For more than a decade, millions of viewers have tuned in to ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for a ringside seat to watch romance bloom among strangers. Some of them are looking for warm fuzzy feelings, but just as often it is the artifice and awkwardness that keeps them coming back.
In Nobody Loves You, a musical satire by Itamar Moses and Gaby Alter, the search for love never gets olds, even when it is fueled by hate. Jeff, the hero, lands on a Bachelorette-esque type show called Nobody Loves You after his reality TV addicted ex-girlfriend loses a slot. To get her back, he decides to expose the behind-the-scenes contrivances but he ends up hate-bonding with a show producer and falling in love.
"I hate the way some people come here and then act like they're above it, when that just isn't true," sings Jenny, the frustrated film maker working as a show producer.
"I hate that too. Like for instance when the thing that people act like they're above's exactly what they do...for a living," responds Jeff.
The Off-Broadway hit opened this month at the Horizon Theatre and runs through April 30 .
Here's a sneak peek from rehearsal:
Lisa Adler, Co-Artistic/Producing Director and Co-Founder of the Horizon saw an excerpt from the show in 2012 and wanted to bring it to Atlanta. "What drew me to the play was the topicality. It is about something that we all love or something that we love to hate. It appeals to everyone," she said.
But Moses and Alter began writing the musical at a time when it wasn't clear if reality TV or social media were going mainstream. "When we began writing the show 8 or 9 years ago, there was this question of “Do enough people know what reality TV is? Do we know what Twitter is?” Now the president who was a reality TV star communicates through Twitter… it is a comedy. This core idea of performance versus authenticity and how hollow everything is when it’s built on performance instead of content has a terrifying new relevance," Moses said.
These are the days when the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise rakes in six to eight million viewers each season. Fans gather nationwide at restaurants and other venues for public viewing parties. Bachelor Fantasy League is a real thing. And you can pretty much bet on a Monday night Twitter takeover when the show airs.
Maggie Thompson began watching The Bachelorette in 2011 with her mom and her sister. Now the 19-year-old college freshman watches the franchise with her Alpha Sigma Tau sorority sisters at Olgethorpe University.
"I don't want to say we make fun of them but the first episode is always my favorite when they come out of the limo and meet the guy and there is always one girl who acts weird," she said. On the flip side, if your favorite girl loses out, it feels like your own heart is breaking, Thompson said.
Yes, the shows are filled with contrived scenes (how exactly did Nick Viall run into his ex-girlfriend fully made up and miked up?) and sure there are some stereotypes, but the drama is 60 minutes of pure stress relief, said Thompson.
In Nobody Loves You, no potential plot twist is left unturned.
There is the Christian named Christian who is paired with party-girl Megan:
Christian: I'm saving myself for a special girl
Megan: I'm really amazing in bed
Christian: My innermost thoughts are between me and God
Megan: I say whatever the hell's in my head
And there's Evan, the Superfan who live tweets everything as it happens. He even has an inside source who leaks information which he passes on as breaking news.
The show contestants compete against one another in challenges like the Minefield Tango -- damage control when a something said in secret is revealed or the 8th Grade Dance -- choose a partner while the other person waits by the punch bowl.
All the while, romance is brewing backstage between Jenny and Jeff. In the end, they all find happiness in some measure.
Nobody Loves You is a spoof of the reality TV world in which we immerse ourselves, but it is offers important lessons about how we relate to one another in real life.
"It is about artifice and how we live in a world where we are constantly performing for each other," said Adler. "It is about the connection ...and letting go of the need to put up a good front and not being real about who we are and our faults."
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