Why the Musical & Senior Spinoffs Will Be Good for the 'Bachelor' Franchise
Talk to any fan of the Bachelor franchise, and you’ll hear a common gripe: these kids have no idea what they want. For a show that’s expected to (and almost always does) end in a proposal of marriage, it’s odd that in recent years, contestants’ ages have been trending steadily downwards, in opposition to the prevailing trend of millennials getting married later in life, or increasingly not at all.
Just look at Peter Weber’s final three: Hannah Ann, 23, is a former pageant girl turned model who dots her i’s with hearts; Madison, also 23, waited until the least opportune moment to tell Peter about her virginity; and Victoria F., 25, has made it obvious that she’s not picking up what Peter is putting down.
Look, I’m not saying that you can’t be ready for a happy and fulfilling marriage at age 23. And there’s always been absurdity baked in to the Bachelor/Bachelorette premise of proposing marriage to someone you’ve barely met. But in 2020, it’s never been clearer that most of these contestants may be more interested in finding Instagram followers than finding love.
That's why on February 24, when ABC announced a casting call for senior citizens looking for love, viewers got excited. There’s already a musical spinoff, The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart, coming in April. If a senior edition of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette ends up happening, these two new shows might restore America’s faith in the show’s process and revitalize the franchise.
Of course, there have already been several spinoffs in the Bachelor universe: Bachelor Pad, Bachelor Winter Games, and the popular, ongoing Bachelor in Paradise. But those three have all drawn from prior seasons of Bachelor and Bachelorette, bringing fan favorites back for more screen time — and, as is increasingly the case for Paradise, causing contestants to create drama so they’ll be cast in the future.
Listen To Your Heart will bring in not only new blood, but a new format. Any Bachelor fan can tell you that as the same tropes — the group dates, the rose ceremonies, the “can I steal you for a minute?” cocktail parties — play out over and over again, the show’s producers get more and more desperate to wring drama out of the same situations, often through meddling and manipulation.
View this post on Instagram
Now, I’m not suggesting Listen to Your Heart will be short on drama — hopefully, far from it! But the added dimension of contestants performing with each other is unique and will bring in new emotional dynamics not previously seen on the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Producers and editors won’t have to try so hard to make the relationships dramatic and emotional.
The idea of a senior Bachelor or Bachelorette seems even more promising. Older contestants with decades of life experience under their belts are less likely to make the kinds of decisions that have had fans screaming at their television screens this season. They’re also less likely to come on the show solely to get on Paradise or kick-start a career as a social media influencer (though I honestly don’t hate the idea of 60- and 70-something influencers). If they’re not “there for the right reasons,” at least they won’t be there for the same reasons.
The senior edition, if it proves successful, might even be a good influence on its younger counterpart. Viewers and producers alike could stand to realize that when contestants are grown, know what they want, and are able to carry out mature conversations about their feelings and their future, it ultimately will make for more rewarding television.
After almost two decades, it might finally be time for The Bachelor franchise to grow up.