How 'The Bachelor' Franchise has Changed since I was Eight Years Old

I like to think of myself as a product of "The Bachelor Nation." It really has been an influential part of my childhood. From my parents, I learned how to be a good person. From my friends, I learned how to get along with others. And from The Bachelor, I have learned how not to go about finding a spouse. Pretty much your typical upbringing.

Sure, I loved Disney Channel and Nickelodeon as much as the next kid, but my real guilty pleasure was cuddling up in bed next to my mom watching The Bachelor every Monday night, as she covered my eyes during all the kissing scenes.

I sit back and laugh when people ask, “Do you remember Chris Soules?” Ha. Do I remember? The worst bachelor of all time. How could I forget?! Or when Ari changed his mind and chose Lauren over Becca in the end, all I could say was “Been there, done that. Remember when Jason Mesnick called off his engagement to Melissa and showed up with Molly on After the Final Rose? That was real drama.”

While I have been a loyal fan for the majority of my life, many of you are just now coming around and realizing why The Bachelor franchise is the best trash TV on the face of this planet. But now I’m here to give you a little history lesson on what you may have missed before your late arrival or what has changed since.

colton underwood GIF by The BachelorFrom Pad to Paradise

The Bachelor franchise really took off after it produced three seasons of Bachelor Pad (aka the definition of trash TV). Bachelor Pad was essentially any typical season of The Bachelor and a game show combined.

The show starred 11 women and eight men from previous seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette who competed for a $250,000 prize and a second chance to find love. The contestants all lived in the mansion together and participated in weekly challenges, went on dates and eliminated other contestants at the end of each week. Challenges included synchronized swimming, "The Newlywed Game," and my personal favorite: rub your and your partner’s body on a block of ice until it melts.

Towards the end of the show, couples had to pair up to participate in a dance competition judged by previous Bachelors and Bachelorettes. Later, there was a final vote and the winning couple participated in a prisoner’s dilemma where the male and female contestants had to decide whether to keep or share the $250,000 prize. If both contestants decided to keep the prize, the money was evenly distributed among the other eliminated contestants.

Yes, I know. This show was complete and utter madness. You think Bachelor Winter Games or Bachelor in Paradise are a lot? You haven’t seen anything yet.

Eventually, the producers of the show must have realized that using money as an incentive somewhat defeats the premise of “finding love” on The Bachelor, so the program was discontinued. Somehow, the show did produce a couple, Holly Durst and Blake Julian of season two, who are still happily married.

Three Words. Eight Letters.

Another huge change in the franchise is the way the contestants treat the rules of the show. As the years go by, everyone has become much looser with the rules, especially in terms of saying “I love you.” While the show hopes to prohibit the Bachelor or Bachelorette from saying “I love you” to any contestants before the final rose ceremony, recent contestants have found loopholes. This season, Colton managed to tell all four girls who remained at hometown week that he was “falling in love” with them. Without directly saying he loved them, he said he loved them.

Now, some may not understand why this rule is in place, but at the end of the day, as fake as this show may seem at times, these people manage to develop some feelings throughout the process, and the program does its best to prevent broken hearts given the circumstances. That being said, it is inevitable, and soon enough we will start hearing “I love you” on night one.colton underwood GIF by The BachelorInstagram Kings and Queens

The biggest change to the franchise since I started watching in 2008 is the social media presence and the creation of "The Bachelor Nation." Social media has completely altered the game. Going on the show now is almost an immediate claim to fame and fortune. Before social media, The Bachelor was like any other reality show, but Instagram allows contestants to gain endorsements and become even more popular after their time on the show.

Additionally, social media and blogging platforms have led to spoilers being released, yet they also make it easier to follow the lives of the contestants after the final rose.

Social media has absolutely increased the show’s popularity and the desire to apply, as many contestants see it as an opportunity to make money and become famous (aka the ones who are there “for the wrong reasons”).

While all these changes have happened, I’m not sure if they’re good or bad. They are just part of the show’s evolution, and it has been so fun for me to grow up watching. Who knows how The Bachelor will continue to grow and what it could have in store next!

GIFs courtesy of GIPHY