The Outline for Every Season of The Bachelor 

Episodes 1-12 of every Bachelor follow a subtle, but completely uniform pattern, and I’ve decoded it.

By Anne Ertle, John Carroll University


Few things are as polarizing as The Bachelor.

There’s politics and that blue and black/white and gold dress from last year, and that’s pretty much it. The United States of America can be cleanly split into Viewers and Non-viewers.

Even consistent viewers are divided into subgroups. There are the people who watch it wholeheartedly, who bake thematic cupcakes for weekly watch-parties, have fantasy-sports style brackets and shamelessly fixate season after season. And then there is the other group of people who tune in every week ironically and who love to tell their friends that they “hate watch” it.

Ben Higgins is Season 20's BachelorI must admit that I fall somewhere between these two camps. I refuse to resign it to a “guilty pleasure.” Rather, I attribute my fascination to the fact that at my primal core I am a homo sapien, enticed by bright colors and beautiful people.

My years of watching are important research and I have noticed some patterns surface. I pieced together these common themes to create a loose outline for this, the 20th season of “The Bachelor.”

Episode one

This is our first time meeting all the contestants (duh).

One of these women will be a single mother, usually due to circumstances that are tragic and unusual, like a husband who died when his scuba tank ran out of oxygen as he was searching the ocean floor for the necklace from Titanic.

There will be a Weird Girl, and you will know when she arrives because her entrance will be scored to some zany background music that features a slide whistle.

One of the girls will NOT be there to make friends. Weird Girl thinks Competitive Girl should chill out. Competitive Girl thinks Weird Girl should stop wandering around barefoot.

Another contestant will get wasted out of her mind. The bachelor will find this either charming or horrifying.

Speaking of the bachelor—we will see him shirtless for a combined 14 minutes in this opening episode.

He will be rinsing himself off in an outdoor shower, and you’ll be like “Who is filming this? Does the bachelor get dandruff? What about the drought in California?” None of these questions will be answered.

The women will try to make an impression on the bachelor by doing a little bit that they’ve rehearsed, like throwing around a football or dropping an aggressive pick up line.

They will all be pretty cringe worthy, and it’s so much worse if you imagine them nervously going over it in their heads before they step out of the limo. Also, the driveway is perpetually, inexplicably wet looking although no one slips so I don’t know?

There will be three different women named Ashley, each spelled differently. Other women with shared names have to use their last initial, like an overcrowded third grade classroom.

Episode Two

Now that the blah girls were sent home after the first episode, only the strong personalities remain. They go on group dates. Usually the activities for this are along the lines of synchronized swimming (because love involves teamwork) or a kooky obstacle course that ends with a pie to the face (because the bachelor loves a girl with a sense of humor). The Bachelor can give any activity a weighty tie to love and it’s honestly impressive.

Episode Three

More group dates. There are some one-on-one dates, usually featuring a performance by a band that has a single currently on heavy rotation in the Top 40. The couple will slow dance, and the girl will profess feeling fireworks as literal fireworks explode overhead.

Episode Four

By this point, Competitive Girl is a full-blown villain. The other contestants vocalize their concerns to the bachelor but he responds with something like “Nah, she’s just goofing around.” It’s important to note that Competitive Girl is usually especially gorgeous.

Episode Five

There’s a two-on-one date where the bachelor sends one of the contestants home in the middle of their outing. He literally chooses one woman over the other like a horrifying moment of trying to decide what to order at a restaurant, but with people. What follows is The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Yet.

Episode Six

Someone has to go home because of a tragic circumstance in their family life (their dog develops epilepsy, their aunt had a botched nose job) OR someone from the bachelor’s past pleads with him for a chance at love by ambushing him in his hotel room.

The bachelor consults host Chris Harrison. You will wonder how much money Chris Harrison makes (A lot).

Episode Seven

At this point they’ve been traveling to a new country every week, and you begin to wonder how much jet lag factors into the “really strong feelings” they’ve all developed. Someone tells the bachelor they’re falling in love with him and then they make out a lot.

Episode Eight

Everyone travels to the bachelor’s hometown, and we see that he really is just a humble, normal guy.

His parents are genetically perfect and his house is huge, but he talks about what a dork he was in high school despite playing three varsity sports, so you know he’s very down to earth. Later in the episode is The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Yet.

Episode Nine

The bachelor goes to the hometowns of the remaining women. He meets their parents and siblings. To unfairly generalize every paternal figure who has appeared on The Bachelor, the dads are the kind who clean their shotguns in front of potential suitors. The bachelor laughs nervously at this.

All the moms are nice but are concerned about their daughters’ feelings. They furrow their brows a lot.

Episode Ten

This is the episode with the overnight dates, where the bachelor gets the opportunity to take advantage of the creepily named “fantasy suites” with each of the girls “if they so choose.”

This episode is the most jarring reminder that this show dabbles in light polyamory. Definitely The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony Yet.

Episode Eleven

The women tell all and let me tell you: They are not happy. This is a reunion show where all eliminated contestants come back to air out their grievances.

Everyone is mad at each other. Wounds that have delicately scabbed over are torn open again, and everyone is out for blood. The bachelor has to come out and defend his actions in front of 22 women he has dumped.

At the end of this episode they do a blooper reel from the whole season, which is very endearing.

Episode Twelve

This is the finale, which means the bachelor will spend the majority of the episode leaning on a railing, staring pensively at a seascape and doing some voiceover work weighing the merits of the remaining women.

These scenes are lit beautifully, and it makes you wonder if the director of photography for this series has won any Emmys (He hasn’t). The bachelor picks out a ring for his bride-to-be.

The bachelorettes spend all day getting ready and then finally emerge in ball gowns. Their dresses probably conflict with sand and other natural elements, but this has never been addressed.

Finally, the bachelor choosesone of the girls. We get to watch with all the zeal of Romans at the Coliseum as the other girl is rejected. He usually proposes. The season ends with a montage of the couple’s best moments together.

Then they pick one of the women to star in the next season of The Bachelorette. So it goes.