Bachelor Season 23 Premiere: Where is Colton?

I still haven’t watched Bird Box but I imagine America went into last night’s three-hour premiere of The Bachelor looking like the Sandra Bullock meme. Of the gazillion people I’ve talked to about Season 23’s bachelor Colton Underwood (yes, gazillion is a number and I know a gazillion people and have talked to them all about this cursed show), only two have actually told me they like the 26-year-old retired football player and I honestly don’t believe them. Yet, America is (read: I am) so addicted to this franchise that we get into that boat like Sandra, slap on a blindfold for self-preservation, and blindly follow ABC down an often-racist and misogynistic river. Is Sandra on a river? I apologize my analogy is losing steam now.

My dislike for Colton is not about his virginity, the only ‘personality trait’ the franchise has attributed to him in both his stints on Season 14 of The Bachelorette and Season 5 of Bachelor in Paradise. I have no problem with his virginity and doubt America does (to each his/her own) and am convinced the only reason it is such a common topic of conversation for the show (it’s been the entire selling point in the marketing of this season: “the first virgin Bachelor!”) is because he actually has no personality. All that I know about him is that he has never had sex and he played football. After spending two seasons of television with him, shouldn’t I know more about him? Is he funny? Is he smart? On The Bachelorette we did see that he volunteers with children, so maybe he is caring?

So, when the entire first hour of the premiere was either with Chris Harrison at the studio or at the various watch parties hosted by past bachelors and bachelorettes with a few new contestant backpackages sprinkled in, I expected ABC was trying to hide the wet blanket that I presumed Colton to be. To my surprise, once we did finally see some of our long-awaited bachelor, I actually liked him! He was well spoken and had some genuinely fun interactions with the women. Why are they hiding him from us and wasting an entire hour of the show? I know the three-hour run time of the show exists because ABC knows they can extend the run time endlessly and we will still watch, but they filled most of those hours with content completely unrelated to Colton and the contestants. In the end, we barely got to see Colton meeting his potential future wife and were left craving more.

An even bigger crime than hiding the bachelor was the lack of information about the contestants. We saw a few backpackages in the first hour about the women who were the focus of the premiere, but otherwise got to know very little about the rest. In the end, they really all seem like a singular pretty, sequin-clad woman. Each season, as we dive deeper into the age of Instagram and influencers, the women seem to converge into the same stock-photo. I’m hoping that, as the season continues, we dig deeper with these women and find that they have interests and passions beyond ‘dog mom’ and ‘never been kissed.’ If ABC would show us a bit more of Colton and the contestants’ personalities, I might be willing to admit that I peeked under my Sandra Bullock blindfold and watched the entire three-hour premiere.

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