Just when you thought “The Bachelor” producers had exhausted every last possible pitch for reality TV trash, the franchise returns with another cringey yet addictive spin-off series. This time though, there’s supposed to be way less alcohol consumption, way more clothing coverage and — somehow weaving its way into all the drama — an international sports competition?
Don’t worry. I can’t really wrap my head around the bizarre nature of it either. But essentially, “The Bachelor Winter Games” is trying to merge all nations within “Bachelor universe” together by following a crop of fame-obsessed fan favorites from across the globe in their pursuit of “love.” In that way, the show plucks contestants from “The Bachelor” Canada, Australia, China and many more, and throws them in as fresh bait for America’s most esteemed singles.
Like most other “Bachelor” shows, the premiere opens on an extremely excessive and highly awkward note. To start, there’s an extravagant parade of nations, an overly-excited pep band performance and the singing of a full-fledged anthem to commence the games. I mean, just take a second to think about the fact that they actually had to hire legitimate professionals to compose and perform lyrics like “Oh bachelor, sweet bachelor, we will compete for sure.” In this moment, I was both embarrassed for them and embarrassed to be watching.
To make matters even more uncomfortable, I actually think some of the contestants believe that they’re on the real Olympics. As the anthem resounds, the camera pans to find more than one participant concernedly look around before placing their hand over their heart and removing their hat. Please tell me someone eventually let them know that they’re just actors on a TV show and not actual Olympians.
As disconnected as it may seem, the premise of the show is that when a contestant wins a specific sporting competition, they gain the advantage of choosing who they want to take on a mystery date. It’s like the Olympics of hooking up, if you will. And just in case you were beginning to believe any differently, there is absolutely no athletic ability to be found on this satire of the real Winter Games. While the contestants pranced around, shrieked and fell too many times to count in both the biathlon-skiing and speed-skating events, I couldn’t help but feel a little offended for anyone with real athletic skill that dedicates their entire lives to these sports.
Considering how mundane and repetitive the actual plotline of these “Bachelor” shows are, the casting is everything. If the personality is lacking, the good looks aren’t off the charts and the level of confrontation and drama is low, then the season is a bust and not worthy of any attention. Luckily though, the cast of “The Bachelor Winter Games” appears to be flooded with dynamic characters and their consistent capacity for forming love triangles, engaging in screaming matches and — most importantly — shedding lots and lots of tears. When you see “Bachelor” veteran Ashley I. break down into a laughing sob 20 minutes into the premiere, and innocent Yuki nod along to any conversation (because the ever-so stereotypical “Bachelor” franchise thinks it’s just “hilarious” to emphasize that the contestant representing Japan speaks zero English), it’s confirmed that, at the very least, this season will be laughable.
Though the overarching link between Olympic sports and dating may be fuzzy (if existent at all), and the international concept is just downright weird, it’s not hard to understand why people obsess over “The Bachelor Winter Games” and this sort of reality TV time and time again. Much like a car accident, it’s so bad that you just can’t stop yourself from watching. Fantasy brackets, viewing parties, entire aftershows dedicated solely to all things “The Bachelor” — the infamous “Bachelor Nation” fandom behind the franchise is immense, dedicated and terrifyingly passionate.
For an hour or two each week, fans can pretend to be just a little bit superior to those cast on the shows. Watching contestants threaten to beat each other up, cry over a guy they just met and aspire to achieve Instagram brand deals for weight loss tea is dually captivating and reassuring that we’re not that crazy.
In an admittedly messed up way, it’s fun to laugh along at the absurdity of “Bachelor” contestants with professions as outlandish as “chicken enthusiast,” “twin” or “erection specialist.” It becomes an amusing tradition to check back months after the inevitable end-of-season proposal and see that the couple has split, just as expected from a reality show “romance.” And ultimately, it’s just satisfying to be included in the absurdity of the cultural phenomenon that has become “The Bachelor.”
So am I ready to devote my life to “The Bachelor Winter Games” and embrace them over the real Winter Olympics? Of course not. But will I tune back into the remaining two episodes to see more priceless icy blunders, ridiculous mental breakdowns and the teased fairytale proposal? You bet.