With just three men remaining, we are once again nearing the end of another season of The Bachelorette. Which, of course, means it’s time to start thinking about the next season of The Bachelor. Things are a little different this year though — there isn’t a clear front-runner for who should hand out the next batch of roses. The recently eliminated Dean is too young (and joining the cast of Bachelor in Paradise anyway), Peter may win, and Bryan kisses WAY too weirdly. So with the field seemingly wide open, The Ringer staff is submitting their own candidates for the next Bachelor — which will either take the show to unprecedented heights or destroy it once and for all.
Ben Lindbergh: The obvious answer is “anyone but Bryan,” but let’s be more specific. Provided he doesn’t receive the final rose — which has never seemed likely — Eric would be the best Bachelor choice among the blah suitors from Rachel’s season. He’s open, personable, and positive, with a range broad enough to go between Dean’s giggles and Peter’s seriousness as the situation demands. He has a sympathetic, hardscrabble backstory that stands out on this series, and he’s overcome his early-season insecurity so fully that he’s now an all-denim dresser.
Eric has a real career as a personal trainer/motivational speaker/two-time e-book author (whose sales don’t seem to be getting a big Bachelorette bump), and there’s never been much reason to question the rightness of his reasons for appearing on TV. If you weren’t already an Eric fan after his admission that Rachel would be the first girl he’d ever brought back to Baltimore, you had to be behind him during his hometown date, when his family made a strong impression as the one we’d all like to belong to. I’d pick Eric just so I could spend more TV time with his delightfully frank, TED-talking Aunt Verna.
There’s no ignoring the message that selecting Eric would send. An all-Eric season would silence the loud and legitimate questions about why there’s never been a black Bachelor, just as Rachel’s selection silenced the loud and legitimate questions about why there had never been a black Bachelorette. And like Rachel, Eric seems to have the thoughtfulness, self-possession, and heft to handle the challenges of being a reality-TV trailblazer. Unless the newly single (and sad-sounding) Ben Higgins could be brought out of Bachelor retirement, I’m all in on Eric as the series’ next star. Even if that means that his name is in my mouth.
Hannah Giorgis: *clears throat*
Kenny. Deserved. Better. This season of The Bachelorette saw him subjected to a bizarre, prolonged confrontation with known racist Lee, who took great delight in taunting Kenny and then running to Rachel to insist that Kenny was the aggressor. Producers stretched this “drama” out over multiple episodes — including a deeply anti-climactic, two-night cliff-hanger that they teased with footage of a bloodied Kenny. The diversion served not only to upset both Kenny and Rachel (and black viewers), but also to fundamentally distract from Kenny’s participation in the actual competition for which he’d signed up. We lost out on quality Kenny time, including possible footage of him FaceTiming his adorable daughter, Mackenzie. And Rachel missed out on the opportunity to judge Kenny purely on his own merits.
The 35-year-old wrestler (a.k.a. Kenny “Pretty Boy Pitbull” King) was one of the most genuine contestants on the show, and he deserves a shot at love without producers injecting unnecessary doses of sensationalist racist drama into the narrative. Kenny is warm, kind, and family-oriented. That’d make for an entirely different season than the past iterations of the show. Just imagine a season in which Mackenzie takes her Musical.ly talents to the Bachelor franchise, breaking into song to help Chris Harrison address the contestants vying for her father’s heart. Honestly, the show could always use a little more lip-synching; let’s give Mackenzie the mic.
Jared and Ashley I.
Juliet Litman: Kaitlyn Bristowe is the best Bachelorette in show history. She beat out Britt on Night 1 to win the privilege of embarking on a televised journey for love; she had sex so early on in the season that production had to deviate from its normal sequence of events and hometown dates were axed; and she ended up with someone she has now been dating for two years. In other words, her season combined the key elements of Paradise — competition, hooking up, a long-lasting relationship — and thus will live on in the Bachelorette Hall of Fame.
Why hasn’t Mike Fleiss gone back to the well to throw out another twist like two Bachelorettes? It’s time to bring it back, but instead of dueling dual Bachelors or Bachelorettes, they should conduct The Bachelor and The Bachelorette simultaneously. Old favorites Ashley I. and Jared are both still single, and according to Ashley, best friends. Let them go through this process together. The potential spouses can live in the mansion together, upping the likelihood that an Ashley contender falls for a Jared contender, or vice versa, and thus will have to dramatically confess that he or she is no longer there for the right reasons. This setup truly has the potential to be the most dramatic season in Bachelor history.
Andrew Gruttadaro: Let’s get this out of the way: No one from this season of The Bachelorette should be the next Bachelor. For years now, The Bachelor has been letting its franchises feed into each other, but the well has dried up. So instead of falling back on how they’ve been doing things, I recommend that ABC take inspiration from how they used to do things. Remember Charlie O’Connell from Season 7 of The Bachelor? The less-famous brother of Jerry, he was a party-hard bro from Long Island who brought a totally different energy to the show. Sure, he probably pushed The Bachelor a little too close to MTV’s Spring Break, but he delivered a unique season of television — something you could love or hate, which is always better than feeling nothing.
So who is this generation’s version of Charlie O’Connell? Who is a less-famous brother between the ages of 25 and 33 who looks decent in a suit? Isn’t it obvious?
Of course I realize that Taylor Swift would probably break her brother’s kneecaps if he agreed to be the Bachelor, but let’s just imagine for a second how fun this would be. We could finally learn what Austin Swift’s speaking voice sounds like, the “She’s not here for the right reasons” conversations would be at an all-time high, and there’d be built-in locales for the group to abscond to — Taylor’s house in Rhode Island, Taylor’s house in Nashville, Taylor’s townhouse in New York City, Taylor’s house in Beverly Hills. The 1989 singer could even appear on an early episode and stage an “Avoid the Paparazzi” competition in which the ladies would have to walk backward as fast as possible before fitting themselves into suitcases. The season would probably be unbelievably grating and odd, but The Bachelor needs a drastic refresh. It’d be a love story — just say yes.
Isaac Lee: Let’s not overthink this, guys. Peter is the quintessential Bachelor: He’s handsome, kind of dumb (“disingenuine” is not a word, dude), and he’s been Hurt By Love™. He’s even got the three most stereotypical Bachelor jobs all at once, as a “business owner,” a personal trainer, and a model. And he’s 31 years old, the average age of the prior Bachelor leads. It’s like the reality TV gods created him in a lab and said, “What if we, like, really overdid it?”
The only concern with Peter is how unbelievably boring he is. He is spectacularly unspectacular, like the Taj Gibson of reality TV — you will not see him on a highlight reel. Still, considering the fact that his recent predecessors include mumblecore Nick Viall and literally incoherent Chris Soules, Peter won’t be too bad to listen to for 24 hours over the course of 13 weeks.
He very well might win this season, but if Rachel picks Bryan or Eric over him, ABC should send an army of producers to his house with a contract. I can’t wait to watch him brag about being the token white guy of his friend group to 30 more women, all while butchering high-school-level words on national television.
The Whaboom Guy
Rodger Sherman: Rachel’s season has sapped me of the joy I get from watching The Bachelor/ette. That has nothing to do with Rachel, who has been everything a Bachelorette can and should be. It has to do with the forced, uncomfortable story lines the show has pushed this season. It began with The Whaboom Guy (real name: Lucas Yancey), the unfunny, logical conclusion of the many previous contestants who blatantly used their appearance on the show to boost their off-screen brands. As his rival Blake noted, yelling “WHABOOM” is not a joke — it’s just annoying. Yes, we like watching goofballs on TV. No, we do not like watching attention-hungry actors like The Whaboom Guy.
But that was followed by even more insidious stuff. ABC cast an overt racist for the first season featuring a black Bachelorette, put him in a house with a handful of black guys, and tried to sell the ensuing tension as juicy drama. (ABC maintains that they were not aware of Lee’s racist tweets before casting him.) The show even put together a promo splicing together Lee and Kenny’s argument with totally unrelated footage of Kenny bleeding. Dean’s hometown visit was similarly misguided, as the show desperately tried to make TV drama out of a guy confronting his estranged dad over the painful aftershocks of his mom’s death.
If the show is going to continue replacing things we like with over-the-top attempts at elevating those things we like, they should just go all in. Make The Whaboom Guy the Bachelor. We will all hate it, but at least The Bachelor would be honest about their unceasing one-upmanship.
Mallory Rubin: Yes, I’m aware that Nick and Vanessa are still engaged. And yes, I’m aware that Nick has no interest in being on a reality TV show again — especially a reality TV show focused on his love life. I know both of these things because he said them about 475 times when he joined my colleague Juliet Litman on her podcast, “Bachelorette Party,” a couple of weeks ago.
But the gentleman doth protest too much, methinks! I like Nick. I like Vanessa. I hope that their love lasts and that they find boundless bliss both in real life and on Instagram. I also know — again because Nick kept telling Juliet and thus us — that the odds are stacked against them. Should they stumble, I hope that Bachelor Nation is there to catch Nick in its waiting arms and lay him gently down upon a bed of roses.
Watching Nick try to find love for a fifth time might not sound remotely innovative, but his stint as the Bachelor was inarguably great TV, and while his presence on our screens wouldn’t be fresh, his actions undoubtedly would be. Nick is fun. Nick is hot. Nick is, crucially, obsessed with fame. He’s not afraid of being judged or of judging other people. He’s also currently pushing a start-up men’s care company called The Polished Gent. Do you know where polished gentlemen belong? On TV.
And best of all, he’s such a pro at this point that he wouldn’t even need Chris Harrison. Give us the player-coach; give us the Bachelor-host. At least if Nick mispronounces “finale,” he’ll be mumbling too badly for us to notice.
Matt James: On this season of The Bachelorette, Matt was almost as familiar a face as Adam’s extremely disturbing doll, which isn’t saying much. You might not remember that Matt wore a penguin costume in Week 1. There’s a pretty good chance that you didn’t even know Matt’s name when Rachel give him the boot in Week 6. I didn’t, and my name is Matt. He was among the most forgettable contestants this season and yet somehow his exit was the most memorable.
No one wants to be eliminated from a nationally televised dating show, but if you have to be, you want the person eliminating you to be hysterically sobbing when they do it, and you want them to passionately kiss you for more than five seconds. Rachel and Matt’s goodbye was so surprisingly emotional that we have to assume most of their relationship never made it to air. But in those dwindling minutes, Matt came across as a genuine, caring, emotionally mature guy.
Peter’s probably going to win this season; Bryan’s too creepy; Eric might be too heartbroken to return to the franchise; Dean would be better off with his own father/son spin-off show. With a dearth of good candidates, let’s make Matt the Bachelor, and see what we missed this season while the editors were busy obsessing over Lee, Kenny, and Whaboom.
Amanda Dobbins: Wow. The mind reels already. Credit to Andrew Gruttadaro for this suggestion, which is now the only Bachelor season that I could possibly be interested in watching. Ansel is the perfect Bachelor: handsome, but not too beef-cakey; famous, but not Brad Pitt. His varied interests — EDM, not EDM, ballet, and the Knicks — lend themselves to all sorts of awkward date scenarios. And then there’s the essential, ever-perplexing question of whether Ansel Elgort is “good.” What is a Bachelor season but a quest to determine whether a photogenic individual meets our grossly oversimplified standards of likability? Ansel for Bachelor! I can’t wait.