It’s official: The next season of The Bachelor will be the most boring ever. ABC has, in its limited wisdom, chosen 32-year-old corn and soybean farmer Chris Soules to be the reality show’s next star stag.
But we already guessed as much yesterday. Racecar driver and former runner-up, Arie Luyendyk Jr. from Emily Maynard's season, scooped Good Morning America by tweeting, “I'm not the Bachelor, have fun on the farm people,” plus a peace out emoji.
With Arie’s exit, I’ll miss the puns that could have been: hearts racing, life being some kind of highway, and love having taken a back seat to his career. But if Arie’s sour grapes spoiler was any indication of the type of Bachelor he’d be, it’s probably a good thing he wasn’t chosen.
But farmer Chris? What the loving hell, ABC? CW already tried this in 2008 with the quickly canceled, Farmer Wants a Wife, in which a motley crew of big-city women competed for the affections of rural Missouri farmer Matt.
Sure, Chris Soules is handsome. Get past the fauxhawk, and you find soulful eyes and a bright thin-lipped smile that say, “You can trust me.” His beefy 6’1” frame looks good covered, as it so often is, in denim and even more so in a pair of overalls (which he actually wears!). But it remains to be seen whether he can clean up without looking out of place; I think America collectively groaned when Soules—wearing a Great Gatsby inspired getup, bowtie and all—lumbered to his date at the track.
And he’s friendly, and definitely cheesy enough for the franchise. On last season of The Bachelorette, the unpretentious Iowan charmed Andi Dorfman with all-purpose secret admirer letters (“From the moment I laid my eyes on you, I had feelings for you.”), and a painful makeout session during an impromptu recreation of the pottery wheel scene from Ghost. He also declared his love, like most men do, by hiring a plane to drag a “Chris loves Andi” banner through the sky while the pair picnicked in a cornfield. And he handled rejection with real grace. But these scenes do not make good television; they make good times to go get another glass of wine before the interesting people come back on.
ABC’s strange choice to take the franchise on a family values tour now is an opportunity missed. Fans have been lobbying for years for more diversity in our Bachelors and Bachelorettes. They could have gone gay. But if that’s too much for Chris Harrison, they could have at least picked a Bachelor of color. Australia’s Bachelor, Blake Garvey, is half Black, and hotter than any American Bachelor.
And this year we got our very own Black cutie in the cookie lover, Marquel Martin (sent home from Bachelor in Paradise last night, #RIPMarquel). But instead of Martin, the California salesman who inspired a spate of articles and a legion of fans to rally behind #TeamMarquel, ABC has decided to bestow the quiver of roses on what might be the whitest, most cloying option.
To be fair, Soules also is considered something of a fan favorite. The live audience at the After the Final Rose chanted his name when Chris Harrison refused to follow protocol by announcing the next Bachelor on the end of season special. Then one daring, possibly planted, spectator interrupted the show to profess her crush. This is all very nice, but need I remind producers what happened last time they recycled a Bachelorette reject marketed as a fan favorite? We got the terrible Juan Pablo Galavis. But as bad as Juan Pablo was—for the contestants, for television, maybe for humanity—at least he made us feel something.
And for all the fans ready to climb aboard Soules’s tractor, there are just as many ready to quit the show all together.
Soules make for bad T.V. Watching actual farming might be more exciting. Still there could be a bright spot in such a dull choice. ABC now has to find 25 women who both want to be on a reality show and say they’re open to moving to the smallest town ever and becoming a farmer’s wife. The clash between those two ideals is guaranteed to give us quite a few combative women “not here for the right reasons,” who are always the best part of the show anyway.
So we may cringe at the farm themed dates and the puns—Chris already hit us with, the farming/relationship metaphor when he told Andi, “You’re planting a seed and then that relationship begins to grow,” as they put a rose bush into the ground. But there are still reasons to watch, not the least of which is the fashion that this Bachelor: Farmville Edition is sure to instigate. I hear cowgirl boots and plaid shirts are the new scarves.