The infamous phrase “Will you accept this rose?” changed American pop culture forever. “The Bachelor” took the country by storm when it aired 18 years ago on March 25, 2002.
Since then, we have seen a total of 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 15 seasons of the popular spin-off “The Bachelorette.” There have been several lasting marriages as a result of the shows and countless intense heartbreaks.
Each season the franchise takes one man or woman as the lead of the show and sets them up to find love. Depending on the season there are 20 to 30 contestants featured. The goal by the end of the season is that the lead and the last contestant remaining will leave engaged, however this is not a requirement.
This summer, fans have been tuning into “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever!” The series is an eight-week special, highlighting the most memorable seasons from both shows. Each Monday night, the series will take a different season that would typically air over a three month time period and condense it into three hours.
Originally, fans would have been tuning into Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette” right now. Crawley, 39, was named the lead of “The Bachelorette” prior to the beginning of the pandemic. Production of her season is slated to begin by the end of July.
“The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever!” premiered earlier this summer with fan favorite Sean Lowe’s season on June 8. Fans may recall his romantic proposal to Catherine Guidici, season villain Tierra LiCausi or the adventures in Montana, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Thailand.
Lowe and Giudici’s relationship turned out to be one of the show’s most successful. They married in January 2014 and are now parents to two sons and a daughter. Giudici shared a deeper note on Instagram prior to the airing of their recap episode.
“I knew that one of the reasons I was probably chosen was because I was Filipino. I counted myself out to be his fiancée because of what I assumed Sean liked,” Giudici said in her post. “I thought I was there just to check a box, but I ended up with so much more ... Don’t count yourself out. You are destined to do bigger things than just check a box.”
I think this is a necessary message for men and women of color who wish to be a part of the franchise. The series has typically hosted a predominately white cast until more recent seasons.
“The Bachelorette” has had one Black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, and recently, Matt James was announced as the new bachelor for the show’s 25th season, slated to air in winter 2021. James is the first bachelor of color.
Following Lowe’s episode, fans revisit trailblazing bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season. Bristowe is notable for being chosen over Britt Nilsson on night one, as well as the ongoing drama with season runner-up Nick Viall.
It was odd to initially have two bachelorettes and to let the men decide on who they would prefer once they arrived at the mansion. Every other season of “The Bachelorette”, there is one specific lead woman selected. Britt left the mansion on night one, heartbroken from the men’s decision.
Bristowe’s season is easily memorable for fans due to her choice to engage in intimacy behind doors with Viall weeks before the annual fantasy suite episode. The fantasy suite episode each season is the first time the lead and the contestants are offered alone time behind closed doors without cameras or any filming crew. Viall has a history with “The Bachelor” franchise as the previous runner up on Andi Dorfman’s season of “The Bachelorette.”
I think Bristowe is commendable for her bold choices as the season’s lead. She paved the way for women to follow in her footsteps on the show.
On June 15, Bristowe said in an Instagram post that she was hesitant to rewatch her season, but due to the support she felt she would tune in. The day her episode aired, she shared a letter pinned to her younger self
“Dear 29-year-old Kaitlyn, It might be easy for you to look back and question some decisions that were made. But it is unfair to punish yourself for them,” Bristowe said in the letter “You made each decision for a reason.”
Bristowe’s recap concluded with an exciting offer to join the newest season of “Dancing with the Stars.” I personally am excited to see her grace the screens of ABC again. Bristowe’s superfans know she has wished to be on the dancing show since her time as the bachelorette.
Moving into week three, viewers journey through Ben Higgins’ time as the bachelor. Higgins’ season is known for his confession of love to both of the final two women and the Pig Island date in the Bahamas.
Higgins concluded his season with a proposal to Lauren Bushnell in Jamaica. Higgins and Bushnell’s relationship lasted for less than two years following the show; they even had their own show on Freeform titled, “Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?”
I think Higgins’ internal conflict between the final two women is what ultimately led to the demise of his relationship with Bushnell. There are going to be obvious challenges when you openly admit to falling in love with two people at the same time.
Higgins is now engaged to Jessica Clarke. The two announced at the end of his “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever!” episode that they will be getting married in late 2021 and settling down in Denver, where Higgins currently resides.
Higgins’ runner-up, JoJo Fletcher, was announced as the bachelorette following her stint on his season. Fletcher’s season is featured in episode four of “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever!”
JoJo had an amazing run as the bachelorette. Fans will remember the season’s villain, Chad, the long awaited first kiss with Wells and her fairytale ending with contestant Jordan Rodgers.
Fletcher revealed on Instagram that her fiance, Rodgers, had never watched their season of “The Bachelorette.” Therefore, Fletcher’s recap episode was the first time he would be watching it.
“We got engaged (again) tonight!” Rodgers shared on his Instagram. “If you haven’t ever watched our season (like me), THE WHOLE SEASON is re-airing tonight and I’ll be providing some fun commentary on the Instagram story as JoJo makes out with a bunch of other guys.”
Fletcher and Rodgers have been engaged for three years since the conclusion of their season. The couple announced at the end of her “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever” episode that they are getting married summer of 2021. They also have been the hosts of Paramount Networks “Battle of the Fittest Couples” and CNBC’s “Cash Pad.”
The most recent episode of the summer series takes fans back to the start of the franchise. We revisit both Alex Michel and Trista Sutter’s respective seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”
Michel’s season ended with an invitation to winner Amanda Marsh to come live with him in California following the show. The couple lasted for nearly a year before going their separate ways. Michel has remained relatively under the radar and away from the spotlight since his reign as the first-ever bachelor.
Sutter’s season is highly favored as she was the first bachelorette. Sutter ended her season accepting a proposal from firefighter Ryan Sutter in her finale. Ryan and Trista went on to have the first-ever bachelor franchise televised wedding.
Trista and Ryan both posted on Instagram that they would be experiencing their recap episodes differently. Trista left a message for fans saying, “Please just ignore the massive amount of turtlenecks, oversized suits, bucket hats, baby talk and orange hair and focus instead on the love story that I’m excited to share with the world again!”
Ryan, on the other hand, alluded to his struggles of watching the show by saying, “For me, it was a struggle against the odds — one of many competing for moments of time, never knowing how I was perceived or what others might be doing with their moments spent with someone I was falling in love with”.
Ryan spent the evening by himself, reflecting on the life “The Bachelorette” gave him. I think it’s most interesting to see such a successful couple from the franchise all these years later. They pioneered what it means to make it work as a couple following a season of the series.
I believe this franchise has had an everlasting impact on fans of the show, and that impact has heightened since the rise of social media. This show ultimately showcases real people with real lives and real feelings.
I think each couple coming from the show is so different in how they choose to continue their relationship with the series. For some, it’s easier to watch their season back and talk about it than others.
I don't think we will see a foreseeable end to “The Bachelor” franchise as the show has continually been successful. It has also had numerous other spinoffs like “Bachelor Pad,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and “The Bachelor Winter Games.”
Fans can continue to tune in to the remaining weeks of “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons - Ever!” on ABC on Monday nights, as well as on Hulu the following day.
Next week, fans will take a look back at both of Brad Womack’s seasons of “The Bachelor.” Viewers can expect to see Clare Crawley’s season on ABC this fall and Matt James’ season at the beginning of 2021.