The Bachelor hands out roses, but reality TV audiences want thorns

After eleven seasons, I’m sorry to say – The Bachelor, you have not received a rose.

You are, however, an iconic part of Australian TV, and you are going to be missed.

Sure, your latest season might have tanked in the ratings – losing a third of its viewers between the first and second week — and sure, having three Bachelor dudes all looking for love at the same time gave the last two seasons an unintentionally sleazy key-party vibe – but you still provided the country with a lot of great moments. Especially when you factor in seven seasons of sister show, The Bachelorette, and another three of Bachelor In Paradise.

Who can deny the power of Osher Gunsberg, solemnly whispering about heartbreak and roses, as if we didn’t just see him yelling and flailing next to a giant avocado costume on The Masked Singer the night before?

Who can forget when a guy with the nickname ‘The Honey Badger’ got down to the final two women and wanted neither of them, breaking the news to each with a near-identical speech that started with “When I say those three words, I want to really mean it” –  a speech clearly based off Kelly Taylor’s ‘I choose me’ moment on 90210?

Who didn’t groan when (on the Bachelorette this time), Angie Kent, already a successful business person and media personality with a property portfolio by this stage, was given the third-degree by one of the potential partner’s fathers – the head of a popular pastry company, who basically accused her of being a gold-digger who only signed onto the show to get after the family’s pie fortune?

Who can forget the countless times where a contestant said “I’m literally shitting myself” when they probably (hopefully!) meant ‘figuratively’?

Who can forget the Bachelorette season where the guys were made to decide between two sisters to pursue, leading to a number of awkward “you reckon I can still go for the other one?” type conversations between the men?

And who can deny that five marriages came from what seems like an utterly insurmountable way to start a serious relationship?

All in all, it’s been a dream run.

An impressive number of media careers have also been birthed and sustained from appearances on the series, including those of Sam Frost, Nikki Gogan, Brittany Hockley, Laura Byrne, and Abbie Chatfield.

Interestingly, of the Bachelors themselves, the guys on which the show is based, only the very first one, Timothy Robards, has forged anything resembling a media career. He is currently in the cast of Neighbours. Season five’s Matty J pops up every now and then – most often as the less-famous half of a semi-famous couple – but it’s usually the women vying for the Bachelors on the show that end up with the careers afterwards. 

This flow-on success is, however, often of little value to Ten.

The first break-out star from the series was Sam Frost, who parlayed her success on the show (I mean she won, but the relationship ended before the finale went to air) into a 2DayFM radio show, and then drew Top 10 ratings for Seven each weeknight for five straight years as one of the Home and Away cast. She became a household name, but for Seven.

Abbie Chatfield is arguably the biggest star to have come from the series, and Ten were wise to move her from the mansion to the jungle where she won I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, and then to the shiny floor studio of The Masked Singer, where she was a judge.

However, in that time, Chatfield also hosted Love Island Afterparty Australia for Nine, and Fboy Island for Foxtel. She pulled listeners to the Hit Network with her nightly national radio show, Hot Nights with Abbie Chatfield, and currently hosts It’s A Lot, one of the most successful podcasts in the LISTNR stable.

Brittany Hockney also turned up in the jungle this year for Ten’s I’m A Celeb… but is best known for her KIIS FM radio show, which she hosts with fellow Bachelor alumna Laura Byne. The pair also host the Life Uncut podcast, for ARN’s iHeartPodcast network. 

There are also numerous podcasts and columns based on the antics of The Bachelor and similar shows, the most popular of these being Megan Pustetto’s So Dramatic podcast. 

The Bachelor was a star-maker, but not for Ten. 

The same situation happened for years with Australian Idol, which originally aired for seven seasons on Ten. 

Ricki Lee Coulter, Lisa Mitchell, and Matt Corby had multiple platinum-selling records for EMI, Warner, and Universal Music respectively, while Anthony Callea, Shannon Noll, Guy Sebastian, and Casey Donovan did likewise. Ricki-Lee is currently hosting Idol – on Seven, mind – and has the country’s biggest Drive radio show – for NOVA. 

Ten bookended 2023 with The Bachelor – season 10 airing in January and season 11 in December. Neither was particularly successful, and as production was moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast, and again to Melbourne, it seemed like they were struggling to keep the show afloat. 

So, with all this in mind, it makes sense for Ten to drop The Bachelor. Its impact on the media landscape is an outsized one when compared to the ratings – which is all Ten care about at the end of the day when deciding whether or not to renew a show.

Interestingly, MAFS is almost the exact opposite, despite also being a show about being filmed while trying to find love with strangers.

When it airs, Married At First Sight is the highest-rating show on free-to-air TV. 

It has, however, not produced any media careers, with the minor exception of Martha Kalifatidis.

The reason for both its ratings success and why it hasn’t spawned any TV or radio personalities is a simple one: the people who appear on MAFS are fucking awful. People love watching the train wreck, but they don’t want life advice from these people. Nine don’t care – they just make more trainwrecks.

The women vying for love on The Bachelor, on the other hand, are too damn likeable. The other networks circle like sharks and snap them up. It’s good for the Australian media industry, and the people from the show who have succeeded are all clearly talented, personable, hard-working, smart, and relatable. But it’s no longer working for Ten. Which is why it’s time to say goodbye.

The Bachelor hands out roses – but reality TV audiences are looking for thorns.

Enjoy your weekend.


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