Harsh 'Reality': Bachelor's Emotional Impact?

Reality TV's Real Consequences

Emotional pain has dogged reality television shows since their introduction. In 1997, Sinisa Savija, a participant on the Swedish show "Expedition Robinson," was voted off first and committed suicide shortly thereafter. In 2005, Najai Turpin, the first contestant to lose on the boxing reality show "The Contender," also committed suicide.

In both cases, producers denied any connection between the show and the death of the participant.

Reality shows have long been accused of scripting, but those accusations are usually denied. The producers of "The Bachelor," which airs on ABC, did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

But reality TV producers do have the responsibility of cutting and editing what makes it on the air. And more often than not, raw emotion, whether real or contrived, makes the most compelling television -- as millions of viewers witnessed "After the Final Rose."

"These people are not actors," said Sheldon. "Obviously the next day -- six weeks later [in real-time] -- those emotions were raw and real. It's very hard to take real people and put them in these scripted positions."

"You can't create emotion -- you can coax it in editing, but ... it's extremely hard to manipulate it," she added.

On her site, Sheldon also posted an interview with Trista Sutter, a former "Bachelorette" (then Trista Rehn) and the only participant on either incarnation of the "Bachelor" franchise thus far to marry the person she selected, firefighter Ryan Sutter.

Of "The Bachelor" season finale, Sutter said, "I don't know what Jason's contract says, but I don't believe the producers could manipulate the ending to this extent. I think Jason definitely had a choice in how he broke off the engagement -- either publicly or in private. Ryan and I don't think the producers could force him into something like that."

While reality shows may create situations that are removed from reality, there still may be lessons to glean for real life. To Sheldon, that lesson is in how careful and considerate of the other person's feeling be when ending a relationship.

"Treat every relationship as though it was on national television," she said.

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