How to fix the Bachelor Franchise

This season of the Bachelorette has been an absolute dumpster fire. As a viewer, I have never been less interested in each episode and less curious about the outcome. We have two leads trying to find love, and it seems likely that when it’s all said and done, they may both wind up alone.

Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia earned the sympathy of Bachelor viewers earlier this year on Clayton’s season of the Bachelor. Fans were outraged at how callously Clayton toyed with their emotions, and production decided they both deserved another chance at love, so they did something they have never done before. From start to finish, viewers were going to watch Rachel and Gabby date collectively over 30 men with the goal of them both falling in love and accepting a proposal. Immediately after they announced this, I started to question how this would work out logistically. Production decided to have the men vye for both Rachel and Gabby’s hearts at the start of the show and allow them to choose which girl they wanted to pursue after a few weeks. Typically, the lead is in the position of power and is able to move throughout the Bachelor journey choosing who gets eliminated each week. Because of the unprecedented situation and lack of clear guidelines, we saw several men break up with one of the leads to pursue the other. This led to the viewers seeing Gabby and Rachel get their feelings hurt which led to lots of tears and canceled group dates. And with so many guys in the house, 32 at the start, it was difficult for viewers to get to see the personalities of any of these men, many of whom we can expect to see on Bachelors in Paradise. And these men, due to the two-Bachelorette dynamic and the canceled group dates, invariably got significantly less time than previous contestants typically do getting to know and potentially fall in love with the lead(s).

Fast forward to “Home Towns,” the portion in which the lead(s) meet the families of their final four, we saw both Gabby and Rachel only bring three men each. Typically by this week, all of the men indicate that they are either falling in love with the lead or are in love with the lead. This season, only one of Gabby’s men told her he was falling in love with her. The following week was an even bigger trainwreck.

As Gabby and Rachel contemplated taking the next step in their relationships, we saw differing and upsetting situations play out. Two of Gabby’s three men left having not gotten strong enough feelings to consider an engagement just a few weeks away leaving Gabby with Erich, a monotone yet nice enough seeming guy. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you that much about Erich or any of the guys because the formatting really stripped us of the opportunity to see the mens’ personalities. Erich, like most of the rest of the contestants, came off as boring. Ultimately, Erich did tell Gabby he is in love with her, and on next week’s episode he is likely to propose. Assuming Gabby says yes, there is reason to think that engagement may be short-lived. Over the past couple of weeks, Erich has been called out on social media for having done Blackface and for breaking up with a serious girlfriend to be on the show stating in text messages to her that “it isn’t real” referring to the Bachelor process. Will Gabby find it in her heart to get over the fact that Erich didn’t come into this with any expectation of love, as he explained to his ex-girlfriend? Will Erich’s apology for doing Blackface be sincere enough? That remains to be seen.

Rachel, on the other hand, came into Fantasy Suite week, the week following Home Towns, with two guys that were in love with her and a third that was falling in love with her. Avan and Tino had their Fantasy Suites with Rachel first (or at least theirs were shown first), and it actually felt like a normal season of the Bachelorette with top contestants that were strongly invested in their lead and the feelings sure seemed mutual! Zach’s Fantasy Suite was different. The next morning, he spoke to the camera and expressed how he felt like Rachel acted differently in the Fantasy Suite after a conversation around “politics and religion.” For those of you that are new to the franchise, production forbids contestants and leads from discussing politics or for having any political litmus test for the people they date. We saw how this played out in the aftermath of Becca Kufrin’s season.

Quick sidebar

Becca fell in love with and accepted a proposal from Garrett without, we assume, knowing how he felt on certain hot button political issues. As the show was airing, fans found Garrett’s social media and drew attention to a number of wildly offensive tweets claiming school shooting victims were possibly actors and transphobic crap. At the After the Final Rose ceremony, Garrett apologized for his tweets, claimed he didn’t hold those views anymore, and drove off in a minivan with Becca with an LGBTQ equality logo on the bumper. In June of 2020, the nation experienced a mass waves of protests following the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Amaud Arbery. Becca shared messages of social media in solidarity with the protesters. Garrett shared messages of solidarity with the police. They ended their engagement shortly after.

Okay, back to Rachel and Zach

My mom has a theory that I concur with: Zach is a Republican and is anti-choice, and Rachel is a Democrat who is pro-choice. It makes sense that Rachel’s might be thinking differently about the political views of her significant other given that the timing of Zach’s Fantasy Suite lines up with the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. More than half the country was losing a basic human right and a medically necessary procedure. “Well, what makes you say Zach is a Republican?” you might ask. Zach’s own admission that the discussion of politics was when he detected a shift in Rachel is a big warning sign, and the fact that his parents have an American flag outside their house. Now, I recognize that anyone can wave an American flag outside their house, and there are some Democrats who have American flags outside their house. I don’t think I’m going out on too much of a limb to suggest that the overwhelming majority of families waving the flag outside their house right now voted for Donald Trump. This is a theory that I acknowledge is not based on any concrete evidence, but the fact that Rachel and Zach really never addressed why Zach felt she was being disingenuous makes me even more suspicious that we have been left in the dark.

The finale is in two days, and I’m so excited for this season to be over. It’s not fun for viewers to see Rachel and Gabby constantly crying over men rejecting them. It’s sure as heck not fun for Rachel and Gabby. I’ve never seen a season with the leads seemingly so miserable through so much of the show. I really believe that had only one of them been the Bachelorette and this season operated as it normally does, they would have had a much better experience and the show would have been much more enjoyable. That said, the franchise needs to be brought into the 21st century.

The Bachelor franchise is too Christian, too straight, too misogynist, and not funny enough. I will address my points one by one.

That’s mostly it.

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