From controversy to viewership fatigue, the Bachelor Franchise has undoubtedly been under a microscope in recent years, but has the show lost its spark? Dare I even say in a flop era? Founder of DD @madirez explores this concept, with special guest and commentary by the one and only host, podcaster, and content creator, @zacharyreality.
Monday nights used to feel like the simplest nights of the week. There were no choices to make. I'd get home from my day, make dinner, pour a glass of wine, jump on the couch, throw on ABC to watch a couple of hours, and enter a drama and romance-filled fantasy world, aka the Bachelor Franchise. It was a ritual that got me through the start of the week, a feeling I know many people who have been long-time fans of the shows can relate to. But recently, I find myself belaboring the question, do I have the energy to watch The Bachelor/The Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise tonight? It has become what feels like an obligation. As a viewer and a loyal Bachelor fan for over a decade, I never thought the day would come, but each week I find myself contemplating if I should go on a break with the franchise.
You may have had a different experience, but for me, it all started with a fatigued season during the pandemic with lead Clare Crawley, which abruptly ended, and swiftly jumped to Tayshia Adams' journey. After that season, we all needed a beat but did not get one. The following season included the controversy that followed Matt James' experience and resulted in the removal of the institution to the franchise that was Chris Harrison. Do you have whiplash yet reliving that all?
It was a dark time in Bachelor Nation, although it felt like maybe the franchise would start addressing long-overdue issues. Like many, I was underwhelmed by the show's changes to address the show's lack of diversity. The scandal caused the franchise to reevaluate its approach, but it was a miss. Throughout the controversy, an overall theme was that there was more drama off the screen than on screen.
When I started having doubts about wanting to continue watching Bachelor shows, I began to ask myself, what changed? Is it me? Is it you? And I have narrowed it down to a few key components with the help of conversations with friends. One of those conversations has been an online friend who I started sensing similar energy from, who is also someone who never saw himself taking a break from Bachelor Nation, @zacharyreality. If you are a Bachelor Nation fan on TikTok, you know who Zachary Reality is. He has become a leading content creator, who Bachelor fans flock to for his content before and after episodes air, which he prides himself on delivering fast and first. So what has changed?
"For the first time in a long time, I have also thought about taking a break from the Bachelor franchise as well and skipping Zack's season. And that's coming from a long-time fan and creator who built a huge following talking about the bachelor."
"The gimmicks and long hours of unnecessary content have definitely paid tribute to why I have become exhausted with the franchise that I love so much. That, and the show just being so overexposed and repetitive."
Hearing this from him confirmed my suspicions that many more Bachelor fans, even those who still love the franchise, need a break. Zachary Reality has a unique perspective as someone who has gained a following, partly from his content about the Bachelor Franchise/Nation. Something that has added to many fans' experiences, so why hasn't the network played into working with creators like him?
"As my dream when I moved to Los Angeles was to be on the red carpets interviewing celebs, it's in my best interest to start focusing on other opportunities that will get me there instead of giving the Bachelor all my energy. It does still have a solid fan base though not going to lie! I will always talk about the Bachelor Franchise in some regards because I have built a close relationship with my followers over our love for the show. However, if there is no room to grow with the franchise, as they have never paid me for a sponsorship, invited me to a taping or event, etc., then it's not in my best interest to keep giving the show my attention or energy."
This news shocked me. Social media breaking news before previously shot content is aired is not new, so why isn't the franchise playing into it? The bottom line: more and more drama has begun to unravel on social media in real-time, rather than on our TV screens, and the time lag has become more and more apparent and disruptive to weekly viewership. That being said, the franchise has yet to lean into social media or its creators to help aid this problem.
"Watching/covering any Bachelor Franchise show requires A LOT of hours and a full commitment to a season. I will never take for granted what opportunities have come my way after posting about the show for as long as I have. It's given me a following and a fan base that I have been able to keep close as I grow in other avenues in my career and has given me some recognition and street cred in the reality universe. But, I have noticed this year, as the franchise has gone downhill in entertainment and viewership, that the Bachelor isn't it anymore. Other reality shows like Love is Blind, Dancing with the Stars, Selling Sunset, and more have gotten way more traction on my page than the Bachelor has in recent months."
Zachary Reality makes a valid point; competition is another reason many fans are taking a step back. There is more to consume and, quite frankly, better content. Again, like social media news, competition isn't new, but what is new is that Bachelor Nation fans are being disappointed by the show and are moving to other networks and streaming services to find more exciting content to consume. Period.
So what is next for creators like Zachary Reality?
"I now have to take steps to pivot my content and deliver videos that my audience will enjoy watching. But, of course, as the Bachelor is still relevant, I won't completely forget the franchise. I just want to always be one step ahead and keep my options open. I will see how I feel in January with where I am at and how dedicated or not I will be to Zack's season. I like that there is a break since Paradise ends right before Thanksgiving, and Zack's season starts on the 23rd of January. I'll never forget where I came from, but I also won't stay on a sinking ship."
With Zachary Reality dropping the mic (for now), many will follow. But this is just the beginning for him, as he is just hosting his first red carpet for a Hulu premiere.
I am ready to take a step back until the Bachelor Franchise can put out content worth hours (and hours) of my time each week.