Time to stop caring about The Bachelor/ette’s failure rate: all that matters is crazy

The Bachelorette debuted Monday, the 26th season of the franchise, and featured the usual parade of crazy people coached to do ridiculous things trying to woo someone from a previous season who the casting producers clearly hate based on the people they select as potential mates.

Airing against The Voice and without Dancing with the Stars, and on a holiday, it seems even ABC’s schedulers wanted to screw with Desiree. As James Hibberd notes, the premiere “fell 27 percent this year, yet faced a serious uphill battle.” In other words, ratings were way down from last summer’s Bachelorette, but an even year-to-year comparison isn’t really possible.

I didn’t watch, because I’ve grown tired of the formula and am about as interested in Desiree’s journey as I am in the journey of decomposing fingernail clippings. Of course, it’s not really about her journey to love; it’s about entertaining us along the way.

The franchise’s inability to create lasting relationships isn’t news any more, but its failure is usually the cited as the statistic that matters. I certainly have made fun of the show for its failure rate in the past (and undoubtedly will continue to chronicle future break-ups). But it’s time to retire that as a metric, because it’s not what matters; if it was, the show would have been cancelled long ago.

Crazy is what matters. It thrives on what people reacted to from Monday’s episode: the dumbass in the armor. The guy who was asked to leave because he freaked Desiree out by immediately suggesting they go to the fantasy suite, i.e. bang. Et cetera.

I would like to see it get out of its current formulaic rut, but this formula is clearly why it has such insane longevity. If it can keep entertaining enough people who generate multiple trending Twitter phrases, as it did Monday, and ratings that ABC is okay with, it could last for years and years.

Speaking of The Bachelor franchise’s longevity, for the premiere, The Daily Beast compiled statistics on the first 25 seasons (in other words, it excludes this season), and the numbers are incredible. Here are just a few: in 228 episodes, there have been 631 contestants, 398 one-on-one dates, 146 group dates, 36 countries, 64 visits to the fantasy suite, and 1,231 roses.

The full list is worth checking out, though they didn’t compile truly fascinating data like the number of times the fantasy suite was used to completion or how frequently Chris Harrison said something condescending.

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.