The younger generation finds novelty in the overly dramatic romance scenario.
The Bachelor” is a genuine phenomenon on television. The reality show, which just wrapped up its 21st season, has bounced back after a period of lower viewership. And, believe it or not, this is in part due to an upswing in the number of younger viewers.
One of these younger viewers happens to be my kid sister, Sabine. She is 15 years old, a freshman in high school, and was addicted to the latest season of The Bachelor. Sabine told me that she started watching the show last year after she saw previews about it on TV.
“People were talking about it all the time at school,” she said.
The premise of the show goes as such: One bachelor searches for true love among a sea of beautiful women, all vying for his attention. The goal of the show is to be the woman that the bachelor proposes to. However, the engagements rarely last in real life. Only a few couples over the course of 21 seasons are currently married. Instead of finding true love, the larger goal seems to be how contestants can transfer their appearance on the show into social media fame.
At her junior high school, The Bachelor generated a lot of buzz. People chose their favorite contenders early on, and defended them until they were inevitably booted off the show. Her classmates’ loyalties to the female contenders were fierce, and created heated conversations during lunchtime.
“This season, there was a contestant named Corinne and she did the most ridiculous things to get the bachelor’s attention, so everyone in my school was talking about her. And it was kind of like a battle against the people who liked her and the people who didn’t like her,” Sabine said. “The Bachelor is definitely the show that is talked about the most.”
Sabine was talking about Corinne Olympios, the female contestant who became the impromptu star of this past season. Corinne has long blonde hair, a golden tan, and is conventionally pretty. But what really caught audiences’ attention was her ability to constantly steal scenes on the show. She was the first to make a move on bachelor Nick Viall, shocking viewers when it was revealed she had her own nanny, and coined the now-iconic phrase: “My heart is gold, but my vagine is platinum.” Basically, she blew up the internet. Memes and gifs were swiftly created to showcase her best moments, Twitter hashtags nodding to Corinne like #TeamCorn and #PlatinumVagine trended, troves of quippy articles appeared on Buzzfeed—including one called ‘Who Said It: Donald Trump Or Corinne From The Bachelor’—and she accumulated 690,000 followers on Instagram.
Overnight, contestants like Corinne who appear on the Bachelor can become social media stars and de facto celebrities. The Bachelor himself, Nick Viall, has 1.2 million followers on Instagram and 262K on Twitter.
“Oh yeah, I’ve definitely creeped on the bachelor and the women on the show on Insta,” Sabine said. And surely, many others have too.
The show’s success with younger viewers could be because of its presence on social media. While the show was running, Sabine would sometimes share re-cap videos through Snapchat with me. Simply called ‘Watch Party: The Bachelor,’ the videos are a collaboration between the ABC network and Snapchat that were featured on the app’s Explore tab. ‘Watch Party’ intertwines clips from the show with Buzzfeed-video-esque commentary by a few quirky young women and a very hilarious gay man.
Instead of finding true love, the larger goal seems to be how contestants can transfer their appearance on the show into social media fame.”
It’s curious that young people have become hooked on The Bachelor because the old-fashioned values presented on the show do not represent the ways millennials are finding love today. Yet, maybe this is why we find it so enjoyable to watch.
In Sabine’s words: “I watch The Bachelor because it’s… I don’t know how to explain it. Everything is so overdone and so played up. I don’t think it’s anything like how it actually is to fall in love. I just think it’s fun to see the drama created by all of the characters… or contestants.”
In the era of online dating, Tinder, and Snapchat, it makes sense that a younger generation would be fascinated with a dramatic portrayal of love, no matter how inauthentic and commercialized it actually is.