Australia, we regret to inform you this once-loved show is no more. James Weir recaps.
Where were you when you found out The Bachelor franchise had died?
I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. It was about halfway through Wednesday night’s episode, Osher was making all the contestants take part in a challenge where they had to fashion superhero costumes out of Lycra leotards and a communal hot glue gun — and I had just gone into the bathroom to clean my exhaust fan.
The particular kind of boredom you feel while watching the latest series of the Channel 10 franchise is unique. There have been times I’ve considered jamming a pair of scissors into a power point, just to feel something again. It’s so tedious that, instead of watching it, I’d rather spend an hour teaching old people how to scan QR codes.
The ratings are reflecting this. This week, the series dipped to its lowest point ever, with just 360,000 metro viewers tuning in to watch Wednesday’s episode.
A C-word scandal was supposed to boost the following night’s ratings. Only 369,000 metro viewers tuned in. Ooft.
C-word scandals have become the hot trend for reality shows in recent years. It all started when Channel 9’s Married At First Sight featured a husband using the slur to describe his verbally abusive wife. It attracted a tsunami of viewer complaints and an online petition calling for one of the show’s dating experts to be fired. The episode generated headlines and think pieces and talkback radio segments. More than a million Aussies tuned in.
A few weeks later, ABC News Breakfast host Michael Rowland dubbed the controversial series “the absolute cesspit of TV”. In the world of commercial TV programming, that’s considered a glowing review.
Two years ago, The Bachelor decided to put their own spin on a C-word scandal, with one contestant allegedly dubbing suitor Matt Agnew a “dog c**t”. This also caused a lot of buzz. Mainly because of the extra creative flair added to the insult — it wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill C-word scandal.
It was no surprise when this week’s C-word scandal on The Bachelor fizzled before it flamed. What happened? One girl uttered the insult about another girl behind her back and then the expletive got bandied about a handful of times. Big whoop.
As the old saying goes: If one girl calls another girl the C-word in a tacky mansion and no one tunes in to watch it, did it even happen?
Producers haven’t learnt anything from the C-word scandals of yore. Those scandals had an X-factor. A certain je ne sais quoi, if you will.
In 2021, we expect more nuance and imagination from our offensive insults.
In court this week, a former Channel 7 sport reporter lost his defamation case against media outlets for misquoting him as saying he would slit a colleague’s throat when he had actually threatened to rip the staffer’s head off and “sh*t down (his) throat”.
Boom. Now that’s an insult. No wonder we didn’t even bat an eye at The Bachelor’s petty name-calling. Been there, done that.
The Bachelor has never blitzed the ratings. Our local version of the international franchise has always been a bit uneven over its nine-year run.
It first hit screens in 2013 with chiropractor-turned-Neighbours star Tim Robards as the suitor and premiered to about 669,000 metro viewers.
There have been spikes over the years. The third and fourth seasons — fronted by personal trainer Sam Wood and rope access technician Richie Strahan — hovered between 800,000 and 900,000 metro viewers each episode.
The show got another burst of life in 2018 when former rugby star Nick “The Honey Badger” Cummins signed up. In the space of eight weeks, Australia watched him go from hero to villain after he refused to choose either of the remaining girls in the finale.
But the glory days of The Bachelor are gone.
It’s not the first time a network’s tent-pole show has died. My Kitchen Rules was the unbeatable juggernaut for years before Married At First Sight overtook it in the ratings. Then it got canned. We’ve seen it happen with all those shiny floor talent shows.
Same with Big Brother. It has died and come back to life many times. The latest iteration on Seven has been somewhat of a success for the network and led to a celebrity version of the series that’s set to air later this year, with contestants including Caitlyn Jenner and Meghan Markle’s weird half-brother.
Give The Bachelor a rest for a year or two and then try bringing it back. Maybe then it can steal the crown and win the title of being the absolute cesspit of TV.
Twitter, Facebook: @hellojamesweir