'The Bachelor' Gone Too Far?
And by that title, I am referring to the show itself, rather than Brad Womack as The Bachelor.

While some viewers have noted dissatisfaction with the show, a  good deal of the reaction to last night's episode has been focused on the man at the heart of it. Was Brad a cad for stringing women along all the way? Or did he do the right thing if in the end, he wasn't truly feeling a spark with either of the women, despite the positive qualities he could see?

But what about the show itself? Has the show also, essentially, brought its viewers along that same rose-strewn path as Brad did DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft, only to leave them without anything? And come to think of it, hasn't the show done that several times?

Is The Bachelor one of those “toxic bachelors” that plays into romantic fantasies but – with rare exceptions – ultimately can't deliver a lasting commitment?

I'm personally reluctant to condemn Brad the individual too harshly. While his words and actions now seem questionable in light of the final result, I keep coming back to the same thing.

Anytime I want to judge someone's actions on such a show, I have to remember that I have a fundamental lack of certainty about what happens behind the scenes. What freedom any of the participants in such a show really have to do or say what they want? What kind of constraints of contract or obligation are they working within? What is real in the reality show?

Bevin Powers gave some advice to women trying out for The Bachelor, telling them “Read your contract carefully. Talk to an attorney. Do not sign your name unless you want to give up your freedom and sense of worth.” She's not the only past participant in a reality show to make such statements. Granted, anyone who might have come out not happy with their experience on such a show might have a stake in creating the impression that the producers are going to unfairly manipulate you, so their own bias or perspective has to be taken into account as well.

But after several seasons of disappointment, are viewers going to stop focusing their dissatisfaction on the individuals like “Bachelor Blob” as disgruntled viewers called Bob Guiney or now Brad the Cad, and start losing their romance with The Bachelor itself? We'll have another season coming up in which to see.

But here's some advice to everyone involved: if the man at the heart of The Bachelor is feeling uncertain about whether or not he even wants to continue dating any of the remaining women on the show, for the love of Pete, don't have him buy a ring!

Don't do that to the women and don't do that to the viewers (unless your goal is, of course, to have your Most Innocuous Bachelor Ever turn into Most Hated one overnight). It might mess up the tidy story of the funneling down of the women through progressive Rose Ceremonies, but if the spark isn't there, let's not wait until the Final Rose Ceremony to find out.

Is there anything that either Brad the individual or The Bachelor as a show can do tonight on the After the Final Rose show to redeem himself or itself? Some have said that Brad might still actually propose tonight. Who knows if that will happen? Several of DeAnna's comments seemed to be included that could build to a bigger story, ones about him watching her walk away and regretting it later. But if that happens, one wonders if any viewers would feel any better about sitting through the whole season.

Or is the damage done? What do you think? Aside from your feelings about Brad as a person, what are you feeling about the show? Will you still tune in next season or have you had it with The Bachelor?

Read related Bachelor stories:
"After the Final Rose" Recap
Season Finale Recap
Was Brad Womack Still Talking To His Ex?

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Image courtesy of ABC)