LOS ANGELES – What's the secret to surviving TV's match-making reality shows?
The answer can be summed up in one word: Booze.
From High School Reunion to The Bachelorette, alcohol has emerged as a crucial tool in the effort to promote social interaction and loosen inhibitions.
Alcoholic beverages have become so ubiquitous on the (so-called) "reality" shows that it's almost as if the spirits industry has found a way of circumventing TV industry prohibitions on hard-liquor advertising.
Take last Wednesday's episode of The Bachelorette on ABC. Not only was alcohol guzzled for virtually the entire hour, but Jack Daniels whiskey was singled out by name by one male participant who enthusiastically poured the amber-colored liquid from a bottle whose label he barely bothered to conceal.
Getting hammered might be the only way to ward off the tedium and acute embarrassment that must come with participating in a show like The Bachelorette, which is by far the alcohol-consumption champion of reality shows.
In addition to several rounds of champagne and beer, the potent potables on view last week included the aforementioned Jack Daniels; Old Fashioned glasses containing light brown fluids that could have been either Scotch or whiskey; large cocktail glasses with what looked like margaritas; at least one orange-colored beverage -- either a screwdriver or mimosa - in a champagne flute; a gaily-colored pink drink with a paper parasol that appeared to be a daiquiri; and a round of bloody marys in roomy plastic party cups.
The beverages were being consumed non-stop -- on buses, in a casino and bar, around a pool at a spa, in a luxury box at a San Diego Chargers game, and in the rented mansion where bachelorette Trista Rehn's 12 remaining suitors were being housed.
There, the men engaged in a Jack Daniels drunkfest that resulted in one suitor passing out and another shoving his face into a horse's feedbag and coming out with a mouthful of oats.
Tipsy Trista, who had a cocktail in her hand in nearly every scene, was so drunk on her trip to Las Vegas with four of the men that she wound up tongue-kissing one of them, an act she later regretted.
The Bachelorette does such a good job of encouraging the use of alcohol that it shouldn't be long before a Bachelorette drinking game evolves in which viewers at home try to keep up with the party animals on the show.
And judging by what we've seen so far, it won't be easy beating the men -- and woman -- of The Bachelorette.