Sean’s journey ends, Desiree’s begins, and Bachelor improbably gets more popular

The Bachelor concludes its 17th season tonight, which is really the franchise’s 25th overall, including The Bachelorette. That spin-off has already begun production with this season’s rejected Desiree Hartsock as its star. (Reality Steve identified her and she was filmed in L.A. staring into the ocean, which is pretty much all the confirmation one needs.)

Whoever Sean picks and then breaks up with, he has been a popular bachelor–or perhaps more correctly, the crazy people around him have been very watchable. That’s led to a 7-percent increase in viewers 18 to 49 this season, earning the show .9 million viewers more than ABC shows average in that age group.

Last Monday’s episode earned 8.53 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in 18-49; by comparison, Survivor had 9.58 million viewers and a 2.6 rating in 18-49, though perhaps it’s unfair to compare since Survivor is up against American Idol.

The New York Times reports on how the show “has had a resurgence rare among network reality shows” and “has also become the unlikely exception in a television season when almost every other show on ABC and its competing networks has declined.”

ABC reality executive John Saade admits “the show was fading” around season 12, but that Jason and Molly’s season turned things around, which is to say, turning the show into an ongoing soap opera and emphasizing drama and crazy people over sane ones turned things around, and social media has added a new level of engagement.

For a show that has so often been written off as a joke, including by me, this is impressive growth and a fascinating journey.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.