It’s Impossible to Believe in ‘The Bachelor’ Anymore

Three-time contestant Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi’s breakup is just the latest in a long line of failures and exposed artifice. What’s the point anymore?

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

If you’re a masochistic Los Angeleno who’s looking for love/attention, good news: Nick Viall is newly single. The Wisconsin native has just soured on his latest Bachelor franchise romance—after five months of long distance engagement, the former Bachelor and his ex-fiancée Vanessa Grimaldi are officially calling it quits. Either Nick Viall, a former software sales executive and current face of a subscription service for men’s grooming products, is unlovable, or The Bachelor is a total scam.

Viall, a man who came in second place on two consecutive seasons of The Bachelorette, is the personification of a franchise powered by unemployed hotties and raw pheromones. When he first burst onto the small screen, Nick was a villain. After Andi Dorfman dumped him for Josh Murray, Viall went on After the Final Rose to essentially call Dorfman a slut. A distraught Viall infamously confronted his ex on live television with this icky interrogative: “If you weren’t in love with me…I’m just not sure why you made love with me.” Then he conned his way on to the next season of The Bachelorette by sliding into Kaitlyn Bristowe’s DMs, only to come in second place again. For a man with such an antiquated take on love and sex, Viall sure did sleep with a lot of women on TV. It’s almost as if Nick Viall is more turned on by the idea of C-list reality TV fame than eternal matrimony!

By the time Viall made his way to Bachelor in Paradise, that off-shore haven for aspiring social media influencers and functioning alcoholics, it was clear that he had a problem. Nick Viall is a Bachelor addict who fully embraces the aesthetic and ethos of the tacky, insincere franchise. He’s an unemployed serial dater who’s managed to convince himself he’s a catch. And, most importantly, he has more abs than he can count.

Despite being the perfect reality TV contestant—self-aware enough to entertain, not self-aware enough to stop himself from proposing three separate times on national television—Viall wasn’t always well-liked. It wasn’t until Bachelor in Paradise that Bachelor Nation finally started to embrace this man’s journey from sort-of hot dude with a sleazy personality to genuinely hot dude who hides his sleazy personality really well. Viall so convincingly redeemed himself in Paradise that the franchise decided to give him another chance at love, crowning him the next Bachelor. Things seemed to be looking up for Viall—since no one’s ever lost their own Bachelor season, it would be technically impossible for him to get dumped again. Unfortunately, that meant we were stuck with Nick for what quickly revealed itself to be one of the most boring Bachelor seasons of all time.

In a series of chunkier and chunkier turtleneck sweaters, Viall took turns mining his shallow emotional depths and making out with Corinne Olympios. Unsurprisingly, he ended up with the beautiful, relatively mature, family-oriented Vanessa Grimaldi. All I know about Vanessa is that she’s a special education teacher in Canada, and I’m pretty sure that’s all Nick Viall knows about her too. Over the course of their not-even-half-a-year engagement, the happy couple slept together, produced sponsored content for Hello Fresh, and went out to dinner. In other words, their romance was super legit. But according to a wise source and also common sense, Nick and Vanessa were never going to work out: “Vanessa's not really into the whole fame thing,” the source explained. “She's had some fun with it, but that's not what she's about. Ultimately, they want different things.”

In a joint statement released Friday, the newly-minted exes explained, “It's with a great amount of heartbreak for the both us as we have decided to end our engagement.” They continued, “We gave this relationship our all and we are saddened that we did not get the fairytale ending we hoped for. We will continue to be there for each other no matter what. This hasn't been an easy decision, however, as we part ways, we do so with lots of love and admiration for each other.”

As that tragic allusion to a “fairytale ending” reveals, the Bachelor franchise is built on a flimsy foundation of make-believe. The notion of actually finding your happily ever after

in a rhinestone cocktail dress while Chris Harrison breathes down your neck is pure lunacy. Still, the contestants play pretend and we let them, because that’s how reality TV works. But Nick Viall has exposed the absolute insanity of the Bachelor “process” by pushing the limits of plausibility, unconvincingly presenting himself as a career contestant who’s genuinely looking for love. Because no one would be crazy enough to keep believing in the series’ format after so many failed attempts, it quickly became apparent that Viall, like so many Bachelor contestants, isn’t a true romantic. He’s just trying to stay single long enough to date in front of television cameras forever.  

In selling the fantasy of Nick Viall finally meeting his forever #hellofreshpartner, the Bachelor franchise doubled down on its own formula and lost big time. If the franchise’s most dedicated contestant can’t even get a wife out of all of this, then what’s the point…unless true love was never really the end goal in the first place.

If their painfully clumsy handling of sexual assault allegations is any indicator, this franchise won’t be aiming for transparency any time soon. Which is a shame, because the whole “true love” pretense is getting less and less convincing with every passionless proposal and E! News exclusive breakup statement. Even a genuinely charismatic Bachelorette like Rachel Lindsay couldn’t bring emotional honesty to the formulaic franchise, ultimately passing on a real connection when Peter expressed doubts about getting engaged to a woman he’d basically just met. There’s no denying that The Bachelor is as fake as Dr. Bryan Abasolo’s cheeks (allegedly!)—even Jade and Tanner, one of the show’s only real success stories, are already using their newborn child to sell crap on Instagram. At this point, Chris Harrison might as well douse that tacky mansion in all of Bachelor in Paradise’s excess booze, light a match, fill out an insurance claim and walk away. If we’ve learned anything from Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi (and Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo, not to mention DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios), it’s that ABC is all out of happy endings.