At 21 years old, The Bachelor franchise is now the same age as some of the contestants who go on the show to
gain Instagram followers find true love. That’s two-plus decades of swoony romances, iconic quotes, petty fights, actual fights, social media spon-con, and cringeworthy scandals. When a show has been around for this long and carries this much baggage with it, its devotees wear their fandom like a badge of pride (or cone of shame?).
Depending how long you’ve been watching the show—and how invested you’ve allowed yourself to get—you likely fall into a very specific category of fandom. For some, being a member of Bachelor Nation simply means watching the episodes every week, and maybe following a few of their favorite leads on Instagram, if you’re feeling generous. But for those with less restraint (or just more free time), your devotion to the franchise might be less of a fun hobby and more of a free-fall spiral you can’t seem to escape. (No judgment either way.)
So, where do you land on the fandom spectrum?
The Mildly Curious
Maybe you’ve stumbled across one too many silly memes you wish you understood. Or perhaps you’re sick of your group chat always popping off on Monday nights with absolutely no context. However you got here, you’re here now, dipping your toe into the vast pool of all things Bachelor Nation, one episode at a time. You’re still learning everyone’s names, and you don’t quite understand why everyone gasps when a two-on-one date card arrives. But so far, you’re having fun. If you miss a week, no worries—you’ll try to catch it on Hulu sometime later in the week, or just wait for the next ep to air. There’s no way you’ll ever become one of those crazed superfans who cries when their favorite contestant gets sent home, right? Riiiight.
The Weekly Watcher
Oh, you sweet summer child. No one can stay a casual observer of The Bachelor for long. The moment you start blocking off the calendar so you don’t miss an episode, you’re done for. At the start of every season, you might tell your co-workers, “IDK, I’m not that into it. I might not watch this season.” And yet without fail, come premiere time, you can’t help but find yourself planted in front of your screen, wine glass in hand and ready for the drama. Congratulations, your Monday nights are officially booked until further notice.
The Fun Fangirl
The it-girl of Bachelor Nation, you are just the right amount of obsessed with your favorite franchise. You host killer watch parties, complete with themed cocktails and trivia from seasons past. You’ve probably dressed up as Bachelor celeb for Halloween at some point (likely Tayshia’s tabloid dress if you’re a fashion girlie or the infamous windmill from Hannah B.’s season if you’re the comedian of your friend group). But somehow, you manage not to go overboard in your infatuation with the show. Do you keep up with your contestant bracket the way sports fans freak out over Fantasy Football? Sure. But are you going to call out of work to travel to the nearest Bachelor Live on Stage show? Eh, you could take it or leave it.
The Parasocial Scholar
For you, The Bachelor isn’t just a show that exists in its weekly two-hour time slot on ABC. Instead, it’s a constant stream of content courtesy of the many forms of media where the show and its cast members exist. You know the release schedule of every Bachelor and Bachelor-adjacent podcast worth listening to, and you can tell when a new book/breakup/engagement/baby announcement is about to drop based on your favorite follows’ social media activity. You scour Reddit boards every time you hear a rumor about offscreen drama, and you follow accounts like @BachelorData the way crypto bros track the stock market. Your friends may think you’re in a little too deep, but really you’re just passionate about staying informed, okay?
The Final Form
It turns out, if you love something enough, you can end up kind of hating it. That’s what it feels like to be in The Final Form of your Bachelor fandom. You’ve probably been a resident of Bachelor Nation for a while, able to recall key moments in the franchise going back at least to Sean Lowe’s season, if not further. That means you’ve seen the show at its best… and its worst. You’re very critical of the franchise’s missteps—everything from letting a star contestant go home too soon to very real, very damaging racism scandals that have marred multiple seasons. But you also hold out hope that the show can change for the better. For now, though, you soothe yourself by having solo watch parties (because other people are way too distracting), breaking down the minutiae of each episode with niche podcasts like Game of Roses, and attempting to rewatch the elusive early seasons, which are nearly impossible to find.
Just remember, if you ever decide to come up for air, there are other TV shows you can watch that have much lower stakes for you. Maybe give Love Island a try.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.