9 Ways 'The Bachelor' & 'Bachelorette' Have Changed Since Season 1
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are must-see television for many, complete with a group of friends, plenty of wine, and active live tweeting, but it wasn’t always that way — when the show started, it was just another reality show in what was then a burgeoning sea of them. No one really knew if this whole “reality” genre would even live that long — sure, The Real World was a success, but what else could stick? As any surviving show (even Survivor) knows, it’s necessary to evolve to stay alive, and boy, has The Bachelor evolved. So much has changed on The Bachelor since Season 1 that its debut and Season 20 look like very different shows.
On March 25, 2002, Alex Michel became the first Bachelor on ABC. Now, the first season of The Bachelor was so messy, mostly because Chris Harrison (with so much more hair than he has now) and company were still figuring things out. The show was a little more naïve then, gentler — this was still the point when a person could actually believe that its contestants were looking for love and not a platform to sell diuretic teas. Today, The Bachelorette and The Bachelor are more of a business than a love story — here’s how The Bachelor has changed throughout the years.
The Role Of Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison has been the gatekeeper of every Bachelor Nation show since their relative inceptions, but his role has changed. In the beginning, he was kind of like a confidant and best friend for the contestants, but today, Harrison is a mentor — a kind of father figure — that helps contestants navigate the tricky waters of reality television.
The Stunt Casting
It’s hard to stunt cast when you don’t have a healthy crop of alums from which to choose, but Bachelor Nation has been big in recent years on bringing back old (and often hated) contestants into new seasons. This, I think, is mostly a mistake. Did anyone really want Chris Bukowski to try and crash Andi’s season? Or Becca Tilley and Amber James on Ben Higgins’ season? No. The producers think it’s a way to get people to watch, but really, we just want fresh meat, which leads me to…
The Career Contestants
This isn’t new to the reality television space (I mean, do you remember all of the Real World/Road Rules Challenges that had the same cast), but it is new to Bachelor Nation. The same few people have decided to make a living out of being on The Bachelor and its ilk, and they are on every show. Examples? Nick Viall, Clare Crawley, Queen Tenley Molzahn.
I don’t really remember Harrison promising that every week would be the “most dramatic yet” in the first few seasons of The Bachelor. It was only that more eyes tuned in that Harrison and the producers were promising the stars every week.
The Social Media Element
In 2002, Twitter wasn’t a thing. Facebook hadn’t been born. Snapchat wasn’t even a twinkle in the eye of its founder. These were not things that producers had to worry about on The Bachelor. Now, and especially following Kaitlyn Bristowe’s Snapchat snafu, The Bachelor contestants are mandated to play it safe on social lest they blow a whole storyline, or, I don’t know, the person they picked at the whole end of the show.
As previously mentioned, people probably came into The Bachelor and The Bachelorette thinking that its contestants were trying to find true love. Today, they are trying to find true love, but if that doesn’t work, they’d likely be happy going the Tanner Tolbert and Jade Roper route and using their Instagram as a means to promote their sponsors, wedding updates, new ventures, and more.
Reality television shows, like boy bands, have formulas on whom to cast to get the best ratings/drama. To me, The Bachelor was more interesting when they hadn’t locked this down yet. There wasn’t an obvious virgin, an obvious villain, and obvious “oh-you-know-she’ll-be-the-Bachelorette.” I like a surprise with my reality television!
The Faux Promos
Once or twice a season of any of the Bachelor Nation shows, there’s a very dramatic, possibly traumatizing promo for an upcoming episode that shows a fight, a pregnancy scare, an ambulance, etc. Rarely do these ever come to fruition — they’re just a way to get people to watch. These never happened in the beginning of The Bachelor.
You see this a lot in the beginning of any long-running reality show — in the beginning, contestants and judges look… fine. Not bad, but fine. Then, they realize that they’re a hit on television, and bam — the highlights, the extensions, the gym memberships — they all get ramped up. Today’s contestants are glamazons compared to what we saw in the beginning of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
So many changes on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette! But, though we’ve grown old together, we’re still in love.
Images: Rick Rowell/ABC; Giphy (9)