ABC’s The Bachelor is a 9-year TV sensation revolving around one lucky guy and a group of desperate single women, one of whom we always foolishly assume will end up becoming his wife.
Its sister show, The Bachelorette, reverses this, with a bunch of single guys chasing after one girl. The latter is not nearly as entertaining, but we’re all about gender equality here in America.
Our Bachelors are typically at least 32 years old, have some sort of impressive career or status (i.e. doctor, 3-time entrepreneur, football star, prince), and look great running shirtless on the beach. Bonus points if they have an enormous back tattoo as well.
Our Bachelorettes, on the contrary, are no more than 32 years old, usually jilted by a previous Bachelor, and no one really cares about their careers (if they even have one).
The majority of the show takes place in the Bachelor Mansion, interestingly named Villa De La Vina (Town of the Vine). This Spanish-style structure is a 7,590 square-foot, six-bedroom, nine-bathroom home in Agoura Hills, California. It sits on a 10-acre property and was last valued at $8.75 million. Wow!
The appeal of being on the show long enough (besides ‘finding love’ of course), is eventually getting to leave this mansion and take off for exotic places like Tahiti, Italy, Iceland, Las Vegas – you name it. These dates are usually pretty standard from season to season, filled with expensive bonding activities like helicopter rides, couples massages, bungee jumping (or equally terrifying activities), bubble baths, rooftop dinners, private concerts, etc. – graciously funded by ABC.
The show’s host has always been the notorious and well-loved Chris Harrison, relationship expert and shameless instigator of drama.
The show probably wouldn’t be the same without him and the many roles that he fills as the house’s host, counselor, father, pimp, bro, flirt, mailman, etc. This impeccably dressed man of many talents has pretty much seen it all on this show.
The format of the series is pretty much the same every time, and at its core is really just a disguised, over-dramaticized game show. You’ve got your group dates, one-on-one dates, and dreaded two-on-one dates. Roses are given out in formal rose ceremonies, which are always entertaining due to the long, emotional cocktail parties held beforehand. The Bachelorettes use this time to drunkenly numb their nerves and usually end up stealing the Bachelor away to make out, cry, or both in front of everyone.
After many weeks of these similar in-house dates, the season cumulates with a few pivotal episodes: hometown visits (final four), overnight exotic dates (final three), and a final visit to the Bachelor’s hometown (final 2). These are usually game changing episodes that leave our Bachelor stressed and confused as he makes his elimination decisions.
Before the finale, the greatest episode of the season airs, which is titled “The Girls [or Guys] Tell All.” This episode is 2 hours of 100% scripted drama and features Chris Harrison at his prime, as the group discussion leader. All rejected contestants are back, and the best moments are usually those where Chris Harrison plays his secret footage of girls bashing other girls behind their backs, and then let the 2 rehash everything out in person on stage.
When the season finale finally arrives, the Bachelor almost always proposes to his final choice (or the Bachelorette gives her choice a ring and forces him to propose to her) and there is a huge, completely unaffordable Neil Lane diamond ring involved.
Whoever is NOT chosen is typically whisked away quickly in a limo, and they realize that they just wasted the last 6 weeks of their life on nothing.
Each season concludes with the trademark After the Final Rose episode, in which we finally get to meet our engaged couple (who have been in hiding for the past 3 months), and we watch them make out on a couch in front of us and talk about the wedding that they will actually never have. The runner up is always present and looking hotter than when they were on the show, and our Bachelor has to explain to her why he abruptly dumped her and then never talked to her again. It’s tense and wonderful.
From here, our engaged couples end up riding out the publicity by staying together for a few months, and then break up within a year on the cover of Us Weekly, breaking all of our hopeful hearts in the process. In the more recent seasons, one of them usually then moves on to Bachelor 2.0: Dancing with the Stars.
The only exception to these breakups would be Trista and Ryan Sutter, of course (The Bachelorette, season 1), who moved out to beautiful Colorado, were married on ABC, had 2 cute kids, and live on as the dream couple of The Bachelor franchise. We check in with them every After the Final Rose episode.
Oftentimes, twists in the plot arise on this show (who can forget Brad Womack dumping BOTH finalists, or Jason Mesnick dumping his final choice on national TV for his runner up?), but those are good stories in and of themselves.
To see more, click here for our Bachelor Timeline, which tells the stories all 21 seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelorette in pictures.