Hi, my name is Leilani, and I watch The Bachelor. Earnestly.
I tuned in when it first premiered, during the post-Survivor reality television explosion of 2002. And I continued watching even as the singles started skewing younger, with fewer "real" women and more Instagram stars, C-list models, college students, and ex-beauty queens.
The main reason I've kept tuning in is the sheer bizarre humanity of it all. It's not really about finding love, even though that's the show's premise. It's about competing for love, and how much a person is willing to endure to win (to claim a prize that is essentially another human being), and how seemingly normal people can turn into complete buffoons.
Something about this forced situation—and the way contestants willingly toss all the normal stuff that goes with dating and falling in love out the window in favor of vying for the attention of (and a rose from) a person who is also seeing 15 to 30 other people, all while the cameras roll—has me hooked.
Sure, there are those rare authentic moments when you can tell two people are really and truly vibing on each other. But it's the drama that unfolds that makes it all fun to watch. Who's there for the "right" reasons (to find love), who's there for the wrong reasons (fame, self-promotion, free vacation), who secretly has a girlfriend or boyfriend IRL, whose buffoonery turns them into the "villain," who is so thirsty you want to give them a goddamn glass of water and a pep talk.
Bachelor Nation is one big, incestuous family, with The Bachelorette drafting its leading lady from the pool of contestants on The Bachelor, and vice versa, and all the rejects from both franchises getting the chance to "find love" again in Bachelor in Paradise. Which makes you want to keep watching, to see how these contestants fare on their second—or third, or fourth, or fifth—go-round.
There are two types of fandom: Those of us who watch for shits and giggles with our girlfriends (we follow the blogs, we know what's happening with these people after the show, we have a private Slack channel at work where we gossip about it, but we're under no illusion that it's real). And then there are those viewers who are deeply invested in it (who believe in the process, who take time to write hate mail to Jed Wyatt's family when things go south with Hannah Brown). My guess is the latter camp are women who desperately want to be on the show, but can't, or won't, or wouldn't get through vetting for whatever reason.
One thing is certain: All types of us will be on hand when The Bachelor Live on Stage lands in Seattle.
In the show's touring edition, one (TBA) eligible Bachelor is selected ahead of time from each city where the tour stops, and during the live show, he's introduced to 10 local ladies from the audience for a "chance at love." These single Seattleites will be recruited by the tour's casting director (you can fill out an application at bachelorliveonstage.com—no one is chosen unwillingly) and participate in the two-hour-and-20-minute event, during which, through a series of "games, challenges, onstage dates, and other fun 'getting to know you' scenarios," the women are whittled down through multiple rose ceremonies until the Seattle Bachelor finds the woman he's (theoretically) most compatible with. Bachelor Nation alums Becca Kufrin and Ben Higgins will serve as the hosts/matchmakers.
Who will be Seattle's Bachelor? Will the eligible ladies seem as thirsty in this unedited environment as they do on TV? I don't know, but I'm buying tickets to this shitshow now.