There have now been 22 seasons of ABC’s reality TV romance competition The Bachelor, in which an single man basically “dates” 25 women at once, gets to know them through awkward group dates at exotic locations and then systematically eliminates all but one in a series of dramatic “rose ceremonies.” ABC has literally followed this formula for The Bachelor since its start in 2002, and the show’s popularity has declined over the last few years, leading one writer to wonder: Is it time for a gay bachelor?
In an article entitled, “Why casting an LGBTQ ‘Bachelor‘ or ‘Bachelorette‘ star could help save the dying franchise” writer Louis Baragona opines:
[The most recent] season of The Bachelor has not only been called the most “boring” season of the show yet, it’s also created a ratings deficit in comparison to this point in the season last year. In its target demographic, viewers have fallen 26% and 14% overall. Clearly, something needs to be fixed, and it’s not just the fact that the man in question is kind of a dud.
He’s right. The show’s 2009 season finale had 15.48 million viewers. Over the last decade it has dwindled to 7.9 million, nearly half.
In 2013, Funny or Die imagined a gay Bachelor-style show:
Baragona says the popularity of shows like Netflix’s Queer Eye and VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race prove that viewers are interested in reality TV that puts queer people front and center. Furthermore, both shows have helped launch the careers of their queer participants, especially on social media.
However, it’s not entirely clear how well either show is doing. Netflix doesn’t release viewing data. And while RuPaul’s Drag Race is currently entering its 10th season, its spin-off shows have all flopped. Even Baragona admits that the most recent Drag Race Season 9 finale only got 895,000 viewers.
Granted, VH1 is a cable channel, unlike ABC, so a gay Bachelor might instantly have an larger audience on ABC thanks entirely to its being a mainstream network. But considering that it took The Bachelor 18 seasons to present a bachelor of color — a Venezuelan man who referred to gay people as “perverts” — we doubt that the heterocentrist, white-dominated show will diversify anytime soon.
And keep in mind, LOGO TV tried a gay Bachelor-style show called Prince Charming. It made the show’s bachelor want to start dating women afterwards.