Unpopular Opinion: ‘The Bachelor’ Should be Canceled

Like many other people in their late teens and early 20s, I have a regular guilty pleasure: “The Bachelor,” and its gender-reversed counterpart “The Bachelorette.” I started watching late in high school after I figured out how to stream episodes online, much to the frustration of my parents who are avid haters of the franchise. As most people did, I quickly became absorbed in the lore.

“The Bachelor” world is wholly disconnected from that of regular folk like you and me. These people date each other, make their own friend groups and even quarantine with one another (see Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron’s 2020 Tik Toks). They are attractive in a girl or boy next door kind of way and each make a living selling products on Instagram to “Bachelor Nation,” a nickname referring to the show’s fanbase. 

The rise of social media since the show’s inception in 2002 has drastically changed the lives of the cast postseason. Most of them quit their jobs and move to Los Angeles to become part-time influencers. Recent events have also highlighted the racism and prejudice ingrained in the series, with Matt James becoming the first Black bachelor in 2021. His season premiered after host Chris Harrison was let go for remarks made on a Bachelor Nation podcast downplaying a contestant’s past actions involving an Antebellum-themed sorority party. The season that followed was tainted by this news and the awkward appearance of Harrison as host throughout the pre-filmed series. To be fair, James was a horrific lead in his own right, following three previous bachelors who were also callous, unfeeling, immature and terrible leads. 

In contrast, “The Bachelor” spin-off show, “The Bachelorette,” is only getting better as “The Bachelor” seems to be getting worse. This is partly due to the sympathy the primarily young female audience feels towards the women who are mistreated and vilified in seasons of “The Bachelor.” This leads to an outpouring of support for the female leads and the program’s higher success rate compared to its counterpart.

But, I think there is a bigger cultural shift occurring. Many remember the “Me Too” movement, which gained significant ground in 2017 and changed how Hollywood and many other industries approach women and sexual violence in the workplace. Amidst this cultural awakening, “The Bachelor” stayed stagnant. There was no lasting impact on how the show’s production approached editing and treating these female contestants; in fact, the streak of bad bachelors began in 2018. The show’s handling of harassment allegations towards former or current contestants has been either nonexistent or extremely disappointing.

After issues of racism, sexism and sexual harassment, ‘The Bachelor” was given an opportunity to change its ways. The latest “The Bachelorette” season with Michelle Young was great. Young was poised, mature and likable. Former bachelorettes Tayshia Adamas and Kaitlyn Bristowe were terrific hosts. The season itself was good, with a fantastic cast of men to pick from for the role of bachelor. In fact, the show’s production had upwards of three casts-worth of great and fan-favorite men to choose from for their next lead. After their continued push for diversity in the casts, they had numerous men of color who would be amazing next leads. People were excited about the bachelor announcement. 

Over five years in the making, this tense buildup is why Clayton Echard’s season was my breaking point. He was a baffling pick that seemed to undo whatever it was “The Bachelor” was trying to fix about its image. There was little to no screen time for him in Young’s season, and the screen time he did get was boring and unmemorable. For me and many others in the fanbase, it felt like the production team wanted a white bachelor and were forced to pick from outside of Michelle’s top four, all of whom were Black men.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Clayton’s season, but I’ve learned from recaps and news articles that it was just as much of a disaster as I could have predicted it to be. I won’t go into the details here, but I can safely say I will never be watching a season of “The Bachelor” again.

“The Bachelorette,” however, has been great recently with the right mix of drama and romance, starring both likable leads and likable casts. I watch the show without having seen the previous season of “The Bachelor,” which has become not only unwatchable but also unnecessary. It’s time for “The Bachelor” to finally bow out to its superior counterpart, “The Bachelorette.”