Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new column, Reality AF. Every Monday, Terry Terrones will check in and talk about the state of reality TV, plus provide a Top 5 list of what’s coming up this week that you should not miss.
Just when I thought I was out, The Bachelorette pulled me back in.
On a lark, I decided to give the current season of The Bachelorette a try after quitting the franchise after the Matt James season and it’s… not bad. While technically a two-bachelorette season has been done before (Clare and Tayshia), the vulnerability of Rachel and Gabby delivers plenty of drama, and the decision to travel around on a cruise ship from port to port Love Boat-style is clever.
This season of The Bachelorette shows promise. However, there’s still a lot of work producers can do to revitalize the franchise, particularly if ABC is willing to liberally borrow from more zeitgeist-y reality shows. Here are my five suggestions:
1) Dump Junior Varsity Chris Harrison
If the real Jesse Palmer was standing next to a cardboard cutout of Jesse Palmer, I don’t think anyone could tell the difference. Lack of charisma aside, he’s also a terrible consigliere. Last week when Rachel was struggling after Logan switched to Team Gabby, Palmer wasn’t much help, using his own experience as the Bachelor to provide guidance. Considering he didn’t propose during his season and his relationship ended shortly after production, Palmer’s advice isn’t reliable.
Instead of pretty but boring Palmer, producers should have successful legacy Bach hosts for each gender. For The Bachelorette, bring Jojo Fletcher, Ashley Iaconetti, DeAnna Pappas, or Desi Hartsock onboard. Rachel Lindsay, who hosts Bach podcasts, would be a natural choice.
For The Bachelor, successful legacy men are harder to come by but Sean Lowe and Jason Mesnick would be a good place to start. If they’re not available, Nick Viall and Ben Higgins at least have the charisma to host and still remain involved in the Bach family. Better yet, promote Wells Adams from Bachelor in Paradise bartender to show host.
2) One hour episodes
A typical episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is packed with more filler than any of the Real Housewives. It’s beyond time to trim the fat and condense episodes down to one hour. Speed up the pace of the show for modern audiences that have shorter attention spans. If ABC adds a recap show like Lifetime has for Married at First Sight, they can fill in their lost hour and get viewers more involved by airing it live. Call it Love Is in the Air or something cheesy, get a legacy contestant to host, and basically make it the Bach version of Watch What Happens Live. Boom! Your two hours of Bach content are now more purposeful and meaningful.
3) Bring in more Bachelors and Bachelorettes
One of the reasons this season of The Bachelorette is enjoyable is because it has two Bachelorettes men are fighting over. That’s a good start. Instead, have at least four Bach or Bachelorettes in a season, bring in about 40-50 men or women and start eliminating people until the Bachelors/Bachelorettes have five prospective love interests each, then split them off on solo adventures. Viewers get the fun of a dating free-for-all, then the drama that comes when things get serious when groups are split up and each person is on their individual quest for love.
4) Group dates that aren’t lame
Whether it’s sharing dirty sex stories, bikini skiing, swimming with pigs, sumo wrestling or mud wrestling, group dates can come across as either humiliating or mean spirited. Instead, borrow from The Challenge playbook and make group dates more humorous (trivia, a spelling bee) or competitive in a more meaningful way. A group date that requires teamwork, physicality, and strategy might tell you more about someone than whether or not they can learn the dance routine to a Backstreet Boys song.
5) Ban the word “journey”
This franchise has been around so long that words and phrases from the show are commonly used even by people who’ve never seen an episode. Sayings such as “This is so much harder than I thought,” “I can honestly see my husband/wife in this room,” “Can I talk to you for a second?” and “Will you accept this rose?” have taken on a life of their own and are almost always good for a laugh when used in a non-Bach context. However, the word “journey” has got to go. Yo, Bach producers! Give everyone on this show a thesaurus so we don’t have to hear this word 235 times an episode. America will thank you for it.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays on ABC
5 Reality Shows to Watch This Week
1. The Bachelorette (ABC, August 15)
Why you should watch it: The teaser for the rest of this season included kissing in a field of tulips, kissing in front of a windmill, and kissing on a yacht. This was followed by plenty of tears, what seems like a betrayal, and Rachel threatening to quit for the 23rd time. Hard to ask for much more than that.
2. Below Deck Mediterranean (Bravo, August 15)
Why you should watch it: The Natasha and Dave fiasco from last week highlights one of this season’s biggest issues (more on that next week) but it still made for some serious drama. Adding to the complexities on the boat is a new deckhand who has appeared on a previous season. Spoiler alert: Her name rhymes with Bourtney.
3. Untold (Netflix, August 16)
Why you should watch it: Netflix’s sports docuseries returns for a new four-week run starting today. The first episode called “The Girlfriend Who Doesn’t Exist,” is broken into two one hour parts and focuses on the life of former Notre Dame star and NFL player Manti Te’o. He made headlines in 2012 after being catfished by a man posing as a woman. I watched both episodes and it’s a crazy story.
4. Selena + Chef (HBO/HBO Max, August 18)
Why you should watch it: To be honest I was never interested in Selena Gomez until Only Murders in the Building, but now I’ll watch anything she’s involved in. This includes the fourth season of this series, which starts today and features Gordon Ramsay, Rachel Ray, and a number of other celebrity chefs this season.
5. Making the Cut (Prime Video, August 19)
Why you should watch it: The third season of the Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn-hosted fashion series kicks off today with 10 designers descending upon Los Angeles to compete for $1 million.
Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model.
When he’s not applying for Survivor, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.
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