As someone who has been a self-professed avid fan and follower of the Bachelor franchise, I was surprised last week when I came across a post announcing that the newest season of The Bachelorette, starring Charity Lawson, was set to premiere on June 26. Of course, I knew Charity was going to be the Bachelorette—her announcement was the one bright (and emotional) spot amidst the usually catty and overly-dramatic Women Tell-All of Zach Shallcross’ season of The Bachelor—but I had not seen a lot of press or buildup to her upcoming season at all.
Was it because the star power and draw of The Bachelor franchise has seemingly waned over the past few years, given the high failure rate of the couples as well as increasing accusations of how the franchise has mistreated its cast members? Or, perhaps worse, is it because I’ve grown beyond focusing my entire television-watching experience into a dating show that usually doesn’t actually produce successful relationships?
Nevertheless, despite this, I turned the premiere on almost out of habit. Within the first five minutes of host Jesse Palmer giving a sneak preview to the season and introducing Charity, I was sucked back into the show as if I and it had never left. As Jesse stated—as the host always does—that this season was to be a “season like no other,” I got chills, ready to once again spend the next twelve Mondays following along with the drama, shocking twists, and, hopefully, love. A sense of relief flooded my bones, confirming that my love for all things Bachelor was not just a phase. So why is it that after all these years I, along with millions of others, am still so hooked to this franchise?
The first reason that comes to mind is one of the most basic attractions of any reality TV show—we love watching people whose lives are so much crazier than ours. From The Kardashians to VanderPump Rules to the Bachelor franchise, there is truly something so satisfying about sitting back on our couches and finding an emotional outlet by investing in the drama of people that we do not and never will know.
Reality TV gets us out of our own heads and into the heads of other people who create mountains out of molehills, enemies out of friends, and great TV out of their misfortunes. Bachelor Mondays are something that I look forward to every week because I know that those two hours are when I can turn off my brain and all of my worries can disappear as I instead assess whether or not this group of 20-30 year old men are actually here for the right reasons.
Beyond the drama, though, watching Charity or the leads before her fall in love also creates a sense of community. For starters, there is the sense of community created within the show between its many cast members and leads across The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise. While the main premise of the franchise is obviously to find love, the contestants usually leave the show with at least a few influencer deals and a handful of friends from their particular seasons.
Further, beyond the bonds of contestants, if your time on the show transitions to you becoming the lead of either Bachelor or Bachelorette, you join a relatively elite club of reality stardom. Charity’s season is the 20th season of The Bachelorette, meaning there are 21 women (given that Clare Crawley’s season also featured Tayshia Adams and last season had two Bachelorettes with Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey) stand behind her in support and have offered their sage advice for how to find love and, more importantly, discover herself during the emotional journey. One of my favorite parts of this premiere was how, in honor of this anniversary, there were periodic short video snippets from previous Bachelorettes wishing Charity well.
Bachelor Nation, rise up
This community, though, extends beyond those on the screen and into those watching. I mentioned looking forward to Bachelor Mondays, and if you’re familiar with the show, I’m sure you know that that isn’t a term I’ve personally coined. Rather, it’s a term that has permeated throughout fans of the franchise—dubbed “Bachelor Nation”—to refer to people planning their very week around how, when, and where they’ll watch this week’s episode.
For some, these plans are to get together with your closest friends, roommates, or family and spend equal amounts of time predicting who the lead will send home and choosing your own personal favorite. For others, it’s curled up on the couch at home dreaming about your own fantasy Bachelor season. For me, it’s a pretty equal mix of the two, though I always make sure that I have dessert with me. Even if these plans are not with your closest friends or roommates and are by yourself, you can still find that sense of community across social media as there are several Twitters, TikToks, and Instagrams created directly for breaking down each episode, revealing spoilers, and providing updates on the cast and leads.
Of course, one of the main reasons why I was pulled back into this season of The Bachelorette is because of Charity herself. Charity was a standout on Zach’s season of The Bachelor, emerging as a poised, confident, and graceful young woman. While any of Zach’s final women would have been stellar leads, Charity is the perfect choice because she trusts the process (she tells her contestants that though she was heartbroken, she did fall in love with Zach during her journey) and is realistic enough to know going in that while it might not work, she’s still going to give it all she has.
In the premiere, Charity also showed that she is someone who is here for herself and independent—while it was sweet that her older brother masqueraded as a bartender in order to get a read on each of the guys trying to woo his baby sister, Charity ignored his guidance in favor of trusting her own instincts, choosing Brayden Bowers to receive her first impression rose.
What really made me excited for this season, though, is how the group of men here for Charity all seem to recognize her for the strong woman that she is—when speaking to the camera or to her about what they’re excited for, most of them referenced her calmheadedness, her empathy, and her humor rather than just basic answers about her (flawless) beauty. I truly do think at least one of the men in this group has the potential to go all the way and become Charity’s lasting love.
Granted, it usually takes me until about the third or fourth week to really get to know each guy and solidify my choice for who I think will win her heart, but I was overall pleased with the direction that the night took. Sure, as the season preview showed, there will still be a fair share of drama(probably related to Brayden’s intentions)and a lot of tears, but I’m hopeful that this season will continue with the trend of last season and end in an engagement. So far, I’m rooting for Aaron Bryant, Joey Graziadei, James Pierce, and Xavier Bonner.
The Bachelorette airs every Monday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC or on Hulu the following day.