Why Are International Bachelor Shows So Much More Dramatic Than The American Version?

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Last night, The Bachelor: Australia shocked its viewers when the Bachelor chose...no one. Nick Cummins, a former professional rugby player, opted out of the whole game by telling his final two women — Sophie Tieman and Brittany Hockley — that he just couldn't pick between the two of them.
"Both of you are amazing women," he pronounced, "and finding my way in that cloud is just too much for me right now."
Wimpy? Yes. Annoying? Maybe. Dramatic? Yes. In the past several years, the Bachelor shows have infiltrated the international market, and, as of now, one thing seems clear: non-American Bachelor shows are way more dramatic. Last week, The Bachelor: Vietnam made headlines when one woman gave her rose to another contestant. (They did not leave together, but it appears that was the plan.) Before that, Bachelor: Australia birthed a similar couple, two contestants who found love on the show and later debuted a relationship on Instagram. (The veracity of this relationship has been called into question, but the fact remains — it was dramatic as hell!) On The Bachelor: New Zealand, Jordan Mauger flipped a coin to get his final pick, stirring up even more drama than before. The Bachelor: Canada is fairly tame, but it did give us Kevin Wendt and Benoît Beauséjour-Savard, two of Bachelor Nation's central drama turbines.
Meanwhile, The Bachelor: America is increasingly boring. Arie Luyendyk's season of The Bachelor wasn't interesting until he up and dumped his final pick in the finale, and Nick Viall's placid season relied on Raven Gates' orgasm to make things interesting. The Bachelorette found some drama with Peter Kraus and Rachel Lindsay last year, but the most recent season found most of its drama way, way off the air.
The Bachelor: America used to provide a bit more drama. The earlier seasons were a little more raw, rough cuts of what would eventually become a slick reality TV machine. Brad Womack famously also picked no one on his first try at The Bachelor. He later returned to try again — come on! — and his final pick, Emily Maynard, went on to become the Bachelorette. Jen Shefft from season 3 of The Bachelorette also chose not to select anyone. Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi had one of the most upsetting post-breakup conversations TV has ever seen.
Fifteen years in, though, the American shows are a bit too manicured. The villains seem rehearsed (Jordan Kimball and David Ravitz's rivalry this past season was a joke) and even the love seems coached. The Bachelor machine went and swallowed the drama. Early seasons of the show were a little less produced, down to the camera angles and the designed sets. Remember when Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter canoodled in a bathtub and Sutter very clearly got, erm, excited? I do! That doesn't happen anymore.
The disparity could boil down to time on air, since the international shows are still in their early phases. The Bachelor: Australia is only on season 6, while we're on season 40 billion over here. (Not really! Season 23 will be Colton Underwood's season in 2019.) This appears to be the first season of The Bachelor: Vietnam. The Bachelorette: Canada started just in 2016.
Which is all to say — Colton Underwood, the next Bachelor, has a hefty task on his shoulders. When it comes to drama on The Bachelor, fate is in the hands of a 26-year-old former pro football player who really, really likes puppies.
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