The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
If you are an avid Bachelor Nation fan like me, you probably had mixed feelings about Clayton Echard being informally announced as the new bachelor before anyone even knew who he was. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to skip this one. There is going to be a lot of nerding out about the Bachelor franchise here – and beware of spoilers.
Rumors swirled around on social media in September 2021 that the new Bachelor, Clayton Echard, was going to be a contestant on Michelle Young’s season, which wasn’t set to air until October. So when the first episode aired, fans had high expectations of Clayton. But the 6’5” former football player felt like a cardboard cutout of a person – the editors didn’t showcase any of his true personality while on the Bachelorette. Clayton did not stick out on any of the group dates, and nothing about him made us want to root for him as the Bachelor. This disappointed a lot of the fans, including myself.
But this is not a personal attack on Clayton. I’m sure if we saw more of him during Michelle’s season, we would have loved him. But choosing him as the Bachelor felt like a slap in the face to everything the show had accomplished in terms of representation in the past year. As calls for racial diversity in the franchise heightened in June 2020, Matt James was announced as the new Bachelor – the first Black man to be selected as The Bachelor. The season aired in January of 2021, and though it ended with controversy, a record-breaking number of women applied to be on his season and the cast was one of the most diverse we had ever seen. We also had the first Black couple to ever get engaged in the franchise – Riley Christian and Maurissa Gunn on season seven of Bachelor in Paradise several months later. On top of that, we ended the past year with a historic season of The Bachelorette. For the first time in 18 seasons, the final four were all Black men, and Michelle Young and Nayte Olukoya became the first Black couple to emerge from The Bachelorette.
To then select a white man who barely made it to the top eight and wasn’t even a fan favorite, like in the case of Hannah Brown or Katie Thurston, felt like everything the show had achieved with diversity was thrown away. Rodney Matthews, a beloved fan favorite from Michelle’s season, spoke about being an “underdog” all season. When Michelle eliminated him after hometowns, she assured him that he was never an underdog to her. The breakup devastated viewers at home, but as this scene aired on TV, the Bachelor twitter accounts tweeted the official poster for Clayton’s upcoming season. The tagline? “Everyone loves an underdog.” The disrespect to both Rodney and the growing diversity in the franchise is enough to lose my viewership for this season.
Honestly, one of the biggest reasons why I’m not watching this season is that I’m burned out from the constant Bachelor content we’ve been getting this year. I have been an avid fan of the franchise since Arie Luyendyk’s season in 2018. After Peter Weber’s disaster of a season that ended in March 2020, I was honestly glad to have a break while the show took an extended hiatus because of COVID-19. We then got back-to-back seasons from Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams, followed by Matt James’ historic and controversial season that earned us another much-needed break while we waited for Katie Thurston’s season. We haven’t had a break since then. The ABC producers kept busy as they turned out Katie’s season of the Bachelorette, a surprisingly successful season of Bachelor in Paradise, and of course, Michelle’s Bachelorette season. Since 2019, we haven’t had a proper format – for example, airing The Bachelor from January to March, filming the Bachelorette from March to June, airing the Bachelorette and filming Bachelor in Paradise concurrently until August, and then announcing the new Bachelor and filming in September. Personally, I prefer this format because it gives us time to relax and do other things with our Monday nights (or Tuesday mornings).
This is not to say I won’t keep up with the show, as I want to know who the next Bachelorette could be or who might be on Bachelor in Paradise this summer. I watched Bachelor Fantake’s recap of the first episode on YouTube, and the hot mess I saw was enough to assure me that I made the right decision by sitting out this season.