Medievalist Paul Patterson, an assistant professor of English at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, said the plots for such romantic TV hits were written long ago.
"Our ideas about what constitutes romantic love have their roots in the romances that were written during the Middle Ages," Patterson said in a statement. "Many of the characteristics of these romances -- including the tales of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table -- can be found in today's TV programs, mainstream movies and romance novels."
The first known literary reference to St. Valentine's Day as a celebration of love is found in Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls," which he wrote sometime around 1382, Patterson said.
The elements of medieval romances include a focus on the aristocracy, or in the case of "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette," contestants who are made to seem like they are living an opulent lifestyle -- at least during filming, Patterson said.
"The medieval tales take place in long ago and far away locations, and the characters are removed from local settings and contemporary time periods," Patterson said. "Knights go on dangerous quests and vie for the maiden's hand. Modern love stories often employ these themes."
Medieval and modern stories idealize love, Patterson said, but it's all artifice -- a nice escape, but with no realization that day-to-day partnering takes work, which is why the relationships started on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" rarely work out and always seem to end in disaster, he concluded.