We’re living in a post-Bachelor world — so why the hell is it still on the air?
From ratings to public opinion to the contestants themselves, the show is on the way out
by Una Dabiero
For the past 16 years, The Bachelor franchise has been synonymous with a Monday night with the proverbial girls – eating pizza, drinking merlot, and throwing the TV remote at Courtney every time she was on screen during Ben's season. But recently, signs point to the fact that we as a nation have evolved into a post-bachelor society.
When season 22 of The Bachelor starring Arie Luyendyk premiered on January 1st, it made history. But in this case, that's a bad thing. The premiere had only 5.45 million viewers – that's 500,000 less views than 'Young Sheldon' on the same night. And it only received a 1.5 rating – an all-time low for Bachelor debuts and a 29 percent decrease from season 21.
But it's not just the numbers that suggest we're all just really over The Bachelor. It's the conversation surrounding the show – and even the show's contestants themselves.
In one critical article, Glamour contributor and self-proclaimed Bachelor fan Mallory Schlossberg asked "Why Are We Still Watching The Bachelor?" She says "the thinly-veiled premise of 'falling in love' has been shattered so many times" by past Bachelors' failed relationships that its difficult to understand why we still watch them try.
Schlossberg also suggests The Bachelor's enticing illusion is even more diluted by numerous tell-alls and a growing societal recognition of the role of ads and production in the largely "fake" show. She reports "it’s now impossible to watch the show without asking, 'Did the producer make her say that?'", a fear of all producers who try to make reality TV "real."
Not only essayists are beginning to question our obsession with the franchise. Twitter has been increasingly critical of Arie's season thus far, seemingly disillusioned with the show's patriarchal structure and the fact that it's just not fun anymore.
Many users believe Arie is mediocre compared to the women he's vying for – from Yale graduate Sienne to interesting and insightful Bekah. When the latter asked him what excites him about life, Arie said "excitement." The internet literally couldn't shut up about the obviously shallow nature of the Bachelor, or his other seemingly average characteristics. It's starting to seem shitty that amazing women are putting their lives on hold for a guy who's a) mediocre and b) statistically not going to marry them.
Arie is the most vanilla, mayonnaise, boring bachelor I have ever witnessed #TheBachelor
— Kassandra (@KassieTheFairy) January 10, 2018
Bachelor Arie looks like a mega church youth pastor who was forced to resign amid a controversy that he quickly excuses as “…workplace politics” when it comes up in job interviews & first dates. pic.twitter.com/oxQ120tzLD
— Andrew Streeter (@andrewstreeter_) January 10, 2018
However, viewers are also taking issue with the show's structure this season. Two of the group dates have been competitions – a demolition derby to the death and a wrestling match. While the show is inherently about competing for a guy, the use of actual competitions as 'dates' makes it more apparent The Bachelor is more of a game show than a reality show about finding love. People are becoming aware of what the franchise is really about. And that makes it feel nasty.
This awareness was especially raised by the wrestling date. Twitter users were pissed at Arie (and the producers) for making the women jump through such strange hoops for 'love.' They called it 'humiliating.'
So… is the point of all this madness to whittle down all these ladies to a select few to actually wrestle? #TheBachelor
— WillYouAcceptThisPod (@acceptthispod) January 16, 2018
Even contestants seem to have become so self-aware they have given up on the franchise as a legitimate way to find love or as legitimate entertainment. When Jenny was eliminated on Episode 2 of this season, she tells Arie she is more sad to be leaving her new friends than to be losing him. That statement calls into question the entire motive of coming to the show. More and more people are accusing contestants of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette of being more interested in their personal brands than their potential partner – which makes sense after the social media business success of JoJo Fletcher and other noteworthy contestants like Corinne Olympios.
I am so excited to announce that @beccatilley and I have partnered with @dermalogica to create this Healthy Skin Besties Kit! It includes skincare pals #PreCleanseBalm and Special Cleansing Gel for super clean skin. Kits are available exclusively @UltaBeauty for limited-time. Go grab one & tag the Maryann to your Wanda below!!! 👯#DermalogicaPartner
Other contestants of Arie's season seem self-aware about their role in the grimy franchise. Bekah M. even live tweets about herself.
how to watch embarrassing footage of yourself on national television: pic.twitter.com/v1F2Me0tWW
— bekah martinez ♡ (@whats_ur_sign_) January 16, 2018
It seems like everyone – fans, casual viewers, and contestants alike – are so aware of The Bachelor's true nature, it isn't the fun, aspirational reality TV it used to be. Instead, we watch it because the news cycle says we have to and because it's a really good way to excuse getting wasted on a Monday night.
And as we get more creative with other ways to spend our Monday, Bachelor ratings will continue to fall. Soon, people are going to have to go back to the traditional ways of falling in love – you know, like fucking after swiping right on Tinder or sending memes through Bumble.