Every season of The Bachelorette has one truly difficult exit from a contestant we’ve all grown to love. Last year, it was Dean Unglert before he became the poster child for fuckboyary and subsequently rehabbed his image during Bachelor Winter Games (Boy, have we gone on a rollercoaster of emotions with Deanie Babies).
That gut punch of a goodbye came during Monday night’s installment of The Bachelorette when Becca Kufrin sent home Wills Reid, the handsome, Harry Potter loving dork who nerded his way into America’s heart. While it was difficult to watch Wills tear up in the back of a classic Bachelor(ette) loser’s limo during “Week 7,” fans quickly learned the graphic designer wouldn’t be off of our TV screens for long. Wills is officially headed to paradise, or, at least, sexed-up Bachelor Nation spin-off series Bachelor In Paradise, as People announced.
But, Paradise, returning Tuesday, August 7, should be but a pit-stop in Wills’ reality TV future. Because, Wills, a true Bachelorette unicorn, needs to be ABC's next Bachelor. For a sprawling, multi-series franchise that feels older, dryer, and more wracked by scandal with every installment, Wills is the savior Bachelor Nation has been waiting for.
The Bachelor is a series that premiered nearly two full decades ago in 2002, when George W. Bush was still president, Kim Kardashian had yet to surpass Paris Hilton in the fame category (and wouldn’t for half a decade), and Christina Aguilera was months away from debuting her bad girl Xxxtina persona with “Stripped.” While we’ve all turned in our ultra low-rise jeans and spray tan cans, it doesn’t exactly feel like The Bachelor has moved beyond its passé roots.
Nearly every single lead has been a white man — save for the easily white-passing Latinx Juan Pablo Galavis, who turned out to be his own season’s villain. Most of them spend their time leaning very hard into their dedication to “traditional” American romance. They blather endlessly about their hyper-masculine jobs, from Chris “Prince Farming” Soules to Arie Luyendyk Jr., who raced cars, did you hear? If agriculture and speedy vehicles are not topics of conversation, all-American sports or fitness training definitely are. Many of these Bachelor stars could just as easily fit into 1960s dating culture as they do in a 2018 TV love journey.
Wills, a Black man with limitless charm, on the other hand, isn’t like that. While 29-year-old former Bachelor Ben Higgins falls solidly in the millennial bracket and Old Pillow Lips, born in 1981, teeters right on the edge of Generation Y, Wills would be the first Bachelor lead to actually feel like a millennial. Right this moment, his Instagram bio reads “Gryffindor” before anything else. His Instagram story is filled with puppies, Drake references, and patterned short-sleeve button-down shirts. You know, the kinds of shirts Tan France from Queer Eye would cry tears of joy over. Wills feels like the kind of real-life, ultra handsome person you could stumble into on a fun Friday night, as opposed to a bland brunette man on whom ABC prays you’ll project all of your romantic fantasies.
Yet, the L.A. native doesn’t merely deserve to hand out roses next winter for his social media-friendly, Gen Y AF bona fides. He also has the emotional depth necessary to be a compelling lead in a televised dating extravaganza. Wills has heart. Just look at his last conversation with Becca where he makes his final bid to the Bachelorette for the sole remaining rose of “Week 7.” He’s uses Bachelor(ette) buzzwords like “vulnerable,” “emotional,” and “open up” with the kind of genuine warmth cast-offs like Chris Randone and Jean Blanc will likely study for years to come. Because, when Wills says them, it’s not part of a game. He truly is vulnerable, emotional, and opening up. Wills even gets choked up explaining as much, calmly resting his arm around her shoulders.
While watching Becca and Wills’ final mini-date it’s difficult not to be reminded of Buzzfeed writer Alanna Bennett’s viral Twitter thread from this past spring, where she pointed out a rom-com lead can truly shine by merely looking at their love interest really, really well. Wills knows how to look at a woman with adoration and awe better than anyone else trapped on an ABC vacation to the Bahamas. Now, imagine Wills gazing at multiple women like that, for an entire season. That is what we call television magic.
It’s easy to say Wills should be the next Bachelor simply because the long-running series needs to enter the 21st century and end its long, nearly uninterrupted line of lily-white suitors. But, there’s more to Wills than the possibility of checking a “diversity” box. Wills is simply the kind of guy we should all want to date, or, at least, live vicariously through the 30-odd women competing for his heart.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.