Monday. The weekend is over. It’s back to the grind. And all too often, the weather in Cleveland isn’t lifting anyone’s spirits during the morning commute. But while a majority of folks resist the start of the new week, I’ve found a way to embrace it wholeheartedly… thanks to The Bachelor.
Yes, you read that right. Twice a year when the very cheesy (but oh-so-incredibly-addicting) Bachelor/ Bachelorette series airs on ABC, I’m captivated. In the age of Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go, it’s one of the only shows I go out of my way to watch live each week (Shonda Thursday’s, a close second). And I’m not alone.
Each Monday, I join about 6-10 other women, from all over Northeast Ohio, who make every effort to watch the reality show with one another. With delicious appetizers and wine in tow, we rotate host locations each week, sometimes traveling up to an hour just to be together.
We do not put in this much effort because we’re addicted to the drama that comes with complete strangers finding true love on national TV… (OK, maybe this is half true)…
We show up each week because we’re passionate about the close friendships we’ve developed from the tradition. What began as a couple of college roommates casually watching The Bachelor together in Akron, Ohio, has evolved into a much larger celebration of camaraderie, love, food and wine. Watching the show together has become our outlet, our kickstart to hectic weeks ahead – a type of friend-therapy every woman can benefit from in 2016.
Bigger than the Bachelor
Over the course of 10 seasons, our Monday Night gatherings have existed with an open-door policy, expanding to include new and old friends-of-friends, classmates, coworkers and the occasional out-of-towner or family member.
Together, in too-small apartments, we’ve hated villains, laughed at awkward moments, sympathized during the hardest breakups and rejoiced with host Chris Harrison as our “favorites” beat the odds and ended in matrimony (love you forever, Sean and Catherine).
And without realizing it, somewhere between the over-the-top TV dates and cheesy one-liners, a priceless bond of women supporting other women formed. Our weekly “check-in’s” with each other have provided a safe and secure network to vent, cry, be supported, celebrated or encouraged, as needed. Over time, our conversations have matured from talk of college exams, first jobs and first dates, to talk of engagements, weddings, home buying and baby showers. As life has presented us new opportunities and challenges, the sentiment behind our Monday night gatherings has never faltered. We continuously champion each other to be the best versions of ourselves. When the show ends, we leave a little happier, a little more motivated to take on the week ahead. And to me, that is worth any length of a drive on a dreary Monday evening.
This New Year, I encourage everyone reading this to find your own version of “Monday Nights” with friends. It’s so important to make friendship a priority and keep a strong network of women you can rely on during any stage of life. With all of the social pressures women face in today’s world of digital “likes” and “comments”, everyone needs a reliable inner circle to stay sane.
Your “Monday Night” routine with friends may look very different than mine. It may not be weekly and may not revolve around a TV set, heck, it’s probably not even on a Monday!… but whatever your “Monday Night” looks like, you won’t regret carving out the time to invest in quality friendships in 2016.
In honor of this season’s The Bachelor, I leave you with the following tips to throw a great watch party of your own:
Bachelor Watch Party Pro Tips
GAME ON – Turn any reality show into a friendly competition by creating a bracket challenge (think March Madness) or a BINGO board. Games keep even the most casual fan invested. (Extra tip: we use a customized version of TheBachelorBracket.com – yes, it’s a thing!)
POP BOTTLES (responsibly!) – Toast to great friendship during big moments on the show (think Bachelor rose ceremonies!)
SHARE THE DIP – We’ve learned there’s s no need for every person to bring food every week. You end up with leftovers and burnt-out cooks. Try giving the person driving the furthest that week a break.
TASTE TEST – Watch parties provide a great no-judgement zone for Pinterest recipes that may or may not turn out perfect.
SWEATPANTS ONLY ZONE – Unless you’re coming straight from work, dress down! These nights are for lounging.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS – Understand that your watch party will never be quiet enough to hear all of the show’s dialogue. Rewind, rewind, rewind, or re-watch online the next day to catch what you may have missed.
PHONE A FRIEND – Don’t hesitate to invite the coworker you wish you were closer with or the classmate you know lives nearby. Everyone appreciates an invite!
LAUGH IT OFF – Reality TV is generally scripted, making it one of life’s most interesting oxymorons. All you can do is laugh… and rejoice that your first kisses aren’t being viewed by millions.
BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC – We live in the age of Tinder romances and Match.com marriages. Who says you can’t meet your soulmate at The Bachelor mansion? There’s magic in believing some “contestants” may be there for the right reasons.