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Not a fan of 'The Bachelor,' but I'll be watching anyway

Look for periodic updates as Austin's Brad Womack goes back to show for round two.

Dale Roe

Almost every week, I think of things I wish I would have asked my mother before she died:

"Why is my head shaped like this? Did you eat something funny while you were pregnant with me?"

"How do you think your life would have been different if you had followed your dream of becoming a dancer?"

"What on Earth compelled you to watch ‘The Bachelor?' "

My mom was a huge fan of the ABC reality show, returning Monday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. When she visited Austin, there were only two things we had to work our schedule around: church services and "The Bachelor." One year, she got my then-12-year-old son hooked on the show, which was, in retrospect, probably not the best method of bonding. I called Mom from the Dell Diamond in 2007, when Season 11 Bachelor and Austinite Brad Womack was in attendance. If she'd had advance notice, she probably would have booked a flight from Chicago.

I've never been a fan. The appeal of 25 sometimes pretty, sometimes annoying, sometimes pretty annoying women tearfully and fiercely throwing themselves at a guy they just met (and, especially, a guy who isn't me) eludes me. I never much cared for the tamer "The Dating Game" of my youth, either, and on that show there were only three contestants. On that show, the contestants might ask, "If we were marooned on a desert island, what's the first thing you'd do to me?"

On "The Bachelor," they just maroon the couple on a desert island and tape the results. "The Bachelor" is like "The Dating Game" on steroids (and, it seems, aphrodisiacs).

But when an Austinite lands on television, I'm watching (though, if y'all could avoid trying out for any more reality shows until Womack's current stint is over, I'd appreciate it; not that I'm complaining, but if the recent "American Idol" auditions produced a contender from Austin, I won't see my family for months). I've watched what clips I could find online from Womack's first appearance on the show in preparation for this assignment and I'm eager to check out Womack redux — his first run on the show was notable for being the only season out of 14 in which no "winner" emerged.

Womack divided the reality show's fan base by rejecting both DeAnna Pappas and Jenni Croft, the season's two finalists. Some viewers found the move to be calculated and arrogant, while others seemed to give Womack props for realizing that a game show is not really the best place to stumble upon lasting love. Those fans in the latter camp will be dismayed by Womack's return, but bringing him back is a pretty shrewd move on ABC's part: The romantics will tune in to see if the once and future "Bachelor" finds true love, and the haters get a chance to see if Womack can redeem himself and, if he doesn't, to hate him all over again.

I'll be watching each episode and recapping Womack's shenanigans the following mornings on the TV Blog (www.austin360.com/tvblog). Frankly, I'm not sure what to expect. I must have sat next to Mom on the couch and caught a few episodes in my pre-critic days, but they didn't make much of an impression. I remember something about roses, so maybe florists are big fans. I vaguely recall dates, sleepovers, exotic locations and sumptuous meals, right? I'm sure the Bachelor meets his paramours' parents at some point, but maybe I'm confusing the show with any number of Ben Stiller movies.

I tried to get a better handle on the show by asking my Facebook friends and Twitter followers what it was about the show that appealed to them, but most of the response was just snarky.

Still, I suspect a lot of you are closet fans. Yes, the ratings are down from series highs, but 15 million of you tuned into last spring's finale, making it the most watched "The Bachelor" in seven seasons. That's a lot of people, so maybe there's something entertaining in the whole affair after all. Which, if I'm being totally honest, leads me to my biggest fear ...

What if I become a fan?

‘The Bachelor'