Now that Season 22 of The Bachelor is well in the past, it's time to talk about the elephant(s) in the room: the Bachelor Nation alums who would've been a better lead than Arie Luyendyk, Jr. No offense to the race-car-driver-turned-realtor, but it's a fact that the way this latest season ended didn't make him many friends. And going even further back than that, it's not exactly a secret that Arie wasn't fans' first choice to helm the franchise. The network seemingly skipped over a few notable names from seasons past and landed on the Arizona native instead.
Arie made it to the end of a season of The Bachelorette, sure, and his runner-up status certainly made him high-profile enough to helm a season of his own. The only slight hitch was that he hadn't made an appearance in the franchise since 2012, when he vied for Emily Maynard's heart on Season 8. And despite his good intentions going in, it was clear all season long that five years away had left Arie a little rusty in the dating department. (Or at least, the dating multiple women at once department.) He was indecisive, blindsided contestants he'd given no cause for concern, and said "I love you" to both of the final women.
And then there was that whole "proposing-to-one-woman-only-to-break-up-with-her-and-propose-to-the-second-within-a-few-months" thing. The journey to find love is different for everyone, it's true, but many viewers took issue with Arie's handling of his breakup with winner Becca Kufrin and subsequent proposal to runner-up Lauren Burnham. And while a lot of the vitriol that's being hurled at the new couple is completely inappropriate, it's easy to understand why people are upset.
A lot of what happened during Season 22 just isn't how things are normally done in Bachelor Nation. Even if they aren't explicitly spelled out, there are rules and specific ways that viewers want to see things go down, and they've been hammered home by being repeated on more than 30 seasons. Most other Bachelor Nation alumni seem to know these things, and for that reason, it's possible to point out a few of them who might've been a bit better suited to helm the franchise. (Not that Arie probably particularly cares, given that he and Lauren are in the process of moving in together.) But for as much as he got what he wanted out of the season, it was less satisfying for fans.
Sorry not sorry, but it's true. And here are all the men who likely could've done things better.
1. Peter Kraus
During an interview with Bustle earlier this year, Peter Kraus admitted he was in "light conversation" with producers to be the next Bachelor. And even though the runner-up from Rachel Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette ultimately decided that wasn't how he wanted to find love, he got far enough into the process that many women — like Bekah Martinez, for example — auditioned for the show under the assumption that they'd be vying for the heart of the personal trainer. And in the case of Krystal Nielson, some reportedly never quite got over the disappointment.
2. Dean Unglert
Peter's fellow Season 13 star Dean Unglert was also rumored to be in contention, before he killed his shot with a controversial, love triangle-filled turn on Bachelor in Paradise. But at least in Dean's case, the Colorado native appears to have learned his lesson. He ended up with neither Kristina Schulman nor Danielle Lombard after Bachelor in Paradise, leaving him free to start fresh with Lesley Murphy, whom he met on Winter Games and is still dating. So he had it in him all along, and probably could've handled Season 22. Sometimes all it takes is a kick in the pants to set you on the right track, so here's hoping that happened for Dean and will still happen for Arie.
3. Juan Pablo Galavis
His recent marriage and troubling comments about the LGBTQ community notwithstanding, Season 18 Bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis has surprisingly earned a spot on this list. He was deservedly unpopular for his behavior, but one area he excelled in was exercising his own boundaries. By the time the finale rolled around, he wasn't ready to propose, so — mind-blowing concept ahead — he didn't. He also wasn't ready to say "I love you," so he didn't do that either, even to his final choice, Nikki Ferrell. It contrasts starkly with Arie's decision to share both milestones with two women even when he was still gripped with indecision.
4. Ben Zorn
You wanna talk about loyalty, you can't do it without bringing up Ben Zorn's dedication to his dog Zeus. It's all BIP Season 4 viewers heard about all season, and ultimately why he left the show, and it bodes well for Ben Z.'s ability to stay true to his chosen one. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough to earn the Season 11 alum a spot as the Bachelor, although his name was thrown around a bit before Arie was announced.
5. Ben Higgins
Maybe you aren't quite over the fact that Ben H. pulled the original Arie, and told both his final two women he was in love with them. And it wasn't great that the software salesman's final pick, Lauren Bushnell, found out about his profession of love to JoJo Fletcher by watching the finale and not from her fiancé. But at least Ben shed actual tears over saying goodbye to the women, unlike dry-eyed Arie. And he only said those fateful three words once or twice to each woman, instead of repeatedly and at every opportunity, like Arie did to Lauren and Becca. (Please watch the finale, Lauren. Even Raven Gates thinks it's a good idea.)
6. Eric Bigger
Truly, why didn't this happen? Eric Bigger made such an impression on Rachel's season that a ton of people wanted him for Bachelor, including Eric himself, so it would seem. He was ranked fourth in a list of "power players" show creator Mike Fleiss posted in early September 2017, but they ultimately went in a different direction. In vague tweets Eric posted himself around the same time, he seemed to spell out his disappointment. But after the negative response to Arie's season, hopefully no one is more disappointed than producers that they didn't go with Eric in the first place.
7. Nick Viall
He's had more shots than anyone at finding love, and ironically, that's what's earned Nick Viall a spot on this list. He's competed on two seasons of The Bachelorette, one of Bachelor in Paradise, and helmed his own season of The Bachelor, and one thing that he proved during Season 21 of the latter is that he knows how to navigate a breakup. When he sent a contestant home it was with an explanation and genuine empathy; he built them up instead of blindsiding them. Compare Nick's heartfelt and compassionate breakup with Rachel, above, to Arie's elimination of Tia Booth, who had to demand of the Bachelor to "tell me something," before he revealed:
"I don't have a good explanation. I really don't. Believe me, I sat up all night last night. I don't know. There's just something missing."
Uhhhh... thanks so much for the closure? Arie also could've taken a page out of Nick's book when it came to not crap-talking his former contestants. Nick has always been respectful of his season's "villain" Corinne post-show. In contrast, Arie wasted no time in taking to Twitter to announce that the only reason he kept Krystal around as long as he did was because of a "$5mil NDA and lots of wine." Very classy.
8. Chris Harrison
You wanna talk about someone who understands the format of the show, including all the unspoken rules and etiquette guidelines? Look no further than the show's host, Chris Harrison himself. He's single, he's ready to mingle, and he'd get to know the women well enough to have better lines than "I love that" and "you're so beautiful."
9. Diggy Moreland
He's hot. He's smart. He's stylish. He was respectful and insightful enough to appeal to Rachel on her season of The Bachelorette, but also got used to juggling women on Bachelor in Paradise. He's put in the work, he understands the format, and he deserved to get another shot before someone from five years ago. Maybe next time around.
10. Nick Peterson
You may not remember Nick Peterson's main claim to fame, but it's a controversial one in Bachelor Nation. His most recent appearance was on Bachelor in Paradise Season 2 in 2015, but he started out in the franchise all the way back in 2011, when he vied for Ashley Hebert's heart on The Bachelorette Season 7. From there, he appeared on the now-defunct Bachelor Pad's third season, which he won in a way that didn't make him many friends.
Given the opportunity to split the prize money with his partner, Rachel Trueheart, Nick instead kept it for himself. It was a selfish move, sure, but proves that Nick might've edged Arie out as a Bachelor because he says his deal straight-out, so you always know where you stand with him. He's decisive, and he goes with his gut, which are two traits that Arie could've used during this past season that would've saved everyone a lot of heartbreak.
11. Kenny King
As a single father himself who left his season early to go home to his daughter when the feelings weren't there with Rachel, Kenny King knows not to blindside a single mother. There's an unwritten rule on the show that you investigate potential with the single parents early, so that they don't have to spend unnecessary time away from their kids. Once you know it isn't going to work out with someone who has a child, you don't even wait for the Rose Ceremony to send them home. Unless you're Arie, who gave single mom Chelsea Roy early assurances and then brought her along on a series of group dates before blindsiding her at a Rose Ceremony. Not cool.
At the end of the day, it's all about Arie's journey, and who knows — maybe these other potential Bachelors would have had similar missteps. But most likely they could've stayed a little closer to the tried-and-true format and broken fewer hearts along the way. And on a show that's supposed to be about finding love, that's all you can hope for.