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March 15, 2019

The Bachelor Recap: Was Season 23 a success?

Colton brought the drama, but did he bring the ratings?

Reality Television The Bachelor
Cassie and Colton Source/ABC

Cassie and Colton didn't get engaged on 'The Bachelor' but did end up a couple.

Colton Underwood’s run as “The Bachelor” has come and gone. He and Cassie did not get engaged, but are happily dating. Love has once again trumped all this season. But was this the most entertaining season of “The Bachelor” in recent memory? It’s hard to argue no.

Choosing Colton

Beginning with the choice of selecting Colton to be the lead, there was controversy right from the start. We know the show interviewed at least Colton, Blake and Jason to be the star on this season. Many in Bachelor Nation wanted the show to pick someone that was not a previous contestant to serve as the lead, or someone from the archives like snooze-fest Arie. Unfortunately, ABC Senior Vice President Rob Mills has stated, on multiple occasions, that the network is sticking with the format of picking the lead from the previous season for the time being. So those hoping for Khloe Kardashian will have to keep dreaming.

Colton also did not shy away from the drama, and has a number of storylines to prove it. Think of his story; a former NFL player, who created the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation to raise money for cystic fibrosis research and medical equipment, who dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, dated former contestant Tia (from Arie’s season) before he went on “The Bachelorette” because he thought she was going to be the lead, got his heart broken on “The Bachelorette” by Becca, went on “Bachelor in Paradise” and got his heart broken again after swiping right on Tia (again), and oh yeah, did you know he was a virgin?

Candidly, Jason and Blake couldn’t compete with one, let alone all, of those story lines so the clear choice was Colton from the start. I also learned through various sources that Colton’s pitch to be the lead was that he promised the best ratings to the decision makers. Not to find love, but to deliver sky-high ratings. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise because he tweeted about the ratings more than President Trump says he is going to build the wall.

Colton was the clear choice the moment he and Tia broke up in Mexico, and love him or hate him; the show saw record numbers this season.


“The Bachelor” is a powerhouse for ABC. Think about it. It has a two-hour slot on the most sought after primetime hours on television. More people watch this beautiful train wreck of a show than chant E-A-G-L-E-S on Sunday afternoons. But given the current cord-cutting climate of TV watching, it will never be as dominant as it once was.

The highest rated season finale (historically always the highest rated episode of the season) was 25.9 million viewers in 2002 when Aaron Buerge proposed to Helene Eksterowicz. Shockingly they are not together anymore. Colton’s season finale brought in 8.2 million viewers. The days of 20 million-plus viewers are long gone, but Colton’s finale was the highest since 2016 when Ben Higgins proposed to Lauren Bushnell. Stop me if you heard this before, but Ben and Lauren are no longer together, either.

So it looks like the virgin stayed true to his promise by delivering on the highest ratings in sometime. Does this season draw this high of viewers with Jason or Blake? Absolutely not. I guess we can also thank that lovely Portuguese fence for the high ratings too.

Season Highlights

One could argue season 23 of “The Bachelor” was also one of the more entertaining series due to the variety of storylines, and drama, throughout the season. Typically, there is one contestant who is the villain, and everyone fights with her. That is just one storyline. Let’s explore all the different bits of drama from this season.

Demi clearly began the season as the villain, starting fights with what she deemed Colton’s Cougar Club, and her mid/post season feud with Courtney, which spilled over into the “Women Tell All” episode. Her mom was also in prison while filming, which the show was quick to exploit of course. But Demi also claimed she fell in love with Colton, turning her from villain to protagonist in just one week (she was ironically sent home by Colton when telling him she loved him, so maybe she should have stuck to the drama).

Then there was the beauty pageant drama between Caelynn and Hannah B. The two knew each other and were even friendly prior to the show from being on the beauty pageant circuit. While we never got the specific answers as to why they didn’t like each other during the program, their feud provided “The Real Housewives” style drama. But by the end of the season, both contestants were known for reasons outside their little catfight.

Caelynn told the story of her sexual abuse in front of millions and Hannah B. became “The Bachelorette.” They even put their differences aside on “Women Tell All” à la Kanye West and Taylor Swift.

Then there were all the smaller supporting storylines. Like Heather, some how, never being kissed before, Bri’s fake Australian accent, Katie dropping the mother of all bombs prior to leaving by saying some of the girls weren’t there for the right reasons, Onyeka and Nicole’s little tiff, Kirpa stirring the pot with Caelynn and Cassie.

But the ultimate storylines revolved around Mr. Underwood. The show hyped up his iconic fence jump literally before the season started. While I’ll be the first to admit the fence jump was truly Emmy-worthy, did “The Bachelor” really need to make it seem like each week Colton was going to jump the fence? That was rude.

And the number one storyline of the season: Colton’s virginity. It was discussed ad nauseam. Pre show it was all that was talked about. Once the show started, same thing. Then it took a little break in the middle, but came back hotter than Britney Spears in the last couple episodes and season finale. It’s almost as if Chris Harrison had a quota to fill for the amount of times he reminded America that Colton was a virgin. To obsess over a grown man’s sex life like the show did was too much.

Despite a beyond boring season ending, the bulk of the season provided topnotch entertainment. After all, we all loved “A Star is Born” despite that God awful ending, right? (Hot take alert!)

Overall, this season’s contestants were brilliantly casted. But leave no doubt; all these ladies will start making a fortune off Instagram ads very soon (as long as Instagram doesn’t break like it did this week, causing uproar amongst millennials).

Social Media

Social media has had, hands-down, the biggest impact of any on the show. From live tweeting to spoilers, Bachelor Nation’s obsession with social media has been healthy for the growth of the show.

But social media has also presented cast members with incredible business opportunities. That’s where the term “she’s not here for the right reasons” comes into play. If you’re young, single, attractive and have a speck of a personality, why wouldn’t you go on the show to gain a sufficient Instagram following so you can make an above average living from your bed? From sponsored Instagram posts to brand partnerships, the money these contestants are making is nauseating.

How much money are we talking? Well there is no set price guide for Instagram advertising, but the average rule of thumb is that Instagram accounts with 50K to 200K followers can make thousands of dollars for a single post. Is that not sick enough for you? Those with 1 million+ followers can make seven figures per year.

Now that our virgin bachelor is the second most followed Bachelor Nation contestant with 1.7 million Instagram followers (JoJo Fletcher tops the list with 2.22 million followers) I’m sure we’ll be seeing our fair share of MVMT and FabFitFun posts very soon.

The Future

What does the feature hold for “The Bachelor” franchise? Well, continued success. It’s been around since 2002, and is not going anywhere. Will it change? Yes, it will need to in order to survive. Whether that will mean changing the format, adding new spinoff shows, including non-heterosexual romances, having more people of color cast and serve as leads, the show will most certainly evolve with the times.

My biggest prediction (and those that listen to our podcast know) is that Ben Higgins will takeover for Chris Harrison as host of the show at some point in the next few years.

Until then, we will be back recapping Hannah B.’s season of “The Bachelorette” in May. But the offseason is when we have our best podcast interviews. Why? Well often we get contestants when they are out of their ABC contracts so they spill all the tea (like our recent episode/ live show with Raven & Adam) and because the contestants are so removed from the show, they dish the dirt on drama that didn’t air (like our episode with Becca and Garrett). Feel free to subscribe at the links below, or anywhere you get your podcasts.

We will see you in May.

Eddie Ravert is the host of the iTunes Top 75 Bachelor Nation podcast "Rose Buds: The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever," where he and Lynn, his sister and co-host, interview past and present contestants.

You can catch their weekly podcast episodes on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to follow @RoseBudsPodcast on Instagram for behind the scenes look into each episode. You can follow Eddie on Twitter @eddie_rage.