NO FAIRY TALE
Why Is ‘The Bachelor’ Full of Bums?
This show used to swoon over accomplished Ivy League grads, not boring software salesmen. Where have all the good Bachelor men gone?
Gather ’round ladies, gulp your rosé, and just try to control yourselves, because it’s time for a new season of The Bachelor and this time, ABC is promising they’ve found “the perfect ten.” For Season 20 we’re expected to believe that a gaggle of beautiful, lonely women are leaving their jobs and families and lives for the chance to meet and, if lucky, wed previous Bachelorette loser, Ben Higgins.
Ben Higgins is a 27-year-old “charming software salesman,” according to his ABC bio. A tall drink of water who loves fishing and “stimulating conversation.” A “champion of varied cultures,” whatever this means.
Perhaps he is most memorable for his wish to avoid impropriety on the fantasy suite date. He was, he told Kaitlyn, just “excited to get to know you away from all of this and talk all night,” leading her to wonder aloud if Ben might be a virgin, which he denied.
Experienced sex-haver Ben Higgins earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University—a fine and good school. His previous jobs, according to his LinkedIn profile, include fundraising for a youth club and working at something called Jonah Club Fish Fry, an event space in his hometown, started by a “Pop” Higgins, likely related.
People magazine published an article about how he reroofed his house and built a sidewalk.
To sum up, Ben Higgins is boring as hell and he knows it. But more than that, he’s so incredibly average, it’s worth asking, should he really be The Bachelor? Why would these women be so fiercely desperate to speed-date on national television in the hopes of marrying the kind of man they’re likely to run into at their local church or neighborhood Applebee’s?
Remember the first Bachelor?
In 2002, we were introduced to Alex Michel. And he was not the kind of man you run into every day. High school valedictorian, student body president, homecoming king. Harvard honors graduate, a member of the swimming and polo team. Before becoming the Bachelor he worked for the president’s Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, then got an MBA from Stanford University. He was tall, handsome, accomplished: the kind of man who looks like he was born wearing a tailored suit.
Being The Bachelor used to mean something. He was the kind of man it was worth making a fool of yourself or clawing at the eyes of other big-haired, chokered contestants for the chance to marry. That was the fairy tale: Come to a mansion, meet a man miles out of your league and maybe, just maybe, he’ll pick you.
Season Two gave us MBA, banker, and pilot Aaron Buerge. Season Three, Andrew Firestone, heir to the eponymous tire empire. Following those, and ignoring outlier and second-worst bachelor Bob Guiney, women poured out of the limo to greet a pro football player, a doctor, a Navy officer, (hell, I’ll even count the brother of a famous actor): all early Bachelors whom women might believably swoon over.
Lately it feels like the producers aren’t even trying. Not since 2008, with British bachelor Matt Grant, has ABC found a suitor who hadn’t previously appeared on the show as a contestant vying for a Bachelorette. Mike Fleiss and co. have just recycled eight losers, repackaging the rejected as the next hot ticket. Has the well of successful people willing to debase themselves on reality television just run dry? Have the winners all wised up?
If one actually intends to find a wife, appearing on The Bachelor clearly isn’t time well spent. In fact, only one Bachelor couple—Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici—is still making it work after the final rose. Lowe’s success finding a real-life wife may point to a similar fate for Higgins this season, however; both are devout Christians.
And time isn’t always kind to former contestants. Most trickle in and out of other Bachelor seasons or spinoffs, hooking up and crying buckets on camera, still looking for love or fame years after their initial step into “their journey.” Even the most recent sighting of original paramour Alex Michel suggests an incredibly average existence. The Post reported he had put on weight and was spotted hanging at a Manhattan Olive Garden, “chomping on an endless supply of breadsticks.”
Higgins is, by all accounts, a good guy. “He is the nicest, most genuine person that you will ever meet,” a friend told the Indy Star. Other news profiles show Higgins in a Tigger suit, entertaining children at an afterschool program and are littered with similar generous quotes from acquaintances vouching for Higgins’s humility, kindness, and normal-guy-ness. And that is all women really want, according to the network.
A “nice guy” with no Ivy League education, no flashy job, no riches, no family name, and still two dozen women have shown up with evening gowns and ready ring fingers. Let’s see if these ladies stick around long enough to accept his all-but-offered proposal, and if we can stay awake long enough to watch.