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The 3 Bachelor Fans You'll Meet At Our Next Bachelor Watch Party
Charting the basics of the Bachelor Nation ecosystem and the fandom of citizens that reside there.
The 27th season of The Bachelor starring Zach Shallcross, a 26-year-old tech executive from Southern California, was an exciting journey. Shallcross was plucked from the cast of Season 19 of The Bachelorette with double-bachelorettes Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia. After weeks of dating Rachel, Zach left the show brokenhearted and was announced by series host Jesse Palmer as the new Bachelor during the live finale of that season. It was a moment of Bachelor tradition that regular viewers have come to expect, and the tradition continues each season. Whether you’re a longtime fan who watches every episode religiously, or a curious newbie looking to check it out for the first time, there are a few things you should know about the franchise for an optimal viewing experience or watch party with friends. If you have never watched because you think you’d hate it, read on: you might be surprised at what the show offers. Fans watch for wildly different reasons. But first, a little background.
The Bachelor and its related franchises have been a part of TV history since the spring of 2002, when the inaugural six-week season of the flagship franchise, The Bachelor, graced our screens. Since then, the show has had twenty-six seasons, six spin-off shows (including The Bachelorette and the summertime hit Bachelor in Paradise), and multiple international versions. It even inspired a star-studded web series spoof. Love it or hate it, few television shows have stood this test of time, surviving multiple waves of contemporary cultural shifts, including the many iterations of Reality TV, the rise of social media, and the evolving conceptual landscape of dating shows. Plus, in an always-available streaming content world, this kind of competition show creates that “event TV” feeling we sometimes crave, and spoiler alert: it’s still really fun to be kept on the edge of your seat week to week rather than bingeing a whole show in one or two sittings.
Its basic premise hasn’t changed: A suitor (male or female) is presented with over two dozen eligible singles hand-picked by producers to date inside the confines of the show. Through a series of group dates, one-on-one dates, and trips to faraway locations, red roses are given out to those that the suitor wants to continue getting to know. Those who aren’t awarded in any given week must pack their bags. Fans expect the final contestant and their suitor to ride off into the sunset (literally), engaged to be married. Regardless of whether these couplings last too far beyond the show's airing (hint: it’s relatively slim), the franchise continues to embrace this formula. And despite a couple of notable one-time-only format twists, it remains pretty much unchanged since its early days when producer Mike Fleiss dreamt up the idea, as Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman detailed in her book, Bachelor Nation.
What has changed is the viewing experience and the robust fandom ecosystem that makes it one of the only real time must-watch TV shows on the air. Over the years, the show has inspired a plethora of branded and non-branded extra content by the show’s producers as well as by independent creators. Content sanctioned by the franchise—several podcasts, a live touring stage show, and news about both the show and former contestants—lives under the branded umbrella of Bachelor Nation. But content created by the fandom is unofficially part of “Bachelor Nation” too. For years, fans have live-Tweeted or posted to their Instagram stories as they’ve watched, including journalists and celebrities, all contributing to the global conversation during airtime. Others have produced recaps on news sites and blogs the next day—some humorous or snarky, others less so. Critical podcasts, Instagram accounts devoted to analyzing show data, as well as game brackets and fantasy league apparatuses, have all sprung up around the franchise. It has inspired conversations about cast body inclusivity through novels and fan activism. Fans and independent creators have used their platforms to criticize the lack of racial diversity and conversations about race in the series. Former contestants use their newfound popularity to produce content on their own platforms, like social media accounts and podcasts about the show. Whether or not these fans and former contestants love the series, they certainly love to talk about it.
What’s also evolved is the Bachelor viewer: there isn’t just one type. What I’ve learned over the years is that people watch through different lenses, and there really is something for everyone. There seem to be just as many true fans as hate-watchers—just as many strict entertainment-seekers as critics who see it as a barometer of American values. Here are some of the viewer archetypes I’ve noted in my experience as a fan:
The Here for the Right Reasons viewer 🌹
This viewer never has enough romantic movies in their Netflix queue. Their to-be-read book pile is filled with romance novels that promise “Happily Ever Afters.” They probably have a Spotify playlist a mile long of great love songs. Simply put, this viewer loves love. They’re taking the show at face value and are in it for the romance: the red roses, champagne toasts, super romantic dates, and touching moments of vulnerability between cast members. They want nothing more than an engagement at the end of the series, complete with a stunning location, sweeping music, and a diamond ring. This type of viewer likely indulges in the official podcast, Bachelor Happy Hour, for interviews with present contestants and to participate in a general celebration of the show.
The Sports Fan 🏈
This viewer watches for one reason: it’s a sporting event, a game show, a competition. And they want to see who wins. This viewer pours over the cast bios the moment the list is released online and sets up a Bachelor bracket with like-minded friends to make their picks for the final four contestants. They track how many “I’m falling for you” declarations and helicopter rides there are in a single episode; they might even turn it into a drinking game. This viewer is convinced that some plays by contestants are set up by producers, giving some players a bit of an edge over others. Their podcast companion to the show? Game of Roses. The Bachelor is like any other major league sport, and each season finale is their Super Bowl. There are always a few players that display a level of skill and understanding of the “game” that is hard to ignore, and any drama that ensues just adds to the competition’s fun. The Final Rose might be the prize; true love, a fringe benefit. But the real trophy consists of bragging rights, a fantastic hero/heroine edit, and thousands of new Instagram followers and endorsement deals.
The Snarky Critic 😏
During live episodes, this viewer watches with one eye on the television and the other on their Twitter feed to take part in the conversation. It’s not that this viewer doesn’t believe in love. They just know there’s more to this show than red roses and over-the-top romantic dates. They know The Bachelor is selling a product: heterosexual love with all the traditional trappings, which could not be more contrived. Whether they’re snarking on the fact that nobody eats the food on the dates (how can you get to know someone if you don’t see them ever interact with a waiter?) or wondering why there is so little diversity in the cast, this viewer is paying great attention to all the details we are meant to miss. Their favorite podcast might be Love to See It, a thought-provoking episode-by-episode analysis from Claire Fallon and Emma Gray of, or they might tune in to comedian Jared Fried’s Instagram story rants every Monday night. They are definitely reading the ruthless weekly recaps on Betches.com. This viewer tunes in for the critical conversation about the show, to evaluate how it reflects our values as a society, and to see if it makes any changes that a significant portion of the audience seems to want. While this viewer certainly has favorite cast members and might even follow them on social media, they realize it’s the show’s producers who are responsible for what goes down. (If you were wondering, reader, this is the category I fall into.)
Whichever lens you watch through, there’s a giant fandom waiting with open arms. Gather your friends and start a watch party group, or join one virtually. And no matter what happens for our next Bachelors/Bachelorettes and their hand-picked dating pools, I know I’ll be paying close attention as always. How will the viewing experience evolve further? My prediction is that the show will eventually be forced to engage in the many conversations around it and will break that fourth wall, so to speak. But no matter what, I’ll be watching.
Whether new to the show or a veteran of roses, you can meet other Bachelor franchise fans at Remarkist watching together on the virtual couch or chatting in our forums. Just hop into our Discord server and join our forums there.
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