ABC’s Bachelor franchise is a refuge, a place where one can escape the dating wasteland and watch two people find highly airbrushed love. On The Bachelorette in particular, it is a dick pic–free safe place where we can meet men who will always say the cheesy, unrealistic right thing. It is an arrangement built on trust: The producers trust us to abandon our principles, and we trust them to select a batch of generically hunky, “earnestly in love” man vessels. It doesn’t matter who the dudes are in real life — a firefighter, a teacher, a shameless cheater trying to get famous; on the show, we accept that they are square-jawed ports in the raging love waters. They are comfort-food entertainment, the perfect background noise while you are trolling on Tinder.
But Season 12 of ABC’s The Bachelorette offers no sanctuary. There’s no worthy, hunky man vessel. Somehow ABC has succeeded in assembling the single worst cast of suitors in this show’s history.
Last night was the “Men Tell All” special, the penultimate episode that gives viewers a last look at all the contestants who weren’t chosen. Typically this episode serves as therapy — rehash old drama, yell “why didn’t you love me?” — but mostly it’s a chance for everyone to get to hang out with their favorite contestants and evaluate their chances as the next Bachelor/ette. Maybe, I thought, with some distance and fresh eyes, these boys wouldn’t seem so bad. Maybe we’d discover that James Taylor shouldn’t have gone home! Maybe Evan would reveal that he wasn’t such an annoyance. Maybe Chad would figure out how to differentiate himself from Jordan and Robby!
But here’s what happened instead: Wells made a Harry Potter reference. (Wells. Please.) Brandon the Hipster cut off his hipster hair, so he can barely qualify for hipster anymore. Evan is still a penis doctor. Chad is still beefing. Grant (who?) is beefing harder than ever. Alex (WHO?!) is also beefing. The rest of the dudes were just boring, or just identical to someone else, or just Chase. And for me, it’s still a hard pass on every single one of these chuckleheads. ABC, what happened?
Next week, the worst of them all will vie for JoJo’s heart. Jordan Rodgers, whatever he says about his sad family, is just a 100 on the Jerk Index, and Robby … stole Rodgers’s hair? That’s the most I can say about that bland meat husk. According to ABC’s The Bachelorette algorithm, Luke, who was sent home Monday night, will most likely be the next Bachelor; he’s a pro at plainspoken yet heartfelt declarations at sunset and is a military veteran. But he’s boring, and so is everyone on this list. There are zero good options for the next Bachelor, and it’s obvious after this last bunch of undesirables that ABC’s formula for selecting suitors is flawed. So allow me to make some suggestions for the next Bachelor:
1. Follow Unreal’s lead and pick an actual NFL player in need of career rehab. (No, Jordan, you do not count.)
2. Dip back into The Bachelor archive and call up a vintage suitor like Bob Guiney.
3. Take the advice of Bachelorette Party podcast host Juliet Litman, who rightly pegged very single country singer Sam Hunt for the Bachelor ideal: He’s handsome. Has an A-list shine. He’s basically already made his audition video. And some consider him the “Drake of country,” which is appealing.
4. Fuck it, just pay actual Drake a ton of money to do it. Dates would be at Cheesecake Factory. His sweater game would be on point. For once the surprise musical guests wouldn’t cause spontaneous ear bleeding, and a black woman would finally make it to the Hometown episode. He is what The Bachelor needs in 2016!