Marriage Rates Are Plummeting. Why Are Reality Dating Series So Popular?
Why the dating-and-marriage storyline still appeals so much to audiences who are increasingly opting out of the tradition.
Follow conservative punditry over the past few years, and you might think America is becoming a nation of unrepentant singles. Last July, Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance warned a conservative think tank about a “civilizational crisis,” marked by declining marriage and birth rates, and promoted by the “childless left.” Census data that shows low marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z-ers — only 29 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were married in 2018, compared to 59 percent in 1978 — begets headlines bemoaning a “marriage crisis” or predicting “the end of marriage in America.”
But if the dream of marriage is dead, you wouldn’t know it from the trailer for the upcoming season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” The three-minute video, released last week, features a single schoolteacher named Michelle Young, a herd of healthy male suitors vying for her hand and a shimmering word cloud of courtship cliches: “I’m looking for my soulmate.” “You give me goosebumps.” “When I’m with him, I feel fireworks.” Young declares that “I’m ready to fall in love,” and she wants more than just romance. “Miss Young,” one of her students says, “is looking for a husband.”