The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart (#LTYH) is an object lesson in the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Maybe I should have been clearer about what I was wishing for.
I wanted this show to be bad but I looking forward to it being bad in a hatewatchable way. Especially during these Days of Social Isolation, I needed something other than politics to be snarky about. Alas, I got my wish. #LTYH is bad. But unfortunately, it’s boringly bad. Hard to snark on something with the same capacity for interest as drying paint.
Here’s my problem – the lack of familiarity with the cast. #LYTH is formatted similar to Bachelor In Paradise in that a group of singles are all thrown together in a speed journey to find love. You need to be coupled up to stay in the mansion. One week the girls get to decide who they’re vibing with (last night’s drinking game phrase). The next week it’s the guys’ turn. And yes, new singles randomly show up as potential breaker-uppers of “committed” relationships.
The reason this format works on Paradise is that we already know everybody. Even before the show, we’re hoping our favorite Bachelor/Bachelorette alumni will be on the Mexican beach. This means the cast comes to us with a set of expectations for their misadventures that we enjoy seeing affirmed; or we delight in the surprises at seeing the Paradisers defy those expectations.
The reason this format doesn’t work for #LTYH is that we don’t know anybody. Last night began with 20 strangers. And yes, both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette begin with numerous strangers but in both shows we all know – and typically really like – the lead. They are the prism through we watch and connect with all the unknown people.
The producers tried to fix this by focusing on a few people who will probably play prominent parts in the season’s plot lines. Cute and 21-years young Jamie – who suspiciously bears a similarity to cute and 21-years young Madison from the past season of The Bachelor – looks to be someone being forced on us by the producers. She and her first night(!) love triangle got a lot of screen time and is featured in previews of coming attractions. She’s got (unlike the aforementioned Madison) a fair amount of hatewatchability. That said, I never got the feeling that I was watching my people. I was just watching too many unfamiliar people in dull, random interactions for two uninteresting hours.
I also think the show could have benefitted from a change in venue away from The Mansion just as Paradise benefits from being at the beach in Mexico. Bikinis, speedos and general beachiness are clear signals that this show is different and that things will happen which are appropriate for the venue. The 2018 spin-off The Bachelor Winter Games was held in Vermont during the winter and, likewise, the winteriness of that show and its mock Olympic contests made it clear that it was different. My question for #LTYH is why do a different show that by being at The Mansion looks so similar to its two main ones?
Does all of this mean I won’t watch again? I can’t say that yet. One data point neither makes a pattern nor a trend. But I need a lot more hatewatchability and a lot less sheer boredom.
P.S. This ad for The Bachelorette confirms the rumors that the initial cast was so bad (too young) that they needed to re-cast the show.
P.P.S. Wait. What? I just learned that Ann Wilson from Heart co-wrote that cheesy Bachelor In Paradise theme song. That song is so tongue-in-cheek bad, I need to put even more respect on her name.
 One third of that triangle was a guy named Trevor who competed on American Idol last year and that Katy Perry declared was “so hot”. He suspiciously bears a similarity to musician Jed from Hannah B.’s season of The Bachelorette.