ABC officially has a new star of “The Bachelor.” And quite a few viewers aren’t pleased.
The network announced Tuesday morning that Colton Underwood — the 26-year-old former football player and third runner-up on last season of “The Bachelorette” — will become the next Bachelor, one of the most highly coveted positions on reality television. This comes on the heels of his exit from spinoff “Bachelor in Paradise” on Monday night, when he ended his fling with contestant Tia Booth.
“It was his good looks, love for dogs and vulnerability that charmed not only Bachelorette Becca Kufrin, but all of Bachelor Nation,” ABC said in a news release. “After a summer of growth and a new perspective on what he is looking for, Colton is more than ready for this next chapter.”
Also, as Colton has discussed on the show multiple times, he is a virgin. For ABC, this is a big win. In 2013, Sean Lowe was nicknamed the “Virgin Bachelor” after the tabloids reported he was a “born again virgin,” although the show itself avoided the topic. So can you imagine how excited the producers are for a “Bachelor” star who will actually talk about it? (“That’s one thing that I took pride in on both seasons, is just being true to where I am,” Colton told Michael Strahan on “Good Morning America” Tuesday.) The potential story lines are endless.
ABC executive Robert Mills made the Sean comparison in a recent E! interview, saying that Colton “certainly has a lot of the attributes that you love in a Bachelor. There’s a little bit of that Sean Lowe . . . he’s also a guy who is surprisingly funny and charismatic. Colton could be a very interesting Bachelor.”
Unfortunately, plenty of viewers feel otherwise. Last week, blogger Reality Steve leaked the news early. “I’m hearing that they will be announcing the next ‘Bachelor’ soon and it will be Colton,” he tweeted. “My thoughts are Sean Lowe has been their only successful Bachelor. They must feel Colton is the closest thing they’ll get to Sean. Character, morals, no shady past, etc. Sean 2.0. Here we go. Let the freaking out begin.”
Sure enough, the responses poured in, and they were almost uniformly negative. The most common reaction was that while Colton may be a nice guy, he’s extremely boring — a deadly ingredient in any reality show. Many clamored for a more charming, interesting and mature choice, such as his fellow runners-up Blake Horstmann, Jason Tartick or Wills Reid. Or even fan favorite Joe Amabile, known as Grocery Store Joe.
Others scoffed about how Colton bounced from “The Bachelorette” (where he appeared heartbroken when Becca broke up with him) to “Bachelor in Paradise” (where he had an emotional on-and-off relationship with Tia) to “The Bachelor” with remarkable speed. Raven Gates, Tia’s best friend and former “Bachelor” contestant, appeared on “Paradise” to warn her pal that Colton may not be there for the right reasons — and that perhaps he was only interested in dating “It Girls.” (Before “The Bachelor” franchise, Colton dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman.)
Some felt that his casting cheapens the already questionable premise of the show. “Even if we’re being generous and calling Colton’s brief time with Becca and Tia ‘relationships,’ we’re still dealing with an anxious, 26-year-old virgin whose dating history does not indicate he’s ready to put a ring on it,” wrote Entertainment Weekly TV critic Kristen Baldwin, a longtime “Bachelor” recapper. “What about that says ‘perfect Bachelor material’ to anyone?”
Amid the outrage, creator Mike Fleiss issued a vague tweet over the weekend: “You all know what the Bible says about passing judgment on others… It’s against it. #TheBachelor.”
“1) the Bible has nothing to do with The Bachelor. 2) simply not wanting bachelor Colton isn’t a sin,” one fan tweeted in reply. “3) maybe you should actually listen to who the fans want for once, we’re the reason the show’s still running & without us you’re done.”
Of course, the producers care about only one thing: drama. Colton has already had plenty of it. During “The Bachelorette” this summer, he told Becca that he and Tia had briefly dated a few months earlier. (He contacted her after seeing her on “The Bachelor.”) This was awkward for Becca, given that Tia was one of her closest friends when they competed on Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s season of “The Bachelor.” Later, Tia made a guest appearance to confess to Becca that she still had feelings for Colton.
That, combined with Colton’s virgin revelation (although Becca was more concerned with the fact that he had only been in one serious relationship), basically sealed his fate. Even though Colton told Becca he was falling in love with her, she sent him home after he made the final four. A couple of weeks later, Colton had a heated confrontation on the “Men Tell All” episode when another contestant mocked his virginity.
Then, on “Bachelor in Paradise” last month, Colton and Tia both joined as cast members and hooked up again; their coupling was a big story line. Alas, on Monday, Colton took Tia aside and confessed that he really wanted things to work, but his feelings just weren’t there.
“You deserve somebody who’s going to be crazy about you every single day,” Colton said.
“But can you honestly say that you, like, tried?” Tia asked tearfully.
“I could look at you with 100 percent certainty and say that I tried here. I gave it my all,” Colton responded gravely. Tia broke down in sobs.
Immediately, viewers started speculating about the authenticity of Colton and Tia’s breakup, as it was conveniently timed to be just before the “Bachelor” announcement the next morning.
However, with his new “Bachelor” gig official, Colton insisted that his former “Bachelor” relationships are in the past.
“Obviously you can tell how it was all so emotional for me,” Colton told People magazine. “But it was also good for me. I can’t say enough good things about Becca and enough good things about Tia. They’ve helped me grow and discover who I am and what I’m looking for in a wife.”