Since its premiere in 2002, “The Bachelor,” and its subsequent spinoffs, have become embedded in American culture. America’s decades-long obsession recently finished a season marked with love, lies and social media interference. The series, once loved for its fantasy-like escape from the real world, now seems guided by what’s happening on the internet. And with the last few seasons’ endings tarnished by everything from spoilers to fame-hungry fiancées, it’s becoming hard to imagine our beloved “Bachelor” ever being the same again.
After over 40 seasons of “The Bachelor” franchise, its ever-growing cast has become a small community of sorts, known as Bachelor Nation. While Instagram, and now TikTok, may seem to be the epicenter of Bachelor Nation, its true home is on Reddit. “The Bachelor” subreddit, with over 125 thousand members and counting, spends every day dissecting the tiniest of details from members of the shows’ social media and drawing huge conclusions. Most of the members fancy themselves as “detectives,” and quite a few members of Bachelor Nation have taken notice. On his podcast “The Viall Files,” season 21 Bachelor, Nick Viall, often references the subreddit’s sleuthing and has been known to confirm or refute rumors. Other members of Bachelor Nation will subtly call out the subreddit on their social media, sometimes with praise and other times with condemnation.
Peter Weber’s season of “The Bachelor” saw Reddit put front and center, after contestant Alayah Benavidez came back onto the show after being sent home with “receipts” from Reddit. The subreddit is often ahead of even the show’s production with gossip about contestants. The fate of Victoria Fuller was old news before the season started.
The overtaking of the show by social media is not all bad, though. It means there is never really an off-season. After Hannah Brown’s season ended, fans of the show were occupied with the relationship of the beloved Tyler Cameron and supermodel Gigi Hadid. After the most recent season of Bachelor in Paradise ended, fans could be entertained by watching the planning of Dylan Barbour and Hannah Godwin’s wedding…or they could cringe to the public shading of Clay Harbor by Nicole Lopez Alvar.
Currently, everyone has been wrapped up in the TikTok courtship of Hannah Brown and her runner-up, Tyler Cameron, who have been spending their COVID-19 quarantine together in Florida. Some have been calling for Cameron’s best friend, Matt James, to be considered as the Bachelor for the next season, even though he has yet to appear in the franchise. Bachelor Nation now includes people who have not been on the show yet, due to their proximity to former contestants on social media.
Social media has also become a problem in the casting process. Many fans have called out the show for casting more people with careers such as “influencer” and less with traditional jobs. They believe this change in casting has led to less and less people being on the show “for the right reasons.” And this has become easy to notice, with the last three seasons of the show ending with no traditional proposal or marriage.
After Peter Weber’s season ended, both his runner-up and the “winner,” Madison Prewett and Hannah Ann Sluss, were seen on Instagram hanging out with Selena Gomez and David Dobrik, respectively. While this does not mean their entire appearances on this show were in vain, it does represent how the idea of winning “The Bachelor” has changed its meaning since the show began.
“The Bachelor” franchise was never a perfect model for a television show about love, no matter what many of the OG fans may say. While the embrace of social media may seem scary for many fans, maybe it’s allowing the show to be more transparent about what it is.