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The show isn’t serialized, but instead features multiple bachelors per 90-minute episode.Male contestants take the stage encircled by a panel of 24 female candidates—standing at individual podiums in a configuration known as “the avenue of love”—who use lights to indicate their interest.The experience is an essential part of being an ex, albeit on a mass-media scale: Your former partner constructs his or her own story about you to tell other people and potential partners—without you.It’s not worth worrying and trying to “set the record straight,” if I even believed such a thing were possible. What really bothered me was that, despite my attempts to rationalize it otherwise, this wasn’t an unrecognizable version of myself.But emotionally, I didn’t know how to confront my own repackaged image, or how to distinguish where I ended and a larger media agenda began.* * *My confusion was further amplified by the fact that this was a love story.For more than a decade now, reality dating shows like franchise, which refers to its fans as “Bachelor Nation,” encompasses some of the longest-running U. dating shows and has consistently produced some of the most-watched television across female viewers of all ages..I was one of two ex-girlfriends portrayed by the same actress—who also portrayed David’s future ideal partner—all of us wearing different hats and subject to the same nauseatingly saccharine piano music.(I tried to imagine the conversation between David and the show’s producers about how to construct the story of our two-year relationship for a 30-second spot.) As the reality TV version of me gazes toward the sky in the style of a My Space picture, David explains in voiceover that I was a student when we met, a bookworm, and an aspiring professor.
He also participated in the show’s “love resume” segment, where our relationship rehash came in.The first time I saw the video clip of myself, I called a Mandarin-speaking friend at 11 p.m. Reduced to pure vanity, I shouted into the phone, “Do I wear weird hats? ” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as I watched the line between my inner and outer lives dissolve before my eyes, repossessed by a TV show I didn’t even know.As a student of cultural studies, I was intellectually fascinated: The philosopher Jean Baudrillard portentously wrote in 1986 that “everything is destined to reappear as a simulation”—even the events of your own life.We keep in occasional contact, so I knew David had already been on TV a couple times before.American expats appearing on Chinese TV is not uncommon: As explained in a June 2012 episode of This American Life, seeing foreigners perform and do “silly” things on TV—speak Mandarin, wear traditional garb, dance—is novel and hugely popular.