Another season of The Bachelor has come to an end, and Matt James' search for love originally seemed like it could have done things differently enough to freshen up the franchise in the best ways. Not only was he the first Black Bachelor, but he was also the first Bachelor leading man to have a full season set in one place and took the spotlight despite never appearing as a Bachelorette suitor. Matt was better known for being Tyler Cameron's best friend and his shirtless trailer scenes than anything else ahead of the Season 25 premiere, and I was excited for him coming in with a blank slate.
To my disappointment, it didn't take long for The Bachelor Season 25 to lose my interest compared to previous seasons of Bachelor Nation, and I say that as somebody who was counting down the days until Peter Weber's Bachelor season was done and quickly exhausted by Clare Crawley latching onto Dale Moss immediately after meeting him. I was a fan of Tayshia Adams as Bachelorette, but The Bachelor Season 25 just felt like a mess to me, and through no fault of Matt's. I still think he could have been a standout Bachelor in Bachelor Nation history if the show had been handled differently.
Basically for me, Bachelor Nation fell short this season, and not just because of the controversy surrounding the series while episodes were airing, although that certainly didn't help. So, as the time has come to look ahead to The Bachelorette Season 17, I'm going to look back at things that I need Bachelor Nation to fix after Matt James' season of The Bachelor.
Vet The New Bachelors More Carefully
The journey of The Bachelor Season 25 could have been fun to follow along vicariously as per usual if the cast hadn't included Rachael Kirkconnell, who went viral after photos emerged to show that she attended an Antebellum party in 2018. In addition to the photos, allegations began to circulate of racist bullying and social media activity. Bachelor viewers didn't seem to have much trouble digging up details on Rachael; why didn't Bachelor Nation before she was cast on The Bachelor?
This isn't even the first time that a Bachelor Nation suitor started generating controversy due to old social media posts resurfacing, but the situation with Garrett Yrigoyen apparently didn't result in the kind of vetting that would have kept contestants like Rachael Kirkconnell from the spotlight on The Bachelor. The scandal surrounding Rachael (made all the worse by Chris Harrison) overshadowed Matt James' search for love, especially since Rachael turned out to be in the Final 2. And it was unnecessary.
Show All Of The Dates
My personal favorite part of Bachelor Nation is watching the dates rather than the house drama between the women of The Bachelor or men of The Bachelorette, although I had my issues with the strip dodgeball of Clare Crawley's season and Tayshia Adams and Ivan Hall being dunked in ice baths that seemed physically unhealthy. Still, the shenanigans on the goofier dates that don't involve physical pain and suffering are usually fun, and the "Women Tell All" episode revealed that The Bachelor Season 25 cut more than one date.
The cut dates involved women braving boxes of bugs to fish out rings, chowing down on pancakes and beers, and playing hide and seek. While a lot of the details of those dates seemed super unpleasant for the women, they struck me as much more interesting than a lot of the drama and showed more of the personalities of not only the women, but also Matt actually enjoying himself with the women trying to win his heart. Bachelor Nation dates at their best are fun and escapist, and The Bachelor was sorely missing in fun in Season 25.
Don't Manipulate The Lead
Look, I know perfectly well that seasons of Bachelor Nation are very well choreographed, ranging from dates to situations to the people brought in to deliver drama. Colton Underwood spoke about his experience, and Peter Weber seemed to me like he was completely not ready for his own search for love while still hung up on Hannah Brown. Matt James was at a disadvantage, however, because he didn't have any Bachelor Nation experience other than hanging with Tyler Cameron. He was thrown right into the deep end.
And Matt didn't seem to know how to hold his own in some of the situations, through no fault of his own and not getting much help. Why would he know how? Contestants wind up in over their heads all the time, but usually at least once before they wind up as leads in a season of The Bachelor or Bachelorette. The drama with his dad was hard for me to watch, and so much pressure was being heaped on his shoulders when he didn't even seem like he'd be ready to be engaged at the end. Kudos to Bachelor Nation for choosing a Black lead, but I think he deserved a better season than this.
Don't Include Damaging Drama
I've tried to stay more or less general with my picks for things that I need Bachelor Nation to do differently, since of course there will be fundamental differences between The Bachelor Season 25 and The Bachelorette Season 17, but I have to get specific for an example of some drama that was all but manufactured and milked for all it was worth, to the point that it was damaging for one of the women. I'm talking, of course, about Brittany Galvin and the baseless accusation that she was an escort before coming on the show.
Anna Redman accused Brittany Galvin of being an escort in Chicago, and The Bachelor made the most of the drama in the worst way, for me. The accusation overshadowed Brittany and pretty much guaranteed that she didn't have a shot at sticking around, and it had major implications for her life outside of The Bachelor. If true, she'd been outed as a sex worker on national television. If false, it was ugly drama that featured women shaming sex workers.
True or false, it guaranteed that Brittany was going to face a powerful fan reaction, and probably not in the best way. It was an accusation that was turned into a plot for Season 25 when it could have been cut for something more interesting and more relevant to be included. (Like those three cut dates.) Throw in the fact that a lot of the focus of the season seemed to be on white contestants despite Michelle Young making in to the Final 2, and Season 25 felt to me like more of the same in the worst ways rather than something new.
I won't go into specifics about the season beyond what I've said so far here, but I truly do hope that the next season of The Bachelorette will improve on these issues, and not just because The Bachelorette has replaced Chris Harrison and there will be not one but two ladies starring in searches for love in their own seasons coming up. Bachelor Nation fans are in for a bit of a wait before The Bachelorette Season 17 is ready to premiere, so check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule for some upcoming viewing options.