During the first episode of Bachelor Winter Games, the contestants faced off in the winter biathlon, an event that involves skiing and shooting at targets. In this case, contestants shot at roses. Contestants had to ski around a course, hit the shooting range for some target play, then ski again, followed by more shooting. Meanwhile, on NBC, alpine skiers competed in the slalom. (The real Olympic biathlon airs Friday night and Saturday during the day.) Turns out, most reality television contestants aren't great at skiing. Nor are they doing high-risk skiing like the Adonises over on NBC are doing.
In the next episode, which airs Thursday at 8 p.m., contestants will have to figure skate. It's less the skating aspect that bothers me and more the competitive sportsmanship. Who on Bachelor Winter Games is here to be a sportsman? Based on her skiing-in-Calabasas intro package, Ashley Iaconetti certainly is not. The goal here is love and absurdity, the two things The Bachelor does best. (Certain seasons fail at love. Others fail at absurdity. Some, like season 22 of The Bachelor, basically fail at both.)
Which brings me to a modest proposal for ABC: Why isn't Bachelor Winter Games just Bachelor on Ice? Remind me again why I must watch contestants lumber about a mountain like drunk meerkats? Can't I just watch them fall in love? Better yet, can I watch them fall in love — on ice? Like a rollerblading musical, but on ABC and with softwares salespeople and future podcast hosts! Or, just Bachelor in Paradise, but with ice and skates instead of sand and bikinis. Skates will be like mic packs: When the contestants wake up, they are outfitted with a pair of skates and a parka. Then, they spend the day scooting about an outdoor ice rink, also trying to fall in love. They bicker, they date, they smooch, they eat pizza — all while wearing skates on ice. I would also accept this format with snow shoes.
Bachelor Winter Games is almost Bachelor in Paradise. It's just, they're not in Paradise. (Paradise, it's worth noting, is hardly paradisiacal. There are no air conditioners in Playa Escondida, where the show is filmed, and contestants aren't really allowed to go in the ocean because the waters are rough.)
BWG adds in competition. The idea is to amp up the melodrama by heightening the stakes. When contestants compete, dates are at stake. On the first episode, Kevin Wendt won the biathlon competition by virtue of having some skiing experience, and so he received a date card. Date cards are key; they stir up drama and provide opportunities for people to fall in love. Rebecca Karlsson, one of the contestants from Sweden, won the women's competition, and also got date card. Trouble is, Rebecca and Kevin are among the few that have winter sports backgrounds. Ally Thompson, a contestant from New Zealand, had a far worse fate — she fell on her tailbone, "cracking her butt" as the show so eloquently put it, and sat on the sidelines for the remainder of the competition. The non-sporty contestants will increasingly become liabilities. Thompson hurt her tailbone; what happens when a contestant breaks a limb?
In a more judicious world, we'd see the contestants hang out in parkas in their skates or ski shoes, looking out over the snow. They'd sip hot chocolate and fall in love. Maybe for some drama, one contestant can accidentally stick their tongue on a frozen pole. If ABC really wants to go for it, they'll ask a contestant to bury themselves inside a dying tauntaun.
The real meat of the franchise occurs in the in-between moments: When the contestants interact, like when Clare Crawley flirted with the culinary-inclined Benoit Beausejour-Savard, or when Lesley Murphy and Dean Unglert chatted about her recent mastectomy. Most coverage of Bachelor Winter Games ignored the "gaming" entirely in favor of the interpersonal relationships between international contestants. This is because the gaming doesn't matter and, moreover, it's boring. The games really seem to be there exclusively for marketing purposes — the show airs against the Olympics, so the skiing was a sad imitation of the Adonises flexing on NBC — and to give the contestants something to do. But they're in Vermont! With snow! Just let them be on ice, and let's ignore the sports-y competition.
Furthermore, this would provide an opportunity for Bachelor Nation to expand to other climates. Now that we have Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor on Ice, why not have Bachelor Swamp? Or Bachelor in Space? Bachelor in your Slightly-Humid Office Breakroom? For the latter, contestants receive tepid cups of coffee instead of roses. See, ABC, this could be fun!
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