Why 'Rock of Love' Was So Much Better Than 'The Bachelor'
The Bachelor has become an American institution and the gold standard of dating shows, sparking numerous podcasts, articles, and conspiracy theories among rabid fans.
Because the TV industry hates nothing more than coming up with an original idea, blatant Bachelor ripoffs have sprung up all over television in the years since The Bachelor's 2002 debut, directly lifting the basic format to propel a new show forward. One show that did this and succeeded with flying colors was VH1’s Rock of Love.
A more insane dating show did not exist -- and that includes all the ones with Flavor Flav. Rock of Love was a roller coaster ride of emotions and rock; a roller coaster filled with strippers, porn stars, and the goddamn lead singer of Poison. It was one of the best dating shows on TV and remains demonstrably superior to The Bachelor. Here's why.
Bret Michaels was the best bachelor on Earth
The problem with The Bachelor is that it culls its contestants from real life. Really boring guys with really boring jobs who make really boring decisions. You have management consultants, bartenders, farmers, and software salespeople. Yawn City, USA.
Each new bachelor has been more unremarkable than the last. Rock of Love, on the other hand, starred Bret Michaels: the highly emotional, charismatic, balls-to-wall, diabetic lead singer of Poison.
Bret wasn’t just there for love, but everything in between... oh, and also love. In the three seasons of the show, Bret expressed his interest in the dozens of women who showed up by unabashedly making out with every contestant upon first meeting them, commenting on their “smokin’ hot" bodies, and happily accepting his fair share of sexual advances from anyone who offered.
He based dates around his wants and needs, taking contestants out to ride dune buggies, eat steak, and watch live Poison DVDs. It’s worth mentioning that Bret shamelessly plugged his music throughout all three seasons of Rock of Love and actually managed to fit in a soulful performance of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in more than one episode.
The girls were out of their damn minds and proud of it
Unlike the army of dental hygienist clones who parade the Bachelor house, the girls on Rock of Love were unique in their messiness and as proud of their fake boobs as they would be of a newborn child. Where to start?
There was the porn star Brandi "Hambone" Cunningham, the porn star Brandi Mahon, the porn star Brittaney Starr, the porn star Natasha McCollum, the porn star Raven Masterson, and the porn star Angelique "Frenchy" Morgan.
They were loud, crude, angry, and swore like (really hot) sailors. More importantly, they stuck to their guns. Take season one’s runner-up Heather Chadwell, who literally got the name “Bret” tattooed on the back of her neck.
They never overthought their actions and proudly turned their backs on their friends for the prize of Bret Michaels.
They abandoned all fucks for Bret Michaels and didn’t give a damn about anything else.
The dates were way better
Not to consistently pick on The Bachelor’s current bachelor, Ben Higgins, but that guy’s so boring, he couldn’t entertain a doubt. Zing. Bret Michaels, on the other hand, was a blast to watch.
Take episode two of season one, in which the girls compete in a phone-sex competition while Bret’s dick is hooked up to a penile plethysmograph that measures the blood flow to his penis. That’s right -- Rock of Love had a competition to see which girl could give Bret Michaels the hardest erection.
Every game contained was strategically made to entertain and arouse Bret Michaels -- like the peep-show contest, for example. It’s exactly what you think... the girls competed in a peep show.
Dull moments were non-existent in Rock of Love. Remember when Heather the stripper told a girl’s dad that his daughter had been giving Bret blow jobs every night? Would that ever happen on The Bachelor? No, because The Bachelor plays it safe.
The show was self-aware
One of my personal vendettas against The Bachelor is that it treats itself like a documentary rather than the heavily scripted and over-produced fantasy show it really is. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: The Bachelor is not real life. No software salesman from Indiana dates 20 women at once -- it just doesn’t happen.
Rock of Love did what so many reality shows don’t do by acknowledging that it was a television show.
Bret consistently comments on how lucky he is to date multiple women at once and tells the cameras that any guy would be lucky to be in the same place.
The girls were never afraid to comment on how unusual the situation was and how they were even excited for their parents to see the show.
Nobody can organically fall in love knowing your producer’s agenda is to end the show with a proposal. It just doesn’t happen. Dating 20 people at once isn’t normal, and Rock of Love embraced that.
Love can’t be contained with cameras, and that’s why Bret starred in three seasons of Rock of Love.
There was Big John
The sparkly clean image of The Bachelor prevents it from truly fulfilling its potential. The saccharine, milquetoast men wouldn't get so much as a batted eyelash from most of the women in real life. Rock of Love gave us true American grit: guys who go big, go home, come back, and go bigger.
Take “Big John” Murray, who served as Bret’s personal valet, kept watch over the house, and literally threw out a bunch of women for being ugly in season one. Murray served in the Marine Corps, was a professional wrestler, reportedly used to drink up to a half gallon of Jim Beam a day, and did coke with Kid Rock. Jesus.
The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison once guest starred on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and is, by all accounts, way less cool than anyone on Rock of Love.
Rock of Love sparked a gloriously horrible spinoff
Let’s take a moment to talk about Megan Wants a Millionaire, the Rock of Love spinoff featuring season two’s “TV personality” Megan Hauserman.
Why was this spinoff so particularly important? Because it was cancelled after only three episodes because they accidentally invited on a male contestant named Ryan Jenkins who literally murdered someone.
No one watches reality television for the reality. When it came to the batshit insanity everyone's really after, no show delivered quite like Rock of Love.
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Jeremy Glass is a writer for Thrillist and cannot be threatened by the prospect of a good time.