The Bachelor NZ, the television show which unravelled off-screen these past few days, ended its season a ratings hit. More than 430,000 viewers watched the final episode and more followed the antics online. Many since found the mopping up hard to resist because the show - after the curtain rang down - had a cad, a villain and a victim. The appetite for these programmes is large given their potential to end in very public tears. Few can resist the crumbling of a relationship created in primetime.

We all know it is unedifying and unbecoming to be a spectator to a couple's collapse. And so it is when the couple are real and the pain all too apparent. When the relationship is a scriptwriter's construct, different rules apply, as long as the show keeps to the script. In this case it didn't - much to the insatiable delight of an audience offered the rare treat of a five-day train wreck.

There are more casualties that just the cast of this year's rendition - the cast aside 'bachelorettes'. The happy ending anticipated by the women's magazines no longer exists. The $26,000 'commitment ring' - who knows where that's gone. And it is guaranteed there won't be any follow-up shows nine months or so down the track.

The dizzying descent of The Bachelor into a break-up rather than match-up show could not have been expected by the programme makers, who must be now wondering whether the territory is worth returning to. Perhaps they could rebrand it The Show of Broken Dreams.