This season of The Bachelor just might be the most self-referential (and self-indulgent) yet, and I am READY.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past ten years and are new to the franchise, here’s the basic premise: a dude who has been selected as The Bachelor lives in a mansion with 25-30 women who compete for his love (sometimes literally, such as in obstacle courses) as he eliminates “contestants” week by week.
After enough time passes and enough champagne is consumed, some lucky Ashley (or Ashlee, or Britney, or Lauren) gets to be engaged to him for like three months until they’ve amassed enough Instagram followers that Chris Harrison, who hosts the show, tells them they can break up. One of the other Amandas (or Kaylees, or Laurens — there were four Laurens last season!) who came in second or third or fourth is selected to be the next season’s Bachelorette, and the process continues, but with 25 whiskey-drinking dudes named Chad and Trent and Brad, and way more promos about people getting punched in the face. You get the idea.
But! This season is a little different. And why is that? Because our Bachelor is a Very Special Guy named Nick Viall. It’s hard to summarize the drama of Nick in a few short paragraphs, but here we go: Nick first joined the Bachelor Family (as everyone involved in the franchise likes to call it) in 2014 for Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette (did I mention that there have been 12 seasons of The Bachelorette, and this is the 21st season of The Bachelor? Because I would like to mention that. Would you like to know how many marriages have come out of the Bachelor half of the franchise? Two. Good job, idiots.) Nick was not particularly well-liked by the guys in the house during his season. The show places a big premium on likeability, and the person who gets the villain edit is usually one who doesn’t get along with his or her fellow contestants. This person also almost always declares, as Nick Viall most certainly did, “I’m not here to make friends.”
Which, sidenote. The marriage rate on this show (for final couples! Who win!) is currently 10%. If you go in with a 4% chance of winning (1 winner out of 25 contestants) and the final couple only has a 10% shot, that leaves you with a 0.4% chance of a successful marriage resulting from participation. So maybe Nick wasn’t there to make friends, but he sure as shit wasn’t there to get engaged, either. He was much more likely there for the free alcohol and general public promotion, as is the case for the majority of people who go on the show. So you can say you’re not there to make friends, but it’s tough to make a compelling case that you’re there to get engaged. Don’t try me, Nick.
ANYWAY. Nick was one of Andi’s top two guys, meaning he was going to have the chance to ~*~pRoPoSe~*~ (because God forbid the Bachelorette propose to her own husband-select; the world would basically explode), but Andi stopped him and sent him home. On the live After The Final Rose TV special, a visibly upset Nick demanded of Andi why she made love to him in the Fantasy Suite if she didn’t love him. It was a slut-shamey move, and a hypocritical one given Nick’s future behavior on Bachelor shows. But hey, a Viall’s gotta do what a Viall’s gotta do.
Then Nick spent a lot of time on Twitter chatting and flirting and twitting with a gal named Kaitlyn Bristowe. Kaitlyn was on Chris Soules’ season of The Bachelor and subsequently became the Bachelorette. I did not watch that season because it was during 1L and Christ Jesus, I was busy, but I hear she’s a charming lady, lots of charm, etc. Partway through the season, who rolls up to the Bachelor Mansion but the Viall himself? He has a thing for Kaitlyn and he wants to see where it goes. And again, dude is not there to make friends! What he is there for, however, is to get dumped at the altar YET AGAIN. And this time he has a ring box in his hand when Kaitlyn stops him.
Most recently, when he was a beach-going, alcohol-drinking, twin-advising contestant (participant? person?) on Bachelor in Paradise this summer, his profession was listed as “Runner-Up.” Dude is all in with the Bachelor franchise. (Speaking of Bachelor in Paradise, he seriously considered proposing to someone he’d been casually seeing for sixteen days. Sixteen human days of 24 hours each. And you know what’s even more batshit? THREE COUPLES GOT ENGAGED AFTER 16 DAYS. THREE.)
So, here we are at the beginning of Season 21, with Nick Viall as our most experienced Bachelor ever. He knows the process inside and out. He’s been there. Several times, as everyone on-screen, from Nick to host Chris Harrison to all the ladies, keeps reminding us. And each week this season, I’ll be keeping you updated on the latest shenanigans from Viall and his suitors right here on the Record.
The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC.