How to Fix ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’
If the most recent lackluster season of The Bachelor: Electric Brad Womack Boogaloo indicated anything, it's that the show is overdue for a reboot. They've been able to generate some actual watercooler buzz (the Jason/Melissa/Molly triangle made for good tabloid fodder, as did the eventual Jason/Molly wedding), but the return of Brad Womack and his vanilla personality, plus the choice of also-ran Ashley as the new Bachelorette served as reminders of why the show needs to change it up. Here are a couple of things that would help give the show a makeover:
- Stop recycling cast members. I get why DeAnna got to be The Bachelorette, since Brad ditching her on TV was a big ratings-grabber. But the whole “DeAnna begat Jason who begat Jillian who begat Jake who begat Ali” thing is wearing really, really thin. For one thing, it compels contestants to get more air time for the sake of becoming the next Bachelor or Bachelorette rather than pretending to go along with show's conceit of falling in love. At this point, it's more lucrative to be the runner-up on The Bachelor than it is to win the thing, and that's not how you get the best possible contestants.
- Diversify. Fifteen seasons of The Bachelor and we've never had a non-white star? That needs to end, and now. An African-American or Asian-American Bachelor would be a welcome addition to the franchise, and it might help diversify the audience too.
- Ban the word “amazing.” There are plenty of overused cutesy terms on this show, but none grate more than “amazing.” If contestants can't find another way to express their interest in someone, they are not interesting enough to be on my television. That means you, Jake Pavelka.
- Quit editing out the love stories. The Bachelor is in a real quandary when it comes to editing – in order to keep the suspense alive they can't give away who wins, but that means that many of the love stories on this show end up on the cutting room floor. On the most recent season finale, Emily Maynard complained that most of her scenes with Brad didn't make it to the air. As a result, the audience saw lots of lovey-dovey scenes with Chantal O'Brien, creating outrage when Chantal didn't get the final rose. I know that this is a difficult request because it asks producers to play their hand early, but considering how many spoilers hit the web before the first episode even airs, they'd at least be able to control the leak a little bit.
- Change the format. If there were fewer contestants at the beginning and we skipped one or two weeks' worth of eliminations, we – and the Bachelors/Bachelorettes – would have more time to get to know everybody. Usually, I spend the first episode of the season confused as hell and not remembering anyone's names. I know the show loves to make hay out of drunken contestants or women who show up in inappropriate outfits, but it starts to feel like those exploitative bad audition episodes of American Idol.
- Recruit a celebrity. There have been a couple of “celebrity” Bachelors, but I use that term loosely – Jesse Palmer was a third-string football player and Charlie O'Connell‘s main claim to fame was that he was Jerry O'Connell‘s brother. Bringing in someone with an established fanbase would be a great way to infuse some new blood into the show. Take a cue from the Ukrainian edition of The Bachelor – they enlisted Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy (who was born in the Ukraine but grew up in the US) to headline the show. You get a built-in audience, plus the women trying to get on the show will already know something about the Bachelor's personality, so you have a higher likelihood of finding a real match.