After 20 seasons, The Bachelor franchise has somehow managed to surprise us. The Bachelor, unlike true love or genuine interpersonal connections, relies on formulaic casting and the routinization of courtship. The blandest girls in America are corralled and corseted to compete for the affection of a sort-of employed semi-catch, suffering through intense catfights, scripted one-on-ones, and soul-crushing group dates. Because true love means never having to go to bed without a full face of makeup on and a Swiss army knife under your pillow.
The Bachelor franchise, along with its sister show, The Bachelorette, and unhinged drunk cousin, Bachelor in Paradise, sells true love. These shows pander to the lowest common romantic denominator by playing up the idea that there’s someone out there for everyone. If Heidi could find Spencer and Trump could marry Melania (and Ivana, and Marla Maples), then there must be someone out there for every muscle-milk guzzling former hedge funder and blonde, emotionally unavailable single mom. In Bachelor Nation, everyone can find love—if not in the plush canopy beds of the fantasy suite, then in the vaguely more Mexican-looking fantasy beds of Tulum. That is, everyone except Nick Viall.
Nick “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” Viall is one of the best-known Bachelorette suitors of all time. The retired software engineer (no, really) rose to fame-ish in 2014 on Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette. He scored the coveted “first impression rose” but ultimately came in second to Josh Murray. After that, Viall essentially sabotaged Dorfman on their After the Rose special. Channeling your lame freshman-year boyfriend, the distraught Nick asked his ex, on national television, “If you weren’t in love with me…I’m just not sure why you made love with me.” Nick Viall, ladies and gentlemen.
According to Andi Dorfman’s tell-all book, It’s Not Okay, that wasn’t the first time she had to hear Viall use the phrase “make love.” Dorfman goes in on Viall’s behavior in that infamous Fantasy Suite, recalling, “As he opened his mouth to speak, I was certain he was going to tell me he loved me. But instead, he asked, ‘Would you rather?’…‘Ummm…would I rather what?’ ‘Would you rather make love…or fuck?’ he asked, without hesitation or the slightest sense of how bizarre this conversation was.” Spoken like America’s next prince charming.
If nothing else, Viall has brought the antics of the overly confident, shady, “sensitive” scrub to a mainstream audience. Viall has more feelings than Drake and more man jewelry than JC Chasez in his prime. His seduction tactic, which has been enabled by producers for multiple seasons, is pure and simple persistence. Viall is out of the software engineering game, people. He’s got nothing to do and nowhere to be. So he essentially conned his way back onto the show the next season by sliding into newly minted Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe’s DMs. Powerless in the face of reality TV’s own Carlos Danger, Kaitlyn invited Viall to join the show, and the rest was history—literally, as Nick once again came in second place. Due to Viall’s raw, untamed sexuality (seriously, have you seen those leather cuffs?) Kaitlyn did break the rules for him by consummating their relationship prior to the Fantasy Suite episode. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bachelor franchises’ puritanical sexual mores, sex before allotted sex-time is a serious faux pas.
Viall, who is nothing if not inescapable, also amused America on Bachelor in Paradise. Bachelor in Paradise is a natural fit for Viall, a man who has slept with two consecutive Bachelorettes only to be dumped by both of them. The Tulum-based spin off is a beautiful, Ayahuasca vision of everything The Bachelor could be—a deliberately funny, truly batshit, never-ending fuckfest. Former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants intermingle and date one another ad nauseam until producers finally tell them to stop. It’s a paradise of hideous floral rompers, petty drama, hastily applied eyelash extensions and outdoor make out sessions. On the current season of Bachelor in Paradise, Viall is hooking up with Jen Saviano, a woman he glowingly describes as “not a big personality” but “not timid either.”
On Tuesday night’s installment of After Paradise, fans were shocked (shocked!) to learn that Nick and Jen aren’t soulmates. Instead, it was announced that Nick Viall, who’s already been dumped more times on TV than most people have been in real life, will be the next Bachelor. This raises the question: Can you lose your own Bachelor season?
Viall’s big reveal is a legitimate shocker. Bachelor tradition usually dictates that the next Bachelor will be chosen from the most recent Bachelorette’s pool of rejected suitors. Unfortunately, former Bachelorette JoJo’s voracious appetite for only the whitest of white dudes led to a painfully dull season whittled down to near-identical contestants. Still, Bachelor Nation was confident that they would ultimately land on Luke Pell, JoJo’s fourth runner-up. The war veteran, who declared his love for JoJo on national television only to be sent home moments later, is no stranger to disappointment. On Tuesday, he Tweeted, “Thx for all the love sometimes we are faced w/unexpected changes.” He also posted a spiritual photo, reading, “Trust God’s timing, He has a plan for everything.” Are you happy now, Nick?
Nick is, in fact, very happy. On After Paradise, the 35-year-old gushed, “Honestly, I think I’m definitely ready for it. I’m very excited. I’ve had an interesting journey throughout this process.” The Bachelor host Chris Harrison later defended his franchise’s unexpected casting, explaining, “It just got down to the final question: Who is the most deserving? Who is the most sincere? Luke and Chase were good guys, but we all just kept coming back to Nick.” Harrison failed to mention Viall’s brand new set of abs, which definitely didn’t hinder his chances for landing one of TV’s most superficial gigs.
As the entire Bachelor franchise becomes increasingly infested by the aggressive, indefatigable man-mold that is Nick Viall, we must consider the ramifications of this reckless call. With this historic decision comes the dawning realization that anyone can be the Bachelor—the only prerequisite is a refusal to go away and a talent for starting shit. Now every contestant knows that if they just stick around the Bachelor shows for long enough, they might land a real gig. This is a terrifying precedent. In terms of diversity, Viall, like every other Bachelor who wasn’t Juan Pablo, is white. But when it comes to slight (white) deviations from the norm, it does bear mentioning that Viall is the least bro-y Bachelor in recent memory. New body aside, Viall is mainstreaming the skinny, acoustic-guitar playing, off-brand Ryan Cabrera aesthetic that got him dumped on two consecutive seasons of The Bachelorette. There’s never been a Bachelor that the Bachelor Nation knows so well, or one that it dislikes so unanimously.