You probably have at least one friendship that blossomed, if not entirely formed, out of a mutual love for a television program. Whether you’re raving or ranting, watching TV with friends brings us all closer together. (Why do you think we call ourselves BuddyTV?)

Well, for fellow BuddyTV writer Carla Patton (who’s currently getting Real with the ‘wives and realizing America has not Got much Talent) and me, that special bond was forged in the fiery loins of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise. The fights. The tears. The cheesy, unrealistic dates and dramatic, drawn-out rose ceremonies. And, most dear to our cruel, tandem hearts: All the second-hand embarrassment. Out of jaded jokes and genuine obsession, a friendship was born.

Which is why it pains us so much–though I don’t think my cynical recapping method has suffered all that much for it–that Bachelor Pad is just so, so, so, so terrible. Not “so bad it’s good” bad. Just flat-out bad. We get no simultaneous joy from watching these pretty morons preen and ploy and plot against each other, all while weakly professing their watered-down love for one another. It’s painful. It makes us angry. It hurts our Bachelor-loving, two-sizes-too-small hearts.

We gave it a real, American try. I even did my best to look on the bright side with a 5 Reasons to Watch the Premiere article. (And I must admit now, I was wrong on all accounts. Except #1.) It’s not like the Pad‘s marathon six week run gave us much chance to get burnt out or bored. Instead, as Carla said yesterday (but in reference to a certain Lifetime Original Movie) what we have here is a case of “just because it DOES exist, doesn’t mean it should.”

Of course, it’s too late to abort Bachelor Pad‘s existence–it does. It is. And it will soon end–at least for now. But before Bachelor mastermind Mike Fleiss decides to bring back Bachelor Pad for a second run next year, we have some suggestions on how to improve the formula. Some are serious. Some aren’t. But all would be better than the drivel he served us up this summer.

In no particular order, how we would (vastly) improve Bachelor Pad if we were Mike Fleiss’s minions:

1. Start with even numbers of men and women. Last week’s exercise in which the men decided which women would stay and which would go–and they all chose the girls who had given them action–was one of the most offensive, lazy and sexist things we’ve ever seen in a so-called “game” reality show. And we’ve seen a LOT of reality shows.

2. Blind Date-style thought bubbles and animations. These people can’t be trusted to come up with witty jokes and innuendos on their own during their dull-ass dates. Let’s just do it for them.

3. Randomly assigned male-female partners from the beginning, and opportunities to choose a new partner. It’s seriously no fun for us viewers that half of these people knew each other and formed a “cool kids” club before they even started the show. It’s like watching someone else’s high school reunion: If I wasn’t there for the beginning, I don’t care. If some people are buddies beforehand, at least split them up. And chances to swap partners raises the stakes–and the chances of spilled secrets and backstabbing.

4. Murder. Or at least a fake murder-style mystery. The stakes here need some serious raising, and we think an in-house killer with a hidden agenda is just the adrenaline jolt to do it. Think about it: Wouldn’t you rather watch as they try to uncover cryptic hidden clues (written in blood!) and win challenges on threat of death? (Metaphorical death, obviously–or not! We’re flexible.) Screw “insiders vs. outsiders”–we want “heroes vs. villains.”

5. Challenges that require actual skill or intelligence. Or fear. And no sex or dancing. And anything that might involve putting the women in Tyra Banks-style fat suits. This is pretty self-explanatory. You know we don’t like these people, right? And you know you’re rewarding one with $250,000 for doing next to nothing, right? Let’s see them work for it! Let’s see them suffer! (At least a little. Please?)

6. In that vein: How about some more intense challenges, with actual consequences for the people who lose? Kissing contests aren’t cutting it. Now a sleep-deprivation contest–that we would watch. And if the “prize” for winning is just a measly date, at least send along one of the losers as the couple’s date-time servant. Picture it: “Natalie, you failed to assemble the puzzle in the dark before the bees were released. You will accompany Jesse and Peyton on their date in this french maid outfit, and you may only reply to them in proper French parlance.” Where’s your vision, Fleiss? We’re just spit-balling here.

7. A different elimination system and ceremony. These ones take place at Snoresville City Hall. How about a two- or four-person face-off in a gauntlet-style challenge to determine who goes home? Another idea to raise the stakes: The rose-holder picks someone of the opposite sex to stay, and that person chooses the next person, and so forth.

8. “Ghost-hunting style challenges like that one show where they have the headsets and someone is guiding them from the control room.” That’s a direct quote from Carla. And it just sounds like so much fun.

9. A resident relationship counselor. If you’re going to force them to date from within this limited [gene] pool, at least teach them what they’re doing wrong before they once again go out into the real world and think this is how it works. It’s not. And they’re nuts. (This is the “doing a good deed” aspect of the show Fleiss is currently missing.)

10. Cast smarter people. Even with all these improvements, if we have to keep listening to Elizabeth butcher common English idioms, we will go mad. And they’re going to need those brains when they have to pick a new partner to help lead them around the labyrinth in which six ghosts and one maniacal murderer wait with clues as to where the gauntlet salvation key is hidden within the haunted mansion. While wearing a fat suit.

Those are our ideas. (We await your phone call, Fleiss.) How would you improve Bachelor Pad?

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.