Last summer, Ben Sands '01 regaled Duke Magazine readers with a first-person account of his participation in ABC's The Bachelorette reality-television series. He described the drama that takes place among the twenty-five men competing for one woman's heart, his race to the top of the Empire State Building with coveted one-on-one time with the Bachelorette herself at stake, and the feelings he experienced during his final Rose Ceremony before being eliminated from the competition.
Not long afterward, Duke added another feather to its reality-television cap when Travis Stork '94, an emergency-room physician completing his residency at Vanderbilt Medical Center, was selected as the next Bachelor for the eighth edition of Bachelorette's brother series, which features twenty-five women wooing one man.
This edition was based in Paris. "Dates" included sightseeing tours of the city, dinners on the Seine, an overnight on the French Riviera, a camping trip and a bicycle tour through the French countryside, a stay in a chateau in the Champagne region, and one-on-one trips to Venice, Vienna, and the French Alps. Over the course of six episodes, aired this spring, Stork narrowed the field to two, the mercurial Moana, who often clashed with the other women in the house, and Sarah Stone, a sweet elementary-school teacher from Stork's hometown of Nashville. In the seventh episode, after introducing both to his parents, he selected Stone.
In an interview with The Tennessean a week after the finale aired, the couple acknowledged that they were no longer romantically involved. "The reality is that we were in this fantasy world," Stork told the paper. Part of the problem was a mandated period of separation between the end of taping in November and the airing of the show in February, he said. "Over time when you're not allowed to see someone, you grow apart."
Sands, twenty-seven, now working at a consulting firm in Washington, says that, although he still generally avoids reality shows, he did catch a few episodes of this season's show. "I'm hesitant to pass judgment about anything I see on reality TV, having gone through the process myself, because there are other forces at work. But it looked like Travis came off as a stand-up guy.
"To tell you the truth," Sands says, "I think it's far easier to be one of twenty-five guys competing for a girl, than the guy who has to choose from among twenty-five girls."
"Love's Labor Lost": Update
June 1, 2006