The Bachelor: Online detectives at work
By Veronica Brinkley
This season of “The Bachelor” has concluded, and fans are looking back at major moments and confirming their predictions. For those fortunate enough to be unaware, ABC’s “The Bachelor” is a reality dating show that has been on air since 2002 (a running total of 27 seasons). This season, white bread Texas electronics salesman Zach Shallcross “the bachelor,” contestant sought a lifelong commitment to and marriage with another member of the cast. The season was full of the usual drama, tears, and heartbreak (the holy trinity of Bachelor Nation). Starting with thirty women, Zach eliminates each one based on his impressions during group and oneon-one dates. After 27 seasons, the show’s process is highly predictable, assuming you know what to look for.
In fact, veteran fans of the show can often guess who the Bachelor will choose just by watching the trailer. This is what’s called Bachelor sleuthing. Sophomore Bug Wolf has been watching “The Bachelor” and its partner show “The Bachelorette” for years and has a knack for predicting their outcomes. They taught me a bit about how they predict Bachelor outcomes through preview footage. “The number one thing that you need to look for when you are predicting the outcome of a season is you need to identify which locations they will be going to and in what order. This is the only way that you can figure it out,” Wolf said.
Who is shown at particular locations gives fans a huge indication of who will make it to the latter stages of the process. The show’s locations are easy to infer, and it follows a common pattern; the first four weeks are always shot at the bachelor mansion, the fifth week is usually in the bachelor’s hometown, and then the remainder of the show takes place internationally. During the bachelor mansion episodes, Zach does his initial eliminations. So when evaluating preview footage we know that anyone not seen past the bachelor mansion is not likely to be important. “If it’s at bachelor mansion it doesn’t really matter cause it’s only going to be up until week 4. In the community, we call those low-value shots,” said Wolf. From there, Wolf and other Bachelor fans are able to extrapolate where and when events take place, setting up a timeline of the show’s progression. Of course, the final weeks of the show are where the sleuthing really begins. “When we move outside the US, that is where things become very important,” said Wolf.
As the ABC network releases weekly previews, “The Bachelor” sleuths pick them apart and make definitive choices on who will be the final pick. “So we see, okay there’s footage of this girl at a tropical location, and we know that at the very very end, the final two is at a tropical location, so now I know, she must be in the final two,” Wolf said. They have found this season in particular to be fairly predictable so far, having guessed almost every major plotline correctly.
According to Wolf, the sleuthing community takes pride in their work, celebrating each successful inference. The most important sleuthing, of course, is figuring out who exactly will be Zach’s final pick. The last few seasons have had dramatic, unsatisfying endings that have led to a decline in viewership. Because of this, Wolf anticipated that this season would have a clean and wholesome final episode. “The final two will be Kaity and Gabi and then I think that Kaity will be the final pick,” they predicted in an interview predating the air date of the finale. The online sleuthing community seems to agree with this.
Personally, I agree as well. I see Zach as quite an emotionally transparent guy; you can tell who he really has eyes for. Since the beginning, he has had a particular affinity for Kaity. On the other end of this, you can also tell exactly who he is no longer interested in by the way he treats them. Zach is quick to switch his demeanor with women who no longer suit his fancy. This was made abundantly clear when he eliminated Jess for voicing her concerns about being chosen last for a one-on-one. He seems to have mastered the empathetic listener facade, but this immediately faded when confronted with Jess’s worries. Observant fans have been quick to call this out. As Wolf put it, “Once he has decided that a woman no longer suits him, he no longer treats her like a human being.” Many of the women on the show seem to share that discontent as evident in some subtle digs on social media. I expect we will learn much more about it during “After The Final Rose”, a post-season episode that rehashes the show’s events. For now, it’s only a matter of time, and I will not be surprised if Wolf and the sleuthing community are spot-on with their predictions
The season as a whole has been rather conventional; despite a COVID-related mid-season hiccup, everything has played out as expected. I am interested to see how Zack’s relationship progresses post-season. The vast majority of bachelor couples do not stay together for the long haul, and I have a feeling Zack will be no different. We will find out!