Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new column, Reality AF. Every Monday, Terry Terrones will check in and talk about the state of reality TV, plus provide a Top 5 list of what’s coming up this week that you should not miss.
Thanks to Netflix, The Bachelor franchise is dead.
No, ABC hasn’t canceled its long-running, controversial, dating and relationship reality series. But The Bachelor has evolved into the old guy at the club: Uncool, trying to attract a younger audience that isn’t interested, and just enough out of sync with the times that it can make you feel a bit awkward being around it.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to love The Bachelor. When it debuted in 2002, I was instantly hooked. Its odd premise, high level of cheesiness, ridiculously metaphorical dates, and its human Ken doll host all led to audiences enjoying it for its saccharine view of love but also the ability to mock it in good fun.
When The Bachelor eventually embraced what audiences loved about it, the show practically became a parody. From there the series blew up, leading to multiple spin-offs and becoming part of the pop culture zeitgeist for two decades. Even if you’ve never watched an episode, chances are you have been invited to a viewing party, understand what it means to “catch feelings,” and have heard “do you accept this rose?” a dozen times, likely out of context.
If you’re a Bach fan, you’ve also wondered why Chris Harrison had to tell everyone there’s one rose left at the Rose Ceremony. We can all see the rose table, Chris!
Make no mistake, The Bachelor, along with The Real World, Survivor, and The Amazing Race, is one of the godfathers of reality TV. That said, it’s also out of touch. Part of that is due to the series being embroiled in endless controversies and several contestants going on the show only to boost their social media following. Many simply aren’t there for (I’m so sorry…) the right reasons, which dilutes the quality of the series.
With all that in mind, an even bigger issue for The Bachelor is Netflix, which has put its own twist on the dating show format and scored with several series that are bingeable, risqué, unique, and still have all the tongue-in-cheek playfulness The Bachelor was built on but with few of it’s foibles. Simply stated, Netflix dating programs are fun, fast, sexy, and silly.
This is best exemplified by two shows hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, with the pair supplanting Chris Harrison as the go-to hosts for reality relationship shows due to their openness about the troubles in their own relationship. They give their series a gravitas Harrison lacked, yet still keep the mood light.
In Love Is Blind, contestants can’t see each other, they can only talk and get to know each other while inside individual pod-like rooms. They then must decide if they want to get engaged, then they’ll meet in person and see if love grows.
The Ultimatum is even more ridiculous. Six couples who’ve been together for awhile, but aren’t engaged or married, enter a trial marriage and switch partners with the other couples. After the trial ends, they have to decide to stay with their new partner, go back to their old partner, or leave alone.
These are just two of the Netflix dating series that provide the diversity, creativity, and fun that The Bachelor franchise has been missing for years. Sorry Bachelor Nation, but your run is about to come to an end. Your rose has wilted.
5 Reality Shows to Watch This Week
1. Below Deck Sailing Yacht (Bravo, May 9)
Why you should watch it: After a week-long hiatus, one of the most criminally underrated reality franchises on TV makes its return to begin the second half of its third season. And yes, I’m totally shipping Daisy and Gary, they’d make a great couple.
2. Married at First Sight (Lifetime, May 11)
Why you should watch it: The four Boston couples decide whether to stay married or get divorced as Decision Day arrives. My money is on only one couple making it because the relationship “experts” are bad matchmakers, except Pastor Cal.
3. The Quest (Disney+, Premieres May 11)
Why you should watch it: This competition series drops eight real-life teenagers (Paladins) into the fictional world of Everealm, where they must save a kingdom by fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Throughout the eight-episode series, the heroes are immersed in a fantasy world come to life, complete with a castle, royals, mythical creatures and a sorceress intent on destruction and power.
The show comes from the teams behind The Lord of the Rings, The Amazing Race, and Queer Eye. At least that’s what the press release says. While I don’t think Peter Jackson, Phil Keoghan or Jonathan Van Ness are involved in any way, it certainly makes me curious.
4. The Challenge: All Stars 3 (Paramount+, Premieres May 11)
Why you should watch it: Get ready to see 24 of your favorite players from The Challenge duke it out for a $500,00 prize. To get into this season, all contestants were required to at least have qualified for or won a Challenge final, so the competition should be fierce.
5. Top Chef: Houston (Bravo, May 12)
Why you should watch it: In the preview for this week’s episode I noticed that Sheldon Simeon (Top Chef: Seattler) will make an appearance, and simply put, he’s awesome.
Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot and aspiring hand model.
When he’s not applying for Survivor, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.
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