TVRG’s Best and Worst of 2020: Best Reality TV Franchise

For 19 television seasons (by calendar year, not by reality TV seasons), ABC's The Bachelor has delivered Mondays as solidly as scripted juggernaut Grey's Anatomy through good seasons and bleak.  And ABC has held more bleak seasons than prosperous during that run, and The Bachelor always delivers, nearly year round.  Designed as a fantasy/reality platform initially for ladies to market themselves to a luckless gentleman, ABC continually updates the format, most strongly with The Bachelorette.  The franchise is fun, beautiful and at times a bit saucy.  But there are several reasons viewers keep coming back.  It has multiple seasons and franchises scheduled throughout the year, and it has a taste for everyone.

The Bachelor has managed to spawn seven spinoffs and specials from The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise and Listen to Your Heart.  Not all are surefire wins in the ratings department (Listen to Your Heart didn't seem to listen to the ratings reports), but there's always something coming up in a few short months from this durable franchise.  That is an element lacking in broadcast network television's outdated model which expects viewers to wait 5-6 months over the summer to come back excited, willing to wade through convenient repeats strewn throughout the year.  Most shows which age like Bachelor tend to jump the shark and resort to outrageous tactics in a cheap grab for viewers.  Such tags as "Celebrity" or "All Star" can be seen in this method, leaving viewers to tune out as the show they love has changed.

Where The Bachelor creatively worked this recipe of sprucing up the franchise while maintaining the series' integrity is they funnel this sensationalistic grab through its spinoffs, mainly through The Bachelor in Paradise.  If traditional viewers opt not to indulge in the contestants' salacious antics on said series, they can catch the next season which has held to traditional values.  For those who love the bed-hopping schlock, they get their fix oft during the summer and are front and center to watch morals go out the window with glee.  Not all is rosy and the franchise has held its share of scandals (Anyone remember Corinne Olympios?).  But viewers enjoy the ongoing rose garden of whimsy which continues all these years later.  And the ratings mostly convey for The Bachelor, with this season registering impressive entries between 1.3-2.4.  Unlike scripted finales which go out with a whimper in today's climate, The Bachelor always goes big and soars above the 2.0 mark in the covered 18-49 live demographic, viewed today as a megahit.

Will The Bachelor be on our screens in 10 years?  Given the series' durability and solid track record over the prior 19 seasons, it seems viewers will continue to see it on their screens.  Even if ABC retires or loses the franchise, someone is sure to snag this beauty and keep America tantalized.

To check out how The Bachelor and all of its franchises performed on respective years, visit the Ratings History Library.

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