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ABC’s “The Bachelor” returns for its 28th season, stoking drama and tears

Courtesy of Michael Kirchoff/Disney
This year’s Bachelor, 28-year-old tennis pro Joey Graziadei, has only just begun his journey of narrowing down 32 elligible bachelorettes to “the one,” with the latest season’s first episode airing Jan. 22.

America’s favorite melodramatic dating competition show, “The Bachelor,” has returned for its 28th season. For those unfamiliar with the show’s premise, one man dates 32 women at the same time—who all live in the same house and go on group dates together—in an elimination-style game until there are only two contestants left. If all goes well, the Bachelor will propose to one of the remaining women.

The efficacy of “The Bachelor,” however, is another question. As of January 2024, there are only three surviving couples from the 28 seasons of the show. This does not include the franchise’s spinoff shows, which include “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise” and “The Golden Bachelor.” As someone who has been shamelessly watching America’s favorite guilty pleasure since 2018, I promptly dragged my roommates into our living room to watch this season’s first episode. Its leading man is Joey Graziadei, who can’t seem to decide whether he’s from Philadelphia proper or its suburbs—his answer changes depending on who he’s talking to.

What shocked me about this episode was its shortness compared to what I have typically experienced with this franchise. Pre-pandemic, the first episode of “The Bachelor” was a three-hour ordeal, with a good third of its air time dedicated to introducing a handful of the contestants and the Bachelor himself. There also used to be a “live reaction” component where they would interview fans and contestants from a set in Hollywood. My confusion over the runtime was not helped by the most recent season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” where the season finale was also three hours long. One would then naturally expect the first episode of “The Bachelor” to be a similar length. You can imagine my shock when the show was only about an hour and a half long.

Personally, I liked the shortened runtime. It made the first episode flow much better, as it was all in sequential order. For example, the show introduced a handful of contestants—with interviews filmed at hometowns—at the same time as the contestants stepped out of the limousine and introduced themselves to Joey. This made the show more engaging, as those of us in the audience found out information about the contestants alongside the Bachelor himself.

This season also opened rather uniquely in comparison to previous ones. Instead of a montage of the season’s high and lowlights, it opened with a painfully awkward two-minute clip of Joey crying on a random island. A minute into the sobbing, the producers overlaid a Billie Eilish song, further throwing me into a state of emotional confusion.

My slightly confused feelings continued throughout the first episode. Its tone was either too artificial or downright weird. For example, the producers handed a letter to one contestant, Lea, which would have given her the power to steal a one-on-one date—which translates into exclusive time with Joey—from someone else later in the season. There was an excessive amount of build-up for this, and once she found out what the letter did, she told Joey, cried, told the other girls and then threw it in a fire. Joey was so impressed by this that she got the First Impression Rose, which made her safe from elimination during the first round. Her literally throwing away the instrument of chaos into the fire called into question why the episode made such a big deal about it, and created such artificial and overdone drama to begin with.

Throughout this episode, there were also several odd and silly moments that I just need to highlight due to their absurdity. The first moment that comes to mind is when we are introduced to two sisters who are both contestants on the show. They tried to hide their relationship at first, but found this difficult and only a few hours later told both the other women and Joey. Their actions left me and my friends utterly perplexed, but it does make for good, if not concerning, television. Another moment that comes to mind is the case of one proudly Canadian contestant. She got out of the limousine holding a small Maple Leaf Flag—except for some reason the cloth flag was blurred out by ABC’s editors, as if it was some form of obscenity.

The vast majority of episodes in “The Bachelor” franchise end with an event known as a “Rose Ceremony,” and the first episode is no different in that regard. This is where Joey gets to decide who can stay by giving the chosen women a rose, and those without one must leave the show. The ceremony is emotional, with many parts narrated by contestants as if they were speaking in the moment. This season’s was consistent with previous ceremonies, lasting well into the morning hour with interviews conducted outside in the sunlight.

Can I seriously recommend watching “The Bachelor” as an individual source of entertainment? No. But can I wholeheartedly recommend it as a fun way to hang out with a group of flatmates or friends. It is so cringy and off-the-wall bonkers that it is best enjoyed with other people.

For Case Western Reserve University students living on campus, “The Bachelor” can be viewed live via the ABC channel on the Spectrum University webpage on Mondays starting at 8 p.m. You can access it through the My Case portal. Otherwise, students with Hulu accounts can watch it there the next day.

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About the Contributor
Zachary Treseler
Zachary Treseler, News Editor
Zachary Treseler is a third-year student majoring in international studies and economics, with minors in art history and French. Outside of writing to The Observer (sometimes at the last minute), you might be able to catch them walking backwards around campus, in Northeast Ohio's various bookstores, or seeing a show at Playhouse Square. Zachary also makes fudge…sometimes.

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