Season 26 of “The Bachelor” debuted to a much smaller audience than season 25. According to TV Line, only 3.8 million viewers tuned in to see the first episode of Clay Echard’s season of “The Bachelor,” compared to 5.2 million who watched the premier of the previous season starring the first Black bachelor, Matt James. The downward spiral in ratings has been occurring fairly consistently.
“The Bachelorette” is suffering a similar fate. The Hollywood Reporter asserts that the premiere of Michelle Young’s season 18 “opened well below last season’s debut and had its smallest premiere audience ever.” Although both “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” debuts won their time slots for ages 18-49, they have both been consistently slipping in overall ratings for years.
Rankings by TV Insider show that Season 17 of “The Bachelorette,” starring Katie Thurston, was the least watched season up to that point. This was also the first season without Chris Harrison hosting.
Is ‘The Bachelor’ Going to Be Cancelled?
The downward trend in ratings for “The Bachelor” franchise is causing some concern about its future. There are definitely signs of trouble, such as ABC deciding not to air the back-to-back seasons of “The Bachelor” that they originally planned for 2022. Regardless, there will be at least one more season of “The Bachelor” as ABC announced it renewed the series and plans to start filming season 27. There is no word yet who the next Bachelor will be.
Many fans and critics have not been happy with the direction the franchise has been taking for a long time. One fan tweeted “Bring back the old Bachelor basics!” Another Twitter user lamented, “I will NEVER understand the popularity of ‘The Bachelor.’ It is poorly scripted, the women/men are fake AF, and above all else, the show is hella cheesy.”
Popsugar blogger and dedicated fan Maggie Panos wrote, “What was once a well-intentioned search for love has turned into sideshow act. Squabbles between the cast are encouraged behind the scenes, contestants who have been cut by the lead are allowed back on set for the sake of drama, and the finales have been messy. By the final rose ceremony — if the season even has one — even steadfast fans like myself have been groaning that they can’t wait for things to wrap up.”
What Can Be Done to Save The Show?
The series is not dead yet. So, what do fans think can be done to make it better? One suggestion is to diversify the cast, not only in terms of ethnicity, which the franchise has been working on lately, but also in terms of body type. One Reddit user wrote, “Wouldn’t mind seeing some body diversity on the show. I get that society has taught us to want to see thin people on tv, but with so many body positivity movements, I think it’s time The Bachelor franchise catch up.”
Another recommendation to improve the show is to choose leads and suitors who are actually in it for love and not just for their 15 minutes of fame. The phrase “in it for the right reasons” is copiously used in the series, and a common storyline is vetting out those participants who are not. Panos submits, “I’m all in favor of throwing in some contestants who might be there for the wrong reasons, but the majority of them should be on the same page.”
Some viewers believe the show would be better if it stopped focusing so much on the bullies and the catfighting, and spent more time on the romance, like it did in the beginning. The show has been accused of creating and even scripting the drama, which has hurt its credibility.
A Quora user wrote, “from what I’ve read and understand is that there’s a lot of people manipulating that tv show. Whether that is the multiple producers or the higher ups in the network.”
Another viewer posted on Reddit, “I can’t believe anyone thinks this is really about “The Bachelor(ette)” ‘finding love’,” to which another poster responded, “oh hell yeah this show is more fake than the kardashians faces. anyone who actually thinks this show is about finding love is super naive and have a LOTTT to learn.”