The world of Bachelor Nation has always been a particularly unique beast. Not quite celebrities, not quite nobodies, the contestants that ebb and flow through the franchise and its various spin-offs exist in their own ecosystem entirely removed from the world of Hollywood (and, by the way, politics). The whole point of the shows — The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor In Paradise — is to isolate contestants from the outside world and focus solely on love. So, yes, it's pretty jarring when one of those contestants exits the show and is seen going on dates with Gigi Hadid.
Several questions came to mind when Bachelorette runner-up Tyler Cameron was seen at Soho House in NYC with Hadid after fans spotted them follow each other on Instagram, the first being: Gigi Hadid watches The Bachelorette? Apologies for the shade, but a show filled with people who go on to do nothing but podcast appearances and spon-con for hair extensions seems, well, beneath Hadid's tier of celebrity that involves multimillion dollar brand deals and getting your face on a billboard. It's charming to think about Hadid kicking off her $500 Stuart Weitzman shoes and settling in at 8 p.m. to struggle with Apple TV's ABC app just like the rest of us, but to know Hadid basically used it as a de-facto dating app herself may change the whole course of the show as we know it.
This didn't come out of nowhere. In 2017, rumors swirled that actress January Jones and former Bachelor Nick Viall had a small thing after the contestant approached the Bachelor superfan about appearing with him on Lip Sync Battle.
"You don't know if you like him or if he's a scumbag and I think that's why I'm attracted to him," Jones told James Corden on The Late Late Show.
The following year, it was rumored the two were dating, but Jones told Entertainment Tonight that they were just friends. But the fact that "January Jones Sets the Record Straight on Nick Viall Dating Rumors (Exclusive)" was ever a headline is a monumental step for the franchise in and of itself.
Because, in a way, it foreshadowed the first Bachelor-celebrity success story: Wells Adams and Sarah Hyland. Adams went from Bachelorette contestant to Bachelor In Paradise contestant to BIP bartender straight into Hyland's DMs.
"The next time you’re in L.A., I’m taking you out for drinks and tacos," Adams apparently told Hyland back in 2017. Fast forward to right now, and the couple is planning their wedding. Not a lot of couples in Bachelor Nation itself, a whole community that was built around getting engaged, can say the same thing.
"Mike I accept your rose" and "Swing me, kiss me! Boo boo," were both things Lovato wrote/cried on her Instagram Story, prompting Johnson to later tell Us Weekly, "I’m flirting with her, too. Tell her, 'What’s up, baby?' I would definitely take her out for an initial date, yeah. 100 percent not scared about it at all. I would be like, 'Oh my God! Girl, come here.'"
It's not surprising that these contestants are attractive to celebrities, but if Blake Horstmann is any example, Bachelor Nation is known for its partner-sharing. If contestants don't fall in love on the shows, then like Jason Tartick and Kaitlyn Bristowe, they spark romance just from being in the same social scene. But now that contestants are not just branching out from their bubble but branching up into Hollywood, this could change how the show operates moving forward.
"We are certainly not mad at him and it doesn’t exclude him from The Bachelor conversation," host Chris Harrison recently told The Hollywood Reporter about Cameron and Hadid's rumored romance. "It just means that when we get to that point, we’re going to have to have a little deeper of a conversation about where his head is at. Maybe Gigi Hadid comes on the show, who knows?"
"She could pull a Chris Bukowski and come on to fight for him!" the interviewer joked, referencing the 10th season of The Bachelorette when Bukowski crashed the show to meet Andi Dorfman (she refused).
"Exactly!" Harrison replied.
The exchange was jokey, but also, how will the show adapt to the fact that actual celebrities are getting sucked into its orbit? And I'm not talking about Ashton Kutcher and Jason Biggs making guest cameos. I'm talking about the fact that after Khloé Kardashian's (most recent) split from Tristan Thompson, there were legitimate rumors that she would be the next woman to fill The Bachelorette's shoes, although she squashed those claims. But the fact that it was a believable possibility proves divide between the two worlds is thinning out.
Exes frequently make appearances on the show, but now that the dating pool is getting more elite, the show will have to decide whether to grow with it — or stick to the more relatable, dog CBD spon-con that it's used to.